Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Adventures Of Selling Antiques And Collectibles... Part Two

After several years selling on eBay, I finally grew sick of all the fees and found a new home from which to sell my wares. Once I joined the new web site and got established in my new cyber home, I worked even harder and sold a great many items that we didn't want or need, clearing much needed space. Unfortunately, I discovered that *stuff* tends to breed like rabbits at night. You wake up the next day only to discover more good (but unwanted) stuff which makes you want to pull out all your hair. It's a strange and very annoying phenomenon.

I constantly attended garage sales, estate sales and auctions while continuing my education through the internet. I also learned to adjust prices to reflect damage, which is important with almost all pieces of china or glass. I discovered that not all antiques and collectibles dealers know what they are talking about. In fact, I'd venture to say about half of the dealers out there know what they're talking about. Most just try to make you believe they know what they're talking about, when in fact, they don't know it all. This certainly makes a case for finding a reputable antiques dealer, right?

Collecting and/or selling antiques and collectibles is a multi-faceted business but it always seems to remain a sound investment, even during hard times. The *hands on* technique is best when dealing in glass, metalware and china, which makes it difficult to sell on line unless you're honest and reputable. Every area requires a different level of expertise and I've found that many dealers don't know much more than what they've been told by the person they acquire a piece from (which is seldom correct). I do my homework and when I don't know about something, I take it to a pro. However, my particular expertise is in American Brilliant Cut Glass, although I will never know all there is to know about it. It just happens to be a very complicated field in the world of antiques.

I've always tried to maintain high shipping standards which means that everyone gets the same care with the packing and shipping of their item, no matter the price paid. I add little touches like personal thank you notes, my business card and tissue wrap, added after the bubble wrap, shrink wrap, and shipping peanuts (for which I've been known to beg, borrow, and *dumpster dive*). I only use recycled packing peanuts. I also print out a receipt for their item that has my shop name and logo, which I include on the very top. In ten years, I've only had one item broken that I'd shipped and it was the fault of the post office so she received her refund. This is why you always require the buyer to purchase insurance in addition to paying the shipping costs.  If they waiver the cost of insurance you're off the hook.

I only ship USPS Priority Mail unless it's a large item, then I go with whoever can give me the best rate, which is usually Pack 'N Mail and UPS, although UPS has damaged far more items than USPS ever has. I always hesitate to use UPS because of their poor record with us. The buyer always pays the shipping costs and I never charge as much as most online retailers charge. I charge them the actual cost with my extra costs for supplies and the use of PayPal added in. Once an item has been shipped, I email the buyer with a Delivery Confirmation number and thank them for their business. Unfortunately, since the post office came up with the new "If it fits, it ships" campaign, I've been getting killed on shipping costs. I recently had to go into each and every listing to add shipping box dimensions which meant I also had to box each item up, measure and weigh it, then add the data to each listing. Talk about a pain in the neck! Hello. The government runs the post office. They continue to challenge me in this area.

I once sold a vintage (20 year old) wooden Maherajah Slalom Water Ski for $750.00 to a man in Houston and had to ship it through UPS. So, I took it to Pack 'N Mail who charged like $62.00 to pack and ship it, which the buyer gladly paid for. It arrived safely and the buyer was more than pleased. Let me just mention here that there is a whole cult following (much like surf board collectors) of vintage wooden Maherajah Water Skis. Those people are a cult unique unto themselves. In November I sold a majolica umbrella stand which Pack N Mail packed up for a whopping $75.00. I was then told the shipping would be $200.00. The man had only paid $250.00 for it, so I had to cancel the sale, since I couldn't afford to make -0- on the sale.

Another time I sold a fabulous antique jade and silver mirror to a man in Shanghai for $1500.00. He was thrilled to have found it and I was thrilled to find it a new home in China, where it had originated. Shipping costs weren't exorbitant back then, 4 years ago.

I'm always thrilled to hook people up with whatever weird stuff they desire. I kind of specialize in weird and I never fail to be satisfied when a piece finds a new home that will love them. No matter where on the planet they might end up, it always makes me smile.

To Be Continued At A Later Date....


Sjn said...

Wow, no wonder cleaning up the "clutter" is such a big project for you. What can you do with all that valuable stuff? Not bring it to Goodwill, that's for sure! Maybe sell it to another dealer?
You have your work cut out for you girl!

Grandma Nina said...

Great stuff, Snoots!
Have you every tried Etsy? Just curious if you had and your experience there. It's so hard to get noticed because there are so many shops.
So how do you advertise or show what you have?

Bodaciousboomer said...

What you do sounds like a lot of fun to me. I enjoy watching the show American Pickers (I think it is). The two guys who look like Laurel and Hardy drive through thre countryside and crawl through barns and such looking for treasures. With my luck though all I'd find is a brown recluse or a snake!

Mental P Mama said...

I just had a great idea! Do like a unique wedding gift registry!

Diane said...

Ooh! What MPM said! Shipping prices have gone through the roof lately. I don't know how you do it!

Paxie said...

Well...I had no idea you did this! So interesting and for the most part, quite profitable I'd say...

Who knew? :)


Blog Designed by: NW Designs