It is the popular notion that antiques are expensive. While it is true that many antique items do cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, there are just as many antiques that are surprisingly within the budget of most people, including bargain hunters. It is only a question of knowing where to look and how to negotiate for the antiques that catch your eye.
Shop with Reputable Antique Dealers
Start your search for inexpensive antique items with reputable antique dealers. There are no set standards nor is there a regulatory body that determines just how much antiques should cost. Thus, it is very easy for antique dealers to jack up their prices to increase their profits. Unless you do your homework, you can end up paying some unscrupulous antique dealer hundreds of dollars more than what a particular antique is truly worth, not realizing you could have gotten the exact item from a different dealer at a much lower price.
Get to Know Antique Dealers
You can score inexpensive antiques by getting to know antique dealers. Whenever you visit an antique shop, strike up a conversation with the shopkeeper as often as possible. The better your relationship with antique dealers, the more likely you can purchase items from them at marked down prices.
Most antique dealers offer a standard 10% discount on the majority of items but, depending on the starting price, 10% might be much of a deal. This 10% is usually built into the price and most dealers can do a little better than the standard discount. The better you know the dealers, the better chance you have of getting a deeper discount.
Shop at the Smaller Antique Stores
It is usually much easier to negotiate for better prices at smaller antique shops rather than at larger stores. Although bigger stores offer a wider variety of antiques, the prices tend to be higher due to increased overhead and discounts aren’t as readily available. Don’t expect to get any substantial discounts no matter how good you are at haggling.
Don’t Forget the Quality
When you are searching for inexpensive antiques, your priority is obviously to find antiques at low prices. However, don’t forget the quality. Don’t immediately buy an antique just because it is offered at a huge discount. Thoroughly check the item to make sure it is in good condition and that it is truly worth the asking price. An item may be marked way down because it has a serious flaw or is missing one or more pieces.
Just like a pair of shoes end up being a half size smaller as soon as you pay for them, unless you’re careful, you won’t notice the missing piece or pieces on an antique until after you get it home. Don’t worry about minor flaws – they don’t take much away from the aesthetic value of most antiques. Anyone who wants “perfect” should buy new.
Find Antiques Online
Take advantage of the Internet to find the best bargains on antiques. You don’t necessarily have to buy antiques online but by browsing through online antique shops, you can have an idea of the going rate for certain items. This can boost your negotiation power when you go shopping at local antique stores. Anytime you can buy something in person for close to the same price as you can buy it online – in person is safer.
Go to Your Neighborhood Auction House
Most antique dealers get a lot of their merchandise from live auctions. Live auctions are open to the general public and, if you can master the art of bidding, you can get some great antiques at dealer prices.
Cash is King
When shopping at an antique shop using your credit card is fine. However, if you have negotiated what is a really good price on an antique then you should pay cash for it. Chances are the item is being sold to you at just over cost. Perhaps the dealer is hoping to get more business from you; perhaps he wants to blow out some items to freshen up the appearance of his shop; or perhaps he needs the money to make his overhead for the month. These days, some antique dealers are just hanging on by a thread. For whatever reason, it is not fair to make him pay a 2%-5% credit card fee when he has just cut his price way back.
Conversely, if a dealer does not seem willing to negotiate with you on price, you could mention that you would be willing to pay cash if they could do a little better. Chances are you will get some sort of a discount for such a gesture.
10/05/2011 by Anne Benedetto