Consignment Gold Rush: the Ultimate Startup Guide

Another gold rush has begun in America, but the gold is disguised as second-hand goods. These goods are valuable, plentiful, and can be had for next to nothing. Unneeded household decor, clothing, electronics, musical instruments, antiques, artwork and more are being assigned to consignment shops at a fraction of their original retail value. Sales at resale shops increased over fifty percent between 2008-2016, while discount store sales fell by half, and department stores lost one quarter of their revenues during the same period. In 2018, used goods sales in the U.S. totaled $19 billion, with vintage clothing sales growing twenty-one

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Inventory, Investment, and Perception


  Baron von Rothschild, the 19th-century British banking magnate, had a succinct investment philosophy: “The time to buy is when there is blood in the streets, even if that blood is your own.” The Baron would know: He made a fortune in the panic that followed Napoleon’s defeat at the battle of Waterloo. Modern-day billionaires echo the Baron’s philosophy. Warren Buffett and other “contrarian” investors scoop up deeply discounted corporate assets whenever markets turn down. In Buffet’s own words: “You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus.” Of course, in a depressed market, cash is king.

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Eleven Affordable Tips for Promoting Your Antiques Business

Promoting your antiques business

Among antiques dealers, hope springs eternal. Dealers look forward to a new year, hoping for profitable merchandise, good inventory turnover, and new customers. Some dealers will spend the year hoping; others will make a plan and work to make the plan a reality. Central to gaining more customers and making more sales is building store traffic. Antiques dealers have the same challenges as other retailers: how to build awareness for their business and get more customers in the door. This month, I’ll share some promotions that retailers in other businesses have successfully used; perhaps a few of them will work

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Was 2017 the Year of the Retail Apocalypse?

retail apocalypse

Do you remember the Retail Apocalypse of 2017? It sure got a lot of press. CNBC, The Washington Post, CBS, Fox, USA Today, and most major news organizations rallied around the Apocalypse concept. They’re happy to assert (again) that bricks-and-mortar retail was dead, overwhelmed by online sellers. They seemed to have the facts to back up their stories: In 2017, around 6,700 U.S. storefronts closed, including closures and/or bankruptcies by such retail icons as JC Penney, Sears, The Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, Eastern Outfitters, Radio Shack (for the second time), Gander Mountain, Payless ShoeSource, Rue 21, Vitamin World, Toys

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Virtual Antiquing: Putting Pictures to Work

virtual antiquing

Antique Trader’s “virtual antiquing” Facebook page feature has become one of my favorite newsfeed items. I enjoy seeing how shops display merchandise and what types of inventory they carry. When I occasionally spot an unusual item, I get particularly excited. Many of the goods in such photos you just don’t see on eBay. I often find myself clicking to a dealer’s website to see more items, and discover their prices. Of course, what makes virtual antiquing enjoyable is a lot of high-quality photos. The more the better; sometimes I’ll click on every photo. We are visually oriented creatures. The reason

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How to Set Traffic Flow in Antique Shops

antique store

Have you ever focused your attention on the way you walk? Do you stand straight with your shoulders back, or do you lean forward? Do you saunter or walk quickly? Have you noticed how the customers in your store walk? Most independent retailers give little thought to how their customers walk and move through their stores. These same retailers might be surprised to learn that there is a science dedicated to the study of how customers move within a retail store: it’s called “retail anthropology.” Retail anthropology was developed by Paco Underhill, who runs a consulting company called Envirosell. Back

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Survey Says: Antique Shops Must Adopt More Strategies


I read with great interest Worthpoint’s 2011 Antiques & Collectibles Survey Results, released on Feb 14, 2011. Worthpoint is a leading provider of valuation and associated services for art, antiques and collectibles. The survey was taken from mid-January through early February 2011, and reflects the opinions of dealers and collectors who visited the Worthpoint website during that period. As I reviewed their survey, my initial reaction was that its results must heavily favor Internet dealers; after all, it was an online survey. As it turns out, this initial assumption about the respondents to the Worthpoint survey was incorrect. Their survey sample was

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Build Your Business with Lookalike Audience

lookalike audience

I love Facebook marketing. Compared to the expense and uncertainty of my advertising in the 1980s, Facebook is a dream-come-true. John Wanamaker, the pioneering 19th-century retailer and department store entrepreneur, summed-up my advertising anxiety succinctly: “I know half my advertising works but I don’t know which half.” Changing Face of Marketing Until recently, retailers had few choices in advertising platforms: print, broadcast, and direct mail (in their various formats). All of those media had a common strategy: saturate a market with an advertiser’s message. Then, hope that interested buyers would see or hear an advertisement and take action. Such shotgun-style

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Price Anchoring, Bundling, and Bracketing

price anchoring

I’m a sucker for a bookstore. I can’t seem to walk past one without going in, and I seldom go in without buying something. This has been a lifelong affliction of mine. When I was a teenager, my mother once asked me: “Why do you buy more books when you haven’t read all the ones you’ve got?” To which I replied: “What’s the point in having a library full of books that I’ve already read?” Occasionally I read a book that’s a real game-changer for me; a book that rings so true it forever changes the way I think about a particular

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How to Price High Enough to Assure a Profit


Have you ever seen the Edvard Munch painting “The Scream”?  If Munch doesn’t ring a bell, recall the scene in the movie “Home Alone” in which Macaulay Culkin shaves for the first time, and then applies after-shave to his raw face: hands slapped over his ears, eyes as big as saucers, he emits a scream that can be heard a block away. Such was my response to a Harvard Business Review article that recently arrived in my inbox. The article discussed book pricing relative to Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad, and traditional print books.  The author’s position was to keep prices

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