Antiques dealers are full-time or part-time entrepreneurs who love old things. Some love a single category, while others love a broad range of items. Few are born into the trade, and some collectors become dealers in order to finance their collecting habits.
The Best-Ever Description Of An Antiques Dealer
Whats It Worth Antiques Minute
Heres an interesting summary that describes many antique dealers. Some are from the book Killer Stuff and Tons of Money by Maureen Stanton (the best book on the business Ive ever read), and others are based upon my years as an antiques dealer.
Its not an easy life, and it takes confidence and faith to succeed as an antiques dealer.
There are no regular paychecks and never a cost-of-living increase.
Theres no paid sick days or vacation time.
Theres no pension fund or retirement plan.
Theres no corporate ladder where they get promoted for hard work.
Theres no safety net. They survive by their wits alone.
Product knowledge is more important than luck. The more they know, the more they can make.
Every day is a treasure hunt and infused with the hope of finding a pot of gold.
Buying is just as important as selling, and mistakes are nearly an everyday occurrence.
Its a risky business, and anyone who says theyve never lost money on a transaction or show is probably a liar.
Antiques are a product that many like, but no one really needs. As a result, antique dealers are usually the first to be hurt when times get tough.
Vital cash flow is often impacted by the weather. Too hot or cold? Snow, rain, sleet, wind, or ice? Noreaster or hurricane? None help the show gate. And if the weather is perfect? Thats not good either if the buyers stay home to work in the yard or just relax.
Cleaning and refinishing, packing and unpacking, show set-up and breakdown, marketing and promotion, accounting and money management are all non-paying positions in the family business--and usually done by the same one or two individuals.
A beauty of the antiques business is that dealers can do it whenever they want, wherever they want, and with whomever they want, while making new friends in the process.
Theres no time clock. No one can fire them or lay them off. They control their own destiny.
Its capitalism, down and dirty. There are no guarantees. And no regrets.
And Ive heard it said that its a little like the mafia. Once in the antiques business, youre in for life. Theres no leaving.
Whats it worth? How do you put a value on a life you love? I spent 15 years working in the corporate world and hated it most of the time. The 35-plus years Ive spent dealing with antiques and collectibles have been the best years of my life. And most antiques dealers would probably agree.
Mike Ivankovich is an auctioneer, appraiser, home downsizing expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" radio show that airs live in the Philadelphia area on Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30 a.m. EST on WBCB 1490 AM and on the Internet at www.WBCB1490.com. You can also visit his radio show website at www.AskMikeTheAppraiser.com.