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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Antiques 101

First order of business...
I'm not going to apologize for not blogging since Hector was a pup...nor will I offer any explanations as to the whys of my extended AWOL.  Life happens.  Especially when one suddenly has an ol' tom (Translation: a retired Cat Daddy) hanging around the back door caterwauling to beat the band.  New rules have to come into play before I get to play.
One thing I have been up to my armpits in alligators is preparing for The Greatest Show on DirtY'all have heard me pi$$ and moan prattle on talk about how much goes into doing a show of this size ad nauseam, so I'm not even gonna start to bore you with a repeat performance of my own brand of caterwauling.  What I will say is Oh Mylanta!
(Inside Zapp Hall Spring 2014, poster courtesy of Zapp Hall Antique Show)
What we're bringing to Antique Week is probably the most unique load we've ever had and probably the most expensive load we've ever had to pay for.  For the record...I'm not no!  Putting aside our pride and vanity of the mantra go big or go home, we gave up our big tent and chose to downsize our space by moving inside Zapp Hall.  I truly believe this was acccording to God's plan and because we listened and obeyed, He has led us to things we would never have found left to our own devices.  By downsizing our space, He allowed us to upsize our merchandise. We've ate a lot of beans and taters to pay for putting this inventory together, but for the first time in a long time, I can honestly say...I cannot wait to get there and see it all together.
Which brings us to the topic of day.

                                  (Zapp Hall Spring 2014, photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
"How to keep it fresh when it's going stale."
The man and I ventured into the antique business in the late 80's, which doesn't sound all that long until you calculate the years...25+.  During this time, we've seen a lot of comings and goings in the business. We've seen the sales of cookie jars and lunch boxes pay for college educations, Beanie Babies bought, sold and traded in a frenzy to match the NYSE and Fire-King Jade-ite soar through the roof, simply because Martha said "It's a good thing".
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
With an abundance of reference books like Kovell's, anyone...with enough time, patience and willingness...could learn to recognize and price antique glassware, furniture, primitives, etc.
For the first 15-20 years or so, we watched as shoppes opened left and right. Antique malls were booming.  Shows like the Red Barn, Zapp Hall and others had waiting lists of folks just itching to get in.
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
I have to admit, it was a heady time.  Never knowing what long forgotten treasure the next garage sale or auction held kept us on the prowl.  There was an abundance of merchandise just ripe for the picking and always at a great price because those who weren't in the business couldn't have cared less if Aunt Hortense's worn friendship quilt was going to keep me in groceries for a month. To them it was just used and worn out old stuff.  But then along came PBS with Antiques Roadshow and suddenly, everybody was an expert and their crap complete set of Dallas Cowboys glasses was worth at least a gazillion dollars...maybe more!
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props. Jennifer will be at Zapp Hall for opening weekend Sept. 26-28th only. If anyone is interested in having her photograph their space, please contact Jenn on her Face Book page to schedule an appointment.)
That one show...and the copycats that followed...changed the rules forever.  It also required us,  as curators of the old, to change as well...which albeit the point of this post.
(Photo courtesy of  you know who!)
For those of y'all who are new to the business or are thinking about diving in, I was thinking maybe I could share what I've gleaned from my years of being a Ye Olde Keeper of the Krap and perhaps help you avoid some of the moats I fell into over the years.
What say ye?
Yay or Nay?
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props. All styling done by moi!)
I must warn you, I am quite the gasbag and when I get really wound up...well you know!  And if you find yourself trapped in my seemingly endless tail tale wind?  Well then...don't say I didn't warn you.
(Feel free to pin any of my images. All I ask in return is please be sure and give credit to Give Me Props as photographer. Thanks so much!)