Q&A with All Star Seller — Lyssa Balick from Off Main

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As we focus on becoming better local sellers, our top independent sellers share their tips and tricks of the trade. Hats off to our All Star Sellers! First up in this series is Lyssa Balick from Off Main, a Mid-Century Modern seller in the greater Baltimore area. Lyssa has shared her knowledge of being a professional reseller in the past as she moved her business into a studio.

Hi Lyssa! How long have you been selling? And how did you get started?
July 29th will be two years Off Main is officially a business. But my husband and I have always loved to buy things for our own home and resell on Craigslist. This is an extension of what we’ve been doing for a while.

Who would you say is your target buyer?
We have a range of buyers, but they are folks who like the style of furniture we sell. We try to feature affordable and mid-range pieces each week to attract a broad customer base.

In 10 words or less, what is your business model?
Gently restored midcentury and deco pieces with character.

Any tips for creating your brand identity?
Having clarity around what you want as your brand is helpful. We also reassess and refine as time passes.

We have so many wonderful customers and have a lot of fun with our sales. We had a couple starting a rental business and furnishing each room with a different Mid-Century theme. It was so much fun to talk to them and generate ideas together.

How do you create a repeat buyer?
We are lucky to have a lot of repeat customers. We try to personalize the buying experience for folks so it really depends on what the customer wants or needs. We have an active Facebook page and show people sneaks of what’s coming so they know ahead of time. We also have a spreadsheet of customer requests and let them know when pieces they need are in stock. We network with other dealers in the area and we all refer each other when we get something.

How do you keep your overhead costs down?
We have grown slowly so that we are not taking on too much. We tend to price our pieces to move (we typically sell 50-75% of our inventory in a week). That way, we can keep getting more pieces to sell each week. We also keep our supply scalable and wait for items to sell before getting something when we don’t have room.

How much inventory do you keep on hand?
We typically have 15-25 pieces of furniture in our space. We have 15-25 pieces of items we are working on but haven’t yet listed.

What do your listings on Krrb need to have in order to sell?
We have developed our customer base so we try to get items that people will like. For each listing, we try to walk around the piece and show pictures of how a customer would see it. We work hard to be upfront about our pieces and give folks as much information as possible. Finally, we are very clear about our selling policies and stay in communication with folks throughout the process (sometimes immediate and sometimes over a few days).

What are your guidelines for purchases?
For our purchases, we sell on a first come/first serve basis. We typically hold a piece for 24 hours if somebody wants to see it in person. Some of our folks purchase the furniture online and with this option, we can store the piece for a week to give them time to get to it. If somebody buys something online, all of our sales are final so we really work hard to answer any questions before purchase. Finally, we keep our pricing structure firm so we can offer the same pricing to everyone.

Tell us about the best sale you’ve ever had.
Tough choice. We have so many wonderful customers and have a lot of fun with our sales. But we had a very special magic moment in February. We were going to sell a pair of Brasilia chairs and the customers pulled up with a box truck and bought about half of our inventory. The sale alone was nice, but the couple was starting a rental business and furnishing each room with a different midcentury theme. It was so much fun to talk to them and generate ideas together.

How do you factor your price?
Our pricing accounts for what the piece typically sells for, the amount of wear, and how long we want to keep it in stock. We tend to price our larger items (e.g., dining tables, credenzas) more affordably because they take up so much space. We like to get some of the “look for less” pieces: Americana midcentury furniture that sold to middle class America, or vintage copies of designer pieces, and want to keep the tradition of keeping these pieces affordable as well. The affordable pieces are the ones we mostly have in our own home and withstand the wear and tear of kids and pets. This year, we’ve begun to stock some higher end items and we are fine waiting a little to sell these.

 

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