Jan 11, 2014

Estate Sales Booming, Antiques Shops Struggle to Pay Rent

It’s too expensive to manage a retail outlet when shoppers are willing to travel.

In almost every market, the number of traditional antiques stores continues to dwindle while other marketing channels — estate sale companies, auction companies, consignment stores and online venues — continue to grow.


One reason is that traditional antiques stores are expensive to operate and entail considerably more financial risk than alternative marketing channels. Another reason is that traditional antiques stores are less responsive to the social needs of the marketplace than competing companies.

These two business cornerstones — financial risk and social necessity — should compel antiques dealers to regularly re-evaluate their business models to determine if their financial risks vs. rewards are in balance and if their businesses are responsive to the social needs of their market.

Profits are paramount; they pay the bills and drive growth. But, profits aren’t possible without sales, and dealers who move beyond being “just another retailer” and embrace the social needs of the marketplace will discover that their phones ring off the hook and they make more sales than ever. Read More

Jan 10, 2014

Antiques Inheritances Affected by 2013 Gift Tax Changes

Word on the street is that collectibles appraisers have had a busy year. With the lifetime gift tax exemption scheduled to drop from $5 million to $1 million on Jan. 1, 2013, collectors are scuffling to pass on as much tax-free wealth as possible to their children and heirs.

Collectors who gift this year will save themselves some money in gift taxes, as well, because the gift tax rate jumps from 35 percent to 55 percent on the same date. The individual who gives the gift pays the taxes on any amounts over their lifetime gifting exemption at the rate current at the time of the gift. So, even if you’re approaching your lifetime gifting limit, if you are sitting on a valuable collection that will someday pass to an heir, now is the time to consider how you will transfer the property.

As the filing deadline closes in, both collectors and appraisers will be pressured to get appraisals and paperwork done on time. Read More

Jan 9, 2014

Top Antiques Apps for Your iPad or Android Tablet

Pricing antiques? There’s an app for that but an overall lack of apps leaves room for innovation

We live in an age of specialists. In almost every profession, the amount of information available is too overwhelming to be mastered by one individual. Doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and personal property appraisers – individuals in too many professions to count – are specialists, not generalists. The day of the generalist is over.

Even technology is trending toward specialization. Soon to be gone are big, multi-function software programs. It used to be that big, multi-function programs offered a great value. For a modest price, you could buy the Swiss Army Knife of software that included a word processor, database, spreadsheet, customer relationship management and more. But with each new version of the software came new features, and soon such software became a victim of its own size. Eventually, every big program reaches a point where there are so many features offered that access to them becomes difficult and makes the whole product impractical for the average user. How big would a Swiss Army Knife have to be before it became unusable? If the knife had 50 tools, how many would you actually use? Read More

Jan 8, 2014

Sell More with Better Product Descriptions

In our information-heavy, digitally-driven world of antiques, dealers have learned to choose their words wisely. No one wants to risk bad feedback from an online buyer or a lawsuit from a disgruntled auction bidder because they have mislabeled an item. We know the difference between “antique,” “vintage,” collectible” and “retro.” Or do we? And if you have answered that question with an enthusiastic “I certainly do know the difference!” then listen up; this article is for you. You may not know as much as you think you do. In fact, clinging to outdated words and definitions may be hurting your business.

Consider this: “Antique” is now an offensive verb, as in “I totally antiqued that guy!” (This may be peripherally related to the tacky furniture painting technique called “antiquing,” but I digress.) In the modern usage defined by urbandictionary.com, the verb “antique” means to toss flour, sugar or another type of powder in someone’s face — usually while the target is sleeping — to make it appear that a great deal of time has passed. Read More

Jan 7, 2014

How Managing Your Inventory Can Cut Your Taxes

It’s often said that two of life’s certainties are death and taxes. What’s said less often – but is just as certain – is that your tax liabilities can be the death of your business.

You work hard to create profits so you can re-invest those profits into inventory to build your business. Then, when the time comes to pay the IRS, you have no cash because it’s all tied up in your inventory.

The last time I checked, the IRS didn’t accept Victorian rockers or Depression glass as payment for tax liabilities; they actually wanted cash. To make sure that you have enough cash when tax time comes, you need to get a good handle on your inventory.

For non-accountants, here’s a look at how inventory and taxes are related (to keep it simple, let’s assume that there were no returns and that no inventory purchases were made): Net Sales minus Cost of Goods Sold equals Gross Profit. Read More

Jan 6, 2014

How to Find Probate Antiques

It’s no secret that antique dealers spend as much (or more) time acquiring inventory than they do selling it. Many dealers are up at the crack of dawn on weekends and spend their days searching estate sales, auctions, flea markets and antiques shows for merchandise. Some dealers take out-of-state road trips, and a few travel abroad to find inventory.

Others systematically work the online auction sites like eBay to find bargain treasures for re-sale. Almost all have spent years developing a network of pickers who can keep new inventory rolling in. Compared to antiques dealers, retailers of consumer goods have it easy. All they have to do to keep their shelves stocked is pick up the phone or go online and place a wholesale order from a catalog.

The reason that dealers are such “early birds” when mining estate sales, flea markets and antique shows is obvious: They want to find the best merchandise and negotiate a good price before their competitors show up. Flea market and estate sale sellers sometimes don’t know what their merchandise is worth, and may accept an early cash offer. Read More

Jan 5, 2014

Antique Shop Rents Should Be Based on Location, Traffic

Why do shows and shops tell dealers they are selling space when they are really selling traffic?

Who pays for traffic?

A well-worn aphorism is that there are but three important considerations in real estate: location, location and location. I submit that this isn’t true for antiques dealers. For antiques dealers, the three most important considerations are location, traffic and lease. Within each of these three categories are variables that can mean the difference between a dealer’s outstanding success and dismal failure.

Location, for example, doesn’t just refer to the location of the building you’re in. A small dealer (Vendor A) who has a booth inside a well-located antique mall but whose booth is located in a poorly trafficked aisle benefits less from the mall’s location than the other dealers in the mall. If Vendor A pays the same booth rent as a vendor in a better-trafficked part of the mall (Vendor B), then Vendor A has a bad lease. Compared to Vendor B, Vendor A is overpaying for rent because he has too little traffic. Read More