Inventory, Investment, and Perception

inventory

  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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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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Survey Says: Antique Shops Must Adopt More Strategies

strategy

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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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

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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The Time is Right to Open an Antique Shop

time is right

It’s my opinion that the antiques business is the only retail business worth pursuing at the moment. Consider the problems faced by commodity consumer goods retailers: In the past decade,“Big Box” stores have put scores of Main Street retailers out of business. Competition from online dealers has shaved commodity retail store margins so close that it can take months for a business to recover from a downturn in sales or an uptick in expenses. An army of consumers armed with smart phones can instantly compare prices on virtually every commodity offered for sale and then harangue a retailer for a

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Pass-on Costs via Buyer Fees?

pay

Buyer’s fees are much like kudzu: They are invasive, spread rapidly, and choke the life out of everything they touch. For those unfamiliar with the plant, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the 1876 U.S. Centennial Celebration by the Japanese contingent. It was immediately adopted in the Southern U.S. as cheap animal fodder and to control soil erosion. In the 141 years since kudzu’s introduction, it has become known as “the plant that ate the South.” The vine grows about a foot a day and is nearly impossible to kill. Left unchecked, it will completely cover mountains, houses,

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The Pain of Parting with Cash (and the Joy of Getting It)

parting with cash

I like having money to spend. I try not to spend it, but just having money and knowing that I could spend it if I wanted to feels good to me. I don’t think that I’m alone in feeling this way, either. Money affects people in physical ways and I recently stumbled onto proof that this is true. In 2009, Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment disguised as a “dexterity study.” In the study, she had one group of students count a stack of $100 bills while another group counted a similar-sized stack of blank pieces

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Should You Open an Antique Mall Booth?

antique mall

Should you open an antique mall booth? The answer to that question will vary according to who you ask. Folks who have opened a booth and failed will, of course, tell you “no”. Many antique dealers will tell you “no” as well, citing the fact that their sales are getting lower every year. Operators who run successful booths will always encourage you to open one, because they realize that, in the antiques business, customers are attracted to the varied inventories of multi-dealer malls. Rather than competition, more dealers grouped together means more sales for all. As a licensed auctioneer, I

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Training Antiques Sales Associates to Succeed

training

I get a big kick out of my fellow auctioneers. Some of them (especially the newbies) think that auctioneers are such great salesmen. Wherever auctioneers gather, you will see a few of them assembled telling “war stories” and comparing notes about what they and others have sold. At some point in the conversation, someone will proclaim “(insert name here) was a great salesman! He could sell anything!” Give me a break. How hard is it, really, to stand in front of a crowd, call bids and declare an item sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the price? Such sales

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