I have been asked this same question numerous times throughout my career “What’s it like to be an antique dealer?”. This blog will give you a brief glimpse into the day-to-day running of a full-time antique business. I have been an antique dealer for 45 years and this has provided me with many wonderful experiences and friendships. I have a shop that is located on my property in Trumansburg, New York.
The shop has a retail gallery as well as a workshop. We offer repair and restoration of antiques and furniture. Our restoration services include matching old finishes, replacement of inlay and veneer, making of new parts, and much much more. We go on house calls to bid restoration and repair services within a 60-mile radius of the shop. These calls can lead to business or be a complete bust. Keeping stock for the shop and shows can be a difficult task with auctions not as abundant as they once were and fewer individuals coming into the shop to sell their pieces. Inventory is the key to survival in the antique business. This means you have to be aware of trends and industry shifts. The last thing you want is a large inventory in something that is no longer in the collector's favor.
Shows are our biggest revenue source and the biggest consumers of our time. There are so many variables that go into a show I could write a blog on just shows. Setting up at a show could cost as little as $250 up to $3,500.00. We have to carefully plan our show schedule to make sure that we are participating in shows that draw good crowds and have little chance of weather affecting the show. Shows early in the year can be affected by snow and summer shows outside can be easily ruined by rain. We can travel from 2 up to 16 hours for a show and spend 3 - 6 days in a hotel. The hardest part of the show life is selecting the inventory to take, loading up for the show, setting up our booth, tearing down our booth, and finally unloading at home. This entire process of loading, setting up, tearing down can take 25 - 35 hours per show. During the show we engage with the public in our booth, shop the show looking for new pieces, and search for specific pieces for our customers. There are no guarantees on how much you are going to sell or what you are going to sell.
As the years have gone by it has been important for our business to change with the times. Our website has become another storefront for our business. The site showcases our inventory 24/7 to the entire world. Advertising both in print and online is important for our business’s success. Trends come and go but people's love of antiques and history remain constant.