Making Vintage Your Business: Know Your Market

It may sound a bit daft saying this; but to be able to run your own business effectively you need to think long and hard about your market! I don’t mean the type of market / vintage fair you should go to trade at (although it is worth considering), this is all about identifying your customer types and what these customers want.

woman thinking 1950s

Defining this will give you clarity and direction for buying & selling decisions as well as being a key part of your marketing and promotion plan. Doing some ground work can provide a snapshot of where your business fits within the vintage market and will allow you to identify the competition and will also give you direction for your marketing activity.

You would be surprised how businesses fail to have this on their to-do list or don’t allow much time for looking at it properly .If you spend even a couple of days gathering some information about your market and how to engage with it, you will gain a clearer picture of where you belong as a business..

Even in the world of vintage there are different markets or segments, a bit like a pie! Some sections share a bigger bit of the pie than others. Define what you offer and who your customers are. For example here are my recommendations for defining what you offer and your typical customer.

Start by asking yourself these questions. (These examples are just for the Vintage Fashion side of things but hopefully you get the idea.)

Who is your typical customer and what should you offer them?

A: Trends & Fashion Forward

Look for what’s on trend or the next trend and choosing stock, for example 90’s Fashions or denim. The key is offering vintage alternatives to create an individual look instead of the high street.

Customers are looking for the latest trend and are mostly aged 15-24 (roughly) and have a low spend they looking for bargain and not really something they will keep as a classic.


B: Classics & Collectors

Lots of vintage fashion buyers go out to find classics, for a special occasion maybe a wedding, party. They might be a collector and be looking for something to add, maybe a 1950’s handbags, Lucite jewellery or designer. These customers spend well and often want something no matter what. They maybe any age but quite affluent and an expert at what they are looking for.

`1950s fashion 2

C: Period Perfection

These customers have very specific requirement and maybe looking for more rare items. Often these who go to re-enactments, 40’s weekends or Vintage Festivals dressed in period clothes. It is a weekend hobby and they are very good for repeat business and sell special items. They would typically be between 30-65 years old. They know their stuff and might be quite precise with requirements

1940s fashion

Once you’ve decided where you fit within your market; start researching the answer to these questions.

Where do your customers buy?

Maybe vintage fairs, online shops or auction site, through social media- whichever it is you need to be there selling to them.

What do they buy?

Are they buying dresses, handbags, shoes or jewellery? Then focus your buying to meet these needs.

What price should I sell at?

Are you pitching bargains or high end quality or do you offer discounts for students or multiple buys?

How will they find you?

Maybe through magazines, social media, flyers or internet searches and once you know this you can plan your marketing.

Remember there are exceptions to the rule or those that may cross over into different sections and this is not written in stone. But if you embark on this exercise for your business it should increase your success.


For more vintage business advice, inspiration and motivation check out Vintage Academy, run by Kate and Keeley. Our next event is February 22nd in London. Also don’t forget we also host #vintagebizhour every Monday on Twitter 9-10pm which is a great way to network and share ideas.

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