Since opening the brick and mortar freshvintage shop in March, our family life has changed quite a bit. Chris works at the shop when it is open (Thursday through Sunday) and typically spends Monday through Wednesday hunting for new inventory. I work full time at a software company during the week, and spend at least one day a weekend at yard sales, flea markets or estate sales.
Our shop is doing better than we expected, which means that we need to keep buying. Sometimes, our two kids have to spend a few hours at the shop with Chris on the weekends while I shop for fresh inventory. And occasionally, we drag them to flea markets. Which is akin to taking them along with me to the gynecologist. No one ends up having fun.
Hence, the coolness factor of having parents who own a shop has been gradually wearing off for the kids. We want to pump it back up, so that the antiques business doesn't become something that they dread. These are some of the tricks we are using to keep them interested. Most involve some type of small bribe - but all good parents know that bribes are sometimes our only hope for sanity.
1. Give them seed money
When we go to flea markets, we give each of the kids five dollars to find an item or two to sell in the shop. In the beginning, we would steer them towards certain items that we knew were cheap, but would still get them a small return when sold. After a few visits to the flea market, they quickly learned what sells in the shop, and they keep their eyes peeled for the moneymakers.
Maeve found a cute plaid tin picnic basket for $3 and a metal floral frog for $2. And both kids FREAKED OUT when they found a pile of vintage tennis rackets for a dollar each. They've since sold for $10-$12 a piece.
During the summer, we stopped at a flea market on the way to a camping trip. Maeve bought this Czech strawberry creamer for $5. We're selling it in the shop for $12, so she'll get to keep that profit. Although, it took a lot of explaining for her to realize that she'll only get $7 and not the whole $12.
Finn found three 1930's issues of Popular Science for $5. We already sold them in the shop for $4 each.
2. Pay them to do your dirty work
When I found over a thousand flashcards at a yard sale, I knew that I needed to sort them to get an idea of what I had. And I had to figure out the best way to sell them. So, I paid the kids a few bucks for each stack of 50-ish cards that they sorted in alphabetical order. Everyone was happy, and it ended up being relatively fun for all of us. Well, maybe not that fun.
3. Let them play
We try not to be overly stressed out about letting them run around the store and play with our (mostly not breakable) inventory. It keeps them occupied, and out of our hair for short spurts of time.
You can usually find them sitting at the kiddie table, playing Button Checkers.
Or, they are running around the store with cheerleading megaphones over their heads, bumping into things. Or modeling aprons and playing "Vanna White"...
4. Teach them how to research the value of items
My ten-year-old, Finn, has known for a while that I've sold Legos on eBay. In more recent years, I've been giving him the sets that I find at yard sales instead of selling them. He has amassed quite a collection, and plays with them almost every day.
But he's no dummy - he knows that some of his minifigs (Lego people) are worth more than others. I taught him how to search for Completed Auctions on eBay (under my supervision). He spent a whole weekend figuring out which minifigs sell the best. We decided to get a group of 30-40 of them together, and put the whole lot up for auction.
I took pictures, and he wrote out each of their names, and which sets they were from.
We sold the lot for $82! He's obviously itching to try it again. And, as a side benefit, he's being a little more respectful of his toys, since he thinks they will make him rich eventually.
5. Play guessing games
I love to show my kids a strange old tool or utensil and let them guess what it is. Like this one:
Do you know what it is? (Here's the answer.)
6. Encourage them to start a collection
This is a work in progress for our kids. Finn used to collect Pez dispensers, but he says he is too old for that now. (Try telling that to the grown men going nuts over them at flea markets.) Maeve doesn't have any real collections.
I want them to enjoy looking for specific items when we go to a flea market. And find a category of vintage finds that speaks to them. Unfortunately, because of my "Give them seed money" trick, the only things that are speaking to them are the ones saying, "Sell me in the shop and make money! Don't put me on a shelf in your bedroom. That's dumb!"
And, so, I am still working on perfecting this trick.
7. Trick them into helping
I gave Chris the day off one Sunday, and brought the kids into the shop with me. By the end of the day, the kids were bored out of their minds (even after way-too-many apple cider donuts from the farmers market next door and hours of playing on the playground and petting the goats).
When I let them know that we were 20 minutes from closing the shop for the day, they frantically started dragging our outdoor stuff back into the store. They're smart enough to know that the quicker they get the stuff inside, the quicker we can leave. I didn't have to lift a finger, and we were able to close the shop on time.
I had to grab my camera because I had never seen such a spectacle.
I've also tricked Maeve into thinking it's fun to stamp hundreds of tags at a time.
She does it free of charge, so I don't strive for perfection.
So, do you have kids that you are trying to assimilate into your antiquing world? I would be happy to hear any advice that you can share!