are made available if you are setting up your own business or in need of inquiry regarding your current financial status. It is a web-based tool which is for internal use only. It is acquired on a personal basis to keep track on your accounts and in making your budget.
The traits that will determine the "winners and losers" in this antique industry "shakeout" are:
1. Perseverance coupled with tight expense control.
2. Exciting and unique merchandise flowed regularly to ensure newness to your repeat customers.
3. Good value. The days of "obscene profit" are over. $10 profit to $1 investment may happen occasionally but a more modest $3 to $1 sales price to cost ratio probably will give better value and motivate the thinning "customer count" to purchase.
4. A good attitude. The last thing anyone needs (or wants to hear) when they visit a store or business for some quality shopping time is "gloom and doom". Motivation and enthusiasm are contagious...so is wining and grousing. If you want more positive customers... be a more positive shop owner!
5. Look for new ways to reach new customers. Pack up the car or truck and hit the high, low, or medium end flea market, antique show or swap meet with a load of business cards and great merchandise. Give the people who stop by a "preview" of your taste and selection and invite them to stop by for a visit of the larger assortment in your shop. Give them a discount coupon, if you want to fuel urgency, to be used on their next visit.
6. Finally keep you store fresh. If new merchandise flow isn't possible with current cash flow challenges... Rearrange your stocks so that the same items are presented in new locations, with new adjacencies and with new ways to visualize their use. You will find a old item becomes a new sale by simply moving it to a new location.
In summary when the going gets tough...The committed antique shop owner should look at the situation as a opportunity to grow market share...Not toss in the towel!
The world is littered with businesses that would have been successful with a little more perseverance and patience! Quitting is easy...Winning is commitment!
Jeff Mack is the owner of Silverado Warehouse, a 2 acre architectural, primitive, western and architectural antique store in Rainbow, California (4 mi. so. of Temecula). Silverado Warehouse is the largest primitive antique store in California and is located on two beautiful acres of 100 year old oak trees in one of Northern San Diego Counties most beautiful country properties. The property also boasts a wonderful country restaurant, flower shop, produce and snack market and is easily reached by a quick exit from HWY 15 as you are heading towards San Diego or from LA. Silverado Warehouse is open year round Thursdays through Sundays from 10AM- 5PM. You can also visit us online at
Jeff was previously in Senior Management of Neiman Marcus, Bonwit Teller and Broadway Department stores and has over 30 years’ experience in specialty and large scale retail. This experience has enabled him to create Silverado Warehouse and be regarded as a Architectural Salvage and Antique store operations and merchandising expert.
Jeff also operates "Antique Rethink" a antique store consulting service that offers on site operational, merchandising, financial and directional advice at reasonable rates. If your business is struggling and you want a fresh set of eyes to advise you get back on track or make the right decision for your business, Give Jeff a call at 760-723-8483. We will explain our role and fee structure and see if it makes sense for you before you quit or help you grow market share in the future to do diminishing competition.
Where would the antiques and collectibles business be without "pickers"? We are the folks who scour the flea markets, auctions and yard sales, attics, barns and basements to find the antique, collectible, or just genuine gems that find their way into the malls and shops of America and into the homes of collectors.
Here is a cornucopia of resources to help with the hunt for your antiqes stock and to help make the job easier for everybody. Let's face it: competition is fierce. Knowledge is king in this business and we have collected (and continue to collect) the resources in one spot so you won't have to spend your time scouring the internet for information but can get out there and find the next hidden treasure!
American Picker reveals the secrets, tips, pearls of wisdom, handy tools to make your antique and treasures picking easier and more efficient as well as fun. We'll update you on trends in the market, give you our thoughts on the taxman, help you to organize your time to be the most effective you can be.
If you are a small business owner of a antique business, you have probably heard the "death knoll claims", been deluged with discouragement from the "gloom and doom"crowd and look frequently out your window to see if "the funeral procession" is passing by...I am here to tell you that while antiques as well as all discretionary retail businesses are challenged...they are not dead and won't be any time soon!
Almost every day I hear the constant comment from some customers and a lot of discouraged dealers saying that the antique is industry is dead, dying or disappearing. There rationale is:
1. The existing customer isn't buying.
2. The existing customer has bought all they intend to.
3. The younger customer isn't interested.
4. Everyone that might be buying is buying online.
I would like to give you "tough and committed" antique dealers who have store fronts some counter intuitive insight and contrarian opinion about the "state of things in the antique industry".
For years the antique industry (like many other industries in America) became over populated with part time, marginally committed participants who saw their opportunity to turn a "passion for garage sales" into "off or on the books" profits with little day to day efforts
load up the SUV, get a few tables and cloths together and open up a Antique Mall Space. The large size of this group proliferated a huge amount of antique malls popping up on many main streets and malls throughout the United States.
The fallacy of this concept was the space was expensive, add on percentages pretty high, and marginally committed staff not having the same "vested interest" as an owner of a mall space would have. The dealers in the malls were not "retailing veterans" and in many cases found out at the end of the month that instead of the "slush funds" that they thought they had created, a bill for the short fall between space rent and sales was waiting for them on the first of the month instead of the hoped for check. A new "harsh reality" sunk in to the mall space tenants and they soon said this is not a good idea and "bailed" in record numbers. The "bailing process" of mall space tenants created huge empty gaps in antique malls and led to a new reality for the antique mall owner "they are upside down on their rent due to the vacancies". This has led to record Antique Malls closing their doors and hanging the "for rent" signs on the front of the buildings.
What is the post mortem of this process? "Bigger opportunities" for the surviving retail outlets for the sale of antiques by getting a bigger slice of a (economically caused) smaller pie. This is a moment to not lament the advent of online antique sales but take advantage of it. The internet gives a dealer a chance to reach millions of new customers and "start slicing up" their share of the smaller pie. The reduction in shopping malls makes your "brick and mortar" shop more appealing to the customer who enjoys a new adventure in a antique store (as long as he or she is welcomed with enthusiasm) and well- priced and unique items to be tempted by.
Will the antique industry and store survive and return back to life? I think so. The antique customer is first and foremost a "collector" not unlike a museum. They collect things that interest them, have intrinsic value to them and that they think will in time appreciate in value. The number and longevity of museums throughout the world is testimony that there is still interest in viewing and owning things of historical significance on the part of many individuals. A private collection of a "item of passion" for a collector is their private museum to be enjoyed by themselves and shared with friends...and perhaps ultimately sold for profit!
Cindy discusses renting a space with the mall owner
SMALL BUT POWERFUL: MODEL TRAINS ROLL ON AS HOBBY FOR GROWNUPS
When he isn’t off in Europe riding full-size versions of the toy railroads he collects, 67- year-old economics professor R. Stephen Polkinghorn is in his Camino, Calif., basement tinkering with models.
He got the first blue American Flyer at age 6 for Christmas and that was only the beginning. Today he specializes in narrow-gauge railroads and buys a few ready-made. Others he builds from kits, and even sculpts a few from scratch. For this grown-up boy, the nostalgia never wore off.
“I know very few collectors who didn’t have a Lionel or American Flyer as a kid,” said Dick Christianson, editor of Classic Toy Trains Magazine, in Business Week. The alchemy occurs in childhood.
Chuck Brashear’s father gave him a 1937 American Flyer set when he was a kid. Today, the 54-year-old building contractor collects pre-World War II electric trains estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Neighborhood kids love his attic showroom in Gras Valley, Calif.
For kids who grew up in the ‘50s, the passion is especially strong. This was the golden age of toy trains, and like a lot of things in life, they just don’t make ‘em the way they used to.
Men in their ‘40s and ‘50s gotta have the trains they played with as kids and prices continue to soar.
In 1953, the largest manufacturer, Lionel Corporation, produced 622,209 locomotives and 2.4 million cars. So there are still plenty around. These tinplate gems have the craftsmanship and engineering that send collectors reeling from one to the next.
Political columnist George F. Will, an American Flyer fan as a boy, recalled in The Encyclopedia of Collectibles that, “In the late 1940s, the world, or at least the heart of the habitable world, central Illinois, was divided into warring camps. On one side were loutish children who preferred Lionel trains. On the other side were precocious and discerning children who rejoiced in American Flyers like my model of a Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive. I believed then, and still do, that children who embraced Lionelism had dark pasts and dangerous futures.”
All sarcasm aside, rivalry, albeit a friendly one, does exist between the two camps.
Collectors specialize by maker, size, gauge of trains and track and period of manufacture. Postwar sets are the choicest, and like dolls, mint condition and original box makes a big difference in value. Condition and rarity determine value.
Post-war Lionel trains were featured at Ralston’s train auction in Norwalk, Conn., on Sept. 9-10, 1994. The highlight of the sale was the 1957 Santa Fe flat-channel set in mint condition, and in its original boxes. The set hammered down for $11,000.
Other notable lots included the 2331 Trainmaster diesel, which sold for $2,300, and an A 2276W Budd set, $3,400.
Among the premium items included in a sale today and tomorrow at Ralston’s are the first Lionel train made in 1902, a Marx Bunny Express train set, a Bing Gauge 4 train set and a Lionel 200 motorized gondola.