Sunday, September 30, 2012

Used or Antique Furniture?

                     Know The Difference

I see lots of ads selling "Antique Dressers" or "Antique Table" only to reveal a 1970s Mediterranean dresser with plastic wood grain drawer faces and Ethan Allen rock maple drop leaf tables from the 1980's sold as "Very old Antique dining set".

                                             Timeless yet boring used furniture

Though these are in the style of antique furniture and have some age, they are not antiques. There is still money to be made on them but they are used furniture and should be represented as such.
Ugly Used Furniture (Avoid it)

If you're going to sell antique furniture, learn to identify the periods and techniques of manufacture. The difference between hand made and machine made dovetails. Know what is veneer and what is solid wood. The types of woods used. Most importantly, learn styles.
Hand Dovetailed
                                                         Machine Dovetailed

The style of a piece of furniture is the first indication of age and origin. Furniture styles are like clothing. You know bell bottom jeans from the 1960s and 70s, same goes for furniture. Styles come and go and revive sometimes over the centuries. Knowing what's currently in style will make reselling your pieces much easier and open to a wider market.

The Arts and Crafts Movement or Mission style for example will date the piece of furniture between 1900-1915, with some over lap. Even though this style is reproduced to this day, knowing how to read a piece of furniture, the wood, surface, manufactures marks, patination or patina, construction method and absents of wear all combined will immediately point out the age and authenticity to the trained eye.

Start with the style of a piece, (Art Nouveau, Art Deco, French, Heppelwhite, Chippendale, Mission etc.) then learn woods, hardware, and construction methods.
Now this takes time, effort and study, but it's a worthy pursuit. These pieces can occasionally be still found  as "sleepers" in used funtiture stores.
If you learn them one at a time, the rest will fall into place. You will know when to spend 3500.00 on a Gustav Stickley settle and  35.00 on the reproduction Mission style bench made in the 1990s that was left on the porch for the dog to sleep on. One is used furniture and one is going to a good antique auction for a big pay day.

                                    Gustav Stickley even arm Settle $15,000- $18,000

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Costume Jewelry..Buy It!

                 Costume Jewelry Shines

Rhinestones, plastic bangles, brooch pins, rings and a multitude of other styles of costume jewelry has been collectible for decades. There are more dealers then ever before and a wealth of resources to gather information including books, TV shows, the internet and trade publications to provide novice buyers and collectors with pricing information. Yet with all that access to information, you can still find under priced jewelry and mistakes on a regular basis.

Why? Because they made it by the BOAT load! There's lots of costume jewelry out there. Mom wore it, her mother wore it and they still enjoy it today.
The point I'm trying to make here, when you're at a yard sale and the the people are over 50, if you ask the lady if she has any old rhinestone jewelry or beads in the house she would like to sell, 3 out of 5 times I find they do. Even if it's broken or missing stones, high quality names like Eisenberg, Schiaparelli, Trifari (cast sterling and Jelly Bellies) and Bakelite figural brooch pins, can bring in the high hundreds for a single piece and 15.00 to 50.00 for some of the average pieces.

The majority of the stuff you can find was cheap when they bought it in the 1940's through the 1970's. So they generally think very little of it and sell it cheap. The money is made when one of these better named pieces are mixed in the jewelry box with the cheap stuff. A lot of times they received it as a gift and can't tell the difference. Your gain. So ask when you're at sales. Learn to identify quality in a piece. Prong set clear stones, good design, signed pieces cast in sterling. I've picked up entire boxes filled with pins for under 30 bucks. It would be worth while to invest in a few jewelry books just to get familiar with the names and methods of manufacture. Lots of money to be made on the costume jewelry


Friday, September 14, 2012

The Flip - It Doesn't Take Much

                                                           The Two Dollar Flip

                                                    Turn $2.00 into $43.00

"The Flip": A quick turn around on your investment sold at shorter profit margins for fast sales. Usually 10 to 15 percent

I wanted to create a monthly flip video though I was unable to finish the month out due to unforeseen circumstances and hurricane Isaac preparation. I did manage to take my initial two dollar investment to 18 days. Not a huge number, but keep in mind, the real numbers start getting bigger at the end of the month if you continue turning it over. The point of this video is to show how little cash you need to start a side business in junking and antiques.

A simple concept that can bring in big returns if you stick with it and don't keep any of the money. Reinvest ALL of it for 30 days. Here's an example of partial completed month.
I used Ebay on these sales but it's even better when you find something to buy at a flea market you're already set up at and start there. Buy, sell, buy, sell and buy again to bring something home for Ebay. Discipline is the key. Resist the urge to keep some of the cash. Spending all of it on more items for resale pays off in the end. 2 dollars can be turned into hunderds or more in a months time if you stick with it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Midweek Tip: Check Used Furniture Stores

                                             Check Used Furniture Stores

When you're out on your route looking for antiques and collectibles, don't limit yourself to markets, antique shops, yard sales and shows.

One of the best overlooked places to pick are used furniture stores.

These store specialize in used furniture and  price items at decorative value, not collectible value. Most of the stuff they sell is just used furniture so they have no real reason to study antiques or know the market value of these items when they happen to fall into them.

These store get calls from people who are moving, estates clear out on short notice and redecorating. Sometimes the sellers will throw in Grandma's "ugly" vase or old lamps because they don't match the new sofa they just had delivered. They also often pick up paintings rugs, and other antique items that they may not be aware of the value and use them as filler for china cabinets they are selling. I have bought some good paintings and high quality antique rugs very cheap.

Take your time and search in all the cabinets and on the floor for rugs. Worth a look.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Got Gamble?

                            Got Gamble?

The last entry I talked about timing and when to buy. If you're still unsure but something in your gut is telling you, "I think I can make money on it." you need to be asking yourself one question,

"How much can I lose?"

It's really that simple. What is the MOST you're going to lose on an item if you're wrong?
There are so many dealers out there who are stuck in their comfort zone and refuse to take a risk. They won't gamble on an item in fear of looking bad or losing money. They wring their hands, agonize over spending too much on something then slink their way back to their dusty starvation shops to sit in the dark waiting for a stray customer to come into their cave. Ok not really... but you get the point. Some people are afraid to take a risk! They have that "what if I'm wrong?" attitude "I'll lose money! oh noooo!"

Yes you will my friend. That's just the nature of this business if you want to handle the best and have a constantly changing, interesting and desirable inventory to drive traffic to your booth or web page and have repeat customers, you WILL occasionally pay too much for an item. Occasionally being the operative word. Don't do it all the time.

Good dealers don't lose in the end. Even if they over pay for something it will come out as a profit in the end in the form of advertising to draw interest or in a group of things sold off as a lot at auction. Dealers that feel they need to double or triple up on everything they buy tend to carry the same inventory for long periods. It's boring and not very enticing for repeat buyers.

I once overheard a dealer with a stunning booth of high end art glass answer a customer's question "How do you find such beautiful things? "

"I PAAAAY for them!"  she replied

A good friend of mine and long time antique dealer Joe R. who handled a lot of expensive painting, jewelry and lamps taught me that lesson. It made me lots of money over the years but even more valuable than the money, it gave me confidence. The ability to pull the trigger and gamble on objects sometimes.

When you break it down and think about it, it makes the decision easy.

Most of the time you'll at least get your money back or the loss is less than twenty percent... If you lose at all.

But when you're right, there is no better feeling in the world when you pay 200 bucks for something on an educated hunch, then turn around and sell it for 1500 or more. 

I was at Webster's Flea market in Florida several years ago. It was mid morning and there was a regular dealer that set up in the field with lots of low end china glassware yard sale quality stuff with some antiques. In the middle of the table there was a filthy tea service with a sign that read "Silver plated tea set 175.00"

It was 4 pieces. A tall tea pot, creamer, sugar and waste bowl. Now silver plated tea set that weren't Victorian were no big deal. At that time you could still get 4 piece sets under 100 bucks. This set however, was not your typical Rogers Brothers silver plate. It was tall, ornately chased, with scrolling florals ivory insulators, beautiful seed pod finials and crisp detail. I picked up the teapot and immediately could feel and see the quality.

Similar to this
"I'm not taking any less than hundred seventy five. I just got that set" The dealer barked from the front of his van.

"If this is sterling..." was the first thing that came to my mind as I look carefully for the marks. Nothing on the bottom. No hallmarks, no monograms.

"If I'm wrong, how much can I realistically resell it for quickly?" What is the most I could lose? 25 bucks? 35...? The set was nice, I had to have it..

"Ok, I'll take it." and paid him. As he was putting into a bag, he commented, "I hope I didn't just sell you a sterling tea set. I could find a mark on it. Is it sterling?"

My standard indifferent answer for nervous or cagey dealers is,

"I dunno... I just like it" Then quickly change the subject. Look at another item on the table and ask about it.  But his comment was music to my ears.I had a very strong feeling that it was sterling.
I got it home cleaned it up and went over it with a loupe. Hidden in the chasing on the side were two faint impressed hallmarks indicating French origin and sterling silver. Yessss! You know that feeling you get when your walking down the street and find a folded ten dollar bill on the ground? Well it's just like that except three hundred fifty times better.
That turned my 175 gamble into a 3500.00 sale. If I believed the sign "silver plate" and not took a shot, some other lucky buyer would have picked this set up.

Buys like this don't happen all the time, but don't be afraid to gamble sometimes if you think it's right and might be worth a lot more.
After all, what's the most you're going to lose?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Midweek Tip: Don't Be a Dirtbag.

                                                       Don't Be A Dirtbag
Specifically speaking of the EXTREME cheapskate...
Even though negotiating a lower price at flea markets is expected, don't be the guy who finds a two hundred dollar vase on the table that was just marked 12 bucks because the seller didn't know what he had THEN offer him 8 or 10 bucks for it.
I know there are some people out there who can't help themselves. They just HAVE to make an offer no matter how grossly under priced an item is or they couldn't sleep at night.
Resist the urge and DON'T ask: "Is that the best you can do?" or "Will you take less?" It's tacky and insulting. Especially if it's priced at 5 percent of its value and it's not repaired or damaged.
Just pay them their asking price. 

Here's why:
Eventually they may find out what his vase was really worth and they won't think kindly of you next time you try to buy from them. It can backfire on you especially if you frequent the same market every weekend. I've seen it happen before and some dealers resent it. They feel bad enough they made a mistake in pricing it but worse, they are insulted you had the nerve to offer them less. If you paid the marked price of 12.00 bucks, it's their fault not yours.
I had a no negotiating rule of 25 percent. If I knew I could easily get 4 times what they had it marked, I always paid what they were asking. No questions.  Sometimes the dealer will appreciate that you don't barter and even hold items he knows you like for first refusal. So don't be cheap! It will pay off in the end.

A final caveat. As I stated earlier, make sure the reason the item is so cheap is lack of knowledge and it's not a repaired, cracked or damaged item they are trying to unload. Inspect it carefully.  If you get it home and it breaks in half from a hidded crack, you own both pieces.