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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What Antique Dealers Can Learn from Wine Sellers

wine shelf card

Over the holidays I had occasion to go into a Total Wine store. If you’ve never been to a Total Wine, they’re the size of a major supermarket. The shelves are stocked with rows of wine, beer, and other goodies. I was completely out of my element. Shelves appeared to be filled with thousands of wine bottles, sorted by type, variety, country, state and region. When a store associate asked if I needed help, I didn’t know where to begin. I meekly admitted that I didn’t know anything about wine. Soon, an “Aha” moment came when I made a connection

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Improve Your Customer’s Retail Shopping Experience


Dealers, would you rather be the only antique store in your town, or one of many? I asked that question often in my recent visit to the Hillsville, Va., Labor Day Flea Market. A surprising number of dealers answered that they would rather be the only store in town; one dealer even boasted that he was the only antique store in his town, and that he enjoyed having the antiques trade “sewn up” in his community. Having competitors around creates a good shopping environment. As the iconic character Mr. T often said in the movie and TV show “The A Team”: “I

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Please Touch the Merchandise


In 2003, the Illinois state attorney general’s office issued a consumer warning that antique dealers should be aware of: Holiday shoppers were told to be cautious of retailers who encouraged them to hold objects and imagine them as their own while shopping. It seems that touching objects increased a consumer’s risk of buying them. Those cagy retailers! Using shady tactics to trap unsuspecting consumers into making actual purchases is unconscionable! Fortunately, there are retailers who show more respect for their customers by tucking merchandise safely away inside cabinets and behind “Do Not Touch” and “Please Ask for Assistance” signs. Of

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You’re Selling Nostalgia, Not Antiques


In the mid-1970s, I took my first sales seminar from what was then the biggest sales training organization in North America. There I learned the most useless sales technique I have ever encountered. For decades, this technique was taught as a way to close sales when a customer simply couldn’t make up their mind. (Ever heard the excuse “I want to think about it? This was supposed to fix that.) All the sales experts of the era agreed that the technique worked. It didn’t. The technique was called the “Ben Franklin Close.” Whenever a customer couldn’t make up his or

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Boost Your Sales with Sidekick Merchandising


I’ve always marveled at fictional sidekicks. A good sidekick lends perspective to enigmatic heroes and helps us to know them better. How well could we understand the complexities of Sherlock Holmes’ mind without having Dr. Watson to ask the questions we are thinking? How much more dignified is Andy Griffith when compared to simple-minded Barney Fife? How much cooler is Ferris Bueller when compared to his uptight best friend Cameron? Sidekicks give us a point of comparison, and the drive to compare is inborn in humans. There is a branch of behavioral economics titled “Social Comparison Theory” which postulates that

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Smells Sell

smell flowers

Sometimes the antiques business stinks. Not the buying and selling part, but rather the smells that can accumulate in a store filled with used merchandise. Few things are more off-putting than to walk into a store and inhale the mildewy stew of odors that can be created by rooms full of used goods. Have you ever walked into someone’s home and noticed residual odors from cooking, tobacco, poor cleaning or general dampness? The homeowner living with those odors seems to be oblivious of them. Shopkeepers, too, become immune to the odors in their stores. The odors of an antique store

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Sell More with Better Merchandise Tags

price tag

Sitting in his cell awaiting trial for treason, Van Meegeren considered his options. The year was 1945, and the war was over. Meegeren had been arrested in his Dutch homeland for being a Nazi collaborator. His crime, according to Dutch authorities, was trading a painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer to the Nazi commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering. Collaborating with the enemy was a capital offense. If convicted, Meegeren would hang. At his trial, Meegeren offered a novel defense: that he had, in fact, painted the Vermeer himself. It was a forgery. In return for his forgery, he acquired

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Is Memorabilia Fostering Better Mental Health?


The classic car cruise-in was a hit, judging from the size of the crowd. Classic and antique cars were parked up and down Main Street in Galax, Virginia, and more were circling the block in an impromptu parade. Radios blasted 1950s Doo-Wop and Rock n’ Roll; every 20 feet one song would segue into another. As I turned a corner, there it was: my first car, a 1959 Chevy Impala with its horizontal tail fins, teardrop taillights and “spaceship” dashboard. With no power steering, it handled like a tank and was difficult to parallel park. The car was just eight

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Customers Are Looking for a Reason to Buy From You

customers looking

Back in 1897, it was rumored that Mark Twain had died. Twain was unaware of the rumor until a reporter showed up at his door inquiring about his health. The reporter, disappointed that he missed a big story, went on his way. Twain was amused by the incident and later recounted the tale for the New York Journal, stating that he was not, in fact, dead. Twain’s famous words, “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” came from the Journal article. Today, rumors abound that traditional brick-and-mortar retailing is dead. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. As

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