Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

How To Be An Antique Dealer Part 3

7 Habits Of Successful Antiques Dealers

This is part three of a series on how to be an antiques dealer. Part one explained the best way to start an antiques or collectibles business. Part two explained how to act at antiques shows. In this article, I explain 7 habits of succesful antiques dealers.

Since I started buying and selling antiques and collectibles in 1977, I've met hundreds of dealers.

All types of dealers. . .

  • Part timer antiques dealers who enjoyed owning interesting items for a few weeks or months before reselling them for a nice profit.
  • Weekend dealers who shopped at yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales on Fridays and Saturdays and then sold at flea markets on Sundays. Some were weekenders who sold items in antique malls.
  • Dealers who bought large quantities of specific antiques, and then either sold them in a store they ran, or by mail order with lists sent to people who responded to small ads in magazines.

When eBay came along in the 1990s, all these dealer's businesses changed. They changed the way they sell items. They changed the way they met new buyers. And, most importantly, they changed the way they buy items.

Over the years some of the dealers I met stood out. One of the things that makes them stand out is they have continued to buy and sell items for decades.

You see, lots of people start antiques businesses, but only a small number continue for decades. In this article I'll examine some of the common habits I see in these successful dealers.

7 Habits Of Successful Antiques Dealers

  1. Successful antiques dealers specialize. This doesn't mean they turn away from interesting items they can make money on, it means their ads and businesses are aimed at a specific type of antique or collectible.
  2. Successful antiques dealers have multiple ways of buying antiques and collectibles. Over the years I've identified over 100 strategies to buy antiques and collectibles. 83 of these strategies are explained in my How To Get A Constant Stream Of People To Sell You Their Antiques and Collectibles package.
  3. Successful antiques dealers have outgoing personalities. They like people and are friendly and helpful. They enjoy the banter of negotiating with buyers and sellers. They make friends with other dealers and with their buyers.
  4. Successful antiques dealers enjoy the items they sell. This enjoyment helps when buying and when selling. I once bought some trains off a woman for $4000 even though another dealer had offered her $4025, just because she thought her dead husbands trains would be happier with me.
  5. Successful antiques dealers understand the difference between collecting and investing. We've seen dealers who talk about inventory who are really just collecting items they can't or won't resell. Maybe they paid too much, or they priced the items too high. Either way, these dealers are just collecting their mistakes. Successful dealers turn over their purchases in a short amount of time. Before eBay my inventory turned over about every 6-8 months. Today with eBay the good stuff is gone as soon as I list it on eBay, and the cheaper stuff goes to shows until it's gone.
  6. Successful antiques dealers have positive attitudes. As dealers we tend to spend more time thinking and talking about the great deals we've done. When we make mistakes like buying something for too much, or selling something for less than it's worth, or - this is my most common mistake - letting something good get away because we were distracted or didn't know what it was, we learn and move on.
  7. Successful antiques dealers learn new skills and adapt to new markets and technologies. They try selling at antiques shows. They learn to sell on eBay. They study salesmanship and body language to improve their negotiating skills. They look for emerging trends to identify new items they can buy and sell. They seek out new ways to buy antiques and collectibles.

Articles in this series on Becoming An Antiques Dealer:

Additional Articles about Antiques Dealing:


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