I get numerous email and phone calls a week from people wanting to sell me their antiques, collectibles, memorabilia and other vintage items.
This recent email is a great example:
I already know the approximate market value of a few antiques that I own. I'd like to sell them to an antique shop. When the shop makes me an offer, what would be a fair percentage of the actual value? I don't want to be cheated, nor do I wish to be overly optimistic. Can you offer any guidelines on what to expect?
Okay.... I have a difficult time responding to this type of question for several reasons,
- I do not like making offers on items unless I am at a sale and purchasing a load of items. I might then ask if they will take 10 - 15% less than the total. If they say no then so be it I will pay their full price. Buying items at an estate or garage sale is much different than buying from an antique store or buying as a dealer from an individual
- This person states that they know the fair market value of their items. Experience has taught me that if I make an offer lower than that, they will be angry and think I am trying to pull a fast one. I don't know what sources were used to determine the "fair market value" so I am at a severe disadvantage BUT I do know what items will actually sell for on-line through my shop despite what the price guides say.
- This is pretty harsh but is exactly how I feel about it. If you cannot go to someone and say I want X amount for this or these items then you have no business selling them. You need to have an idea of how much you want and plainly state that amount, from there you can bargain and barter but never leave it up to the buyer to state the amount.
- Dealer's MUST be able to make some sort of profit on the items they sell, this is our business, this is what helps to pay our bills. Yes, most of us love what we do and we are fortunate in that aspect but we cannot afford to do it and not make a profit. I have to make at least a 40% profit to make it worth my while to deal with any item. I have shipping supplies to buy, hosting companies to pay, credit card merchant fees, etc. so of that 40% I might only see 25 - 30%. A portion of that goes back into buying more inventory and the rest goes to pay bills such as my daughter's student loan, utilities, mortgage, vet bills and the like.
- In the 8 years I have had my shop on-line I have only purchased items from one person. She came to me with a firm price including shipping. She emailed me a great description as well as photos of the items. We were both happy with the price so I paid her through Paypal and the deal was done. When I had my live shop I purchased more from people who came in off the street but each one had a price in mind and I could actually see the pieces.
Unless you just want something out of your way, you are better off not selling to a dealer. There are exceptions, there are some dealers who can get by making less of a profit and good on them for it but at this point in time I don't happen to be one of them.
Plus part of the fun, for me, of this business is going out and finding the wonderful antiques, collectibles and unique items I sell. I love to shop for my inventory and my husband enjoys going with me. We take short weekend trips and several times a year we will take longer shopping trips.
Please give these points some thought before you contact a dealer to make a sale.