If you’re ready to sell the antique or vintage belongings that you no longer want or use, it pays to put some thought into the best way to liquidate them. There are many options, and each has its pros and cons, so take some time to determine which method of selling your possessions suits you best. What you choose depends on how quickly you want your items gone, and how much money you want to make.
Selling your items quickly
If your main objective is to get rid of things fast, selling outright may be your best bet. You can use Google to find a local dealer or Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find a private buyer. Older methods of looking through the Yellow Pages or placing a classified ad in the paper are still valid, but may net you fewer results in today’s digital society.
Wherever you find your buyers, keep in mind that a dealer will typically offer you less than half of the anticipated retail value of the items, but will usually take all or most of what you have. Private buyers may pay somewhat more, but will likely only want to purchase one or two items. They’ll also expect a bargain, since they’re taking a risk in buying privately.
A third option is to list your items on eBay, but you’ll find that it is a lot of work (research, photography, copywriting, correspondence, packing and shipping). And, since buyers may avoid sellers with little or no feedback to vouch for them, you may wind up wasting a lot of time while your items sit unsold, or go for peanuts.
Using consignment for vintage or antique items
If you have some time, you may want to consider consigning your items. While this takes longer, consignment generally earns you more money. Essentially, a consignment store or antiques dealer agrees to sell your item for you in their shop, taking a percentage of the final sale price as a commission. Typically, a consignment agreement lasts for 60 to 90 days. Most consignment businesses will also have a discount structure (up to 50%) in place, where the asking price of the item is reduced over time to encourage sales. At the end of the arrangement, you will be able to either collect any unsold items or opt to have them donated. Shops are usually not willing to purchase unsold items from you, so make sure your pricing is reasonable to start with. Items priced too high make you look greedy, not savvy, and gather dust.
You should expect to pay between 35 and 50% of an item’s selling price for the service. Some shops take a 60% cut for furniture, since it takes up more real estate on the sales floor. Choose a seller that has the best combination of customer traffic, reputation and fee structure. If your items are truly antique or collectible, you’ll get your best value consigning through an antique shop or mall. If your items are newer or less desirable, you may do better in a consignment shop. Pawn shops tend to pay the least and have high fee structures, so be extra diligent when considering this option.
Key points to remember when selling antiques
The most important thing to remember is that unless you intend to open your own antique store, you are going to have to share a percentage of the value of the items with whomever you choose to sell them for you. Also keep in mind that factors such as the economy, desired speed of sale and local market demand for your items can all significantly affect the prices you realize. Do your homework ahead of time and go in with realistic expectations, and selling your unwanted items can be fun instead of stressful.
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