My dad always told me “You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure you always look your best.” I’ve taken this advice to heart my entire life, and it’s stood me in good stead throughout. Now, of course different situations demand different looks – I wouldn’t go to a picnic in a three-piece suit. Same goes when shopping for swell stuff — there is a look that works to good advantage in the great treasure hunt.
Savvy dealers look prospective customers over with an eye finely tuned to recognize if someone has the affluence to afford their merchandise, and also to identify the experienced market warrior versus the dilettante browser. Stand outside a dealer’s booth and watch how he or she looks at the people walking in – you’ll learn a heck of a lot in a very short time! The first thing a dealer looks at are a customer’s shoes – their quality and appropriateness to the location are paramount. Next, the type of clothing – comfortable, lightweight and durable are the signs of a serious shopper. Finally the accessories – a hat for the sun, layers for temperature shifts, a pack or bag to carry purchases, and non-ostentatious jewelry. All are hallmarks of the veteran marketeer.
But, I like to say, “life is too short to be bland, so add some pizzazz to your style.” This is where I like to add my signature touches! I love vintage clothing, so pretty much everything I wear is. My shoes are either vintage western boots or funky retro sneaks, my jeans are vintage from thrift stores, and my shirts are all vintage Hawaiians. The vest I wear to carry all my “stuff” – loop, flashlight, phone, etc – is from the mid-1960’s, and all my hats are vintage as well. I also collect funky vintage watches, bracelets and eyeglasses that I like to wear, plus they often elicit comments from the dealers, which is a great way to break the ice and open a dialogue. I top it all off with my denim bag, which has a great image of the Brooklyn Bridge on it – gotta rep the ‘hood! All of this helps let the dealer know that I’m a veteran shopper and into vintage. And, because I’m flamboyant, they remember me, which will usually give me an edge in negotiations, since we now have a common bond between us!
So be brave, and develop your own style and look – it’ll set you apart from the crowd and just might help you relate to the dealers and score a big deal. At the very least, you’ll look cool!