Sunday, February 7, 2010

When Offering a Good Deal May Be A Bad Idea For Antique Dealers

When Offering A Good Deal Is A Bad Idea:Advice For Antique Sellers

With everyone kvetching about the miserable state of the economy, what should worried antique dealers do? Should panicky sellers try to move their inventory at discounted prices or sit tight and calm buyers with their confidence?

Does Discounting Collectibles Hurt Sales?

Sure everyone likes a bargain, but in the antique and collectibles business does having constant "sales" or always "discounting" merchandise actually work against you? Don't get me wrong...everyone loves a bargain...but buyers are savvy these days and while you are wheeling and dealing, they are wondering if you are for real. The buyer is sizing you up and trying to figure out if you can be trusted!

Feeling Cheated

Perhaps the buyer is wondering if you are charging them too much to begin with. Or maybe the buyers secretly feels "cheated" in some way because to them your prices seem to fluctuate often. As a result of their hidden feelings of mistrust, buyers may actually shy away from buying from you.

This logic also applies when selling repaired items or undisclosed broken or damaged goods. Once a buyer feels that you have kept secrets from them once, they may doubt your overall business practices and integrity.

Watch How Many Sales You Run

If you want to convey to buyers that you have wonderful, fairly priced items for sale, avoid offering "too many good deals" and constant sales in favor of offering fair values from the get go. Staying on an even playing field will gain respect among your buyers and help you sell much more in the long run.

Practical Tips to Help You Sell More Antiques And Collectibles When Economic Times Are Tough

1. Price your goods fairly from the beginning.

2. Do not cross out prices on sales tags to show lowered price.

3. Replace or freshen up old tags, so older items don't look like they have been sitting around for a long time.

4. Refrain from too many "sales". Keep store wide "sales" limited to expected 1-2 times a year only.

5. Convey to customers that business is solid (even when it is not). People want to feel confident about what they buy and will feel nervous if they think you are anxious for their business.

6. Substitute special events to increase traffic instead of "sales". For example, offer "Victorian Days", or "Free Appraisal Day" or "Old Fashioned Nostalgia Day" etc.

7. Refrain from telling people you have been sitting with an item for a long time.

8. If an item is damaged, do not announce to them or write on a sales tag "broken" or "damaged" or "stained" use softer language "gently used"., "as found condition". A buyer can handle hearing about "blemishes" when you remind them the object is over 80 years old. When you personalize an object they are more understandable.

9.. Share information about other stores in the area. Buyers like to know you are a team player. They will trust you more.When you "give" you get back.

10. Let customers teach you. Even if you are knowledgeable about a particular collectible. People like to be heard.Listen to your customers with interest. Rapport helps to seal the deal.

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link:
C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff

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Dianne is a member of:
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The Authors Guild, Inc.


  1. I agree. I think too many sales devalue your items. I've wondered often about crossing out prices when lowering the lady I sold with does that intentionally. Prices it high and crosses it out then marks it down right from the get-go. She believes people will buy it faster because they are "getting a deal". She does sell a lot. I just don't know. First off, it's dishonest, and I don't like that at all.

  2. Just wondering if these photos are from your stall. If so, and if they're current, I'd like to inquire about the red and white cupboard. Thanks!

  3. CherryPie,,,,,it is my shop (Kitsch n Stuff) ...and if you are in love with the red and white Hoosier, it is not for sale at this time, I use it for display.... thanks for stopping by my blog, Dianne

  4. What great tips! Thanks so much for sharing them!
    Kerry & Stephanie

  5. Would like to add my 2 cents here. 30 years in the antique and collectable business, and one MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember with your retail store, is NEVER HAVE ANYTHING on display, that isn't for sale. It is one of the BIGGEST NEGATIVES a customer can hear. And they will Not come back. So if you have anything your in love with, LEAVE IT HOME. Even if it is a display item, it's no good to have NFS. Very disappointing to the customer.
    If you do need a display, such as the kitchen Hoosier discussed above, instead of NFS, place a price that you would be ok selling at, even if it's high, at least it's for sale. And the customer would understand it better.
    So our lesson here, NEVER have ANYTHING in your store that is not for sale. It's one of the Biggest Turn Offs there is when shopping shops.
    I know that I get turned off by NFS, and usually Leave the store because of that.
    Hope this helps someone.
    PS. The cabinet is not a Hoosier, but just a old kitchen cabinet. We All need to call things as they are. The real Hoosier was made in Indiana, and the hardware depicts the "H" hinges for Hoosier.
    Many dealers call these kitchen cabinets Hoosiers. It's like calling all petroleum jelly, Vaseline.

  6. World wide: interesting comments. I do know what you mean about the NFS tags and how frustrating that can be. I think that it is ok to have some items that are used for props and marked NFS as long as there is plenty of other stuff to buy. Believe me, in my shop, there are so many goodies to buy, no one minds a few NFS tags.

    Also I would add, that if a buyers comes to a shop and sees a NFS tag, don't take that as the final word....if you fall in love with an item...ask if the seller is interested in selling it. And don't be afraid to keep asking. Eventually it amy become availbale.

    To your point on Hoosier are correct....but many of us use the term as "Hoosier style". Your 2 cents are welcomed...but go easy......and you can always add more and tell me at Thanks for taking the time to share your insights.