Competition Increases Sales


Dealers, would you rather be the only antique store in your town, or have a lot of competition? 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 prefer to have no competition at all. 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. That attitude is short-sighted. Competition creates a good shopping environment. As the iconic character Mr. T often said in the movie and TV

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How to Set Traffic Flow in Antique Shops

traffic flow

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 antique shop 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 traffic flow 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

antique dealers can learn from wine sellers

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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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 touch the merchandise and imagine that they owned the items. 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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Why You’ll Love an Inventory SKU System

inventory sku system

Keeping inventory under control in a growing antiques business is a matter of “scaling.” Many dealers start with a garage full of items they have collected, and begin by selling at an antique mall or show. As they grow, they may move to a free-standing retail location or sell online. As inventory, customer base and selling platforms increase in number, it becomes progressively harder to keep track of what’s being sold to whom, and where to find an item when it’s needed. Starting one’s business with a scalable inventory plan reduces problems and makes growth easier. I recently heard a

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Tracking Media Inventory: SKU, Alphabetize, or RFID?

Tracking Media Inventory: SKU, Alphabetize, or RFID

Keeping track of media inventory is a problem for many resellers. C.K. writes: ” Each time I make a new estate buy I find myself shifting everything around to insert the new purchases into the alphabetical order. Is there an easier way to track my media inventory so that customers can browse what I have in my shop, yet I can still shelve them quickly and find items easily when I have to ship an online order?” Dear CK: I see your dilemma: the browsing needs of your customers are at odds with the warehousing needs of your online business.

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Boost Your Antiques Sales with Sidekick Merchandising

boost 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? Sidekick merchandising shapes a customer’s decision-making process Sidekicks give us a point of comparison, and the drive to compare is inborn in humans. There is a branch of behavioral economics

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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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Tell a Story With Your Merchandise Tags

Tell a Story With Your Merchandise Tags

Good merchandise tags offer more than a price; they create expectations and help you sell more. If you tell a story (briefly, of course) on your merchandise tags you will engage your customer and sell more. The best story I’ve heard to illustrate my point follows: 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

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