There is no shortage of furniture stores (most with “going out of business” sales several times each year), and even discount retailers who also sell some furniture, around the country. However, even with all of the choices for new furniture, clocks, watches, dishes, and other items, there is always a good demand for antiques and collectibles.
Many lovers of antiques and collectibles have turned their passion into a respectable business. Buying and selling antiques and collectibles can be a fun and profitable venture and, best of all, is a business that can be operated from home.
Some dealers of antiques and collectibles do not specialize in a particular niche market instead buying and selling many types of items. Many dealers choose to specialize in a particular antiques and collectibles niche though. For example, a dealer may specialize in furniture, clocks, tobacco memorabilia, signs, motorcycles and bicycles, or one of many other specialties. Which path you choose for your own home-based antiques and collectibles business is your choice; however, it may be easier to learn the value of items, the history of items, and to build a network of collectors ready to buy your inventory if you choose to specialize.
While some antiques and collectibles dealers maintain retail stores, many more sell only at auctions, shows, or in antique malls. Some antique and collectibles dealers also maintain a “showroom” in a garage or barn on their property that may only be open limited hours or by appointment. My own hometown in Upstate NY has a number of dealers who operate out of a garage or barn in this manner. Operating as a home-based business, whether selling from an outbuilding on your property or selling at auctions and shows, allows the antiques and collectibles dealer to keep their costs down and profits high.
Marketing an antiques and collectibles business may be somewhat different than many of the other businesses discussed in this book. Buyers of antiques and collectibles are likely to either be other dealers or collectors.
Word-of-mouth advertising is hard to beat, but it is also hard to force. Selling quality goods and treating customers fairly will eventually result in good word-of-mouth referrals from other satisfied customers.
A business website allows you to display current inventory, as well as to list the type of merchandise you are looking to buy. A business website is also a great place to list contact information, information on your showroom or shows you will be selling at, and any other pertinent information you wish to share with your customers. Your website can also serve as a platform to promote an e-mail list. E-mail lists can be used to advertise items that are for sale, announce items that you are seeking to purchase, and to promote shows where you will be selling. E-mail lists work best if the customer feels that they are receiving value from the subscription so make sure to include good information and not always try to “sell” something to your subscribers.
Business cards are always handy for business people. Handing someone a business card allows them to follow up with you later about a conversation you may have at a show or a sale. Business cards should list your name, all of your contact information, and some basic information about your business interests or specialties.
Antique and collectibles buyers and sellers usually use a van or truck to transport merchandise. Placing a sign on your work vehicle is almost free advertising. The only cost is the investment in the sign or lettering. After this modest, initial investment the vehicle advertises for you everywhere you travel or park.
It is very easy to purchase an item that looks like a great deal only to find out that no one else wants to buy the item from you. This is particularly true if you are new to the antiques and collectibles business. The reason why one item is ridiculously valuable while a similar item may be ridiculously cheap is not always easy to discern. Research every purchase as carefully as possible if you are not certain what you are buying. Purchasing a warehouse of inventory that cannot be sold at a profit is a quick trip to being out of business. Choosing one or two specialties can help to avoid the confusion that goes with trying to master multiple types of antiques and collectibles.
Starting a home-based antiques and collectibles business can be fun and rewarding for someone who has a passion for antiques and collectibles. Utilizing a garage or barn at home for a showroom can keep the business costs low and help to maximize profits. Similarly, a garage or barn at home can be used as a warehouse for items to be sold at an auction, show, or antiques mall booth.
Bill Ritchie. Starting An Antiques Business – Part 1. Antique Web. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.
Bill Ritchie. Starting an Antiques Business – Part 2. Antique Web. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.
Steven Randazzo. Opening an Antiques Shop. Country Living. Site accessed on 12 November 2010.