Antique dealers are sometimes seen as a mysterious species. They buy and sell old or antique objects and collectors’ items, often focusing on particular items of interest or expertise. Antique dealers are passionate about the items they work with, and they like the idea of haggling, buying and selling. If you become an antique dealer, the chances are that you’ll be self-employed, although some dealers do work directly for larger auction houses or other organisations.
General Antique Dealer Tasks
Advice on how to be an antique dealer is as varied as the dealers themselves. For many, an antique dealer career is unique to them and is based upon their own interests. Yet there are some tasks and skills that will be relevant to anyone looking to become an antique dealer:
- Ability to buy items from salerooms, auctions, markets, trade fairs and private owners
- Ability to sell items to the general public, either from shops or stalls in antique centres
- Negotiation skills to handle purchases and sales
- Confidence to buy and sell online
- Confidence to carry out minor restoration work
- Ability to research the identity and value of objects
The specific skills someone needs to become an antique dealer can often be developed while on the job. Becoming an antique dealer can be exciting and rewarding. The most important thing is enthusiasm and a genuine passion for the work which can often include unsocial working hours and travel.
Tips to Become an Antique Dealer
So, if you’re interested in an antique dealer career, here are some steps you can take to get started and find your own specialist area.
- Get Some Experience
Until you’ve worked within the industry, you can’t know for sure that it suits you. As with all careers, antique dealing may look more romanticised from the outside than it truly is, so it’s only by working alongside seasoned professionals that you can really get a feel for the work.
Working part-time or full-time in an auction house would be the ideal scenario for building skills, but other roles which put you in the path of antiques and collectables could be equally as useful. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s no one route to a successful antique dealer career – find one that works for you.
- Find Your Own Niche Area
One thing to bear in mind is that the more money in specialist areas of antiques, especially those where fewer dealers are active. There are plenty of niches including:
An interest in one subject may lead you towards that niche. If that’s the case, focus your energy on learning the skills you need to sell those particular items – work out who your customers are and go from there. The same principles apply if your question is more about how to become a vintage dealer. Finding your own area of interest is an important key to success.
- Become Profit Savvy
The business of selling can feel like a grubby world, but it really isn’t. One thing to remember when you’re learning how to be an antique dealer is that the sale is a transaction between you and the customer where both of you benefit. You make a sale and they get an item that they’ve been looking for or that means something to them.
Don’t shy away from learning about the business side of things. Learn about profit margins, resale values and how much item may cost to transport and fix. The only way to make a success of an antique dealer career is to take the business side seriously.
- Find Platforms Where You Can Sell
Having the perfect item in your possession means nothing if you can’t get the right eyes on it to sell it on. This is definitely part of the business side of being an antique dealer, so it’s important to research which platforms are legitimate and which are worth advertising your items on. Platforms like The Hoarde, for example, are transparent about the processes for buyers and sellers, giving confidence to dealers and customers that they can interact easily. It’s unfortunate that not all platforms are so transparent.
- Study for a Degree or Diploma
Should you get a degree or diploma to help your antique dealer career? It often depends on your specialism and what you hope to concentrate on. A degree in fine art or history may be beneficial to help you, but it isn’t generally considered essential in the early stages of a career. Once you know that being an antique dealer is definitely for you, consider expanding your knowledge further through degrees or diplomas.
About The Hoarde
Established in 2011, The Hoarde is an online platform where dealers upload their items at any time during the day, so there’s always something new for buyers to see and buy. As one of the UK and Europe’s top marketplaces to buy and sell antiques online, The Hoarde is the place for antique dealers to be.