Picking with Reyne – Vol. 21 – Time to Sell

October 12th, 2010 by

One of my pet peeves about this business is how dealers will keep merchandise for the longest period of time, waiting to sell for the ultimate dollar.

You buy something, and perhaps you get it for a song, and all you want is to get full retail for it.  Depending on the item, perhaps you can.  But if it’s a common item, chances are – you won’t.  And even if it’s not a common item, after taking it to a few shows and it doesn’t sell means it’s time to cut bait.

There is nothing worse than seeing the same tired merchandise show after show.  Buyers stop coming into your shop or show booth and dealers who are often your customers take their business elsewhere.

I know it is getting harder to find merchandise, and when you do find great stuff, it usually goes fast.  The key to being a successful seller is to constantly have new merchandise.   So if that means selling something for what you paid for it once you’ve carried it around a while, then that’s what you need to do. You are tying up your money that could potentially be invested in another item that will sell faster and perhaps for a greater profit, and you are certainly losing the interest of your regular buyers.

With the holidays upon us, shoppers will be out in full force looking for that special something.  Take a few moments to consider the following:

1)      Offer a little holiday theme to your booth.   If you are selling fine china and stemware, bring in a dining room table and dress it up to show people how great your items could look in their home.

2)      If you have a variety of vintage Christmas bulbs and ornaments, perhaps bring in a vintage Christmas tree and decorate it.

3)      Merchandise that you’ve had for a while place on one side of your booth with a sign offering a pre-holiday shopping special with a nice discount %  = that always motivates people to buy and it will generate additional cash for you to buy more items for the holiday shoppers.

Another suggestion you might consider during the holidays is to go into your booth once a week and move things around.  It gives the appearance of having new merchandise and people that shop your store often might see something they didn’t see the time before.

I’d love to hear your marketing tips on how to move merchandise.  Drop me a line!

Happy Hunting!


9 Responses to “Picking with Reyne – Vol. 21 – Time to Sell”

  1. Cobayley Says:

    Whoo Hooo!! I agree…tired merchandise in an antique mall booth is like a death knell. Spruce it up, move it around. I have been preaching to the choir, but we all need to move our merchandise. Yes, even those of us in on line malls. We are selling to a clientele that shops regularly and let me tell you, they know when you are trying to peddle the same old stuff.

    I do have to add this about Christmas displays. There is nothing more depressing than to go into a Antique Mall in say late January or early February (Valentine’s Day) and see a very raggedy display of leftover Christmas decorations…..for goodness sake, do some housekeeping…clean it up.

  2. Marko Says:


    You had some good tips. I think a lot of the same, but here`s my thoughts how I sell off my stuff.

    - The goods that you sell must be in good condition. The buyer it is easy when he can immediately make use of it. But some of us can buy the product in bad condition and fix it ok to himself.
    I buy the products which are the broken. I can fix them and sell forward. Sometimes I get a good profit when I bought them a cheap and sell off at little expensive.
    But we must remenber that all of us not know how to fix, so try to sell stuff which is in the good condition.
    For example a chair which is sturdy sell better than a wobbly chair.

    - Change the stuff in yours stand = the buyers intrest to remain unchanged.

    - A few ” delicacy” (special) product in your stand have a good magnetic. People look at it and same time they buy something else stuff .

    - Booth decorating is very important…hmmm…”landfill” or a beautiful booth. Which you choose when you buy?
    But even this case, some of us love rooting at the “landfill” and someone loves beauty.
    “Landfill” you can also find treasures and often they are cheaper when the “landfill”.

    - In fact the seller is the most important marketing advertisement. Are you arrogant or smiling and helpful seller. If I´m a buyer so I`ll go far away the seller who has a wrinkled forehead.

    Here are a few idea, but every event is unique.You can never know what will happen and every seller and the buyer is also unique.

    Stay tuned.

    Marko :-)

  3. Reyne Haines Says:

    Carolyn – Thanks for chiming in!
    Yes, I too hate seeing the same ole thing, and I also hate seeing Christmas deco in late Jan or Feb. I understand offering a big discount for those items that didn’t sell in December, but keep it for a short time only and then put it away until next season.


  4. Reyne Haines Says:

    Marko -

    I like the “landfill” vs “Beauty”
    Personally, I think beauty is the answer. Yes some people like to dig through stuff
    but I think most people who are buying better quality things want to see a nice
    clean booth, not Sanford and Sons.

    And yes, I agree – a smile goes a long way!


  5. Craig O Says:

    I believe many “Antique Dealers” are really just collectors with too much stuff…. It seems to be the only branch of retail where inventory turn is a term which seems to have no meaning …what so ever to many “business owners”.

    I love going to antique shows and seeing the same incredibly overpriced pieces year after year, and then listen to the dealers talk with each other about how bad business is… Hello??? Ever heard of the internet??? An item that may seem rare in your market, and once was, is now available in quantity to a much larger audience from a much more aggressive group of sellers… I don’t care what the business is, if you are selling things you have to turn your inventory….. If not, you have to call it a collection….

    I go to shows and see things I can purchase on ebay for $200 being tagged at $500. Not that it has to be an ebay price, because it is in front of me and I can handle it, but it has got to be realistic…. so much of it is not…. Many dealers seem to be in complete denial of the power of the internet and the adverse effect it has had on the pricing of many types of goods…… The best stuff always sells well, regardless of venue… and whether they like it or not, the customer standing in front of them goes home and looks on ebay or other online venues..

    I got hired to run a weekly estate and collectibles auction several years back. I was hired because of my extensive and varied collecting background, auction attendance for years, and background in business management.

    I remember the gal who hired me sitting me down and telling me what a unique business it was…. after listening to her explain it, I politely disagreed with her and explained to her that the way I saw it, it was really not much different from the restaurant business, and that the difference between a hamburger at McDonald’s, Denny’s, and Red Robin, aside from price, was environment, presentation, and a little quality… and also the customers “perception” of what they were getting…. I said it was mostly presentation, perception and environment. She laughed… I quadrupled the business volume in under two years and it had been operational for many years.

    Business is business, if you apply business principles…. Collect what you really love, sell the rest.

  6. Craig O Says:

    An additional comment I would add to dealers, is to know what you sell. Don’t guess, and don’t try to BS customers. If you do not know for sure, then either state that, or research it and figure it out before you sell it. As an example, don’t call it Loetz unless you can document it…. The day of the customer handing over $1500 for a vase you call Loetz but can not provide documentation for, is gone….. unless of course they know more about it than you do and they agree….

    I have a rule I hold to without failure. I do not sell anything without knowing exactly what it is… for sure…. and I never vary from that rule. I primarily sell on the internet, but I have been in a mall before.

    My personal collection is full of great buys I have made from “dealers” selling items they did not understand completely….. So knowledge is your friend also….. Don’t overprice and misidentify, but don’t misidentify and under price…. There is a reason your $2500 Loetz vase has not sold…. If it was actually Loetz, it would be way overpriced…. and it is really over priced, especially for not being Loetz….

    Grossly misidentifying items also reflects on your overall credibility. If your customer knows a lot about glass, and sees all kinds of mistakes, then they will justifiably assume that you are making those kinds of mistakes on everything. This apples to all categories of inventory, as your customers knowledge bases will vary.

    Today’s customer is better educated than any previous customer has ever been, and has available through the internet, an almost incomprehensible amount of information.

    I make these comments as a result of a search I just ran on the Antiques.com classified listings. One of the areas I specialize in as a collecting interest is Bohemian glass. Of 22 items listed as Loetz glass, I would say that 6 or 7 actually are… 8 are Kralik, and the rest may not actually be attributable without handling them, but they are not Loetz. If I run a search on the site for Kralik, I get 3 results. This means that of the 25 listings I find for the two categories, Kralik and Loetz, 60% are incorrectly attributed….

    You are not doing yourself any favors if you do not completely know what you have, or at least can admit it….. In today’s marketplace, uneducated customers buying expensive merchandise are really the exception to the rule….

  7. Reyne Haines Says:


    Kudos for the wonderful comments!
    I made a living (and still do) for years buying other people’s mistakes.
    And truthfully, I don’t feel bad doing so.

    It’s not my job to educate people as to what they have.
    Sure, people who hire me to, and people who have inherited things
    and don’t even know where to begin. But other dealers? Oh gosh no.
    And I am sure over the years I have given things away too.
    Things that I was making a profit on, but could not figure out what
    it was, or when it was made. If someone made money off a buy
    from me, great! They will come back and buy from me again – but
    I do think it is very important to know what you are selling.

    Thanks for the input!


  8. Craig O Says:

    Reyne, I have always felt that my job as a “customer” was to know more than the seller I am buying from….. and my job as a “seller” is to know more than the people buying from me…. I buy and sell a rather narrow range of products, and have always felt I would rather be an expert in 5 categories, than an amateur in almost all. It is an approach to this business that has kept me inventory “light”.

    I agree with you as far as buying from other sellers. Knowing more than they do is really the only tool in my toolbox…..

    Years ago I had a box full of “junk” as I saw it, and at the time I was already selling on the internet. I also had a mall space at the time, and none of it was stuff I would have put in our Art Deco themed mall space. Most of it were remnants from auction lots and estate sale boxes that just happened to come with something I wanted. I had the box sitting in the kitchen and I was going to drop it off at a local Goodwill when I went out looking for goodies…. I decided at the last minute that I would put each item on ebay starting at 99 cents and let them go to people that wanted them. I have to add that my interests are pretty eclectic….. If some of it did not sell, and I thought that would be most of it, I would then donate it. There were about 35 or 40 items…. Much to my amazement, the auctions closed a week later to a total of around $700!!! Every single item sold. I have never sold, or donated anything since without knowing exactly what it was… It was a lesson that taught me a whole bunch all at once…… The thought that I had almost given away $700 worth of “junk” really stopped me in my tracks and made me think about the importance and value of knowing your product….. when buying or selling…..

  9. Reyne Haines Says:

    Craig – I always hate it when people call me an “Antique Dealer”
    I’m not. I don’t sell antiques. I sell 20th Century Design, cars and jewelry.
    People think all the time because I’m on Roadshow I know 19th Century Victorian Furniture, and toys, and coin silver, etc etc.

    I too would rather know a lot about a few things than a little about a lot of things.

    Great story about the box going to Goodwill.

    I remember at an auction around 16 yrs ago, there was a box lot filled with paper memorabilia.
    It was at a Thursday night auction I attended regularly. There was just something about this place. You ended up always finding a sleeper.

    So, this lot came up and I hadn’t even looked at it…the auctioneer was asking I think $25 and no one was bidding. He said “People, there are a lot of interesting signed documents here” so I thought, what the heck.

    I bid, and won at $25

    It was someone who collected presidential letters. When he hammered the sale, he said “You my dear got a good buy”

    I made thousands of dollars selling that stuff….

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