We often get asked where we get our inventory for years we attended a few local auctions religiously. We were able to get some great items but over the years a few things happened that seriously changed the market.
The influx of television shows about buying and selling antiques while really informative made every one think they should go out and try and do the same thing. This meant that competition was steeper at auction venues. We also found that as we became recognized people would bid against us just because they could, because they thought we knew something, or maybe just because they got tired of us winning. That's okay it's an auction, and the first rule is knowing when to let someone else win. The quality of product in our area started to slip as well. I don't know what drove this , but auctions that were once full of great truly vintage items began to fill up with stuff. Just stuff. Nothing special, run of the mill stuff.
We also got older. There was a time we would attend three day estate auctions and stand in the heat, toting items back and forth to the truck. As we aged we realized that this was not so easy and honestly you were so exhausted after a few days of this that you need a few days to recoup. When the economy tanked I went back to a full time job, and I did not have time to recoup. Now in addition to working we both care for our parents so there really is a limited amount of time available to us to go to sales , list inventory, pack and ship. Would I love to do this full time? Yes, but until Etsy starts giving me insurance... that's probably not going to happen.
So we started to change how we bought - we attend estate sales that are within a 2-4 hours radius, we have a few flea markets we like to go . We combine our vacations with trips to areas we feel have a good selection of items. For the most part we have to get out away from the coast. Folks living at the coast are in general not as likely to have long histories, homes filled with antiques, this to us appears to be a more central or mid state thing.
When the weekend arrives we scour the papers, the estate listings and choose our targets. Sometimes we are feeling ambitious and attend several other times, we don't see anything to our liking and use that free time on the weekend to list, spruce up our marketing or take pictures.
At least a couple times a year we attend collector shows both antiques and knive collectors. These may not always provide us with inventory but they are a great way to meet other dealers, collectors and like minded people. It's also just nice to see what others are doing.
The antique market changes like any market, and how you source your inventory has to change with it. The days of raiding grandmas barn are in some ways over. The internet means that the cookie jar collector was able to finish their collection in a matter of months, things are 'rare' when you can find 100 just on etsy. What folks want is different as well - staying abreast of that is not always easy and letting go of what worked before is not always easy. I find myself relearning and having to change my strategy all the time.
It's the weekend... and we are looking at going to a couple of sales tomorrow. I hope we will find something I might find interesting. But if not.. I am happy to go out to lunch and see a different part of the area . Additionally I think it's always fun to snoop in someones mess!
If you like going to estate sales.. you can try
Auctions are easy to find as well on auctionzip.com
Both sites let you enter your zip code and search nearby.
You don't have to be a dealer or a collector to enjoy it. Give it a try.