Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The "love-hate" relationship about buying and selling antiques.

I've been in this business for over 30 years and I guess some things never change.  Are antique dealers ever happy?
It's a given that we're happy when business is good, and depressed when it's slow, but today I'm referring to the love/hate aspect that sometimes happens. Business has seen a dramatic uptick in the last week... thank goodness!  August is always traditionally slow and we always can't wait for school to start so folks will start settling back in and doing important things.... like buying antiques for their homes!!!  Plus, in Texas, we can't wait for August to be over because for the most part it means the end of 100 degree, oven baked days!  We usually get teased by a weak cool front (like today, high in low 90's with rain!  Love it!!!)  We only think fall is on the way, because by next week, it will probably be 98 degrees again and steamy. I really don't count on "real autumn" in Dallas until about the end of October! Ugh!

I digress; anyway, back to the "love/hate" relationship.
We received a great new shipment a couple weeks ago and were really happy with lots of the items. A new shipment always means re-arranging the store. It's lots of work, but it lifts our spirits to see and be around new inventory, especially when you're proud of it.  We usually like several items so much that we don't really care if they sell quickly.  Today, we got an internet call from a California client and sold two of our favorite new items, a really nice Louis XVI painted settee and a fabulous Venetian lacquered sofa.
Though we were very happy with the sale, we hated to see two great pieces go out the door after only two weeks on the floor! We hardly got to enjoy them!  Prime example of love/hate.... love to buy, love to sell, but hate to see a good piece go! (Especially because they're so hard to replace!)   However, the more I think about it, the emotional attachment usually dissipates very quickly. My momentary "hate to see it go" is a distant memory when the check arrives and the bills get paid!   So, I guess the "love" in buying and selling prevails in this relationship; which is as it should be!


  1. Since I'm not into antiques, I'm more fascinated by how these large items are shipped...both TO you and BY you.

  2. Since we import primarily from France, there's an ocean to cross; most of the items are wooden, so they float.... we tug them behind various ships we can hook on to:)
    Actually, it's a fairly simple process, but with lots of hassle and expense to make it work. We have various professional "shippers" in France and Belgium that we use. We go and hand pick each piece, tag it and list it; wire money to them, they pick up and pay the various dealers. Then, they wrap and pack it all into a shipping container. It's loaded on a ship which holds about 900 40' containers and shipped to Houston.
    It's then unloaded, has to clear customs, put on a chasis, and trucked to our door.
    As are most things in France, this is a very expensive proposition; it would astound you to know how expensive it is to pick up and pack a container. We often times consolidate with another dealer and split the costs, especially since it takes so much money to fill a 40'container with really nice merchandise. This makes is more feasible for both of us.

    As far as shipping it here,it's the normal process; local or regional delivery services or services such as Craters and Freighters.
    We have shipped items to Russia, Australia and Israel and of course all over the US.
    Hope this helps and let me know if you hear of any stray pieces washing ashore!

  3. Fascinating! I had never even heard of Craters and Freighters. But I have spent many an hour at DFW on the cargo side (west)gawking at enormous 747's loaded to the hilt w/cargo and engorged with enough fuel to fly to Singapore or Zurich. Uh, they use an awful lot of runway when they take off. Sounds like your stuff mainly floats, though.