Antique Stores: Buy & Sell With These Tips

Updated March 17, 2022
Happy Mature Woman in Antique Store

Whether you're cleaning out some clutter and want to sell a few pieces or you're looking for the perfect treasure to complete your room, antique stores are still one of the best options for buying and selling. There are a few tips to keep in mind to get the best deals or maximize your profits.

Consider How Antique Stores Are Different From Online Shopping

Buying antiques online is common practice these days, but it's not the best option for every shopper or every type of antique. There are some key differences in the buying and selling experience between the internet and brick and mortar antique stores. Remembering these differences can help you get the most out of your shopping experience:

  • Antique stores are hands-on. Shoppers at antique stores can pick things up, handle them, and make decisions based on what they are holding.
  • Antique stores offer surprises. Online shopping can involve browsing, but it's not common to run across something unexpected. In-person shopping is full of items you might not expect.
  • You can directly interact in antique stores. When you buy or sell antiques in person, you can ask and answer questions about the item in real time.

Know Which Items Antique Stores Buy and Sell

While it may seem like no one buys antiques anymore, the opposite is actually true - if you have the right item, it can become a very hot commodity. Some common family heirlooms can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, in fact. As a seller, this means knowing your item is special and communicating what makes it desirable. As a buyer, it means being able to spot something you might really want and recognize whether it's being offered at a fair price.

Learn About Antique Values Before You Buy or Sell

Woman holding an antique vase

Depending on what you're buying or selling, there are a number of factors that can affect what antiques are worth. In general, the following will influence the price people are willing to pay for an antique:

  • Rarity - When there aren't a lot of examples of an item, it is often worth more than common pieces.
  • Condition - Pieces in good condition for their age are almost always worth more than the same items in rough shape.
  • Age - As a general rule, older items are worth more than newer items on the antiques market, all other factors being equal.
  • Quality - Pieces from noted manufacturers or with especially high quality workmanship are worth more.
  • Provenance - When you're shopping for antiques, the item is worth more if it has a story that is backed up by evidence.

There are several ways to find the value of antiques, but it's a good idea to at least look up what similar items have sold for on auction sites or at other stores.

Understand the Role of Commissions on Antiques

When you buy or sell antiques at a store, it's important to take the store commission into account. The store needs to make a profit on each item they buy and sell, and they also need to cover expenses like rent for the building, utilities, and employee wages. One of the way they do this is charging a commission when they sell something.

If you're asking a shop to sell your antiques, expect them to take at least 30% of the final price in the form of a commission. If you're buying antiques, it's important to know that this commission is built into the final price.

Remember That Selling Can Take Time

Selling at an antique store isn't a fast way to get cash for your antiques. There's no predicting how long something may take to sell, since factors like the price, value, and traffic in the store can have a major impact. Expect to have it take a few months to sell any pieces you are offering, and you'll be pleasantly surprised if it takes less time.

Know How to Negotiate

Many antique stores allow buyers to negotiate on prices. If you're selling something, build this into your original price so you can negotiate and still make a profit. If you're buying an antique, ask the store whether they are willing to take less for that item. Then make an offer that's between 10% to 30% lower.

Check Antique Dealers' Backgrounds

Working with an antique dealer or shop requires trust. If you're selling something there on commission, you want to be sure you're working with a reputable business. Similarly, if you're buying something, you want to know your information will be protected after the transaction. Before you work with a dealer, take some time to look into their background. If the shop or booth has been around for a long time, you can get a sense for their reputation locally. If not, check into the dealer online to make sure there are no obvious complaints.

Where You Buy and Sell Matters

Where you buy and sell antique items can matter a lot. You want to be sure you're getting a great deal on your purchases and maximizing your profits on your sales, too. You also want to be sure you understand the process and are working with a reputable dealer. As long as you do a little research, you'll find that antique stores are an excellent place to do business.

Antique Stores: Buy & Sell With These Tips