Bringing antiques back to their former splendor can be both rewarding and profitable. It takes more than a passion for repairing ornamental wood to run an antique furniture repair business. Business acumen and determination are essential for the success of your new enterprise.
Of course, being your own boss sounds appealing, but there are a few other reasons to consider starting your antique repair venture:
- Earn an income with your hands-on skills
- Build a loyal client base of like-minded people who adore antiques
- Set your own flexible hours while working from home (or supplement your income with this side hustle)
- Save on overhead costs (like paying rent) if you’re working from home
- Startup expenses could be minimal if you already have the equipment
Even if consumer demand for antique restoration work is increasing, you must find your niche. That is why, in order to make money, you must do things correctly. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must understand how to identify clients, market your business, and keep meticulous financial records.
Step 1: Research Permits and Licenses
If you’re planning a home-based model, you may require permits to operate the business out of your home, depending on your location.
You must also form a business entity, considering what makes the most sense for the size of your operations and the way you wish to handle your taxes. You might choose to legally incorporate your business as an LLC or become a sole proprietor and operate under your own name.
Step 2: Register Your Business
Choose and trademark a business name that’s memorable and enables customers to find you in their searches. You should also open a business bank account once your business is registered.
This is also an excellent time to register a website domain name that uniquely identifies your brand when people search for you on the web.
Step 3: Create a Business Plan
You need a sound financial business plan for your new venture to succeed. If you’re seeking funding for your business in the form of a small business loan, your bank may request this plan pending approval of your application, so you will need to create a projected budget and a sales forecast.
A business plan requires more detail than simply crunching numbers. Include your branding and marketing strategy in your plan to hold yourself accountable for the decisions you make.
Step 4: Put an Accounting System in Place
Start bookkeeping from the get-go because this is a critical function that’s often overlooked. Consider hiring an accountant even if you’re not making money yet. This allows you to keep track of expenses from the start, and an accountant can help you with tax returns and stay on top of any tax deductions you are entitled to.
Step 5: Research Your Competition
Antique furniture restoration can be competitive. If the market is oversaturated, you may have trouble attracting and keeping clients. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce to gauge the competition in your area.
If there is a lot of competition in your area, consider your unique value proposition — what makes your business different from others? If you can’t find anything that sets you apart, think of what your competitors do, what is lacking, and how you can improve on that.
Step 6: Partner with Local Antique Shops
If restoring unique and quality antiques is your passion, partner with a local antique shop. While residents may not have a lot of antiques that need to be restored, you can establish a relationship with local antique dealers to ensure you always have interesting items to work on.
You may even agree to a consignment arrangement where any pieces you find and restore could be sold at the antique store.
Step 7: Create an Online Presence
A website is a critical part of your startup because it builds your credibility. You can reach more people regardless of where you’re located. Customers can easily find you, and it’s a cost-effective way of securing new clientele.
Step 8: Sell Your Wares in Your Own Space
If your business takes off in the first year or two, you may eventually consider opening up a storefront. Paying rent for an entire retail space could be costly, but may bring customers who wouldn’t find you online.
You could even pay for space at a flea market or hold a yard sale to attract more customers in a traditional market setting. Rented booths at antique malls require no management from you and are an excellent way to have a retail space where customers get to know your name and the services you offer.
Step 9: Building Relationships
Starting out often means you don’t have a reputation, and networking can help with this. You may find that restoring pieces for lower (or no) profit builds your reputation.
Another way to build your business is to connect with locals working in historic buildings and museums. You could find opportunities for antique furniture restoration, such as restoring a client’s rolling library ladder in a study or a china cabinet in a dining room, through these connections with passionate and knowledgeable individuals.
Read Also: How do Online Course Creators Make Money?
Building relationships with suppliers is just as critical for business success — reliability, quality and ability to deliver affect your business operations, too. Regardless of whether you’re looking for antique hardware or stationery suppliers, a long-term relationship is vital.
Getting started in the antique business with the antiques you already own
A good way to start making money selling antiques is to start with the antiques you already own. For example, the one you inherited. You can start your journey, by doing online research on the internet, before having your antiques appraised if necessary. From there, the process of finding potential buyers can begin.
Once your artwork or family heirloom has been appraised, you can choose to keep it or sell it. If you decide to sell it, you should know there are four main channels that can be considered for selling antiques. Each of these channels has a different system of fees and rates. Your choice should be made according to the type of antiques you want to sell, the profit you expect to make, and the time you have at your disposal.
Whichever channel you choose, keep in mind that it is usually tricky to estimate antiques correctly and that there is a general tendency to overestimate what we own.
Selling antiques directly to a merchant
First case scenario: selling an antique to a merchant. You should show the object to an antique dealer with whom you are acquainted and have a good relationship.
The antique merchant or second-hand dealer who has a well-established brick-and-mortar store or who sells at antique fairs or on the Internet will buy the object at a lower price than the price at which he intends to resell it. The advantage is that he will get the object right away and will want to sell it quickly to avoid storage costs. A successful merchant who knows his trade either already has a potential customer for an item he intends to purchase or knows that he will be able to resell it relatively quickly.
Selling antiques at an auction
If you wish to sell your antiques at an auction, it is advisable to get in touch with your nearest auctioneer and tell him the history of the artwork you own. If you have several items to sell, make an appointment with him at your place. The auctioneer will take care of everything and will be responsible for scheduling the date of the sale. But there is no guarantee that he will sell your object. On the other hand, the hammer price can go up. Also, keep in mind that additional fees are added to the final auction price.
The sale of antiques involves highly variable fees depending on the channel used (in %)
- Auction sale fees: 10% to 15% of the auction price including VAT
- Online antique websites: 15% to 25% of the sale amount
- Antique dealers: 30% to 40% of the estimate (margin)
- Consignment shop: 30% to 45% of the sale price
Selling antiques via a consignment shop
Consignment shops are the third possible channel to sell antiques. However, it is more suited to second-hand goods. A consignment sale basically puts buyers and sellers in contact with each other in a store. Some consignment shops buy the item in cash, so you receive the money right away.
If this is not the case, the transaction only takes place when the item is sold: before that, you remain the owner of the goods. Two of the major drawbacks of this method of sale are that you are not guaranteed to be able to sell your item. And the price obtained is often lower than in other channels because the prices charged in these businesses are particularly low and the items are not often old.
Selling antiques on the Internet
Finally, online shops for antiques & vintage products are one of the fastest-growing channels to sell antiques, as the number of players is constantly on the rise. It is indeed possible to quickly and easily sell antiques without leaving the comfort of your own home, through one of many online shops for vintage and antiques, which are aimed at a worldwide community of buyers.
Two types of online platforms to sell antiques currently coexist. There are those that allow direct sales between two individuals, and those that sell antiques on your behalf. If you choose an online platform with a trusted third party who takes care of everything like Ruby Lane, 1stDibs, Etsy, or Selency to name a few, you should know that the fees are proportional to the services offered. If you choose a website with classified ads, you will be in direct contact with the buyer. In that case, the costs will be lower but the time needed to find a buyer might be longer.
Regardless of the chosen online channel, you want to go with, it is important to think about the price you want to sell your item for, which should usually be a little below the market average for the same type of item. Also make sure to take high-quality photographs of your antique items to sell online, in order to make your ad stand out from the rest.
What Antiques Are in High Demand?
Antiques have a timeless beauty and allure that has captivated collectors and enthusiasts for centuries. If you’re thinking about selling antiques, it’s critical to stay up to date on current trends and hot things. You can make informed selections and increase your chances of success by studying what’s hot in the industry. Here are some of the most popular antiques right now:
1. Mid-Century Modern Furniture
The sleek lines, minimalist designs, and timeless aesthetics of mid-century modern furniture have made it a sought-after choice among interior designers and homeowners. Pieces by renowned designers like Eames, Saarinen, and Wegner are particularly popular.
2. Vintage Electronics
Retro technology is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Vintage radios, record players, typewriters, and cameras have become desirable collectibles for nostalgia lovers and those seeking unique statement pieces.
3. Art Deco Jewelry
The glamour and elegance of Art Deco-inspired jewelry continue to enchant collectors. Pieces featuring geometric designs, bold gemstones, and intricate craftsmanship are highly sought after and can command high prices.
4. Chinese Antiques
Chinese antiques, such as porcelain vases, jade carvings, and furniture, have long been admired for their rich history and cultural significance. With the growing interest in Asian art and design, these items have become highly coveted by collectors worldwide.
5. Vintage Fashion
Clothing, accessories, and designer items from past eras are popular among fashion enthusiasts. Vintage dresses, handbags, jewelry, and iconic designer pieces from brands like Chanel, Dior, and Hermes are in high demand, especially when they are well-preserved and in good condition.
6. Collectible Toys
Vintage toys and action figures from the past have a nostalgic appeal and attract both collectors and enthusiasts. Items such as original Star Wars figures, Barbie dolls, and rare board games can fetch significant prices in the market.
When starting an online store for selling antiques, it’s crucial to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the items you’re offering. Research and authenticate each piece to establish its provenance and value. High-quality product images and detailed descriptions are essential to attract potential buyers.