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Antiques shops make more money “buying right”

by Sandra Lee Stuart (07/03/08).

Many years past, I learned an important lesson that applies to most, if not all, businesses, antiques and collectibles shops included. The president of local meat-packing company and I were reviewing the company’s financial statements and one-year outlook. This was an intense meeting as competition was fierce and the company’s survival depended on the decisions made and business model chosen.

The meeting went on for three hours. I did not realize until later that in our discussions, he was talking in British pounds and I was referring to dollars. (Lucky for me that the average price of pork then was $1 per pound). Of more importance were the company president’s points about inventory and how to buy right, buy low and sell high. What a revelation: buy right, buy low and sell high!

Important Inventory Rules

This revelation applies to owners of antiques shops now more than ever. Inventory mix is a critical element for success and survival (buying right). A low-cost inventory and related carrying charges are also critical elements for success and survival (buy low). The gross-profit percentage applied to the inventory should cover all overhead, direct expenses, inventory costs and profit (sell high).

There is a host of other factors necessary for success and survival. Each antiques and collectibles shop has unique attributes. Understand your antiques business. An antiques shop in Williamsburg, Va., cannot sell the same inventory as one in Gettysburg, Pa. Don’t be afraid of going international when buying antiques: Know your market, and understand how the dollar is discounted.

Study Your Business

There are basic things you need to know. What’s your break-even? What does it cost to open the door each day? When does your cash register ring the most? Concentrate your efforts around this time period. Experiment with different opening and closing times. Antiques shops in my hometown would do better if they stayed open until 8 p.m. instead of closing at 5 p.m.

Keys to your antiques and collectibles store’s success: Buy right, buy low, and sell high.

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