Negotiate, Don’t Haggle

negotiate don't haggle

We in the antiques and vintage trades have always known that an asking price is not the “real” price. Who believes anymore that retail prices actually reflect what the seller expects to get for his merchandise? We haggle over price when we buy and we haggle over price when we sell. Haggling is “business as usual” for antiques dealers. But, is haggling good business? In my opinion, it’s not. I prefer to negotiate, and there’s a big difference between haggling and negotiating. Haggling is all about price; negotiating is about an exchange of value. I found it enlightening to learn

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Boost Sales with Storytelling


The difference between consumer goods and collectibles is the quality of the story that is attached to the item. Your storytelling ability is the key to selling more. For example: as a “follicly challenged” gentleman, I take comfort in my collection of hats. Not for their collectible value mind you, but for their value in keeping my head warm and dry during the winter season. Being so practical about my hats, I just had to smile when I read of the recent auction sale – for $14,160 – of the baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the splashdown of

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Training Antiques Sales Associates to Succeed

training sales associates

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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How to Win Over ‘Showrooming’ Customers


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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Engage Your Customers for Repeat Business

engage customers

When I saw the headline I laughed out loud. It read “The Future of e-Commerce is Offline.” Now wait a minute … haven’t we been told for the past two decades that the future of retailing was online? That in the future there would be no bricks-and-mortar stores, just websites? Well, it appears as though that tune is changing. Now, it seems, companies that built their businesses online must have physical locations to grow. Antique dealers are smiling, because we never abandoned bricks-and-mortar stores in the first place. Although many Mom-and-Pop dealers have added online selling as a distribution channel,

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Getting Past “Just Looking”

man looking at vintage records

The most thought-provoking comment I’ve heard lately came just last week from the mouth of a four-year-old boy. I was browsing through the men’s department of a mall store when the four-year-old appeared, holding his mother’s hand. A clerk asked the mother: “Can I help you?” and without dropping a beat the young boy replied: “Just looking.” Then the clerk turned and left. I don’t know which stunned me more, the response of the child or the response of the clerk. Clearly, the boy thought that “just looking” was the proper response to give to a retail clerk; he had

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Don’t Let Sales Get Thrown Under the Bus


American popular culture loves a catchphrase. Always has. In the 1890s, businessmen were anxious to “get down to brass tacks,” and a well-heeled customer who was satisfied with his purchases was “as happy as a clam.” In the 1990s, if a customer discovered that a dealer’s claims were all smoke and mirrors, then the deal “went down the tubes,” and it was “hasta la vista, baby.” The latest popular catchphrase — “thrown under the bus” — was originally used by sports writers. Referring to the team bus, an athlete was either in favor (on the bus) or out of favor

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To Collectors, Meaning Trumps Price


It seems that noted psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was quite a collector. He amassed a collection of antiques that eventually numbered around 2,300 pieces. According to Freud’s student and colleague Ernest Jones: “His collection crowded his desk and cabinets, filling every available spot in the two rooms where he wrote and consulted with patients … to the left of the door was a large bookcase covered with tall ancient statuettes. In the corner, at the end of the wall facing these statuettes, was Freud’s chair, almost hidden by the head of the couch. … to the left and right of the

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Achieve Higher Prices Through Storytelling


A baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the Apollo 11 mission sells for $12,000. A typewriter belonging to novelist Cormac McCarthy sells for $254,500. A football used during the NFL’s “deflategate” scandal sells for $43,740. Baseball caps and footballs are commonly available for under $10; typewriters for under $100. Clearly, in the above sales the extrinsic value of the items greatly exceeded the intrinsic, functional value of the items. A $6 baseball cap shades the eyes as well as Armstrong’s $12,000 cap. A $100 typewriter types as well (in some cases) as a $254,000 typewriter. As antique dealers, we understand that an antique’s

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Capture Attention Merchandising with Sight, Sound, and Smell

capture attention

The classic sales formula is AIDA: capture Attention, pique their Interest, stoke Desire, and convince them to Act (buy). Selling has never been that simple, but as a process the formula offers good advice.  Marketing is part of the sales process: it’s what connects us to prospects and turns them into customers. I’m happy to take selling advice from experienced salespeople and marketers. When non-marketers offer advice, though, I’m cautious. Some “experts” would have us believe that all the marketing you’ve ever done to promote your business is completely wrong and has been a gross waste of money. At least

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