Having owned an antique mall and been an antique mall dealer for over 20 years, I will give you some helpful tips on selling antiques successfully in an antique mall. Most people want to become an antique dealer because of their love for antiques. It would not rank near the top on the highest paying occupations. But one reason for that is most people don’t treat it as a business. Second, especially in this economy as I write this early in 2011, it is a difficult business. However, done correctly you can be a successful antiques dealer.
If I was wanting to become a new antique dealer, I would start by getting a booth in an antiques mall. But please, do your homework first. Normally most people wanting to become an antique dealer have some antiques of their own and decide they want to start selling antiques. It helps if you sell things that you enjoy, as long as your tastes aren’t too extreme. This might seem overly simple, but you want to sell what people want, not what you want to sell them. You first want to decide what to sell.
Are you going to concentrate on antique furniture, vintage clothes, antique jewelry, etc. Maybe you want to sell a little bit of everything. I would recommend selling a little bit of everything unless you are an expert in one field of antiques. You might specialize in a few things, but carry a diverse inventory. So spend some time seeing what is selling in your area and at what prices. Don’t make the mistake of just seeing what things are marked, some people mark their things high so they can give big discounts. Others just pay too much and mark their things too high. The same holds true for checking online antique prices. The price you want to try to discover is what that flow blue platter sold for, not what it is marked.
Once you decide what antiques you want to sell, you need to discover sources of where to buy at prices you can afford to resell. When you bought for yourself, you didn’t have to worry about making a profit. I know you are thinking, why am I saying that, it’s obvious. But I had friends that bought things because they liked them, and gave little considerations to whether they could resell it at a reasonable price. Later they would wonder why they were not selling anything.
A saying among antique dealers is. “You make your money when you buy it and not when you sell it.” If you buy it at a good price, you can turn your inventory and sell it at a good price. This will keep your customers coming back also. So it is very important to find sources where you can buy inventory. Your original inventory may have been things you bought over the years, but now you are going to have to replenish inventory on a regular basis. On this same site I wrote articles about buying antiques at auctions, estate sales, online, and many other sources. You might want to check these out, including my favorite source, buying antiques in England.
There will also be an extensive section describing different types of antiques and “smalls” which are smaller pieces that are not furniture. I will try to include what is the most popular in that particular area. For example, within transferware, for the last few years, brown and white transferware has been the most popular although blue and white is by far the easiest to find. Blue willow is the most popular pattern as most major manufactures had their own Blue Willow pattern. This section could go on forever because the many different forms of antiques is almost endless. That is one of the most exciting things to me. You never stop learning in this crazy antiques business. And I have found the more you know, the better your chance of being a successful antique dealer.
There is still so much more to cover, but I don’t want this article to become too long. So I am going to do a Selling Antiques Successfully In an Antique Mall II. It will include, “how to decide on which antique mall.” It might even be better to drive an hour to get in the right antique mall for you. Is it important where your booth is in the mall? What single thing can help you more than anything else? What size of booth is best? Those are just a few topics that will be covered in Selling Antiques Successfully In an Antique Mall II.