When faced with a cancer diagnosis on her 29th birthday in February 2014, Kelly Rogers found herself analyzing her life and how she spent her time. Up until that defining moment, Rogers, who has a Ph.D. in educational studies and a MBA, worked in the educational realm, including teaching at her alma mater, Chapman University.
“I thought about what I wanted to do,” says Rogers, who is now cancer free. “The classes I usually taught weren’t offered the next semester, so I considered my various interests, one of which is antiques. In November 2014, I opened a booth selling antiques in the Plaza. I also participated in antique markets and was shocked to discover how poorly show promoters treated vendors.”
This behind-the-scenes view of antique shows compelled Rogers to consider creating a vendor-friendly show. “My business background told me that I could do the shows more efficiently and in a unique way that would be good for the attendees, vendors and our company,” she says. “I knew that if we selected high quality vendors, and promoted the market as well as the individual vendors, that we had the foundation of a stellar show.”
Rogers teamed up with marketing expert Jennifer Kerstner, and the duo conducted focus groups in order to determine what customers and vendors desire from an antiques market. Taking all of the information to heart, they created Trading Post 1908, an antique, vintage and handmade market that provides venue space for selected artisans and curators. “You will find exactly what you’re looking for at our markets,” says Rogers, whose own interest in antiques began when she inherited her great grandmother’s rustic farmhouse style furnishings that date back to the early 1900s—hence the 1908.
Trading Post 1908 has held several shows to date, with each being more successful than the prior one. “We have more than 300 vendors in our Trading Post 1908 community of juried vendors, and we’ve been averaging around 150 vendors per show,” says Rogers. “Our upcoming show at the Anaheim Convention Center in April will feature 250 to 300 vendors.”
In keeping with her educational roots, Rogers also provides training to vendors to increase business, including courses on social media, websites, marketing and business promotion and development. They recently held a networking event at the Potting Shed in Old Towne for the vendors, which is “unheard of,” says Rogers.
Trading Post 1908 vendors have been impressed with their experience, such as Audrey Rivera, owner of Orange-based Anything Rustic. She carries vintage and architectural pieces that she up-cycles into every day, functional objects for the home.
“At the first event, we had record sales,” says Rivera. “Trading Post shows run efficiently, and Kelly and her partner are really savvy about marketing. The vendor quality is also high—you’ll find many unique pieces. Kelly understands what it’s like to be a vendor. They even provided us with snacks, waters and brought in certified massage therapists.”
Lynette Warren, owner of Sirènes, which features handmade seashell and driftwood art, has also benefited as a Trading Post 1908 vendor. “One of my favorite experiences so far was seeing all of the early birds line up at the gate at my first show,” she says. “Kelly and Jennifer manage the shows so well that there is a smooth flow and a really great vibe. All of the vendors are super helpful and friendly. I’ve really appreciate being a part of the Trading Post 1908 vision.”
• The next Trading Post 1908 show will be at the Anaheim Convention Center April 8th
. For more information, visit www.tradingpost1908.com
Published in the Mar/Apr 2016 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Julie Bawden-Davis