AT Inbox: Antique store hold policies debated

Many readers weighed in on a column written by Antique Trader Online Editor Karen Knapstein [see the Jan. 27 issue] after she missed an opportunity to purchase a rare breweriana tin because an antiques mall did not honor a promise to ‘hold’ the item until she could visit two days later. – Editor

My thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to us with your thoughts on antique shop hold policies.

Your empathy for my predicament is sincerely appreciated. I’m still disappointed over the whole situation, but your replies have made me feel much better: I’m happy to know that my feelings were justified, and that there are, indeed, some well-planned hold policies out there.

Perhaps you’ll share in my joy when I tell you we were contacted shortly after the “dishonored hold” incident by a fellow who decided it was time to pass along a few of his Knapstein Beer items. And as a result, we’ve got three new items finding their way into our collection.

Thank you all again for your responses!

Any time you want to give us a shout, you know where to find us: and
– Karen

Antiques mall should honor ‘hold’ promise

Boy, am I ticked off today!

What that antique store did to Karen Knapstein was despicable. The very least (and I do mean least) they could have done was call her to inform her of the other bid. Their actions were based on pure greed. Regardless of their poor ethics, though, did they not even notice the coincidence of the names? (Did Karen not mention it?) I would think that would have given the store owner and staff pause. They might have come into a very interesting sale and story later. I would not shop there again, and I would be sure to spread the word, as well.

While I’m still mad, I’d like to add to a previous question in this column, about vendors who do not put prices on their items. At the last antiques show I attended, a booth had some lovely Steiff animals, and they all had paper “price” tags attached. However, the tags merely had some stock number written on them, and no prices. Instead of snatching up an animal, paying and taking off, I merely groused with the lady standing next to me, and we both took off.

 I figure that if the vendor a) is too lazy to price her stuff ahead of time, then I can’t be bothered, either, or, more likely, b) she has a price list she “refers to” that could be anything she wants to make up as she goes along. “OK, for the show, we’ll take the store price and add 20%.” Who knows? One or two items not priced, I can understand. I do know she lost two potential clients with what she may believe is a sound business practice, but I believe to be poor judgment.

I’d love to see an eBay listing with “You Guess the Price!”

I would like to say that I avoid stores/booths/vendors like that. In theory, I do. But I am weak when it comes to something I really, really want. When that happens, I’ve tried making my opinion known, to at least make myself feel somewhat vindicated in my wicked purchase. I don’t think I’ve changed anybody’s mind, but I have noticed the junk store around the corner from me that never had items priced, is now out of business.

Thanks for listening!
Lisa Freter Mull
Lisa’s Bits & Collectibles

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Hold policies are important to customer service

In response to your question, We do have a 48-hour hold policy in our Co-Op at the Days of Olde Antique Center, in Galloway Township, N.J. In Today’s Market, we have found that customer service means everything.

We are one of the last surviving Antique Co-Ops in South Jersey. We Pride ourselves with excellent Customer Service and have seen a 14 percent increase in our sales over last year primarily because of it.

Our policy is this: Any customer may place an item on hold simply by requesting for it. We then tag that merchandise with a red hold tag and take the customer’s contact information directly off of their driver’s license or picture ID. We place the item back in the original location, keeping the customer’s information confidential but displaying the item with the red hold tag.

If another customer is interested in the item, back-up offers are taken on the merchandise and another tag placed on the item. If the original customer has not come back for the item in 48 hours, we call the customer to tell them the item is no longer being held for them and then the back-up customer is contacted.

We firmly believe that with each customer complaint that we receive, statistics show that you will lose six customers just by word of mouth. Therefore, we would not allow a back-up customer to offer more money for an item and sell it to the back-up customer without notifying the primary customer first. We will take payments over the phone with proper verification and ship items if necessary with the customer paying for shipping charges, of course. In this market, in order to succeed, you must make your customers happy and prove your integrity to make them come back!

P.S. I just recently subscribed to your publication and received my first two copies. I love it!!  It is a great resource and I have shown it to other dealers in our center.

Kathleen Meola
Tuckerton, N.J.

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Some customers don’t honor hold policies

There’s no uniform rule. Every individual seller has their own guidelines and inclinations, which may vary depending on precise circumstances such as dollar value and general demand for the item, and even their mood at the moment. Some sellers don’t take “holds” very seriously, but in other particular cases a “hold” may be considered a binding contract, especially when a deposit is left.

Every experienced seller has “held” things for buyers who never showed up or who later found fault with the item, and declined to buy or tried to haggle the price. I’ve been set up at shows where a buyer has asked me to hold something when the show first opened, and either didn’t come back, or two days later at closing time stopped by and asked to see the item again, and then made an excuse for not buying.

In the unfortunate case of Karen Knapstein’s lost tin sign for the Knapstein Brewery, as described in AT page 5, Jan. 27, 2010, where her verbal telephone “hold” was not honored, of course she now realizes she should’ve paid for the item over the phone with her credit card immediately, and had the item conspicuously labeled “sold” while she was still on the phone. Better yet, she should also have asked that the item be removed from public display and marked with both her name as the buyer and that it was paid in full. But even that would not have guaranteed the sale.

Especially in an antique mall where numerous persons are involved, a booth space holder might claim they had made a previous verbal commitment to another buyer, and not honor someone else’s attempted hold. Plus there are hundreds of imaginable errors and excuses in every setting including auctions, shops, shows, and online as well as in malls.

If it’s something you absolutely must have, obtaining physical possession of the item together with a signed receipt for payment in full is the surest thing.

But in Karen’s case, all may not be lost. She can still try to obtain the item from the buyer, by offering a higher price, and/or something else more desirable for the buyer in exchange. She can ask both the seller and the mall to transmit her offer to the buyer, along with her contact information, and maybe also enclose clippings of the piece in AT describing her lamentations. Good luck with it.

Michael Price
Via e-mail

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Another example of a loss of business ethics

The action of the dealer is just another example of the ethics, or should we say lack of ethics, that we are so frequently faced with in these times.

Adrian Vinke
Via e-mail

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Strange collections can include spittoons

Strange collections? Yes, I collect spittoons, or cuspidors, and have for years. I have about 200 of them. They are very difficult to find and I never see ads for them for sale. In fact, I would like to sell mine now that I’m  ready to downsize. Thanks!

Clara Came
Covina, Calif.

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‘Roadshow’ experts should wear gloves

I’ve collected rare autographs, documents and books for more than 40 years. The hair on the back of my neck stands at attention when the designated experts handle rare paper items with their bare hands and, at times, with some pressure.

Oil and moisture is secreted from the hands and even the slightest stain on the document may decrease its value. Ladies and gentlemen of Antiques Roadshow, please use acid free white cotton gloves and the hairs on my neck will no longer stand at attention.

Keep it clean,

Tal Kanigher
Burbank, Calif.

Letters Policy: Letters can be addressed to Editor, Antique Trader, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990, or e-mailed to All letters and e-mails must be signed with a first and last name, and include a return postal address. Antique Trader reserves the right to edit letters or not publish letters.


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