“Crikey Moses, you do talk some old claptrap, ‘meticulously sourced’, you’ve just found something, dusted it off and bunged it on a website for a profit”.
OK, so I have been trading for a while now and have been expecting to hear that for longer than I have been trading, so far, it hasn’t been said to me, though I am sure some people probably think it but are too polite to say it.
Phrases like meticulously sourced are banded around the antiques industry like confetti at a wedding, however, it isn’t just a phrase thrown onto a web site or brochure page to mark tradition and to look good for the occasion.
There is meaning behind this phrase that is perhaps taken for granted.
In the case of Lodestar Decorative, it is an abbreviation for everything that goes on outside of driving tens of thousands of miles each year, packing hundreds of boxes, pressing the shutter button on a camera and responding to customer enquiries.
For behind every decision to offer an item, truly a lot of thought, effort, experience and mistakes happen. Friends of mine are often astonished to hear when I attend a fair, travel to a beleaguered fellow dealer, a museum having a clear out, or a house clearance, that I come away empty handed “you drove all that way, spent all day there and didn’t come back with a single thing”.
To be honest, this happens more often than not, in fact, significantly more often than not. It is not unusual to go half a dozen visits or more without finding a single item.
Every item must be considered, meticulously so.
First and foremost, would I hang this on my own wall at home. This is the question that is constantly asked. Will this still look good on the wall in a decade. Will it resonate with people. Is it interesting. Does it give pleasure to look at. Do you feel like you’re a custodian, rather than an owner. These are the questions that are at the front of the thought process when sourcing products. Does this fit in with my usual ‘eye’. If the answer to all of those is yes, then of course the business questions apply. Is this going to be deemed good value for most people. Does it wear its age well. Does it fit in with the rest of my stock profile. Can I actually bring myself to sell it. Will it kill cash flow if it takes months (or longer) for someone to spot. Can I be absolutely sure what I know about it is 100% correct, accurate and authentic. This is why, with the majority of items we look at, most of them do not make it into stock. How much time, effort and money will it take to bring it up to standard. Can that be done without devaluing it, or losing its character.
The vast majority of our time is spent saying no and not buying things. This is why, when we say “meticulously sourced” we mean it and we wear it like a badge of honour, for if we do not do these things meticulously then we are careless and we are out of business pretty quickly and most likely divorced, and we certainly don’t want to be either of those!