Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Flea Markets, Estate Sales, Online Retailers, TV Shows, Antique Shows and Technology

A recent blog post from John George Campbell
"Lessons Learned from Market Warriors" can be found on his blog by clicking the link above.

This well written and oh so true post on the difficulty of the show's regulars, to come away from the well known Brimfield Flea Market/Antique Show in MA, with any items that they could actually turn a profit on...was quite the eye opener for some, for me...I felt it coming.

NJ is the land of flea markets, estate sales, antique shows and auctions.  When I started in this business 7 years ago, it was literally a different world.  There were no smart phones to speak of (at least in that world) and you couldn't Google an item while out treasure hunting, to find out it's worth.  There also weren't 5 million picking, hunting, appraising TV's shows bringing top dollar pricing into everyone's livingroom.

Since the smartphone has become an accessory (I refuse to bring mine, as I like to test myself:)).  Every seller and buyer at these locations is loaded up with Google searchability.  
The result...

What used to be a great business for those of us at all levels, the auction house, the flea market seller, the online seller, the B&M antique shop owner and the estate sale companies...has now become one level pricing.

In my opinion, this hurts us all.  When you have so many types of businesses involved in the selling of vintage & antiques, you can't expect the pricing to be the same.  Our overhead varies from business to business, as does our level of interaction with the customer.

As an online seller, I have research, photography and writing listings, hours of promoting, the cost of an online shop, packaging, shipping, advertising and most of all making sure that my customers are happy with their purchases when they arrive, whether it's going to another part of the state, across the country or other parts of the world.

Pre-technology, we were all able to make a small profit and still offer our customers comfortable pricing but if the people that I buy from are charging the going rate online...how is that possible?...and yet, everywhere I go from flea market to estate sale, I hear complaints from the sellers there (amongst themselves), that nothing is selling...Hmmm, I wonder why?

Hopefully TV Shows like Market Warriors and posts like John's above, will enlighten the selling community to take it down a notch, so that we can all get back to the business that we love to do and still make a small profit.

I am very thankful for the people that I buy from regularly but unfortunately I can't comprise my entire shop inventory of only those items.

...and that folks is the Catch-22 of antiques and technology.  What gave us our businesses in the first place is the very same thing that is now making it difficult to run them.

Thanks so much for reading!

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