Why do we all love antiques and collectibles? The answer is because of the joy they bring. Whether we fill our lives with antiques or just have a single display cabinet full of our loved items, The idea behind will always remain the same. We collect antiques, collectibles, or vintage items that mean something to us.
What do I mean by this? When people collect vintage items, it tends to be things that they remember from their childhood, for example, maybe an electronic game they used to play or it could even a favorite jacket.
When we look at antiques and collectibles, there are a few reasons why people would want to surround themselves with these and they are.
- They remind us of things our parents and grandparents had when we were little.
- We love the art and craftsmanship that has gone into creating them.
- Finally, for investment purposes, People enjoy owning the items with the hope they will rise in value over time.
No matter which reason applies to you for collecting. We all collect our precious things to make us smile.
Sometimes our hobby of collecting isn’t enough and we want to expand to an antique business. This way you can enjoy your antiques and collectibles not just as a hobby but as a way of life.
I can think of no better job in the world than, Getting up early in the morning, going on a treasure hunt, and sharing the joy of my finds with others. Then to watch others buy my finds and see the smiles on their faces as long-lost memories that may be associated with a similar item are restored.
I have been around antiques and collectibles in one way or another for the last thirty-five years. For the last twenty years or more I have been learning and dealing in antiques and collectibles. I have dealt in this field, mainly from home online or at car boot sales and antique fairs.
My entire adult life I have probably shared a dream with half the antique dealers in the world. My dream has always been to open my own store selling antiques and curios. In this blog, I am going to share my experiences of owning an antique store and share as many tips as I can to help you be successful should you wish to follow your own dream.
Starting An Antique Business.
To start up any business, especially one as unstable as an antique business, whether you are going to start a store or a booth you really need to create a very in-depth business plan. This business plan should cover everything you can think of, here are just a few examples.
- You should look at the location.
- What you are going to sell?
- Who is going to be your target customer?
- Do you have enough funds? Startup costs, stock money, and running costs. Do you have the money to keep the door open if the sales are slow?
- Have you checked with all trading laws such as ivory, fur, firearms, and even knives?
These are just a few examples, I will give a brief explanation behind them now, however, I will look at all these in-depth and many more not listed.
So why might location be important? The answer is simple: you could be trying to sell cheap items in an upmarket area or the opposite,
You will need to know who your customers are likely to be because you may be in a city wanting to sell country furniture or in the country trying to sell modern city furniture and you’re going to fail before you start. The product has to fit the area and possible clientele
Start-Up An Antique Store.
Starting up an antique store is very easy. If this is your first store, find a private landlord as they may be easier to rent off rather than an estate agent who will want references. Once you are happy with a location, you will need to look for a suitable shop,
- will it meet your needs for size,
- Is it easy for people to access or load or unload?
- Will your shop provide enough passing traffic?
- Will the shop meet the needs of the disabled?
- Does the shop come with security, ie. shutters?
- Does the shop have utilities, heating, electricity, phone
- Find out if there are any council/government rates and legislations.
Once you have a shop selected that meets your needs you need to take out a rental contract or purchase the building. Make sure to negotiate a better rate no matter if you’re renting or buying. Once you then own the lease or property it’s a matter of filling the shop up with your stock.
Your business plan should cover everything to do with the business from creating to running. The more time and effort that goes into your plan the more chance you have of standing the test of time.
Create a business plan, and make sure you have the funding needed.
- Make sure you have funding for what you want. Make sure you can afford to pay back any loans you take. The first few years are hard enough without starting off struggling with money.
- Stock is very important, Antique shops have unique stock sourced from all over and generally over a long time. Most people who open an antique store or booth have been long-term collectors or online dealers who have built up a start-up stock already.
- Be as selective as you can be with the stock, try to keep it both interesting and affordable, the response you want when a customer walks into your store is, wow I haven’t seen that before and that’s interesting. If you get this they will be back.
- Once you have funding and stock you need a place to open up. This is very important, you need to weigh up everything, passing traffic, running costs, size, ease of access, any lease restrictions, security, and advertising. Remember the bigger the shop the more the costs, the more units you will have to buy, the more electricity and rates you will have to pay, etc.
- Once you select your store you need to make sure you have access to regular stock, there will be an amount that comes over the shop door, but make a list of all car boot sales, flea markets, auction houses, and antique fairs.
- Do a layout plan for your store, where you will have cabinets, make sure to leave some wall space for art or clocks, maybe an area for the odd bit of furniture, Plan how the shop will look in your head, don’t wing it.
- Once your store is built and full of your beautiful stock, you need to figure out who will run it, what hours are you going to be open, will someone have to run the shop for you to go buying at flea markets, etc.
- The most important aspect is security, make sure all doors have steel shutters, fit CCTV cameras to protect staff and stock. And as hard as it is to say this, one of the biggest problems is theft from staff so I would hire people you know and trust if you can but certainly fit CCTV at the till area.
Presentation In An Antique Shop.
How you display your items is as important as the things you buy. It is not enough that you are selling in an antique shop. The name over the door may be antiques, however, if you look like a junk shop the buyers will think your product is junk and expect it to be priced as such.
Everything can look great in an illuminated display cabinet/unit. Make sure to display your products well, take the time to wash and clean your stock, and display it in a beautiful cabinet with room so people can see it. Stay after me. ( LESS IS MORE). Your shelves being overcrowded will put people off, they will not be able to see the wood for the trees as the saying goes. Please see the following pic for an example of what not to do.
When things are spaciously displayed, clean, and look beautiful, people can begin to visualize them in their own homes. It doesn’t matter if it is a $10 item or a $10,000 item, give them all the space they need and someone will love them.
How Much Money Do I Need To Start An Antique Business?
To start up a store.
The amount of money you need to start up an antique business will depend on a few factors, firstly if you are buying or renting your store, the location of your store, a city store will be a great deal more expensive than a store in a small town, The size of the store, for the number of display cabinets and stock needed, etc,
You won’t know how much you need until you find your location, you will need to work out all running costs and start-up costs. I would recommend you need at least your starting costs and a minimum of one year of running costs plus ten percent of the total for emergencies.
To start up a booth.
Starting up a booth in an already established antique center will be far less costly, most of the time the utilities are included, and the only costs will be the rent and cost of display cabinets.
Starting an antique business online.
This is by far the cheapest and fastest way to start an antique business, Most people before leading on to a store or booth will have been an online dealer. All you will need to do is signed on to one of the many online platforms such as Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, or Amazon which you can do for free and start selling. a simple camera and internet access are all you need.
Who Is Suited To Have An Antique Business?
Most people who start a vintage or antique store or booth have been people who have collected their whole life. This gives them a great advantage of both having experience with antiques and a build-up of stock, to begin with.
However I have known people who leave an office job and dive into antiques from scratch and learn as they go,
The truth of the matter is simple, anyone is suited to start an antique store, All you need is the desire and the means.
Do I Need A Degree To Have An Antique Business?
You don’t need any qualifications at all to own and run an antique business. Many dealers learn as they go, and you will learn many new skills as you run your business, some of the skills you will learn will be,
Management and problem solving
Cleaning and presentation skills to name just a few. Some countries require you to register and depending on where you are in the world please check your local government legislation.
I left school with little to zero qualifications, I have worked very hard self-teaching antiques and collectibles. if you are interested in my creation story there is a link to a short youtube video.
Presentation and Layout Of An Antique Store and Antique Booth.
As I have already talked about briefly above, presentation is as important as buying. If you give your items a good clean, present them with pride, give them space, and maybe a descriptive label so people understand what they are looking at.
I mix and match my shelves. I may have a new collectible next to an 18th-century antique but this is something you will learn as a dealer, you can mash together old and new and still make them look amazing.
The one thing I don’t do is place a one hundred pound vase next to something for a fiver. If you want a cheap cabinet as a curio to drag in customers don’t fall into the trap of putting something special in there and vice versa.
Keep your display clean, well-lit, spacious, and interesting.
What Antiques should I put in my antique store?
Buying is the most important part of the job. If you buy right the selling is easy, you can go one of two ways, you can be a general dealer where you try and have something for everyone, or you can specialize in one area but limit your customer base.
What I try to do is focus on quality, things that have been handmade, hand-painted, or are very old and not too common, I want a display that when they walk in they think, wow I haven’t seen that before and that’s interesting. This will ensure they come back to see what you have next week.
The stock you sell will also be determined by your store location, there is no point trying to sell country antiques in a city that wants mid-century modern, know your area, know your market and buy at the right price.
Who Will Be My Customers At An Antique Store?
Believe it or not, your biggest customers will be other dealers/trade. People who are also resellers like yourself looking for mistakes or items they feel they can move to their client base for more than you can to yours. Then depending on your area, if you have heavy foot traffic then maybe focus on lower-priced items that can be affordable by walking in off the street and buying the type of items.
You will also have collectors, however, collectors are the hardest type of customer to sell to, they already have plenty of items, they are looking for the best to improve their collection, and being that they are around the business a lot, they already know what they want to pay, and sometimes it’s less than you can get the item for.
Another major type of customer you will have at an antique store will be a seller. You will have between ten and fifty people a day come into your store to try to sell items to you.
Warning! you will be offered fake items. Some people will offer you items they know to be fake and take the money and run, be careful when you’re buying and try to stick to what you know. Buy smart, don’t just think because it’s your store you have to pay more than you could find the items at auction or a car boot sale.
Trust me when I say when one customer walks away and refuses to sell another takes their place in no time at all. Everyone will tell you they have had the things for years, but I guarantee you that you will have trade/dealers trying to use you to offload quietly.
How To Price My Antiques?
There are many ways to value antiques, as I have already said buying is the most important part. If you buy antiques for the right price they will sell themselves, furthermore I tend to work on one thing when I buy my antiques,
I don’t look at an antique and think about what it’s worth, when I see an antique or something offered to me I think about what’s a safe number. By this, I mean that there is a number that is so low that I can offer the item to any dealer so they can’t resist if I fall in trouble or get stuck with the item.
If you want to know what something is worth, eBay is a great tool to use, however, do not look at asking prices, no matter what you buy you’re going to find a few sold on eBay. Take all the sold prices and work out the average, then take off up to 40% or 50% and that’s your asking price. This leaves the item available for other eBay sellers.
What Does It Cost To Set Up An Antique Store?
Setting up an antique store can be expensive, however, if we assume you have been buying and selling antiques as a hobby then we are only looking at setting up the shop. As an example of what you need.
- Display cabinets,
- Desk and chair.
- Till, and till rolls.
- Price gun and labels.
- Storage boxes.
- Security, CCTV, shutters, cabinet locks.
- Packing table and materials, bubble wrap, tape.
- Computer, printer, printer inks.
- Shop signs.
- Account books.
- Jewelry display stands.
- Jewelry boxes or pouches for when you sell something to give to the customer.
- You will even need plastic bags.
- Cleaning products, even things like toilet rolls. It all adds up fast
The amount each would cost will depend on the size of your store and for example if you want an antique till or modern electric computer till. I would suggest you create a list of everything needed down to the last pen before you start and work out a max price needed.
What Does It Cost To Run An Antique Store?
The cost involved with running an antique store will change depending on many different factors. The size of your store, the store’s location, and your store’s open hours. Will you need to hire staff? how much electricity will be determined by the number of display units you have to light. Your gas bill will change depending on how big the shop will be. You have to heat. The size of the store will even have an effect on how much you pay for the waterboard, you don’t just pay for how much water you use, you pay for sewage and drainage of rainwater.
In addition to all the above costs, you have to also consider, The cost of your rent, The cost of liability insurance, and The cost of stock and fittings insurance. You will also need to be able to replace the antiques and collectibles stock you sell. The price of this will vary greatly from what you buy and where you buy your items. You will have transport costs if you’re traveling to flea markets or auctions, maybe even auction house costs if you buy from there.
If you are like me, when I had my antique shop I worked online during the quiet times, so you will have a variety of online costs from website hosting, internet providers costs, and any online tools you use, possibly even auction fees if you sell on platforms such as eBay or Etsy to boost your takings.
I can tell you now that my costs to run a very small shop in a town center were approx £600 a month before the rent and stock were taken into account. If you were to count, I was very lucky that I was council tax rate exempt because my shop was small, however, if you add in the rent and any hidden costs you could safely say I was paying between £1200 and £1500 a month without taking into account stock
Remember to take into account any repayments on loans if you take any out including the interest charged. It’s so easy to look at everything your business will need and forget about the loan you took to start up.
How Long Does It Take To Start Up An Antique Store?
The time needed to set up an antique store will vary from person to person, if you have been a collector or hobbyist for a few years then the odds are you will have stock to fill your store straight away. If you had the finances you could realistically find a shop, buy some display cabinets, and fill it in just a couple of weeks.
A lot of people who start up in this business try to keep the costs down, so they will maybe start with just a few second-hand display units and a few tables and build up over time as they earn money.
However, I will splice in a few pictures below of my store. When I moved to a larger location it took me about ten days of hard work to get it set up how I wanted it. It would have been longer if I had to find the cabinets and stock.
Where Should I Have My Antique Store?
Location is everything when you want an antiques and collectibles store. Many antique stores are open on what we call antique trails, What this means is an already established route of towns that contain antique shops, dealers will then travel the route and call in each and every shop looking for their stock.
A single stand-alone shop out of the way would struggle to attract a lot of the trade buyers as they would want to go where there are multiple shops to increase their chances of making their time and costs pay for them.
However, in saying this, I set up my antique store in my local town. There were no other antique stores for miles and in a thirty-mile radius, there were only two other stores. I didn’t get plenty of trade buyers, however, what I did was fill my shop with walk-out-the-door pieces that the general public might like such as porcelain figurines.
Because my shop was out of the way I also didn’t have competition when it came to buying off the public either, so when someone brought an antique into my shop, they could accept my offer or keep the item as they couldn’t go next door for a better price.
Just make sure to either set your store up in an established route or with sufficient passing traffic.
What Should I Call My Antique Store?
The name of an antique store is not that important unless you wish to create a brand, if all you want to achieve is a successful little store selling to the local community then call it what you like, for example, Brecon reclamation or Susan’s treasures. I will explain what is wrong with those examples if you want to create a brand, the first link the store to a specific town (Brecon) now this means if you want a global brand people wouldn’t click on this if they didn’t live in the area. Again Susan’s treasures sound like a small curio shop, now this is ok but again not going to be a brand.
If you want a few examples of brands, Global antiques – Online antiques – Mine is AntiquesArena. As examples, these relate to your product so it is easily identifiable to the customer, and at the same time, they are not locked to a specific location and don’t sound like a small curio shop.
How Can I Promote Or Advertise My Antique Store?
When you start out costs will be high and funds may be low so your advertising budget may be a little light. However advertising is very important, people need to know you’re there and open for business. There are cheap ways to advertise.
- Free on social media platforms.
- Spend £50 on leaflets and deliver them yourself.
- Run a small advert in a local newspaper.
- Make a sign and stall up at your local car boot sales, most dealers and collectors will attend your car boot sales and flea markets, in addition to advertising your store then you may even sell a few bits, the average cost for a stall at a car boot sale is just £10 for the pitch for a day.
- Speak to your local post office or take away, most of the time they will allow you to place a poster for free.
- I created youtube videos sharing my car boot sale finds as a way for people to learn about me and my store.
Advertising is very important and really you should allow a monthly budget. You can not beat word and mouth advertising, it’s free but takes a long time to get known this way.
How Many Hours A Week Would I Have To Work To Run An Antique Store?
Anyone who is self-employed tends to be some of the hardest working people you will meet. When you work for yourself you will find you will learn to be a jack of all trades dealing with multiple problems when they arise. You will learn fast that when you are self-employed you will have to work long hours and in most cases seven days a week to keep up.
When I ran my store I would work there Monday to Friday, I would also take work home with me in the evenings and then I would be out working from 4 am on a Saturday and Sunday at car boot sales, flea markets, etc looking for stock. I would try to get as many events or shops in on the weekend as I could, meaning I wouldn’t get home until 4 pm some days, then you would still have to clean and sort your stock ready to take it to work the next day.
You will work harder when you work for yourself, however, your hard work is for your benefit, you will not be killing yourself to make some faceless company rich, and you will not have to answer to a nightmare boss on a power trip. However, if you don’t put in the work you won’t get paid.
Where Can I Buy Antique And Collectible Stock?
Buying stock is the most important part of the business. You don’t just need full cabinets, you need the right stock at the right price. You can visit any of the following or just buy from your customers.
- Car boot sales,
- Flea markets,
- Facebook marketplace.
- Antique fairs.
- Auction houses
- Charity shops
- Other antique shops.
I have created short films on youtube to help you find and buy stock cheap, here is just one link on my channel.
What Is It Like To Deal With Customers At An Antique Store?
Running an antique store can be both very rewarding and very frustrating, customer service is the most challenging job you will have to learn, overall as on average, most customers will be polite and courteous. However, you will get customers who want the item for nothing. You will get people trying to con you, as example you may sell someone, gold on a silver ring, and two weeks later they come back without a receipt asking for a refund because it’s not gold and trying to claim they paid more than they did.
You will also have people sell you things and change their minds, this is ok unless you have already sold the product then it can become difficult. You will also have trade buyers who are fabulous to work with as they know what they are buying. The only issue with trade is can you come to a price.
What I will say, no matter how rude a customer is, always be polite and professional, and make sure you have CCTV in your shop to back you up.
What Is It Like To Own An Antique Store?
Owning an antique shop can be a very rewarding experience. You get to handle and temporarily own some historically important and beautiful things, you will build up relationships with customers and their love and enthusiasm for collecting will be infectious. You will have a sense of pride coming to work knowing your hard work is all for your benefit. Be proud to be your own boss.
Nine Tips To Have A Successful Antique Store.
- Buy items as cheap as you can.
- Buy the best items you can afford. Quality will always sell.
- Be willing to work with the trade.
- Be willing to let things go if an offer shows you a profit, turn it over.
- Make sure you are aware of all costs at all times.
- Display your items well, and make them look like a million dollars.
- Keep your prices competitive.
- Keep your store interesting.
- Have a surplus stock so you can rotate unsold stock so the shop has a regular fresh look.
What Is The Difference Between An Antique Store And A Booth?
There isn’t a great deal of difference between an antique store and an antique booth. with an antique store you own the lease, you are the full boss, you can open when you like, and sell what you like with no restrictions. With a boot you hire a set area within an antique center, this will benefit you in as much as because you are around other booths the trade buyers and collectors will be drawn to the antique center, you may also be limited on opening times and what you can sell. If you set up in a market as a booth some have a no-compete clause. It would be wise to check with the establishment on any restrictions such as weapons etc.
How To Set Up An Antique Booth?
Setting up a booth in an antique center is very easy, normally the area already has boundaries, all you need to do is bring in a display cabinet and a few tables covered with cloths and start laying out your stock. Some antique centers will require you to man your booth, others will have customer service staff who will sell on your behalf, however, the fees for these places will be higher. Some antique centers will require each booth holder to do a shift dealing with customers as a way for the booths to be unmanned.
What Are The Costs Of Run An Antique Booth?
The costs to run an antique booth are very low, That is why they appeal to so many people. The contract when you take out a booth will generally be small with just one month’s notice required to walk away if you are not making money. The utilities will be included so you will have no gas, electric, water, council rates, or liability insurance to pay. The price you will pay will depend on the size you have, however, a ten or twelve-foot square pitch can vary between £50 to £100 a week. When you compare this to the cost of a shop you really can see the appeal
Will I Have To Register For Taxes At An Antique Store?
Yes, you will have to pay taxes if you have an antique store. You should be registered to pay tax if you are self-employed no matter if you work from home as a reseller on eBay or if you run your own store or antique booth. You should be producing a full set of accounts and declaring any profit or loss to the inland revenue.
Can I Accept Credit Cards At An Antique Store?
You can accept credit cards at an antique booth or antique store. There is a massive choice of companies and banks that will offer you a card reader machine. Be careful which one you select, go over the terms and conditions and costs and any restricted items. Some will have monthly charges and commission, and some will charge you for the reader but no monthly cost. Personally, I had a simple card reader in my store provided by PayPal at a cost of less than £50 one-off and a small percentage of my sales with no minimum amount of sales.
How to keep customers coming back to your antique store.
It is a simple formula to keep customers coming back to your store.
- Keep your store interesting and unique.
- Keep the prices as low and competitive as you can.
- Be polite and professional, talk to the customers and build a relationship with them.
- Work with your customers in any way you can to make them feel it’s a more personal experience.
What Skills Will I Need To Run An Antique Store?
You don’t need any skills to run an antique booth or antique store. However, you will soon learn more skills than I can mention, you will learn how to deal with customers of all descriptions, you will learn how to display things and present them to achieve their potential, and you will learn bookkeeping and cleaning to mention just a few. Most people learn as they go with help from other dealers.
Helpful Youtube Content.
I have a very large youtube channel designed to help you in every aspect of antiques dealing. i have how-to films and I have haul films where I show you what I find. The idea behind my haul films is to give you an idea of what to buy and a guide on what to pay.
Here is the link to my youtube channel, I hope you find it useful. https://www.youtube.com/user/Antiquesarena/playlists
My Story Of Creating And Running My Very Own Antique Store.
It all began with me when I was a teenager. I used to go to car boot sales with my parents. I would walk around in awe of some of the stalls. I remember seeing a military dealer who had swords that had been used in battle, and medals for bravery from fallen soldiers. Even to this day, I can remember looking at his stock just amazed by the history and beauty of the artifacts on offer.
I used to go to car boot sales two or three days a week and I soon grew to appreciate quality and loved to collect things myself. However, it wasn’t until many years later I found myself in a situation where I needed money so I turned back to car boot sales. I was in my early twenties and returned to sell at my local car boot sale to make money to pay my bills.
It was during this time that I regained my love of historical and beautiful items, and I began to learn (self-taught) antiques and collectibles. This went on for many years, I would buy from dealers to have examples of what I needed to look for, and eventually, I started to get a good understanding of what to look for.
As the years went on I was working in car boot sales, flea markets, and antique fairs however I always had a dream of setting up my own antique curio shop. Nothing too big or special, just a special place that I could fill with all the things I loved. I could think of nothing better than going to work surrounded by things I loved, to work doing something you love means you’re not even working. I could go to work and smile.
I worked very hard on the antique fairs and boot sales, for twenty years always dreaming and always scared to take the first step. I was afraid of the costs involved, was I good enough to make it work, and could I keep finding stock? Could I sell enough to pay the bills or would I lose it all trying to live my dream?
My health has never been great, I have knee problems and back problems and eventually, it got that I was struggling to go from boot sale to boot sale having to lump boxes full of stock and sit in the cold selling.
I decided to bite the bullet and look for a shop. I knew nothing about how to run a shop, all I knew was I needed footfall / passing traffic. Firstly I tried looking for an affordable shop in a city but the rent and rates were just astronomical, I could work for ten years to pay the costs and not make a penny. So I moved on to a town, I looked at Pontypridd, and Aberdare which are my local towns, even then for a shop you were talking the best part of twenty-five thousand a year just for rent and rates before running costs. Again this was not realistic for me.
Eventually, I decided to go smaller, I found a small shop in my local village, I would say a town center shop but it’s not really a town, here I was exempt from paying rates due to the size of my shop. The rent was affordable and my dream was starting to look like a reality.
I have never been good at talking to people face to face and I had to find and meet the landlord and not only talk to him but convince him I would not only be able to pay the monthly rent but would look after his shop, this was no easy task as you can imagine when I am buying things from a car boot sale to sell on for a profit, I had no references or history in commercial letting.
Eventually, I came to an agreement with the landlord and I was both terrified about what I had just done and so excited, it was like being a child waking up and seeing all the gifts under the Christmas tree. It was really a wonderful and strange mixture of emotions. My dream was finally going to come true.
I didn’t need to plan out how my shop was going to look. For as long as I could remember I pictured a beautiful shop with well-lit display cabinets with glass everywhere, bright, clean, and well presented. I could have described every inch of my shop long before I took out the contract.
The building of the shop didn’t really take that long, in the space of a couple of weeks I had rented a shop and spent thousands on display units and fittings. With a lot of help from friends who built my cabinets my shop was put together in less than a week.
As you can imagine after twenty-plus years of buying and selling and collecting antiques filling the shop was no problem at all. In fact, I think that I had enough stock saved to fill a hundred shops. I always knew I was going to own my own antique store and always saved stock ready for it.
The running of the shop was surreal, there is no other way to put it. There were highs and lows, some days I would think to myself how am I going to keep the shelves full I was selling so fast, then I could go days and not see a soul, it was a really strange feeling.
Every day I would go to work proud, proud I had a store, proud of how it looked, proud of what I had to offer the customers. The shop went on for a couple of years and honestly, this went in a blink of an eye. I had some wonderful customers and some real nightmares.
One example of a nightmare was when a lady who worked in our local rowan tree charity shop came to me and said she had a box of jewelry she wanted me to look through and make an offer on. I went through it all and there was the usually broken costume jewelry and junk, however, there were two pieces in the box I was interested in, a silver brooch and a plain gold ring. So I made an offer and bought the box.
Three months later she came into my store accusing me of not telling her the brooch was in the box and saying I had ripped her off. She threatened to bring her son down to the store to deal with me and you can imagine how bad she got. Because it was the lady from the charity shop I gave her the brooch and told her not to come back although I lost out as the rest of the parcel had gone into recycling. But felt losing the brooch was worth more than the damage she could do with her lies in slander and having her son come to the shop potentially doing damage.
This is just one horror story, I could tell you a dozen or more, I have had people come to the shop screaming at me because they weren’t happy with what I was willing to pay for something, and I have had people on drink and drugs coming to the store to try to sell to me who then got aggressive when I told them to leave, there are plenty I have had to deal with.
At the same time, I have also met some absolutely wonderful people, I have chatted with them, shared stories of life and family, talked about their hobbies, and shared in their passions and love for their collecting.
Owning a store has forced me to learn at an incredible rate. Since I was literally putting my money where my mouth is, if I bought something it was with my money, so if I bought a fake, I made a loss, if I overpaid I made a loss if I let something walk out the door that was great I made a loss. I had to learn very fast how to identify what was worth buying and what to turn away.
A couple of years in I was offered a larger store, the costs were equal to the store I currently had so there really was no downside to the move, it was only a few doors away so the location was the same and my regular customers would still see me. So I took it. How sorry was I?
The new landlord wasn’t a patch on the landlord from the original store. This new landlord was a real busybody who felt it was his right to constantly interfere in what I was doing in my new store. Despite all the problems with the new landlord I turned the new store into a success.
Things were thriving, I was buying some beautiful and rare things, Selling was going well, I was never going to get rich selling in my local village, however, it was paying the bills and I was building up on real top-quality pieces to build up a website.
I really was living on a high, I had my dream and was working to expand and go even bigger, every penny I made I put straight back into the business. By the time the country was put into lockdown my business had grown into something quite special.
At this point, I was proud and ambitious about what could be. Then the lockdowns struck, the shops closed and we were all told we had to stay at home, I worked online selling on eBay for this year however it was devastating, my turnover dropped by 80% and I decided to start a new venture.
My new direction was to create a website, I have tried over and over for years to get a successful website, I have tried to build my own using companies with easy-to-use templates, and no matter how hard I worked, every single site I have created was a massive failure.
This time I used a company called Upwork, where you post your job worldwide and people bid for the job. Your money is then put in escrow and you release it at key stages. Almost ten thousand pounds later I have the most amazing website I have ever seen.
The website designer took my vision and turned it into reality. He exceeded what I hoped for. I have worked on the website all through the eighteen-month lockdowns. I have listed the best stock I have. I have written articles to help people to give them a reason to visit the site and a reason to bookmark and return.
So at this point, I now have a website to be proud of and a shop that looks beautiful. Sadly things were not going to last. The lockdown ended but the customers never returned to the shop, despite the government helping to pay the bills while the shops were ordered to close. Since the re-opening, I have lost money every month in the shop.
I must admit a cold shiver ran down my back. I had a real feeling of fear come over me, I didn’t know what to do to try and improve things at the shop. Three months passed with no improvement. I had to sit down and really think about the direction my business was heading.
It was with a heavy heart that I decided to let my dream go of owning an antique store. I really couldn’t justify paying all the costs when some days the only thing I would see is a tumbleweed rolling past the store.
It took me a while to get my head around closing the shop down, it has been my dream for most of my adult life. I felt like a failure and was quite embarrassed to announce that the store was closing.
I know it was no-failing on my part, the current climate is the reason for the closing of my shop. People who used to come for a browse learned during the lockdown how easy it was to shop online, they learned that they soon had more choices and didn’t even have to leave their homes to shop.
My new ambition will be to create a website. This vision I have for my website is to have a massive learning resource, a site that has hundreds of blogs/articles to keep people coming back and have hundreds of pages of the best stock I can find. I am looking forward to all the extra free time to go on buying trips and make more youtube films.
Am I sorry I had a shop? Honestly, I am so grateful for the experience. I can stand tall and say I had a beautiful shop, I did my best and a global pandemic and circumstances led to the closure of my shop and redirection of my business plans. The shop was a wonderful experience, I have learned so much, I have done things and dealt with things I thought I never could.
I am proud of what I accomplished and I am leaving my shop a better person and stronger dealer. If it is your dream to have an antique store, my advice is to have a go, it is better to try and fail than regret it for the rest of your life.
Don’t dream it, be it!