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September 20, 2017

Pinning Down Pinterest Marketing Basics

As a small businessman, I’m very conservative (read: cheap) with my resources. I’m tight with my money and even tighter with my time, because I don’t have an excess of either to squander. Consequently, I’m very reluctant to jump onto the latest bandwagon because I’ve found that too often those wagons don’t go anywhere. Remember

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QR Codes Help Turn Mall Browsers into Buyers

A friend who is an antique dealer says he likes to visit antiques malls so that he can see how much other dealers are getting for their wares. I pointed out that what he was actually seeing was the prices that dealers weren’t getting, since all the items he would view were unsold. “Yeah,” he

Addressing the Uncertainty of Selling Online

You might be a crook. Your products might be of poor quality. You might not deliver once you’ve got my money. You might have misrepresented your product. These are the attitudes of the nearly one-third of U.S. Internet users who are still not buying online. With about 245 million Internet users in the United States

Grab Buyer Attention in the Blink of an Eye

Blink. No, really; pause for a second, blink, and pay attention to the speed of your eyelids. An average blink takes about half a second to complete. The New York Times recently quoted Google research demonstrating that “web surfers” will dump your website in favor of a competitor’s if the competitor’s site loads just 250

Clearing Inventory with Unique Solutions

For an antiques dealer, there are several circumstances that have the same physical impact as being gut-punched: a levy notice from the IRS, your partner running off with all your money and the fire marshal telling you, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to shut you down.” Linda Balentine heard those jarring words from a

Hanging Out Your Shingle on the Web

If my grandfather knew I’d become an auctioneer, he’d roll over in his grave. Back in the Great Depression, my family was one of many that were turned out of their homes by a bank foreclosure. Since auctioneers were agents of the bank, the family’s ill will toward the bank transferred to all auctioneers. Nary

Flea Market Vendors Show Why Price Matters

The entire town was swallowed whole! Was it Hurricane Isaac? Nope. Sink hole? Nope. Flea market? Yep. For the 45th year, the tiny Blue Ridge Mountain burg of Hillsville, Va., (population 2,600) was engulfed by a half-million visitors to the annual Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show. More than 2,000 vendors stretched for more

Sell More with Better Product Descriptions

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s

Reach More Customers with Mobile Marketing

What three things do you always take with you when you leave your house? Almost universally, the answer is your keys, your wallet and your phone. For decades, urban dwellers left home with just their keys and their wallets. At some point, cell phones became so important that they couldn’t leave home without them, either.

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Create More Cash Without Raising Sales, Prices

Too often, we antique dealers find ourselves in the position of being “inventory rich and cash poor.” We have a lot of money tied up in inventory but not enough cash to pay our bills and write ourselves a regular paycheck. We try various tactics to squeeze more cash from our inventory: We mark-down items,

Dealing in Used Goods More Profitable than New

My friend Brian is an exercise fanatic. He has special outfits for each type of exercise, and electronic meters to gauge each workout. I’m not into exercise at all. You’ve heard the expression “No pain, no gain”; my motto is “No pain, no pain.” As Phyllis Diller once said, “My idea of a workout is

Opening a Second Store? Do Your Homework

When the ghost of Jacob Marley visited Ebenezer Scrooge on that Victorian Christmas eve, Marley was dragging chains representative of the mistakes he had made in his life. Small business owners – especially retailers – do the same thing. We drag our mistakes around year after year until we become accustomed to them. We feel

Planning for Business Success: Heeding 2013’s Lessons

Retailers of all sorts spend the month of January evaluating their previous years’ business performance. Christmas sales make such a contribution to a retailer’s year-end bottom line that any serious evaluation must wait until the holiday numbers are in. Some retailers find themselves sitting on a pile of cash in January that they use for

Consignors: Proceed at Your Own Risk

The couple had such high hopes when they opened their consignment shop. They got their inventory for free, they reasoned and since the real estate turnover in their upscale neighborhood was brisk, they should have a steady supply of both consignors and customers. The neighborhood, too, welcomed the new business enthusiastically. Within a few months

Following the Supply-Demand Antiques Prices Triangle

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been following a discussion of antiques prices on a LinkedIn forum. The participants are all dealers, and the conversation continues as I write. Supply and demand antiques pricesIt’s been a lively discussion, and the general tone of the thread is respectful, which I find refreshing. Here are a

Customer Service Policies: Help or Hindrance?

I couldn’t have been more embarrassed. I met some out-of-town friends for lunch, and I picked up the tab. We were in a small-town, mom-and-pop restaurant; the kind where you pay your bill at the register. I handed the clerk the bill and my debit card, and she said “I’m sorry sir, we don’t take

Has eBay Lost Its “Auction Edge”?

I miss Meg Whitman. You remember Meg: She was president of eBay back when it used to be an auction site. Meg’s philosophy was that eBay was in the business of connecting people with people; i.e., person-to-person trading. Ms. Whitman’s vision ended five years ago (2008) when John Donahoe took over eBay as CEO. Now,

Antiques and Collectibles

A Look at the Collectible Guitar Market

In 1933, struggling 22-year-old musician Leonard Slye needed a guitar. He found one at a California pawn shop and paid $30 for it. In 1933, $30 was an average week’s wage, but Slye believed that the guitar—a three-year-old Martin OM-45 deluxe model serial #42125—was worth the price. New Martin OM-45s retailed for $225. Slye went

Collectible Rockabilly Records

Collecting records is easy. Records are widely available and often cheap. But assembling a meaningful record collection requires thought, vigilance and no small investment. Records have been produced for so long—since 1894—and in so many different musical genres and formats that serious collectors must consider the boundaries and contents of their collections or they will

Muscle Car Music: Collecting 8-Track Tapes

To garage-salers and flea market buffs, they seem to be everywhere. Most folks walk right by boxes full of them with their nose in the air and an attitude of indifference. For collectors, though, boxes of unwanted 8-track tapes are pure gold. Monthly sales of 8-track tapes number in the thousands on eBay, with prices

How to Open, Price and Sell Residential Safes

One of my “go-to” movies when I’m in the mood for a caper-flick is “The Italian Job” starring Mark Wahlberg. In a clever bit of cinematography, Wahlberg’s gang of thieves steal a safe full of gold bars by using explosives to cut a hole in the floor around the safe causing it to crash through

Near Meltdown for $33M Fabergé Egg

What a difference a few minutes of research can make. If you haven’t heard by now, collectors around the globe are talking about the discovery of the third Imperial Russian Fabergé egg, identified last week by Kieran McCarthy of London’s Wartski jewelers. The Fabergé community is extremely excited about the find, as the egg has

Baby Boomers Tuned In with Transistor Radios

A recent family reunion found me sitting at my sister’s dining table with siblings and their families, sharing stories and looking through old photos. The older adults were actively conversing, and the younger adults were in their own world, each texting away on their smartphones. As the photos made their way around the table, a

American Bandstand Collectibles

Promotional merchandise has become such a part of American media marketing that many new movies launch simultaneously with a merchandising push. Disney is a master of such promotion, along with Lucasfilms and Pixar. Most of the merchandise comes and goes quickly, but dolls representing cultural and pop icons linger on year after year, moving from

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