Joining The Way Back

Thinking of taking​ space in a vintage retail environment? We know there are a lot of factors for you to consider. When considering The Way Bac​k, here are some details that we think you should know:

  • Our shoppe is based on a co-operative staffing model – that is, our member-vendors work behind the counter serving our customers.
  •  The Way Back is open 10- 5, 7 days a week (excepting Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). This means that your inventory receives 49 hours of exposure to our customers each week.
  • Member-vendor fees at The Way Back start at $1.30 per square foot with commissions as low as 5%.
  • The Way Back offers limited space in “common areas” outside your member-vendor paid space at no additional cost. These areas include outdoor space, secure displays (showcase), and fashion room space.
  • Member-vendors with 90+ square feet receive The Way Back’s “sales equal to you fee guarantee” which guarantees that their monthly fees for the months of Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb will not exceed their sales during those months.
  • The Way Back rewards longevity. Beginning in year two, member-vendors at The Way Back receive a $5 per month discount from their member fees for each subsequent year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about becoming A Way Back member-vendor

1. What do you mean by “member-vendor”?

The Way Back’s co-operative staffing model means you’re more than just a vendor. You’re actually part of the team that makes the shoppe run and keeps it successful. Your input on matters of procedure, operations, and even promotional efforts, is welcome. This also means the rest of the team relies on you and you can rely on them.

2. I’ve never worked in retail before. How much training will I receive?

Because we’re a team, we’re all invested in one another’s success. You will receive as much training as you need to feel confident and to be competent at the tasks involved in staffing the shoppe. This varies from individual to individual and your feedback and comfort level will be important in determining when you’re ready to “solo.”

3. I have a lot of obligations. What if I want to be a Way Back member-vendor but am unable to contribute to staffing?

The staffing obligations are proportional to the amount of space your inventory occupies and the time required for most member-vendors is one day a week or less. You can use the time between customers and shoppe tasks to work with your inventory, redecorate your space, and see what other member-vendors are selling. But if you absolutely are not able to dedicate time to staffing, there are options which require a higher commission rate.

4. Does The Way Back advertise? As a member-vendor am I allowed to advertise my goods myself?

The Way Back’s primary mode of advertising is a listing and display ad in the Vintage Directory which is published annually and distributed by those businesses (including The Way Back) that advertise in it. The Directory also maintains an on-line and Facebook presence and promotes sales and events of its advertisers through its e-mail list. Supplementary to the Vintage Directory advertising, The Way Back uses the Nickel’s Worth, Craigslist and e-mail to promote sales and events. Member-vendors may also purchase an 18” x 24” metal sign on the 4th Street directory sign for $25.

The Way Back member-vendors are encouraged to advertise on their own and/or to provide the shoppe with photos and text for use at

5. How can I determine how much space I need?

For most people starting out in the vintage retailing business we recommend that you begin the evaluation of your space requirements by looking at 100 square feet. This is an easy round figure to work with and is compatible with what many individuals have seen in use at vintage fairs and antique mall environments.

As an exercise in how this space might work for you, use masking or painting tape to mark a 10’ x 10’ square on the floor. This is a 100 square-foot space. Then either arrange actual furniture, shelving units, display cases, etc. within the space (preferable), or use your tape or suitably-sized cardboard pieces to occupy the footprint that these items would take up within your space. Remember that you will need to allow for customer access to all of the articles you’ll be displaying in your space.

Once you have your display surfaces arranged in a manner that you believe is optimal, begin arranging your inventory pieces on the surfaces. Be creative in your use of vertical space. Remember that your space includes the area from the floor to the ceiling as well as walls within the perimeter. Try several variations and arrangements. Use color effectively to draw the eye where you want the customer looking. Remember also to consider the scale of your inventory objects and their position relative to the anticipated line-of-sight.

With your selected inventory arranged within your 10’ x 10’ step back and evaluate how well a customer could see what you want him/her to see. Do you need more space? Less? Adjust your hypothetical space “boundaries” to see how a larger or smaller footprint might better serve you. Keep in mind whether you’ll be using static display surfaces i.e., tables, shelving units, etc that WILL NOT be for sale, or if your surfaces are subject to sale and subsequent replacement. This is entirely your decision, but keep in mind that customers are often inspired by what you’ve created within your space which often includes the surfaces upon which you’ve displayed things. Additionally, it is worth noting that your monthly member fee is for the entire space for which you’ve contracted. Taking up space with articles not for sale may not be the best use of your resources.

6. Why does The Way Back restrict the type of items a member-vendor can sell?

The Way Back defines its offerings as Antiques (100+ years old), vintage (30+ years old), art (original works, ltd ed pieces), and handcrafted wares (items individually handmade – not handmade on an assembly line), new-from-old/repurposed/upcycled (items crafted from materials originally designed for another purpose, combined in a unique manner, or augmented to change the original design). These parameters allow for a broad variety of inventory while ensuring a level of consistency throughout the shoppe that The Way Back’s loyal customers have come to expect.

7. Does The Way Back offer any guidance on sales trends, pricing, or customer “wants”?

The Way Back provides support to its member-vendors in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most useful information that member-vendors have available is what they learn while working at the sales counter. The sales counter is the perch from which every member-vendor gets to interact with the shoppe’s customers. This means you’re on the frontline of conversations with, and requests from, shoppers and visitors to The Way Back. In addition, member-vendors have access to historical sales data, recent sales specifics and details of what other member-vendors are selling. And because you’re part of a team, other members are eager and willing to help you research items, provide pricing advice and even help identify “mystery” items. The Way Back maintains information on customer requests that member-vendors are encouraged to review frequently.

8. When visiting The Way Back, how can I determine where new member-vendor available space is?

The Way Back is pleased to work with prospective member-vendors to identify space suitable to your needs. We have broad flexibility to create space within our shoppe that will put your inventory in the best location for the types of goods you have to sell. You will not be relegated to an “assigned” space in a particular location within the shoppe. Let us help tailor a space just for you!