Collecting Antiques, Selling Antiques
Step Into the Past for Your Path to the Future
If you ask adults, “What is an antique?” the answers will vary. Ask your grandchild the same question, and they might say, “Something that’s old…like you!” Well, they are half right – one criterion for antiques is that they have some age. Considering you have made it to the Golden Years of retirement, you are in a unique position. You have a lifetime of experiences and memories that will assist you with your new retirement hobby – collecting and selling antiques.
Remember the pink and turquoise of the 1950’s; the earth tones of the 1960’s; and, the disco flash of the 1970’s? Did you have a Howdy Doody character and listen to The Lone Ranger on the radio? Flash back to the first time you did the twist in your poodle skirt, or collected box tops to send off for your favorite space toy. Perhaps you even wore love beads, had a lava lamp and grooved to Peter, Paul and Mary? All these items and thousands more are now on the hot list of antiques and collectibles.
When picturing antiques, realize that items from your childhood, youth and young adult life are now showing up in the local markets. Although they are not “antique” by definition, mid-century memorabilia are the latest and greatest craze among the nostalgia set. This includes furniture, clothing, jewelry, sports, toys, kitchenware and many other categories. If you have the tiniest whisker of the “pack rat disease,” look around your home. Flip over some dishes in your cabinet – do they read Fire-King or Fiesta? These are from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Are you still using that comfortable old club chair that used to Naugahyde? Yep, it is vintage and in high demand!
Unlike the younger antique dealers, you bring a knowledge base to the hobby that they do not and cannot have. You lived the times and were surrounded with the merchandise and atmosphere of the day. This gives you a decided advantage should you pursue collecting and selling antiques as your new retirement hobby. Chances are you even know the look and feel of the items from the period of your parents and grandparents. This extends your experience back to a time before you were born. These are the life experiences you need to pursue this exciting retirement hobby endeavor.
If you are looking for a new retirement hobby and love the excitement of treasure hunting, then collecting and selling antiques are sure to offer you hours of pleasure. It is a well-known fact that in order to stay healthy and young at heart, you must not take to your rocking chair. The secret is to stay active! Antiques are a great way to keep your mind and body sharp while learning new things and meeting new people. There is a wonderful camaraderie among antique dealers. You will have fun sharing the story of your latest Mickey Mantle rookie card find with someone who just uncovered a red Philco radio in the original box! Others who pursue this pastime are eager and willing to share all the best hot spots for finding treasures, from local flea markets, to “junk” stores, to out-of-state auctions.
A large percentage of antique dealers are retired folks. The most popular way to get in the business is to rent booth space in a local antique store or mall. Take a weekend or two and scout out the local establishments to see what is available. The three rules of real estate apply to the decision of choosing your space – location, location, and location. You want a store with a lot of traffic and is open at least six days during the week. If there are several other antique stores close by, even better. No two stores carry the same merchandise, so this will greatly increase your foot traffic. Booth space is priced by the square foot. Most shops use a month-to-month agreement for rent plus a sales commission percentage. Also, your booth location inside the store should fall inside the inverted triangle. Studies have shown that people enter the front door (the point of the imaginary triangle), turn right and spend more time in the two back corners (the base of the triangle).
Of course, there are exceptions to these findings. The main attraction of an antique store is that the merchandise is always unique. There are no “antique warehouses” where you go to order in the next shipment. This means that there are a lot of repeat customers. To keep them interested in your booth, there is only one secret you need to know, and here it is: Work your booth! Bring in new treasures, move things around, and have a sales area where you markdown the items that have been around for a while. Schedule at time to work your booth at least once a month, and this new retirement hobby will provide hours of fun and some extra income.
If you want to downsize, this might just be the venue to liquidate some of your collections. Perhaps you love collecting but have run out of room. This is a great way to begin a new collection that is not so space intensive. Sell the cookie jar collection and begin your new search for Wade figurines instead! An antique booth is a fantastic way to feed your collecting bug. This activity will keep your interest and enthusiasm. Step into the past and use your lifelong knowledge for a new retirement hobby. Your first item can be that rocking chair – you aren’t going to need it anyway! Collect antiques. Sell antiques. Don’t be an antique!
Thank you to Angela Minor for this "Collecting and Selling Antiques" article.