Something Old/Something New

Finding and Pricing Merchandise

Antiques and collectibles can be purchased for resale from a variety of sources, including auctions, yard sales, estate sales, Internet sites, private collections and even other antique malls.

Although the variety of places selling antiques and collectibles is fairly large, you must remember that you cannot simply call a supplier when you run low on merchandise. Keeping items in stock requires continuous legwork. And there are no guarantees. Some sales might be better than advertised, while some might not be nearly as good as they sounded. "I've sat through some auction sales that were real duds just to get a few things," says Mowrer. But, to those who enjoy collecting, the "treasure hunt" aspect of the business is one of its major draws.

It's best to specialize in buying and reselling items you like and know something about. "I've been sticking primarily to opalescent glass and Carnival glass, and two types of ceramics known as flow blue and majolica--anything I might know a little bit about," says Mowrer. This makes the entire process easier because she knows where to find things, how to recognize good pieces, and generally how to price them.

Even the most knowledgeable dealers run into a few snags now and then. "You have to do a lot of research," says Swaim. "I can spend hours just trying to figure out what to price one thing."

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This article was originally published in the April 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Something Old/Something New.

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