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October 23, 2017

Why Your Facebook Marketing Isn’t Working

The topic of discussion at a recent small business gathering was “What’s new in your marketing plan for 2016?” My answer was “Nothing so far.” Perhaps if an entrepreneur develops a new platform that combines some of what I’m already doing, I’ll consider making some changes. In the meantime it’s status quo for me. I

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Blogging for Dollars

“I can run my business or I can write a blog, but I can’t do both; I’m too busy.” I can’t create any more hours in your day (I wish I could). But what I can do is show you how blogging is an activity that will leverage both your time and your money. Blogging

Achieve Higher Prices Through Storytelling

A baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the Apollo 11 mission sells for $12,000. A typewriter belonging to novelist Cormac McCarthy sells for $254,500. A football used during the NFL’s “deflategate” scandal sells for $43,740. Baseball caps and footballs are commonly available for under $10; typewriters for under $100. Clearly, in the above sales

Rousing Customers’ Senses Leads to Closing Sales

All the marketing you’ve ever done to promote your business is completely wrong and has been a gross waste of money. At least that’s what Dr. Neal Martin would have us believe in his book “Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Would Have Us Ignore.” I’m not convinced by Dr. Martin’s book. Effective marketing has

Getting Past “Just Looking”

The most thought-provoking comment I’ve heard lately came just last week from the mouth of a four-year-old boy. I was browsing through the men’s department of a mall store when the four-year-old appeared, holding his mother’s hand. A clerk asked the mother: “Can I help you?” and without dropping a beat the young boy replied:

Boost Your Sales with Sidekick Merchandising

I’ve always marveled at fictional sidekicks. A good sidekick lends perspective to enigmatic heroes and helps us to know them better. How well could we understand the complexities of Sherlock Holmes’ mind without having Dr. Watson to ask the questions we are thinking? How much more dignified is Andy Griffith when compared to simple-minded Barney

Should You Open an Antique Mall Booth?

Should you open an antique mall booth? The answer to that question will vary according to who you ask. Folks who have opened a booth and failed will, of course, tell you “no”. Many antique dealers will tell you “no” as well, citing the fact that their sales are getting lower every year. Operators who

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

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

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Gauging New Store Potential

“If you build it they will come.” This frequently mis-quoted line from W.P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel “Shoeless Joe” has become a popular rallying cry among entrepreneurs who want to start-up an antique or consignment store. (The actual quote is “If you build it he will come.”) The idea is that if you open a store,

Minimizing Antiques Fraud

A few weeks ago here in my home county, seven sellers at the annual Hillsville, Va., Labor Day Flea Market were arrested for selling counterfeit brand-name goods. The goods consisted of cell phone accessories, jackets and perfumes with a street value of about $500,000. Four of the sellers were from Illinois, two from Kentucky and

Boost Sales With Antiques Tourism

“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” — Leo Tolstoy When Tolstoy made this point, I’m sure he wasn’t foreshadowing the modern tourist industry. Nevertheless, there is a lot of “coming and going” occurring in the U.S., and in the past year

How Do Your Return Policies Affect Your Sales?

A visitor to an online forum recently sought help from forum members regarding a problem he was having with an eBay seller. It seems the visitor had purchased a “working” used game system, but when it arrived none of the accompanying cords fit the unit and he was unable to use it. The seller’s Terms and

Avoid Falling Victim to the ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’

photo courtesy of  lawschoollies.com/ In the following scenario, what would you do if you were the dealer involved? At an estate auction you find a lovely Nickelodeon (coin-operated player piano with drums, etc.) that seems to be in working order. The auctioneer claims that it “has been partially restored and plays well. Just needs tuning.”

In-Store Spending on the Rise (Again)

It seems that eCommerce and Big Retail have finally learned what we antique dealers have known all along: Customers prefer to handle and inspect an item before they buy it. For years, retail analysts have touted online selling as being the future of retailing. And in the board rooms of The Big Guys, decisions were

Open to Buy

Unlike our other calculators, this one doesn’t automatically calculate answers for you. This topic is too important to automate the math; you really need to internalize this process. So, I have provided tables and a set of instructions Antique dealers often get into trouble by willy-nilly buying inventory without giving any thought to what they

Operating is Risky Business Without Insurance

In my July 26, 2012, Behind the Gavel column, I related a story about the Mountaintop Antique Mall in Hillsville, Virginia. This popular mall near Interstate Route 77 is one of my favorite places to visit when I go antiquing near Hillsville. Last month, intending to visit Mountaintop, I drove right past the mall entrance.

When Does a Hobby Become a Business?

It was apparent from the wording of his forum post that Ben was overwrought. He had just received a 1099-K from eBay and feared that he would owe the IRS a lot of money. Ben wanted forum members to advise him on how he could maneuver through his difficulty. It seems that Ben’s uncle had

Antiques and Collectibles

Guns of the Mayflower

It seems that each Thanksgiving I happen upon a picture of a somber Pilgrim dressed in black, big buckles on his shoes, belt and hat, with a turkey slung over one shoulder and a blunderbuss firearm in-hand. This image has been used in cartoons, movies and ads for generations; I’m sure that most of you

Collecting Vintage Field Drums

Church-bells ringing on Sunday morning are a familiar sound in communities all over America. There was a time, though, that the faithful were called to worship by the sound of drums. Thomas L. Purvis notes in his book “Colonial America to 1763” that the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony built a platform atop their meeting house

Collecting Philco Predicta Televisions

“It’s truly TV today, from the world of tomorrow… it’s 1965… today!” This line from the 1958 Philco television ad exclaiming that the new Predicta model TV was “the most excitingly new concept in the history of television!” At the time, 1965 was a mere seven years away, and the announcer seemed confident that the

Evaluating Antique Frames

There is one thing I can count on whenever I evaluate an estate: most rooms will have one floor and three or four walls. Consequently, well-decorated homes may have many more items on the walls than on the floors. Too often, estate executors spend most of their time inventorying the large items of furniture on

Collecting Vintage Salesman’s Samples

“She Ran Away With A Shoe Drummer” read the Chicago Tribune headline of April 19, 1890. The ensuing article told of a great scandal: a recently married young socialite left her husband to run off with a travelling salesman (“drummers” in those days were travelling salesmen, called such because they would “drum up” business for

The Format Wars

Those of us over a “certain age” have seen format wars come and go: VHS vs. Betamax; 8-track vs. cassette; Apple Mac vs. IBM DOS; Blue-Ray vs. High-Definition video. Each of these technologies served the consumer in a similar way. Each format required compatible hardware in order to make its “software” work; Betamax tapes couldn’t

Finding Value In Those Old 78 RPM Records

The bidding stood at $16,800 until the last few seconds of the eBay auction. Then, auction sniping software kicked in. Within seconds, the bidding soared to over $30,000. The final selling price of the item was just over $37,000. What was it that caused all the fuss? An old shellac 78 RPM record by Tommy

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