This exclusive excerpt is from the new book Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide by Dan Brownell (Krause Publications, 2010). Brownell has edited more than 50 books covering a wide range of subjects, including advertising, ceramics, glass, clocks, bottles, records, toys, coins, tools, and militaria. -Editor.
“Business is better than expected, given current conditions,” said furniture dealer Charles Pharr, who owns and operates Aadvark-Antiques and Estate Liquidations (www.aardvark-antiques.com) in Oakwood, Ga. Pharr’s shop specializes in traditional early American and early English furniture.
He attributes his success in part to his online presence. Many people are very comfortable with buying online, examining their prospective purchases solely through photos. These shoppers are so experienced with the Internet that they don’t hesitate to search through online pages, pay electronically, and have their merchandise delivered directly to their door.
Pharr estimates that 50 percent of his business is to out-of-state-customers, primarily in urban and suburban areas. He also sells to customers in Europe, but they generally purchase smaller items. He recently sold a $10,000 table and set of chairs to a customer in the Dominican Republic, however.
“Shoppers are becoming savvy,” Pharr commented, but noted that people who have a lot of money are still eager to buy top-notch furnishings. People are not using interior decorators as much now, so they apparently trust their instincts to select their decor themselves.
He sells a wide variety of furniture and it runs the gamut in style and function. He noted, though, that his customers tend to prefer darker woods—the brownish reds of mahogany and cherry to the lighter woods of oak and maple.
According to Pharr, “sales of art and rugs have slowed way down,” although the rest of his inventory has sold steadily. His strongest sales are in long dining room tables, other dining room pieces, and bedroom furniture. While these pieces are relatively large, heavy, and bulky, the logistics in shipping them has not been a problem, and he has been able to arrange good deals on shipping costs.
Pharr said his integrity and honesty are also essential to his success and helps bring in repeat customers—not only twice but three and four times, in some cases.
While furniture is one of the more challenged antique categories, Pharr has demonstrated that with the right business model, dealers can still do well. ?
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