6 Things Your Antique Dealer Wishes You Knew
There are countless fascinating reads on the internet and in print these days about what certain professions want people to know. All categories and jobs are used, from humorous articles about what pets wished their owners knew, to doctors and nurses, baristas, and more. One variety or subject we generally don't see much of is from our antique dealer's viewpoint.
For many collectors, we may be such regulars at the antique shop, flea market, or around other antique sales that we're on a first-name basis with the dealers and fellow collectors. But what if antique dealers could take a moment to tell their customers what they wished their customers knew?
Today, we'll share six things your dealer wishes you knew.
1. Not Everything You Have Holds Monetary Value.
And this is ok. Some things have sentimental value, which is irreplaceable and essential to you. Not every object in your home will be a rare and precious prize. The value of an antique has to meet specific criteria, of which there are surprisingly many. Age, scarcity, condition, the region it came from, quality, and general desirability all factor into the monetary value of an antique. Your reputable antique dealer will have a general sense of all these factors.
2. Not All Appraisers are Equal
Of the 30,000 to 50,000 people in the country at any given time going by the title personal-property appraisers, just 10% of them will turn out to be professionally trained because appraising is still mostly unregulated, with little to no education or licensing requirements.
In fact, out of the four most prominent and most respected groups that may offer credentials to appraisers, they don't have rigorous standards for admissions—except for one. The American Society of Appraisers requires all members to pass a test on a specific area of appraisal expertise before gaining entry. The remaining tests the bulk of members on general appraisal standards and practices, and the tests are generally due to the fact the work most members do is usually not high-end appraisals.
What does that mean? It means that, in all honesty, you shouldn't be seeking appraisals from antique stores or galleries. Appraising your antiques with someone not interested in buying or selling them would be best so they can give you the actual value.
3. Even Professional Appraisers and Dealers Are Still Human
If you're an avid collector and regular at flea markets, you've probably already spotted and know that there are reproductions of all kinds out there. If it can be reproduced, someone is no doubt attempting to or doing it. The issue is that even some professional dealers and experts have moments where they can't tell the difference between a fake and a real thing. Part of the issue is that antique covers not just furniture but jewelry, glass, glassware, art, and much more. Dealers often wish their customers knew that they couldn't expect their dealer or appraiser to be knowledgeable in all areas of antiques. Like you, dealers and appraisers are only human; many specialize in certain antiques but not all of them.
Dealers also wish customers knew to be cautious of other so-called dealers that appear to be able to answer a question about any antique object.
4. Learn to Haggle Properly
Everyone loves a good deal, and sometimes we either don't agree with what a seller has priced an antique at or wish to see if we can haggle the price down a little bit. However, learning to negotiate without giving offense is a skill that takes some time to master.
Remember that the majority of antique dealers are small businesses. The dealers themselves pay the price for every item they sell, and each dealer has overhead that, as a customer, you may forget exists. Every reputable dealer will price their items to reflect that.
There's always some wiggle room on the price, but they can only lower it to a certain point before it's a complete loss for them. Also, remember that for each dealer you haggle with, each one will be different. Perhaps you get a 10% discount at your regular dealer. Don't expect that same discount at another shop with another dealer.
How do we begin to learn to haggle properly? Outside of practice, there are a few general guidelines:
• Ask if haggling is allowed. Not all shops, markets, or dealers haggle. A simple and polite ""Are you willing to negotiate on the price?"" is a great way to determine whether haggling is allowed.
• Before you haggle, know what you want and how much you're willing to pay. Identify the item, and note any marks and unique characteristics. Have a clear idea of your goals.
• Dealers who do haggle have said that they tend to enjoy negotiating with customers who are polite while doing so, and if a dealer sees potential in building a relationship with you. You may or may not get the price you want, but politely asking makes you a memorable customer.
5. Requiring a Written Guarantee
When the deal is finished, and money is about to be exchanged, the best line of defense is a written or typed and signed guarantee. This paper should be readily available and required to seal the deal. A reputable, trustworthy dealer should be more than willing to hand one over.
If your dealer does not wish to give you one willingly, you may be doing business with a suspect dealer.
In addition to a written guarantee, as a buyer, you have the right to demand more. A dealer should not hesitate to describe the current condition, the item in full, when it was made, and what parts, if any, have been repaired, replaced, or may be missing.
An antique dealer with no issue writing a guarantee and a complete description of essential items is a great sign. It means you'll get a full refund if an antique is something other than what you or the dealer thought it would be.
6. If You Do Get Fooled, Don't Give Up
No good antique or good business wants their customers unhappy and unsatisfied, nor to be sued. Being sued is particularly devastating for an antique dealer since the company heavily relies on word of mouth and reputation. Many dealers will tell you that they live by their reputation and customer service.
If you believe a terrible dealer has had you, don't give up in anger or shame. Return to the questionable dealer with a trusted appraiser's note, and you'll likely get your money refunded.
Owning a small business is difficult; owning an antique store has unusual challenges on top of the typical day-to-day. The nature of the business changes, but these things your dealer wishes you to know probably remains the same. Antique dealers love what they do, and they love seeing the items they curate go to the homes of people who will cherish them and build their memories with these items.
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