Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Be An Antiques and Collectibles Picker and Sell Direct to the Trade

‘Picker’ is a mainly American term describing people who travel extensively to locate and ‘pick’ antiques and collectibles and other very high value items priced below market value by inexperienced dealers and collectors.  

The majority of pickers resell goods to private buyers, on eBay or other antiques or collectibles portals, often straight from their own shops on or off the Internet. 

So, for example, Picker A might purchase a massive stamp collection and pay £20,000 for items he’d expect to bank more than £40,000 from private buyers through several hundred eBay fixed price or auction listings.  That’s £20,000 gross profit - which might take months or years to collect. 

Such long delays between buying and reselling stock explains why some pickers sell direct to the trade, at lower prices than asked from private buyers, and in effect sharing their potential profits with resellers.  So unlike Picker A, Picker B might sell his £20,000 purchase intact to a specialist stamp dealer for £30,000, making £10,000 profit for Picker B and leaving £10,000 profit on the table for the stamp dealer.

Picker B might make less profit per pick that Picker A, but Picker B will work shorter hours and manage fewer sales transactions, as well as recouping his investment and reinvesting his profits much faster than Picker A.


Haggling is common between trade sellers and that sometimes finds pickers earning lower profits than they might otherwise earn through careful negotiations. 

This is how to get the best deal:    

#1 - You Open Negotiations

i)  Decide how much you would charge a private buyer and reduce that item by ten per cent to a trade buyer.  This ten per cent represents the profit your trade buyer might expect to make later. 

But ten per cent is way too low for many trade buyers, especially those with high overheads, and that’s why you will find some trade contacts requiring discounts of twenty per cent or even more off market value.   Where you suspect ten per cent isn’t going to work, try the following method instead.

ii)  Determine the price below which you will not sell your item to a trade buyer.  When you meet, offer your prospective buyer a ten per cent discount on your retail prices and sometimes your contact will accept.  Otherwise, let the haggling begin and expect sometimes to bank more than your rock bottom best price.  Whatever happens, you should not negotiate below your previously determined minimum asking price.

#2 -Your Potential Buyer Opens Negotiations

Decide how much you’d like to make on your item and contact several trade buyers to determine where your best offer lies.  This is a convenient way to offload goods at antiques fairs and in antiques shopping malls where sometimes one hundred or more dealers are trading in close proximity.  

Move between traders, offering your goods and inviting an offer.  Make a mental or pencilled note of offers and either sell to the first person matching your required price or allow all to offer before selecting a winner.

Finding and Approaching Trade Buyers

Now all you need to know is how and where to find your trade buyers. 

You do it like this:

#1 - Build and Work Your Contacts List

Start today building a contacts list of potential trade buyers for your acquisitions.  When you study top antiques and collectibles dealers on British and American television, you’ll see most consulting their contacts books and telephoning or driving to visit people they feel certain will buy their goods.  Do the same by recording names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses for your potential trade buyers.

Locate those people from antiques dealers listed in telephone directories or advertising in newspapers and antiques magazines. Pick up business cards from stallholders at flea markets and antiques fairs, study specialists selling products similar to your own on eBay.  Wherever you see someone selling antiques and collectibles and you think that person might require the kinds of goods you specialise in you should add that person to your contacts list.

#2 - Sell Through Specialist Auction Salerooms

The idea involves buying quality goods below market value through salerooms located well away from major towns and cities, including some lacking their own websites, and others selling mainly low value goods with the odd really valuable item sometimes getting through the net. 

Then you resell those low price and potentially very high value items through specialist auction companies whose staff do recognise the value of our items as well as having rich clients interested in buying them.  This works like a dream, as you already know if you’ve ever watched television programmes like Flog It!  

To explain, when an item fails to sell in whatever small, out-of-the-way auction saleroom the Flog it! team visit for their programme, you’ll frequently hear presenters saying something like ‘Oh what a pity.  It looks like the right people weren’t here to buy on the day’, sometimes adding: ‘Take it to a specialist auction company and it will fly off the shelves.’  Which leaves me wondering why they didn’t take the item to a specialist saleroom in the first place! 

Cases in point:  Six signed photographs I bought for £40 in an auction in County Durham sold for more than £600 through specialist autograph auction company International Autograph Auctions (IAA Ltd.), trading from:
Foxhall Business Centre
Foxhall Road
NG7 6lH
Website: www.autographauctions.co.uk

Moral: When you have something special, like my photographs signed by King Edward VIII when he was still Prince of Wales, either auction them on eBay or go to google.com and key something like this into the search box:

‘art auction’

‘bronze statue signed auction’

‘auction company sports shirts’

‘auction classic cars’

That sort of thing!

Your search should bring a range of websites to help identify your item and auction companies willing to sell it.  But if all else fails, you can have your item valued by experts at:

Value My Stuff

Antique Vault

….. or send images to the appropriate specialist department of major auction companies like:





And that is it, just a handful of ways to make a huge profit, fast, on valuable items lurking as low value goods in small salerooms, or flea markets, or collectors’ fairs … not forgetting jumble sales, charity shops ….. and so on. 

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