Nov 16, 2013

Antique Shop Takes Ownership Culture To New Level, Sues Over Lamps It Doesn't Own

Antique Shop Takes Ownership Culture To New Level, Sues Over Lamps It Doesn't Own (via Techdirt)

When we talk about the differences between infringing on the copyright of content and concepts involving copying tangible goods, one of the examples we often use is the idea that if you bought a chair, and then decided you wanted a copy of that chair…

Nov 14, 2013

Can Your Antique Appraisals Land You in Court?

Antiques dealers have exposure from two sources: attorneys and the IRS.

It’s unlikely that a dealer will be sued over an appraisal unless the amount involved is substantial; there has to be enough money involved to pay a lawyer and have something left over. Risk for a dealer is directly proportional to the value of the item.

It’s well established that one of the root causes of the recent U.S. banking crisis was over-inflated and poorly researched property and housing appraisals. Poor appraisals that resulted in a financial crisis are not new: faulty appraisals were also at the root of the Savings and Loan failures of the 1980s and 1990s. In both crises, loans were made on the basis of appraised value. When a property’s appraised value was overstated and the loan went bad, there was not enough actual value in the property to collateralize the loan.

Poorly executed personal property appraisals can result in negative fallout as well. Read More

Inventory, Investment, and Perception

Baron von Rothschild, the 19th-century British banking magnate, had a succinct investment philosophy: “The time to buy is when there is blood in the streets, even if that blood is your own.” The Baron would know: He made a fortune in the panic that followed Napoleon’s defeat at the battle of Waterloo.

Modern-day billionaires echo the Baron’s philosophy. Warren Buffett and other “contrarian” investors scoop up deeply discounted corporate assets whenever markets turn down. In Buffet’s own words: “You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus.”

Of course, in a depressed market, cash is king. It’s likely that von Rothschild and Buffett had money to invest. Even teenage entrepreneurs know the adage “it takes money to make money.” Cash-strapped antique dealers are aware of the “good deals” to be had in the current market, but many don’t have the cash or the credit to pursue the available opportunities. How, then, can an antique dealer raise the cash to take advantage of current depressed prices? The Baron had the answer in 1815: Shed some blood. Read More

Hillsville Hosts Largest Flea Market East of the Mississippi

HILLSVILLE, Va., — Every Labor Day, the town of Hillsville, Va., (pop. 2,700) becomes a flea market. The town doesn’t have a flea market; it becomes a flea market — the Hillsville Flea Market and Gun Show. In one weekend, the population of the town grows to nearly 500,000 people, and it takes an effort by the entire town to accommodate the crowd.

Residential yards are turned into parking lots ($5 per day). Route 58 through the center of town is lined with food vendors for more than a mile on both sides of the street, and 400 acres of open space is rented by more than 700 antiques and collectible dealers, flea market sellers and gadget hawkers.

Vendors create a temporary city with row after row of RVs and tents set up behind the displays.

Sponsored by the Grover King VFW Post 1115, the show opened in 1967 and attracted 4,000 visitors. Today, dealers and shoppers come from Texas, Michigan, New York and Ohio; some have attended the show each year for decades. The event is a gathering place for both dealers and customers to visit, renew old ties, and scout for collectibles. Read More

Nov 13, 2013

Antique Dealers Can Master Web Marketing

Yesterday’s tools don’t work very well in modern applications. Take a rotary phone, for example: It can still make phone calls, but it won’t work outdoors, it won’t connect to the Internet, and it won’t take photos. A few of you are now saying, “I just want a telephone that makes phone calls.” I’d be willing to bet that it’s these same few who have said “Internet marketing doesn’t work.” It’s not that Internet marketing doesn’t work; it’s that they are taking a new tool (the Internet) and using it like it’s an old tool. It’s like owning an iPhone and using it like it’s a rotary phone. They’re not using the tool to its full advantage.

Much has been said lately about finding new customers and reaching a new generation of buyers. If you want to reach a new generation of buyers, you have to send your message to the place where new buyers are listening and approach them in the manner in which they prefer to be approached. Instead of searching for a silver bullet that will magically reach new customers on your terms, it’s important to study when and how your potential customers prefer to receive advertising messages. Read More

Elements Shifting Power from Antique Dealers

In October of 1991, the strongest storm in recorded history hit off the coast of Gloucester, Maine. Created by three storms combined into one, it was dubbed “the perfect storm,” and created almost apocalyptic conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was recounted in the book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and the Warner Brothers film of the same name starring George Clooney.

Another perfect storm has been brewing for some time now in the antiques business. The results of the storm, though not apocalyptic, will manifest a shift in power from the antiques dealer to the consumer, which will re-define the way business is transacted. The days of the unchallenged expertise of the dealer are over. The three elements driving the storm of change are the proliferation of social networking, mobile Internet devices, and product/pricing transparency.

The First Storm: Online Social Networking

The human desire to connect with other people has driven online social networking to triple-digit growth. As of April 2010, Facebook had over 400 million users, and adds hundreds of thousands of new users daily. Four hundred million Facebook users is about 30 percent more than the population of the entire United States. Read More

An Antique Shop Owner’s Exit Strategy Takes Time and Preparation

If the Grim Reaper had to earn a living like the rest of us, he’d probably become an auctioneer. He would trade his hood for a snappy-looking hat and his scythe for a gavel. He would preside over the demise of businesses, and as each asset passed the block his gavel would sound like thunder as he proclaimed “Sold!” in a voice that echoed with finality. The business owners would look on helplessly, stunned by the speed at which their life’s work evaporated.

Some businesses will be out of reach of the Reaper. According to a 2008 White House Advisors Survey, about 12 percent of all closely-held business owners have a written plan to sell their business intact and continue operations. Those business owners will cash out in style, selling at the right time to the right buyer for the right price. The remaining businesses will be sold piecemeal and shut down. Read More

What Antiques Dealers Can Learn from Encyclopedia Britannica

In 1993, Encyclopedia Britannica had the most profitable year in the company’s history. Two years later, the company was nearly bankrupt and was sold for below book value. What happened in those two years?

Most folks would say that Britannica was done in by Microsoft Encarta. In 1993, Microsoft purchased rights to the Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, created an electronic version, changed the name to Encarta, and began bundling Encarta with new computers. Encarta could be purchased off-the-shelf for around $50. Britannica sold for around $1,200. Competition from Encarta killed Britannica.

Or, did it?

Did the fact that Encarta was faster, more accessible and cheaper kill Britannica or was something greater at work here? My contention is that there was something greater at work: a paradigm shift. By paradigm shift, I mean a complete change in thinking or belief system that allows the creation of a new condition previously thought impossible.

Britannica was approached by Microsoft in the late 1980s regarding the Encarta project, but Britannica declined to become involved. Read More

Nov 12, 2013

How the Antiques Business Can Capture Gen X

Today, the antique business has a new problem: old customers.

Boomers and their parents, who have been collecting antiques for decades, no longer have the room or the inclination to buy more antiques. Their Generation X successors do not seem to care for antiques.

“The trend is away from antiques,” says Red Whaley, owner of an antiques business in Forney, Texas, since 1968. “I think it skips a generation,” Whaley said in a recent Associated Press article. “You just do not want what your parents had.”

Attend any antique show in the US, and all you will see is a sea of silver hair and bald heads. This leaves antiques dealers in a quandary: their customer base is shrinking, sales are plummeting, and they are buried in inventory.

The shrinking customer base is just phase one of the problem. When millions of boomers start to downsize and the antiques they have been collecting for decades hit the resale market, prices will plunge as well.

There will be an overabundance of supply, and very little demand. Boomers that bought antiques as an investment are in for a rude awakening. In many cases, they will not recoup their original investment. Read More