Where Do Antique Dealers Find All That Stuff?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Whether you visit a boutique shop or antique fair, you’ll see scores of authentic vintage furniture. Where do the dealers acquire all these items? Did they have to scour every corner of the globe to acquire the rare finds? Find out where the dealers find their collectibles. You’ll be surprised to learn that many acquire their items at places available to a collector like yourself.

Flea Markets 

Selling antiques for a living is not unlike house flipping where flippers buy dilapidated homes and restore them before selling them. Many dealers acquire old antiques at flea markets where they can bargain for far-below retail cost. Once they bring the item home, they restore it before placing it for display and sale in their shop. 

Live Auctions 

Dealers frequently shop at auctions. Potential buyers are usually given the opportunity to examine items closeup before deciding whether they want to make a bid. Close visual inspections allow bidders to see whether the item is authentic or imitation, or whether it will require extensive restoration. Dealers don’t always walk away with a valuable purchase, but when they do, they often acquire a rare piece that collectors are willing to pay a handsome price for. 

Thrift Stores and Goodwill 

Thrift stores and used shops like America’s Goodwill occasionally receive incoming merchandise from donors. Dealers will often frequent these shops on a weekly basis hoping they might get lucky and find a vintage furniture or piece of equipment. Dealers may also establish a rapport with the shop owners and leave their business card. This way, they can be contacted if an item of value comes in. Prices from a thrift store or Goodwill are often on par with a flea market. 

Antique Shows 

Newer dealers often avoid antique shows because they assume prices are too high. In most cases, this is true. However, more experienced dealers who frequent the shows have established a relationship with some of the vendors. As such, they may be able to barter for a better deal. 

Antique shows and fairs are also where newer dealers gain a lot of experience and learn from other dealers. Plus, even if they don’t have existing connections with any of the vendors, they may still get lucky and find reasonably priced items. 

Antique Malls 

More online antique malls are popping up all over the Web. Dealers may browse on a weekly basis to see if they can come across any deals. Sometimes, these antique mall shops go out of business and advertise liquidation or everything-must-go sales. Antique pieces may go for sale as high as 40% to 60% off. Dealers have to act quickly, though, as other dealers are vying for the same items at the markdown costs. Other times, mall owners may have to clear the inventory to make room for their warehouse or showroom. It’s the same way car dealerships have special offers to clear older models as the new model year comes in. 

Estate Sale 

Real estate agents may announce an estate sale at the home of a recently deceased individual. Dealers may browse the newspaper for local estate sales taking place. Often, the sale includes the home’s furniture, décor, clothing, and other accessories. If the home belonged to an elderly individual, then there’s a good chance it contains furniture and other items from generation’s past. 

New Old Stock 

Every once in a blue moon, dealers may get lucky and acquire a new old stock item from a private seller. What does it mean when an item is classified as new old stock? This refers to any product – such as furniture or décor – that was never sold during its production. The items later ended up in abandoned warehouses or the homes of former manufacturers, where they remain for the next several decades. Eventually, they’re discovered and put on eBay or advertised on Craigslist. 

Dealers have to carefully examine the product, though, to ensure it’s actually a new old stock item. To fall into this classification, it has to have never been sold with no damage other than the expected wear from natural age. 

As you can see, dealers have multiple outlets for acquiring old antiques and vintage pieces. After all, one can never know where old furniture and accessories may end up. 

Hannah Hutchinson is an interior designer based in London, currently blogging for Westland London. She’s always chasing new ideas and likes thinking outside the box when it comes to incorporating fresh ideas to her clients’ new homes.

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