On the Road Again

It’s that time of year!  Yep every fall we go on a buying trip.  Two years ago we headed east and spent some time in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Last year we spent most of our time in Kansas and Nebraska.  And this year we’re headed to Oklahoma.

To get ready we’ve:

  • Completed an inventory — so we know what we currently have in stock
  • Ran customer purchase reports — so we know what we’ve sold in the past 24 months
  • Ran profit reports — so we know where we’ve actually made money
  • Reviewed our client wish-list — so we know what people are still looking for
  • Scoured the internet looking for out-of-the-way places to pick up antiques
  • Planned a “potential” route

Now comes the fun part.  Wednesday afternoon we hit the road.  Our plan is to get south of Kansas City by dark.  Thursday morning we’ll go to our first “official” stop…and from that point on all bets are off.   

At every stop we’ll ask the same question to everyone we meet including the gas station attendant, the waitress, the shop owner and even the woman walking by on the street.  What’s the question? 

“In this area — who should we be talking with about antiques?” 

What’s amazing is that 1)  People actually know and 2) People will tell us!  And based on those conversations we may head to an area antique store.  We may end up in someone’s attic.  Or we could get invited to a local dealer’s home.  But no matter what — it’s  an adventure.

One of my favorite adventures was when we visited a dealer’s barn.  It was located right on a gravel road and everything was COVERED with gravel dust.  Seriously — it was so thick everything in the barn was grey.  And our first thought was THIS IS A WASTE OF TIME!  But we walked through, picked some pieces off the shelves, wiped them down and found a couple of low-end pieces that were priced right. 

As we were paying the man we asked if he knew anyone that had high end Victorian Glass that they might be interested in selling.  And all of the sudden we were ushered into heaven. 

The dealer took us through a door that lead to a great room where he lived.  What a difference.  The place was clean as a whistle.  There were actual lights that highlighted everything.  And three of his four walls had built in display cabinets full of RS Prussia, Brides Baskets, Pickle Casters, Pigeon’s Blood, Old Amberina, Vaseline and Cameo glass.   

He was protective and VERY selective about what he was willing to give up — but we made a deal on four stunning pieces! 

You know, at every show customers AND vendors ask us “where do you find such good stuff?  And this situation is a perfect example.

  • We’re not afraid to ask questions.
  • We treat people well — even if we think we’ve been sent off on a wild goose chase.
  • And we do our best to be personable.  

This dealer does not advertise.  His place was out in the middle of nowhere.  And we couldn’t have found him even if we knew how to find a needle in a haystack.  And yet — we were able to buy four pieces from him THAT WERE NOT ON THE MARKET.  

“In the good-of-days” (that many antique dealers like to reminisce about) all you had to do was know your stuff, go to garage sales and Goodwill and then simply put out your merchandise at a local antique show or flea market.   In those days even rude and obnoxious dealers made money.

My have times changed!

  1. It’s much harder to find quality antiques
  2. There is more competition then ever before
  3. What took years for many dealers to learn is now readily available on the internet
  4. Customers KNOW what things are worth

So really — how do you find quality antiques?  How do you make money?  And how do you stay in business?  

  • We’ve found out that it pays to be curious. 
  • We found out it pays to do your research.
  • We found out it pays when you willing give information to others.
  • We found out that it pays to listen. 
  • We’ve found out that it pays to be kind.  
  • We found out it pays when you don’t have to sell something for “what it is worth.”
  • And we found out that it pays when you treat people well.  

Lucky for me — that’s sounds like the kind of values my parents taught me years ago.  Thanks Mom & Dad!

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