You don't have to be an antique dealer to get into buying and selling antiques and many people enjoy it as a weekend hobby. Great bargains can be found if you know what you're looking for and use the right approaches.
At some point, you may even want to sell some of your antiques, so let's take a look at tips and tricks collectors use all the time.
Buying Antiques on eBay
While eBay and other online antique venues are great resources for adding to collections, learning the signs of both good and bad buys is a wise move.
The photos in an online listing should tell you a lot about the item. You will want to closely examine the photos and request more from the seller if you're unsure or unsatisfied with what they've provided.
- Look for condition issues.
- Check for the telltale signs that it's a fake or reproduction.
- If you see something that's off, ask for more details.
- Verify the seller's return policies.
- Know when it's time to move on.
Additionally, you might be looking at a listing that is too good to be true. Take into consideration what similar items have sold for in the past both on eBay and other venues and compare the condition of this item with others. You should also take the time to look up marks that you're not familiar with and check into the seller's reputation.
What About Selling on Ebay?
No matter the online auction site, it's very important that you take the right approach to selling your antiques.
Some of the best eBay selling tips include doing your research and writing a keyword-rich title that will get noticed. You should also provide great photos that help buyers make decisions (think of your own experiences -- what do you want to see).
If you have an idea of the value of your antiques, then you can reasonably set reserves and starting bids as you see fit.
Also, if you can, avoid ending the auction early. Remember that the market sets the price for an item and many bidders will wait until the last minute. This means that the private offer you received may not be your best deal.
Offline sales are also an option, so don't think that eBay is your only choice. You can take the 'old-school' approach and try to sell your items to an antique dealer. You might not get the full price an auction listing can generate, but with the right negotiation tactics, it might be close.
Consider the work that goes into an online listing as well. You might just come out ahead with the dealer.
Fabulous Finds at the Flea Market
There really is something to be said about scouring a flea market, garage or tag sale or antique show for a great find. It's part of the real joy of antiquing and you never know what treasures await you.
The most important thing to remember is that you can and should haggle for the price. Flea market vendors expect it and dealers at antique shows will not be offended by a reasonable offer. They might say no or counter offer and this is part of the fun.
Even the garage or tag sale is a place to make an offer because their goal is to liquidate their stuff.
They're often happy to see something go, so don't be afraid to ask or bundle items together.
Estate sales are another matter. While they may not take offers on day one, by the second day they're usually more open and the companies will often already offer discounts toward the end of the sale.
Antiquing on a Budget
The savvy antiquer knows a few tricks for saving money and it often takes years of experience, but anyone can develop the knack. One of the bargain-finder rules is 'Shop Early, Shop Late' because you'll find the most stuff in the morning and the best deals near closing time.
There are many fun things you can collect that are both small and cheap. Develop a niche for one of these and you'll have a great excuse to head out to the sales. Plus, they don't take up much room, so you increase your collecting potential.
In your hunt, do keep an eye out for those small antiques that go for big money. It's not uncommon to find a fabulous piece of jewelry in the 'junk' box and you'd be surprised the price some fishing lures go for.
You might not hit a win every time, but you never know. An eagle eye and persistence are how antique dealers find their treasures, so follow the pros and have fun with it.