Business Overview

Your antique store may sell items online, in a booth at an antique mall, at craft fairs or flea markets, or in your own stand alone store front--or in a combination of all of those places. You will constantly procure new items for your store and work to resell quickly and at a profit. Most antique dealers specialize in a specific segment of antiques such as furniture, vintage jewelry, printed media, or even commercial signs.

Who is this business right for?

If you have a passion for a beautifully crafted table or marvel at the function of an old butter churn, you have the first requirement of a successful antiques dealer. You must also have a burning desire to turn a profit and be able to let go of your carefully selected inventory quickly and without any sense of loss. This is above all else a means to make money.

What happens during a typical day at an antique store?

Whether you operate a large antiques store or maintain a small booth in a mall, on a daily basis you will:

  • Shop for new pieces at other antique stores, visit flea markets, estate sales, and second-hand stores
  • Build an extensive knowledge of your specialty area such as toys, art, fine furniture, and curiosities
  • Market your wares according to what is popular and desirable as trends change
  • Price your product such that it moves quickly while turning a profit over your purchase price
  • Develop your displays to attract shoppers
  • Maintain ledgers/spreadsheets to track incoming and outgoing items
  • Mark down inventory that has lingered on your shelves for too long
  • Bargain with interested customers in order to make the sale
  • Barter with other dealers to ensure you always have fresh inventory for returning shoppers

What is the target market?

Your most valued customer is the individual or designer who appreciates your eye for unique and quality items such that they return to your store for another piece to work into their home. Customers who regularly purchase from antique stores value quality construction and elegance over a fancy showroom with over solicitous sales staff. They desire to strike a bargain and feel that they own a piece of history that nobody else can have.

How does an antique store make money?

As the owner/operator you will constantly be shopping for new items for your booth or online store and will turn a profit by re-selling them at a higher price. You are more successful if you turn your inventory quickly and often. Large expensive items can linger, slowing your income stream and leaving the impression with shoppers that you never have anything new.

What is the growth potential for an antique store?

The antique boutique capable of expanding will be run by a person who has a talent for building relationships in the business. As you accumulate the names, numbers, and preferences of your clients and competitors, you can start buying items with certain customers in mind. When you become a personal shopper, you can charge a premium for your items and service. Over time, you may expand into a larger storefront as you begin to hire other dealers ready to further expand your customer base. When clients begin to call you looking for a specific item, you are on the road to expanding your business.