When I first started out in the antiques business, I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried to research items but the world of antiques is so large that it’s hard to know everything.
I started out in a small antiques mall in my town, run by a lady named “Nellie”. The first time Nellie purchased something from my booth, I was flattered….until I later found the item in her booth at a much higher price. I was SOOOOO mad. I couldn’t believe it. Obviously she knew something I didn’t and I felt that she had “taken advantage of my ignorance”. Over time, though, I began to have a different attitude.
My attitude today is, if a dealer is not willing to research an item prior to putting it out for sale, shame on them. In antiques, the money goes to those with the knowledge and a dealer should know better.
I know dealers who refuse to use a computer for anything. They continue to do business the way they did in 1980, sticking with outdated research modes and slapping a high price on everything. Everything’s priced at $75 — the good, the bad and the ugly. To me, the Internet is the quickest and most complete research tool out there. There are wonderful sites by professional antiques dealers dedicated to research and the invaluable content of these sites is constantly being updated.
Dealers who do not research their goods are leaving money on the table — they are turning themselves in Chihuahuas in a dog eat dog industry.
My sister and I went to an auction a while back. It was the kind of household auction with box lots of miscellaneous household items stacked on long tables. At the same instant, we both spot a large cardboard box loaded with Lenox dishes.
My sister, who is a sometimes antiques dealer but mainly a collector, says “Oh, those plates are soooooo pretty! They would look so nice on the sideboard in my dining room”.
Meanwhile, I’m looking at the plates and I see dollar signs shooting out of the box….dollar signs like little shooting stars. I want that box of dishes, not because they are pretty or because I like them. I want them to resell and make money. Mwaaaaahahaha.
So, bidding for the box of Lenox begins and I follow my sister’s bid with a surprise bid of my own. She was so outraged by my betrayal that she stopped bidding. I won the box handily.
After I retreived the box, my sister hissed “I can’t believe that you bid against your own sister for a lousy box of dishes. I turned to her and said, “Sorry, Sis, but it’s the Antiques Business, not the Antiques Friendness”. Needless to say, my comment put a damper on sisterly love for a few weeks!
Seriously, this story DID happen but I have learned since that once you invite a friend or family member to attend an auction with you that you’ve turned the potential business outing into a social outing. At least it’s that way for me. I may want to bid on an item but I feel like I have to be a nice person and not hog every bidding opportunity.