Lately,I've been busier than usual keeping my booth stocked for Christmas. As I've been cleaning, sorting, pricing & arranging merchandise, I've been thinking about things that have and haven't worked me for me when it comes to reselling.
This post could come under the category of giving advice, but it's really just my random observations.
Most of my merchandise comes from estate sales and auctions. One reason I like estate sales and auctions is they are an efficient use of my time. If things go the way I like, I can head out to estate sales at 8:30 on a Friday morning, and by noon I'm home with a lot of stuff.
Sometimes auctions are a little bit more of an investment in time, but I usually come home with more. If there are only a handful of things that I want at an auction and it doesn't look like they'll be up for a bid for quite a while, I head home. My free time is precious, and I don't want to spend it sitting on a folding chair while a hundred beanie babies are sold. (Or even worse, STANDING while model trains are being sold...you get the idea)
The other reason I like estate sales and auction is the merchandise is fresh. Not fresh as in new, but fresh as in new to the market. It's usually stuff that has been in people's homes for thirty plus years. It's not that I'm a snob about what I sell, and only want to sell one of a kind items.
If you look around my booth (or Etsy shop), you'll see plenty of things you've seen other places; but it is fun to have that one of a kind piece to display in your booth. And it's fun to hear customers say "Where did you find that?."
Of course, there are other ways to get inventory. Flea markets, antique shows, antique stores and eBay are a few I can think of.
Some dealers are lucky enough to have "pickers". A picker is someone who sells directly to a dealer. Generally, a picker is someone who knows a dealer's tastes,likes to hunt for antiques, but doesn't want to bother with the extras that go with selling at a mall, show or flea market.
Some pickers don't buy with any particular dealer in mind. They may load a truck full of stuff and drive around to antique stores,resale stores, antique malls etc and approach whoever is there about buying from them. I've even had pickers approach me at antique shows.
I haven't really run across any treasures this way, but occasionally I'll do what I call a "courtesy buy". If a picker, dealer, or a neighbor, friend, coworker or acquaintance offers to sell something to me with the idea that they may have a future stream of merchandise to sell to me, sometimes I'll buy the item, even if I don't want it, just to be "courteous" and hope they will think of me the next time they have something to sell.
That's just some of what's run through my head as I'm working on my antique business. I have thoughts on merchandising (how much is too much?), customer service (how much is too much), haggling and more.
And of course, these are just my opinions. Like they say, your mileage may vary.