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Wed Dec 16 2015 19:54:13

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on the Road

By: Reader

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Hi Ina,
I'm one of the few roadies left roaming around the country. Been living in my vans selling at antique shows and flea markets last 30 years. Very few people that I knew when I started are still around or even still in the business. 

It's a dying business. The next generation only wants what they like cheap and the rest of the dealers want to gut you before they will buy anything. They want it for less then you paid so they can make all the money. 

I'm a purest, by that I mean I would never sell a repro. If I bought one not knowing I would take the loss and throw it away. But as my markets are drying up to non existent customers and my dealers stopped buying, I have to rethink what I am doing. 

This last summer was my worse selling summer ever. I barely survived and I lived mostly at a Walmart or flea market free. After this year I will be buying new stuff to sell as that is where the market has gone. 

Never did I think I would be doing that. But I lost my pride last summer trying to sell antiques and collectibles. There still might be antique buyers but they want odd or high end stuff. Ir crap for 1.00.

The only thing I've seen in recent years that has helped the business is the steampunk craze. But I also create steampunk art and jewelry and mostly the steampunkers want parts to create their own styles. So that only helped to a small degree. 

Unless you're giving your stuff away at a very low profit or selling new stuff, it would be advised to stay away from the resale markets.

Just my opinion
God help us all
H.




Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Jane Dough This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 00:20:45 2015

Maybe get a space in a store? That is working well for me.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: joyful17 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 00:33:42 2015

Never give up...just move on..and that means "put your antiques on the internet"!

I did this 10 years ago.....and while it started slow ( and I ignored it more than I should have)...I have found myself selling quality well priced items on my antiques site on Etsy.
I opened this shop on Etsy 1 ½ years ago.....and am really surprised that I have done quite well. Not so, when I try selling antiques on eBay!
Wish you good fortune and happier days! Happy Holiday and a bright New Year.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 01:06:23 2015

I sell low price stuff with thin margins. Still hard to make sales. The entire market has changed. Don't give up on antiques & collectibles completely. Try internet sales. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 03:57:12 2015

We are closing our antiques store after almost thirty years in business, in the same building. When you have to use your Social Security money to pay the rent, the party is over.

I now sell on Etsy, and am doing pretty good, and I enjoy it. Hubby can finally get around to working on our house more.

The market has changed drastically. Younger people will only buy something they can use, like records, or dishes. They don't ''collect'' anything anymore. Older people already have their collections and think they are worth a fortune.

It is hard to accept sometimes, but times change. Everything seems to be digital now. And I admit, I buy most things I need on Amazon. It is so easy to go there, pick out what I need, and wait for it to be delivered.

We still love old stuff, and the history those things carry, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a living at it. We certainly never got rich buying and selling old stuff, but it was a lot of fun.

There is Etsy now, and I find it a welcoming place. I started on Ebay in 1997, and it has disintegrated over the years, until it now feels sleazy. I sell a little bit there, but usually don't buy anymore.

It really is sad that the market has changed so much. It is time for the OP to settle down and sell on the internet from home. Antiques and collectibles do pretty good on Etsy. However, it makes me cringe sometimes when Buyers are using older items for supplies in a craft project.

I think your Steampunk supplies would do well on Etsy. Follow their (minimal) rules, and they leave you alone to deal directly with your customers. I hope you try it.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 05:01:22 2015

I left my b/m antique mall 6 months ago when the lease came up for renewal and I faced a huge rent increase. Went back to ebay and started taking care of my own much neglected website. So far so good. Could it be better? Of course - always. Point is now I'm actually making money as opposed to paying rent electricity taxes (county state fed) trash insurance dealers advertising gas yada yada yada. Now I just keep my money - I'm happy.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Carol This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 09:05:48 2015

Good discussion.  I started with a booth in an antique mall in 1988 and moved on to  antique shows, a b/m store in a shopping mall and internet sales (ebay in 1997 and later, etsy).

I would hate to be trying to make a living selling antiques and collectibles today.  No one wants beautiful handpainted dishes and lovely crystal anymore.  Even vintage jewelry is hard to sell now.

Fighting the changes in taste and buying habits is futile.  No doubt there will be occasional nostalgia phases in the future, but I don't expect a return of the interest in old things in my lifetime.  Luckily I don't have a ton of inventory and don't depend on my sales at this point.

My hat is off to those who adjust to change and make the hard decisions gracefully.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 09:57:19 2015

There are fundamental changes happening that sellers are powerless to change or stop. The only thing you can do is adapt or die.

The Baby Boomers are downsizing which means a big portion of the market is drying up. They do not want things anymore...

Unless the item is truly rare it is a world wide market now and what used to command lots of money based on local scarcity no longer works and is driving down prices of so called rare antiques.

You put the two together and it is hard times for the collectibles/antique seller.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 10:14:48 2015

I feel it would be harder to compete with new stuff because the larger retailers with all the buying power sell new stuff.  

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Dec 17 10:28:11 2015

I did the swap meet last weekend.

I sold $788 worth of tools

The spot cost $20

I think I'm going to buy 2 spots for this weekend :-)

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: maxheadroom

Thu Dec 17 11:23:17 2015

I have been going to fleamarkets and antique shops since i was a baby and it has gotten worse for fleamarkets and antique shows at least here in the northeast. Most flea markets i used to sell at are gone and the any new ones have mostly new items or reproductions.The type of customers i see attending anymore are mostly hispanic/latino with no intrest in collectables, the bulk of sellers/dealers are white. I am not being racist in my statement but in the past 99% of my customers were white and bought collectables but now when i travel which is rarely to some fleas all i see is this anymore. The few new fleamarkets i have seen pop up are more like bazzars and have mostly  bulk new items like sneakers shirts and dollar store items. Even the stormville airport antique show is barly a 1/4% of its size of what it was, most of its current parking field was dealer space 25 years ago. I quit setting up there due to very little and no sales, pointless to drag collectables there when most have no intrest unless you are that cheap .And you have to be cheap to sell at any flea market now. My aunt sells at the beacon ny  fleamarket and she only makes a tiny profit there selling collectables and antiques. An example would be her trunks, she loves old vintage trunks and wood boxs but she sells dome tops at $40 when other dealers have them at $125 to $200. I triend one of those new indoor so called fleam markets for 3 months, i never made 1 month rent there.I brough a big mix of antique keys escutcheons hardware militaria and vintage toys. Very little or no intrest there. All the original antique shops in my arae are gone now, dealers left becuase no bussiness.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: dr shock This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 11:28:14 2015

The antiques and collectibles market is not dead.
The problem lies with the dealers who refuse to adjust to the changing markets.

When you're buying for resale it doesn't matter what the item use to sell for, only what you can sell it for now.

Too many sellers are trying to get yesterday prices & moaning that stuff isn't selling.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Dec 17 12:03:48 2015

The "profit" comes when you buy your merchandise not when you sell it.

BUY IT RIGHT is the motto I go by. . .

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Dec 17 13:49:12 2015

@toolguy

So if you buy it right as you say but then never sell it, where is your profit?

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Dec 17 13:54:00 2015

Never sell it?

It only never sells if I don't list it.

I buy my stuff so cheap (pennies on the dollar) that I can almost give it away and still make a profit.

In fact last weekend at the swap meet I gave over $100 worth of tools away for free just to see the expression on the customers face.

PRICELESS

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: horsewhistles This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 19:59:12 2015

Ebay's Slow Death

Very true.  Have been in the business for 30 years, we lost money as b/m and at antique malls. We now sell only at a few select shows and online, doing very well at both.  There are definitely fewer ''collectors'' and most of our sales are to dealers and interior designers. We definitely see dealers who are struggling.  They have the same stuff at their same old prices and are just stacking it up on shelves wondering why nobody wants to buy.

Over the years we have had to make adjustments to our buying and get rid of or donate the unpopular inventory. The bad inventory drags down the good stuff.

We are not getting rich, but as long as we can make a decent profit at something we love to do we will keep at it. There are still plenty of folks who love the old stuff.

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: skyhooks This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 17 21:22:20 2015

Please don't give up. Try as some said to work online if you are unsure, I am sure there will be plenty of people willing to give you a hand. You are very sincere and honest person and the way you sell your antiques is unique to the younger generation as they don't understand the value in not only what you sell but your loyalty to the industry and the passion you show. I am sorry that you are at the age where you have lost allot of people through their passing but you have allot to teach after all your years on the road. Good luck to you and wishing you a very merry Christmas and safe new year

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: lyon1967 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Dec 18 08:52:10 2015

30 years in same business is a great success. Nothing in life stands still. If you think so you'll be left behind. What I sold 15 years ago is not my business today. I wish people would keep negativity to themselves. I believe the problem a lot of small seller encounter is an emotional attachment. An attachment to what they sell or to the past. Sorry folks, change is a constant.  Merchandise can go out of style. The whole deal is simple economics. People need to look at eCommerce and decide if its for them. If not look for another business. I'm not being mean, just stating how a healthy business is run. If your not happy find something that will change that. And know that eBay will keep changing. There are many avenues for a real entrepreneur. Enjoy the day, work hard/smart and always keep learning. God Bless. -F

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 18 12:25:24 2015

In 1985, I left a good paying job with a future, loaded a van with Asian artwork and hit the road.

A few years passed, and I was broke.  Seems that only Mike and Frank are the few blessed pickers and dealers who can make a decent living on the road.

When eBay came along, I like millions jumped on board.  16 years later and being tossed over board by hard economic times and by my trading partner, eBay, I continue to sell on eBay and other venues.

Thanks to eBay excesses, my ''business'' is more of a hobby.  But what else can I do that I enjoy so much?

I delight in my weekend treasure hunting trips to Midwest antique shows and antique malls.  I love talking shop with other dealers and the mall owners/employees.  The challenge of finding over looked rare and hard to find collectibles at bargain prices is most rewarding.

To anyone that thinks that the antiques and collectibles business is dead should come to a few of the larger antique shows in the Midwest.  Be prepared to pay a handsome price for admission and walk a mile from your parked car to the show.

And on weekends, the larger Midwest antique malls  are busy with customers waiting in line to hand over money to buy their new treasures.  Of course there is a constant turnover in vendors, but some do very well.  

Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on   Veteran Antiques Dealer Gives In after 30 Years on

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Dec 18 16:02:46 2015

"And you have to be cheap to sell at any flea market now."

I see that in toys too, which makes

"When you're buying for resale it doesn't matter what the item use to sell for, only what you can sell it for now.  Too many sellers are trying to get yesterday prices & moaning that stuff isn't selling."

a complete load.  I don't go to flea markets much anymore unless I want to dump junk.  People there are so cheap, they'd have to quadruple their maximum just to get a sniff at wholesale.

*junk being defined as stuff I only picked up because of a decent sale



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