I’m always asked, “Where do you get all this stuff?”. Hey, this isn’t stuff, it’s fine antiques! These fine antiques and collectibles do have various ways of getting into the gallery. There’s many avenues of flow for the ‘stuff” to arrive. Let’s look at some of these ways and avenues. Instead of a particular item, let’s use the term “green monkey”.
Phone calls: The phone rings with a caller asking if we’re interested in buying a green monkey. Yes can be the answer, or no, but do you have interest in selling something other than a green monkey? Sometimes the caller might have a collection of green monkeys. If we have interest, we ask the caller to bring the item for viewing. Then there’s the caller that says they’re downsizing and have a lot of things to sell. If interested, this usually evolves into making a house call to view the various green monkeys.
Walk-ins. Quite often a person will walk into the gallery with a package containing a green monkey or monkeys. These we will take to a quiet area for viewing and possible negotiation. Here again we ask if they have any other green monkeys that they might be interested in selling. Occasionally a person will walk in asking if we’d like to view some green monkeys in their vehicle that they’re interested in selling … filling a car seat, a trunk, or a pick-up truck.
Walk-arounds. People walking around the gallery will see something, and “Say, grandpa had some green monkeys like these, would you be interested in buying some more?” Here we go again. Possibly, and did grandpa have something else besides green monkeys that you’d be interested in selling?
Demolition crews. Workers that clear or demolish homes or buildings quite often come upon discards that still have value. They’ll bring these items to us. Sometimes needing just some cleaning or perhaps restoration if there’s enough value.
Thrift shops. Yeah, keep on laughing! This is a source where you can really pit your experience and knowledge against those pricing at the thrift shops. Takes a lot of visits, but when you find a piece of Baccarat or Steuben mis-priced, or a really nice antique furniture item that needs minimal restoration, the visits become worth while.
Auctions. Green monkey city! Obviously you need to be really careful at auctions and do more than your due diligence in choosing items on which to bid. The people that run auction houses have as much knowledge and experience as you, and not all are completely straight forward and honest in descriptions. Never, ever, plan on bidding on an item until you’ve researched on-line to check identification and comparable values.
“As is, Where is” is their mantra. Visual inspection for possible damage, repair or replacement is mandatory, and a hand held black light is a necessity for porcelains and paintings.
Not all auction items have reserves, and the no reserve items have more opportunities to be money-makers. After due diligence, you can opt to sit in the audience or participate in a phone bid. There have been times when two or three auctions in different cities have occurred at the same time, meaning one of us bids by phone and the other also by phone and in place. Viewing takes time as well as sitting and bidding. Delivery of successful bids also takes time and money, all of which truly contributes to the overall cost of the purchased item and should be factored into the selling price.
After auction buys. Green monkeys that didn’t sell at auction can often acquired for their reserve, or the house can call the consignor with an offer.
Auction leads. Having a good rapport with the auction house staff can result in green monkey leads as well. “So-n-So” wanted to consign some green monkeys, but they weren’t of the quality we wanted to offer for auction. Here’s their name and number. Those green monkeys might be a buy, or something else the contact might possess.
Personal collections. All antique dealers are collectors, and we soon learn that we can’t keep everything. So, one green monkey in, one green monkey out!
Estate Sales. Here, again, estate sale promotors have good experience and knowledge, but realize that they can’t price at retail and expect to sell all. Sometimes they do make a pricing mistake, and there’s always the chance of making a single offer for all of the left-overs.
Dealer buy-out. Sometimes, for various reasons, a dealer may decide the life is not for them. On three occasions I’ve made an offer and purchased an entire dealer’s inventory. A lot of green monkeys at one time, but that’s the business.
Storage Auctions. We’ve watched the TV episodes. There can be bargains, but it’s the pig-in-a-poke gamble. And, normally there’s a lot of green monkeys that you can’t use.
Pickers. Again, we’ve all watched the TV episodes. These are the people who are eager to visit the thrift shops and flea markets to use their experience and knowledge to find a green monkey for a low enough cost so that they can flip the sale for a small profit to a dealer.
Flea Markets / Out-Door Markets. Here again it’s using your experience and knowledge to find the under-priced green monkey. This method can be quite time-consuming.
Listed above are the many ways and avenues that the green monkeys use to arrive in our Gallery. Straight forward and sometimes convoluted, each manages to find its way. I trust that you now have a better understanding of “Where do you get all this stuff?”.