Here’s why few antiques ‘dealers’ last

I am often asked why so many people get disenchanted with dealing in antiques and collectibles.

Yes, once someone is bitten by the thought of finding treasures as they browse through garage and house sales, they energetically throw themselves head first into the new adventure. Success often comes to them in small bits, but soon their energy is drained and they seek another outlet for their hope for fortunes.

“What is wrong with this scenario?” you should be asking. I will try to dissect this problem and give you a way to overcome it. First, why do you go to a cardiologist instead of your general practitioner when you have a heart problem? Answer they specialize right but they also will cost you more money.

It is the same with antiques and collectibles, those specializing in the rare and unusual will survive and prosper while often the dealers that only become knowledgeable on the common and average drop by the way side.

There are several reasons for that but the first is that the collectors, if they have been collecting for any amount of time, will no longer be interested in the common pieces so they will just sit in your inventory taking up space and your capital.

The second reason is that everyone knows the common items while few know the rare and unusual. This fact alone should encourage you to spend time researching the rare items on the Internet and also by reading as many books as you can get your hands on. This is the best way to eliminate your competition.

There are other reasons that common antiques and collectibles shouldn’t be your preferred direction to follow in this business.

Often you will find the margins that you can make on common items are very small because they are plentiful and most people already have them. The same can’t be said about the rare and unusual where the collectors will be looking you up to buy your items that they haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

I often find dealers who are willing to work on 20 percent margins and I can assure you this is just a disaster waiting to happen. After expenses an occasional mistake you will find yourself going in the hole. But let’s look at the other side of the business with a couple of examples.

My friend Cecil purchased a 1940 Kentucky Derby glass for $12.50 and two weeks later sold it for $12,500. Now what percentage profit is that? I purchased a Boehm Scotty porcelain dog for $50 and later it sold for $5,000.

Yes, these opportunities don’t come along as often as the common items, but until they do, you will always have your money available to buy them if it’s not tied up in inventory that you can’t sell.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to being an upscale dealer is that sellers will come looking for you when they have something worthwhile. They know that you deal in quality but if you only had a reputation for dealing in flea market items they would pass you by.

I will tell you a cute little story.

A reporter was sent to visit a gentleman to write an article on his Coke collection.

Once arriving the reporter looked over the collection and said is this all you have? Little did he know that the collection that was in front of him contained the most expensive item make by Coke in the entire world. And could possibly been worth millions of dollars.

It isn’t about numbers and you should always remember that.

I have nothing against a person playing with the purchase of items at garage and house sales to flip them on eBay for a quick profit, but they will never become a dealer whose primary income is produced by being an antique and collectible dealer.

I train average people to become advanced dealers on my website Where else can you fulfill the dreams you had as a child watching Treasure Island – of finding the real treasure that is out there just waiting for you. My friend found a painting that he paid $25 for, only to sell it later for $675,000.

Now that is a treasure that would even make a pirate captain smile. ?

Daryle Lambert, with more than 45 years of experience in the antiques and fine art communities, is the founder of the Daryle Lambert Antiques and Collectibles Club. He is also the author of “31 Steps to Your Millions in Antiques and Collectibles” and blogs daily on his website, where he may be reached. 

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