Thursday, August 28, 2014

Antiques 101---The Misadventures of Floozie and Hurriet

When I set out to write this series of helpful hints, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to share, but all that went out the window as soon as I realized I'd probably be preaching to the choir.
Y'all have heard the same advice over and over.  I knew to help you, I'd have to be honest...brutally so...and I didn't know if I could do that.
Not that I have a problem with being honest. As I've talked about before, the most important thing I want folks to take away from our booth is a honest deal. We've staked, as well as built, our reputations on honesty. We've never purposely hidden defects in anything we sell to a buyer. If it's been repaired...we say so. If we're not sure of the provenance of a piece...ditto. We've lost sales because of it, but we've also gained loyal buyers for the exact same reason.
We can buy replacement merchandise all day long, but at the end of that, or any day...our reputation cannot be replaced. We won't short sell our word just to make a sale.
So class get out your #2 pencil and as my mother used to say...this is gonna hurt me a lot more than you.
I can't tell you what to buy, but I can advise you as to how.
You are first going to have to decide what you want to sell and how much you're willing to invest in the beginning. Only you know your start-up budget, but be prepared to keep good records. I didn't at first and there's no telling how much of our own money we poured in before I started keeping track.

If anyone ever writes a book called Bookkeeping for Dummies...I'd be the first in line to buy it. Even after all these years, I am still the messiest record keeper on the planet!
Now that you've got an amount in your head that you feel comfortable with, let's move on to the next order of business...and no, I don't mean buying.  While I know it's the best part of the business, you're not ready yet. Just so you don't go all antsy with me, I'll tell you now. That's a future topic. Okay?
Before you start buying, you have to decide what you want to sell. Sounds easy...right? I'm here to tell you it's not.
Some will say to buy what you love and that's good advice, but I would say buy what you know.
And if you don't know anything...start learning!
Get out and visit shows, malls, anywhere there is selling going on. See what catches your eye.

If you find yourself spending a lot of time drooling over the palest of pales or hanging out in the tent full of repurposed items, you may have found your niche.
If you can't get enough of the painted furniture or glassware curls your toes, by all means, take note.
Look, see, touch, feel...learn!
Also, pay attention to what is selling...and the area in which it is selling. What sells in Texas, might not in Timbuctoo.
Let me add one other thing. Although small, there is a distinction between junk, vintage, and antiques. Deciding which you want to sell will be part of your homework.

Don't tell anyone I said this, but for the's all used merchandise no matter what the age. And with that in mind, remember crap wasn't made just yesterday and not always in a foreign country. (Where do you think the word shoddy comes from. Google it and learn.) It's been made for hundreds of years and with that comes the possibility if it was crap a hundred years's still crap. All things don't necessarily improve with age. Heck, even some wine will turn to vinegar.
Point is, if junk is your thing, be prepared to buy the best junk you can afford. Same goes for vintage and antique. My advice is to try and buy as unique as possible. You want your merchandise to stand out in the sea of sameness from time to time, you'll find yourself surrounded by.

One thing I like to do is buy and sell in piles. Some call it bundling...others bulk. I like the word piles. Law...y'all ought to see the looks I get when I say I have piles!
One sad little milk glass bud vase, sitting on a table, all on its lonesome, will often get overlooked. BUT...10 different little milk glass vases, each with a flower tucked in them? How can anybody miss...much less resist...those I ask you? It's a service as well as a marketing technique that hasn't failed me yet. I've resisted the temptation to sell just the one and instead waited and spent the time gathering an instant collection with a wow factor. Yes, half the fun of collecting is in the hunt, but some people don't have the time to chase down enough vases for an upcoming wedding, shower or special event. Photographers have bought my piles to use as props for styling shoots. (I can't wait to see my wedding cake macrame' hangings gussied up in an upcoming wedding and the toppers styled in yet another wedding...both in October!)
 Simply put, I've done the leg work and saved them a ton in aggravation, tires and fuel. I call that a win/win for all involved.
(FYI...A. Being unique in your offerings is the first step in branding. But we'll get to that later! B. Most of these items featured have already sold. I rest my case!)
Feel free to mix the three if it floats your boat. I personally prefer a dark eclectic look. Actually, mixing things up is a good beginning for more than one reason. It appeals to a broader range of  customers and it keeps you from getting trapped in the cookie cutter vortex. Plus, the mixing of trends is extremely popular right now in decorating.  And lastly, it will give you the chance to find what works and sells for you before you invest too much money and time in dust catchers.
Speaking of trends, I feel myself trending off subject. Hopefully, I've given you some information you can study on and filled at least one page on your Big Chief tablet.
Until the next time when we'll be discussing trends...
Class dismissed.


Cheryl said...

Good morning Deb,
Powerful class.......I am going on a little road trip with the hubby today and plan on using your advice of observing and picking. Can hardly wait for the next class!
Enjoy your day and have some fun!

holli said...

I'm all eyes and ears soaking up every word!!! Great stuff.

Kelley said...

She wasn't talking trash today!!!!!

Hugs and happy week,

Bohemian said...

Well said... I'm in total Agreement. Knowing the demographic of where you're Selling is vital... I've even found that just a few miles down the road they can have totally different clientele preferences... so it can take a while to figure out what is Selling in the area you're set up in and nailing it down to be profitable. Some demographics don't follow trends at all or wouldn't know Vintage, Antique or Collectibles if they fell over them! *Smiles* Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian