Monday 14 September 2020

How to become a successful antiques dealer!



Welcome, if it is your intention to learn how to make some extra money and learn to deal in antiques then you are in the right place, this is a very comprehensive blog, on how to become an antique dealer!

In this blog I am going to share my experience, tips and secrets with you. My aim here is to not only help turn you in to an antiques dealer but I am going to make sure you become a successful antique dealer. I am going to show you how to start your business with next to no money. I am going to show you how to start with little knowledge and help you learn as you go. Most importantly I am going to show you how you can buy things with little to no risk of losing money.

My Credentials.

It is important that you know a little about me so that you understand the information I am sharing with you today is from years of hard work, lots of mistakes and experience I have gained from dealing with hundreds and thousands of different dealers.

For twenty years i worked the circuit, all the large international antique fairs, i now own my own antiques Store in South Wales, UK. I have sold my antiques with some of the top auction houses in the country from Christie’s to Dreweatt Neat, I have worked Ebay since its creation and run my own website . After twenty years in the game I have seen it all.

Do I need a degree to become an antique dealer ?

NO ! you do not need qualifications. This is one business that you can start with a little knowledge and learn as you go.

What Skills Do I Need To Become An Antique Dealer ?

  1. you will need to be able to identify something that is under priced that you can sell on for more money. ie. ( Spot saleable items )
  2. You will need to have at some level the ability to sell things whether online or face to face so ( sales skills )
  3. you will also need a level of accountant skills. This sounds much worse than it is, ( basically keep records of what you buy and sell )
  4. You will need problem solving, patience ( customer service )

Do I need a Licence to become and antique dealer ?

You do not need a licence to become an antique dealer. Saying this many authorities such as in Scotland require antique and second hand shops to register with them.

You are best to check with your local authorities for any regulations in your specific country or area. The idea is not to make it hard for dealers to start up. It is to protect both the antique dealer and the public by making sure stolen goods and fake products etc are not bought and sold.

Depending on where you are in the world the rules maybe different, ask your local government for help and guidelines, They are there to help you.

Do I Need Money to Become and Antique Dealer?

When you start any business it is good to have some funds. However in saying that becoming an antique dealer is something you can start with little to no money at all. I have produced films talking about starting up by selling unwanted / unused items from you own home.

Look in your Loft / Attic your garage for any unwanted toys, tools vintage clothes anything you do not want. ( This becomes your start up stock )

You can use the phone you already have as long as it has a camera, you don’t need a light box as long as you images are crisp and clear.

you will need to buy yourself a cheap book to start keeping track of your sales and anything you buy.

You could start up on ebay for free as a public account and only pay fees if your items sell. If you do not wish to use ebay, there are many other platforms depending on where you are in the world, within the uk there is free facebook market place among others.

Do I need hundreds of pounds worth of reference books ?

I am old school I started dealing in antiques long before the internet was widely available so books were so important then, however this day and age you can find almost everything online on search engines such as google.

However I would say that investing in books is still my biggest tip I could give. Buy specialist books on a subject you wish to learn rather than general books. You will never lose your money on a good book.

How Do I Get In To The Antiques Business ?

I would recommend if you already have a full time job, you start learning and dealing in antiques on a part time basis. Reason for this if you do not have a job you will still have bills.

Firstly you will need to start making money, so the likely hood is you will just be buying and selling collectables and what is known as bric a brac.

Why is this ? You will have limited funds and knowledge so buying cheap products to sell will be good for your training.

You will not lose much money buying from the locations listed below and there is always an element of beginners luck where you will find something really good.

Ok you have started off buy finding items within your home to sell. Now you have had a few sales you now use the money from these sales to fund your first buying exercise .

Where Is The Best Place To Buy Antiques ?

The best place for top end antiques are auction houses and antique fairs. However you when starting out do not want high end antiques, the cost and risk is too great with no knowledge. you need cheap

Search for your local

1. Car boot sale.

2. flea market.

3. antique fair for house clearance vans who dump their boxes of stock for you to dig through.

4. Yard sale, Jumble Trails.

5. Auction houses for cheap job lots.

6. Charity / goodwill shops or something similar.

These are where you start your buying experience. The products are going to be cheap mainly collectables but much less likely to be fakes and will be cheap enough for you to make a profit and learn the business.

What Time Should I Get To A Flea Market ?

There are always bargains to be had at any of the above locations. Take out the exception of auction houses so we are looking at markets.

Should you arrive early or late ? One thing I have learned after twenty years is this. Antique dealers will be at an event before the gates open, some even queue the night before to be first inside.

Does this matter ? Well yes. If you go to a flea market or equivalent to a car boot sale then most of the people who are selling there have no idea what they are selling. They are clearing house for a few pounds to pay a bill or towards a holiday or night out.

As the gates of an event open hundreds of dealers rush in. the best way to describe this swarm of antique dealers is, imagine a swam of locusts on a farmers crop. We don’t leave much behind, most of the time anything really good is gone in less than one minute of landing on a sellers table. You need to be there early to find the really cheap bargains.

Can you still get bargains at the end of a market day? Yes you can, Dealers move on to the next crop very fast, once they have stripped a flea market they move on to the next leaving what’s left for the general public to sift through.

There is always the chance that someone hasn’t put something out, forgot it in the front of the car. There is a small chance something has been missed by hundreds of Dealers. This does happen or most importantly, there are items that were too expensive at the start of the day that the price has now been lowered on.

How To Buy Antiques Risk Free !

There are many ways in which you can limit the risk when buying to resell. There is no such thing as totally risk free but you can get very close to it.

Here are just a few ways in which you can buy items at little to no risk.

  1. if you buy jewellery products buy them at or below the scrap value, for example if you buy 9ct gold the scrap price will change daily however at this moment in time it is approx £16 a gram, so if you buy gold for less than that and can not sell it then you can always melt it.
  2. This principle applies to Silver, Copper, Brass etc, i buy heavy brass ornaments all the time for a few pounds knowing they are worth as much or more to weigh in.
  3. if you buy job lots whether it is a box of jewellery at a flea market or a box of misc at an auction, the cost involved normally means that the product costs you around £1 per item which is so small there is no risk of loss.
  4. Do research while out sourcing antiques, use your phone and search the average sold prices and make sure you buy the item so cheap that if all else fails other dealers will be happy to take the product off your hands.
  5. Do not hold on to things, the time to sell now, if you know they are selling for a profit, the time to buy them is now, the time to sell is now.

What Skills Will I Learn As An Antique Dealer ?

While you are learning about antiques you will learn to improve your buying skills, selling skills, your photography skills, your accountant skills, your customer service skills, all these and more you will pick up very fast, a baptism of fire so to speak.

How Do I Learn About Antiques ?

Learning about antiques is a life long journey. After twenty years I still see so much I know little about. The best advice I can give you is to learn one subject at a time. Find a subject that you already love or have an interest in. now this could be modern art glass, Porcelain, Metalware or jewellery or any one of the thousands of things within antiques.

Start by researching your chosen subject, you can research in so many ways, either order some specialist books on your subject or use things like Facebook groups, antiques forums, search sold prices on platforms like ebay, however a word of warning when doing this, understand you do not know if the seller of an item knows what they are selling so some items maybe miss sold, fake or not what we call what’s hot. There are so many dedicated pages on google on almost every area of antiques.

another way of learning is how I learned, I attended antique fairs and auction houses, I handled the products for free and asked the dealers and auctioneer about the items, then went out and just found those items. Copy other dealers to start as if they are still in business chances are they know what they are doing and selling.

As time goes on you get used to all aspects of the business , continue buying cheap collectables but as you find items in your chosen field you will pick them up and start adding them to your inventory.

Once you are happy you know enough about this subject you can choose to become a specialist within this area or if you feel you know enough to make money, pick a new topic and start studding this.

Can I Buy Antiques From Auction Houses ?

Yes you can buy from auction houses, you will also learn a great deal from handling the products on offer, reading the auctioneer descriptions and watching other dealers work. However what I would say is, until you get some knowledge in your chosen area limit your buying to job lot boxes under the table, here you will be able to buy a box full of mixed items for as low at five or ten pounds and at one or two pound an item it is very hard to lose money. It just means there is more work involved in researching the items you have and selling more. But this will be a help to you to harness your skills.

Is it safe to Be and Antique Dealer With All The Fakes On The Market ?

A word of caution ! The world is flooded with fake products , antiques that were made yesterday and people are looking for you, You are the perfect buyer, someone with a little knowledge, just enough to see something looks good but not enough to know if it is fake or real so use your head, I am going to use jewellery as an example as it is the easiest to explain however this rule applies to all areas,

if you are on a stall that has a box of costume jewellery on the table, Within this box you pull out an 18ct yellow gold bracelet marked up for five pounds. Now this does happen regular when buying from general public but what you need to do is look at the stall. Are they selling other jewellery, do they know what gold is, lets assume they have a display case full of expensive jewellery but still put that gold in the costume box.

What should your first Assumption be, that they made a mistake ? This does happen but unlikely if they are jewellery dealers it is more likely that they got caught with a bit of fake gold and are moving it on to the next novice to pull their money back.

The point I am trying to make from this is, don’t just look at an item, if the stall is well presented and looks like they know what they are doing , odds are they do, so use your judgement on the seller, the stall and the item to make your call.

Online Scams !

It really doesn’t matter what platform you sell on, there are many scams out there to be very careful off. i will give you just a couple of examples however the best advice i can give you is to use common sense and be careful.

  1. There as always been a scam asking to buy something off you, they then ask if they can send you a larger payment and you ship the change and item to them. ( the problem is the money gram or order is always fake and you lose the item, the fees and the cash you send them )
  2. One major problem is if you do not ship your items tracked, there are some that will just say they have not had the product and paypal or who every you use will just refund them.
  3. A major problem that you are going to struggle with, if you sell a mass produced item for example a Royal Doulton Figurine, you photograph it, ship it, track it, when they get it , they tell you it is smashed, now yes this could be a postal damage but there is a small number of people who will look for an item they already own that is damaged to replace with a perfect example,( your example ) and return the broken one for free.

If you use caution and common sense you are protected for a great deal of scams, but know they are out there and don’t take it personal if you get scammed. learn from it, take the loss and move on, try to remember all you have lost is the few pound you put in to the item to beginning with.

How Do You Store Antiques ?

It is heart breaking when you have been up since four or five in the morning, searched under tables and in junk boxes to find something spectacular, to spend your hard earned money on it only to break it after. So a massive tip. Take a storage box with you and wrapping so when you buy your item you can ship it home safe,

once you list your item you need to store it safe until it sells. Use heavy duty boxes and wrap the items well, but you also need a filing system so you can find them again. I have done a film showing my filing and storing system.

How do I Value Antiques ?

Once you have bought your items, the process is the same weather you know what you got or not, the value changes almost daily on items, the market trends determine the value, what was worth money yesterday might not be tomorrow so the time to sell is now.

Identify your item , if you need help use a facebook group, once you know what you have, I find the best way to value is to search for similar sold items, it is very uncommon to have something that is a one off. There are always others on the market or been sold, search platforms such as ebay sold items, look at the amount sold , look at the prices and conditions, work an average sold price that matches your item and your items condition and that’s your asking price.

You will never achieve a full asking price , antique dealers always price up ten percent to come back down.

Once you have bought, listed and sold your item you need to make sure you get it to the new buyer safe, there is nothing worse than doing all that work and having to refund for a lost or damaged item. Make sure to wrap all your items very well using bubble plastic, foam beads etc, make sure there is enough room around the item for cavity packing between the item and the wall of the box and make sure to ship all items tracked mail no exceptions. I have created films on how to pack and ship your items safely.

How Do I Pack and Ship Antiques ?

How Much Do Antique Dealers Make ?

The most important question of them all I guess, lets remove out of this equation people who been dealing high end for years as some of these are on telephone numbers for a salary. As a beginner or average general antique dealer using flea markets etc to buy your products.

How much money do Antique dealers make ? What I will say is, the harder you work in this business like any other the more you make. I don’t know why but if you have a quite week on ebay and start listing suddenly sales start happening.

Antique dealers can be rich one day poor the next, I have had days where I have taken thousands and had days and weeks where I have taken very little.

You can make more than enough to have a good wage even at bottom end of the scale. I would say that starting out you will not be making a great deal but with in the year you could replace a two or three hundred pound a week job no problem and that is while you are learning.

As an experienced antique dealer the sky is the limit, work hard find a good product and you can make it rich.

Are there Still life changing antiques Out There ?

There are regular articles appearing in the news of gems found at car boot sales worth thousands, a few years ago there was a story of a Chinese porcelain vase found in a house clearance in England that sold for millions first time around I think it was around forty nine million. So yes you never know what you will find.

The life style.

This job is very hard work, its very cut throat as in you have to buy things off people at markets knowing the value. And the pay is sporadic, so why do we do this.

The simple answer is the life style, to give you an example I will use my favourite story. Every Wednesday I used to travel hundred miles to my antiques stall, once I refilled it and cleaned I would leave and go around good will / charity shops buying for the following week, on the way home I would stop at a passing restaurant and have lunch in the beer garden at the side of the river.

This jobs is hard but it gives you what no other job can, freedom, you can work your own hours, if you want to go to a school play you can , if you need to go doctors you can, you can chose to take the day off and work in the evening if you like,

I have five children and I have seen every first step, every first word, been able to be supportive an help when the children been sick. Family is so important so this job allows you to go to the beach for a day out while still spending ten min in a charity shop buying the stock you need to cover the days costs.

If you want a great life, flexible hours, a good wage and are willing to work hard this is the perfect job for you.

I create helpful videos , how too content and haul films where you get to see the stock I buy and what I pay. So if you are looking to get in to this business follow my on my youtube channel for all the help you need.

How To Become A Successful Antique Dealer.

  1. Learn one topic at a time so you do not get overwhelmed.
  2. Choose a topic that is both easy and quick to learn so you can cover more topics in your first year.
  3. Choose a topic to study that you are likely to find, there is no point learning about a product that is so rare you will not have the opportunity to buy.
  4. Choose a topic that will sell. there are many areas now that are just not pulling money, Victorian ceramics are very hard to move at the moment so go for maybe mid century glass which is hot.
  5. When starting out buy lots of cheap job lots to give you all the practice you need and gain experience.
  6. Research everything no exceptions.
  7. Research and choose the right selling platform for your product,
  8. Store, Pack and Ship your items safely.
  9. Divide your turn over in to three, allow each third for, Stock replacement, Bills and wages.
  10. Understand you are going to make mistakes, you are going to get questionable claims against you, be professional take the loss and move on, DO NOT GIVE UP.

This is a very informative blog, however i am in the process of writing a massive ebook with every tip, secret and advice i can give you. i will not only show you how to become an antiques dealer, I will show you how to become a successful antique dealer.

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