My First Trunk Show

I have sold on various online venues since 2003. I opened my Ruby Lane shop, Suzy’s Timeless Treasures, in February, 2011, selling exclusively there online. Up until February, 2013, I had never sold my wares in person at a ‘show’ even though this is common in the Antiques Vintage Collectibles (AVC) business. The online shops have worked well for my busy family life and to be honest, I was apprehensive to do a show. While I love going to AVC shows to shop, I don’t have the proper displays for my vintage jewelry. I have no glass cases, not enough jewelry holders, and not a clue how to showcase everything in person. I figured trying to do a show had all the makings for disaster and I was more comfortable being the seller across cyber space. What if no one comes to my show? What if a lot of people come, but they don’t like my offerings? Do I have enough stuff for my own show? I’ll admit, I was a bit terrified of the idea.

Then in the fall of 2012, I attended a local estate sale that was only jewelry. It was classy, well-organized, all the jewelry was arranged for easy viewing and try on and it was set up with minimal formal displays, held only in the seller’s living and dining rooms. This is how I met Veronica Staudt of Staging Graces on Etsy, who had organized her own sale.

I was inspired by Veronica’s simple yet elegant set up. Maybe I could do this? Veronica graciously offered her assistance when I confessed I was a trunk show virgin. She lent me a couple peg boards for hanging necklaces and plastic tubs trimmed with glittery golden ribbon, suggested white tablecloths and the encouragement I needed. If you browse Pinterest, there are many ideas for easy-to-make jewelry displays, from using picture frames to cake plates to foam boards covered in fabric. You don’t need to spend a lot on formal displays, be creative and use what you already have on hand. I used a couple vintage valise cases (it is a trunk show, after all!) to dress up my necklace display, put candy in vintage ceramic ashtrays and used vintage serving trays to display some of the jewelry. My daughter, who happens to be handy with a needle and thread, made three brooch display boards for me using foam board, foam padding and pretty fabrics. Don’t forget a few well-placed mirrors for trying on the jewels!

I used my living and dining rooms for the show. I printed several photos of upcycled jewelry made from vintage bits and pieces and put them on the walls above my tables. I started a flower bouquet made from vintage enameled flower brooches, florist stakes and green tape in a favorite vase. These were conversation starters and a way to give shoppers ideas about reusing vintage jewelry and recycling.

I had been accumulating and sorting jewelry for a few weeks and quickly realized I had more than enough for a show. I decided to offer a mix of vintage and contemporary costume jewelry, sterling silver jewelry and the Far Fetched artisan jewelry product line as well as some collectibles. About a week before the show, I used the E-mail marketing tool,, to send an E-mail announcing my show to about 80 recipients. I had decided for my first show, it would be an open house for one day and I would only invite family and friends and ask them to bring their family and friends too. I wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere, so we served mimosas, light appetizers and desserts and had plenty of seating so people could enjoy the food and conversation.

My set up worked well! As people arrived, they were handed one of the borrowed plastic tubs tied with ribbon to use as a shopping cart (a classy little detail, thanks, Veronica!). When they were done shopping, while I wrote their receipt, most people helped themselves to the drinks and food and sat and chatted awhile, just as I had hoped. I did connect with several new people and my family and friends got a chance to see my jewelry offerings up close and personal. I also had my laptop set up so people could take a look at my Ruby Lane shop items online at my show.

My living room normally holds mostly vintage furniture odds and ends and I had asked Veronica if I should put away all my personal items as I didn’t want people thinking they were for sale also. We had an amusing conversation about how maybe for the right price, she would have sold her personal décor at her show. So I left my vintage chest and tables in the room and set up my display tables in front of them. I did actually end up selling a vintage-style phone to a friend’s daughter who fell in love with it (I wasn’t using it anyway). Don’t worry, my kitchen sink is still in place!

About 1/3 the amount of people that I emailed came to my show. I also offered a pre-show discount to the email recipients and made a few early sales in my online shop; mostly to people who weren’t able to attend the show. I sent a thank you email to those who attended. I feel that my first trunk show was a success and definitely now understand their appeal. There will be more in my future!

Lisa Sullivan

Suzy’s Timeless Treasures


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