Vintage Indie would like to welcome shop owner Mitzi Curi for her inside tips for making some cash this spring and summer with antiques, refurbished housewares and more.
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If you are able to "pick" a cache of goods, you need to call upon some antique dealers to show them your wares. Contact an antique mall or antique store, preferably during a slow time such as a weekday morning. You might want to call first, just to make sure you will be welcome. Simply tell them you have a selection of goods to sell and show up with your treasures. If you have very large items, such as a dining room suite, you might bring pictures instead, and maybe one part of the set as an example. Be prepared to deliver the items when convenient for the buyer. When a picker shows an antique dealer their wares, they should have an asking price ready for each item, leaving a bit of room for negotiation. Don't be offended if the dealers don't bite. There are many reasons why they might not be in a buying mode. They might be strapped for cash, or simply uninterested in the items you brought. Simply leave your business card and move on to another antique store.
I think it goes without saying that it helps to have some basic knowledge about the stuff you are trying to sell. You don't want to make a costly mistake such as "flipping" a piece of pottery you purchased for $4 at a garage sale to a dealer for $8, then later seeing the pottery priced at $125. Even though you made a 100% markup on the piece, you want to avoid that sick feeling that a situation like this might elicit. So do your research and learn as much as you can as you go.
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Another business idea without investing a lot of money is to buy furniture in the rough, refinishing or painting it, and then selling it to dealers or directly to the public via occasional sales or shows. I can think of one gal that rented a booth at an antique mall and sold her painted furniture quite briskly there.
If you have some furniture repair skills, you can put them to use by purchasing furniture that needs "help", getting it back in shape, then giving it your special paint treatment. You might need to learn how to re-glue rickety chairs, replace missing hardware, or find other solutions to bring old furniture back to life. My suggestion would be to perfect a "Shabby & Chic" inspired paint treatment. The shabby look is still quite popular, and painting furniture is easier than stripping off the old finish and staining and sealing it.
Personally, I like colorful furniture, but in my experience
white sells the best. Consider adding special details such as glass
drawer pulls on the dressers, or maybe painting floral designs on a
headboard. One invaluable resource for the furniture repair person is
the Rockler Woodworking catalog. They have everything you need to get
furniture up to speed. You can really feel good about "furniture
rehab", because you are rescuing things that might have ended up in a
landfill and are giving them a second life.
These three ideas should help get the wheels turning and maybe inspire you to get involved in a new small business. Even if your dream is to someday own your own store, these are easy ways to dip you toe in the water without investing the large amount of money that starting up a store would require. You will meet other dealers, learn something new every day, and be on your way to joining a group of folks that have already discovered a fulfilling hobby/business that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.