Do you want to start an antique business from home or mall booth? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting an antique business with NO money and no experience plus a sample antique business plan template. If you have ever thought of starting your own antiques business, you should know that even though it is not hard to start up, but it is a very profitable business. The antiques business offers its customers a wide selection of tools, furniture, figurines and other sort of collectibles.
Antiques are usually items that are more than 100 years old and not all are considered as valuable and so in starting the business, you must have a thorough knowledge about the product and how you intend to get customers to buy from your store.
Before you open your doors to business, it is essential that you must have started acquiring the inventory needed for your shop many months back. Even though the antique pieces must fill your shelves, cabinets as well as floor space, it is important that you must have bought the antique pieces at prices that will make you cover all the expenses and enable you make a profit.
Also, you must have plans in place to quickly replace any antique piece that has been sold, which means that you must have reliable sources where you can always get the pieces at substantial discounts. Most of the places that antique dealers often buy their stock from are at auctions, from other dealers, at estate sales, yard sales and from individuals. Auctions are usually the preferred place for dealers to buy antiques especially if you have learnt the art of bidding wisely.
There are usually two kinds of auctions – consignment auctions and estate auctions. Consignment auctions are those that are held regularly on the same day, every week or month in a building that is owned by the auctioneer. The estate auction is the type of event that is held once where the owners of a home are trying to dispose of the contents in the home.
However, regardless of the type of auction that is being held, the buying procedure is usually the same. In other to stay above your competitors, it is important to arrive at the auction at least half an hour before the starting time that was advertised. This allows you to stake out a place that is close to the auctioneer and also to easily see the merchandise that is being auctioned.
Also, in arriving early, you can easily scrutinize most of the merchandise before they are put up for auction so that you do not make any mistake during bidding and you can also take note of the merchandise that you intend to bid on.
17 Steps to Starting an Antique Business Online from Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
The last two decades has witnessed a steady decline of the antique market and this is due to several factors such as the rise of modern minimalism, changing aesthetics as well as the last great recession within 2008 and 2009. The last reason is one that has starved the middle class of discretionary spending money.
Even though the economy has recovered, many people cannot simply go into an antique store to pick up items that they fancy because they don’t have the money to spend. Another major reason why the antique market is in a decline is due to the fact that young people (Generation X and Millennials) have no interest in acquiring bulky items that will take up space or collect dust especially as most of them grew up in a house full of these items that they considered unnecessary.
Aside from wanting less items clunking up their space, the young people prefer to live in spaces that are smaller than that of their parents either due to their personal tastes or due to economic circumstances beyond their control; and so these smaller spaces mean that they have to adopt the minimalist trend.
On the other hand, there are still quite a lot of young people who have a deep appreciation for high quality items that are made from a different time and culture. Those with modern lifestyles are investing in grade antiques that are small in size but of high-end materials and one that will perfectly fit in with their current lifestyles.
Most of the antiques that young people buy are usually ones that are meant to achieve a specific purpose. This is still in line with the minimalist nature that young people have adopted in order to combat all the clutter they grew up around.
Online bidding has continued to grow as there are more people preferring to buy online, thereby boosting the revenue of that sector. However, as the online sector boosts, offline auctions have continued to drop due to the inconvenience most bidders have to go through especially when compared with online bidding.
Antique furniture and artwork has continued to remain flat, while modern art continues to sell. Antique jewelry has continued to grow as buyers get more comfortable buying these sorts of items at auctions. The jewelry will represent a large segment of the overall market.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those requiring the services of an antique store are few Americans who love antiques, antique lovers in other countries, antique fairs as well as dealers.
If you are looking to therefore define your demographics, you should try and be realistic as possible and not try to make it all encompassing.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
The antiques business engages in the retail or auctioning of items such as jewelry, books, memorabilia, figurines and other such items which are considered to at least be a century old. Therefore, if you are looking to start this business, you might look to starting off in a niche that is profitable so that you do not have your inventory tied up for a long time.
Ensure that you thoroughly research on the niche you are looking to go into so that you do not end up wasting time and money. You should however note that there aren’t many niches available for players in this industry. Below are some of the niche ideas within this particular business that you can specialize in when starting your antique business;
- Antique Furniture
- Antique Tools
- Coin Collections
- Decorative Arts
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the antiques business is not dependent on location as the internet has now made it possible for dealers to stay in any part of the world and sell their antiques to interested buyers.
Before looking to start an antiques business, it is essential that you are acquainted with the fundamentals of starting such a business. The knowledge is what will effectively help you when it comes to competing against similar businesses in the industry. Even though there are less people purchasing antiques, clients that actually do are expecting to get value for their money.
Even though the industry is on a downward spiral, there are still several antique stores in existence either online or offline offering stiff competition for new entrants; therefore, if you are looking to start your antique business in the united states of America, you should be ready to face completion not only within the United States but also out of it as well.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Even though the antique industry is not regulated, there are still brands that stand out from the rest due to how long they have been in the industry, their publicity and promotion activities as well as many other factors. As an entrepreneur looking to start a business, it is important to know what brands are popular and successful as this will help you adapt some of their strategies to yours and make you also attain the success and popularity that you desire.
Some of the well-known brands in the industry are;
- Debenham Antiques Ltd USA
- John Chaski Antiques
- Off the Wall
- Pat Monroe Antiques
- Gypsies Antiques
- Austin Antique Mall
- Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques
- Mi Casa Gallery
- Vintage Around Town
The antique market is on a downward spiral due to the fact that demand is getting weak even as supply is increasing. The increase in supply is due to the fact that baby boomers are continuing to downsize on their collections and not many in the latter generations are interested in purchasing these collections, preferring instead new or brand names of items. The latter generations are also regarded as minimalists, where they have the ‘less is more’ mindset.
Even though antique refers to something that is more than a century old, more dealers are becoming flexible regarding the idea as they have now started selling contemporary items in order to improve on their bottom line after the prolonged decline that the industry has faced. Some dealers are also dropping their datelines in order to allow space in their stores for 21st century items.
The antique marketplace is filled with uncertainty as new dealers are retailing their own stock at a loss or reduced margin and are not choosing to refresh their inventories at auctions. This has led to most stores having depleted stock, thereby leading to an eventual demise. Even buyers are buying at auctions than at retail stores because of how cheap they can get the items at auctions.
Older dealers on the other hand have chosen to remain optimistic as regards the changing trends or are in denial of the happenings in the industry, which means they have continued to hoard their antique pieces, thereby eroding the net asset value of their estate. However, it has been predicted that those who continue to ignore the trend will instead crash or be forced to wither away.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
One decision that an entrepreneur has to make depending on the industry which he is in is whether to start the business from scratch or to buy a franchise. Even though both have their pros and cons, they are no guarantee to the success of a business and so it is necessary to know what your goals and objectives are in order that you might be guided on what option will best be suitable for you.
The antique industry has no franchise opportunity for new entrepreneurs because of the way that the industry is structured leaving entrepreneurs to either start from scratch or simply buy off an existing business. Starting one’s business from the scratch means that you will be controlling the pace at which your business will grow.
This might be overwhelming for an entrepreneur that has never run a business before, which is why it is usually advised that a comprehensive business plan be in place to help the entrepreneur overcome the fear of running a new business from scratch.
An alternative to starting the business from scratch is to buying an already existing business where you will not have to worry about location or acquiring too much inventory before you can run the business successfully.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
No matter how unique your business might be, there are threats and challenges that will always crop up and which you the entrepreneur must handle if you want your business to survive and the antique business is no different. However, while there are threats that can usually be handled, there are some that are unexpected due to changes in certain factors. The best you can do when these kinds of threats come up is to try and remain focused on your business.
Some of the threats and challenges that you will therefore face when looking to start your antique business in the United States of America include; changes in customer preferences and lifestyles, economic downturn that will affect the purchasing power of individuals and arrival of new entrants into the market place.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
One important decision that you will need to make when looking to start any business is the appropriate legal entity that will be suitable for the business since the legal entity you choose will have an impact on the business in the short and long run.
While there are major legal entities available for entrepreneurs looking to run their businesses in the United States, there are factors that must be used in determining which legal entity will be most suitable; however, it might still be confusing for a new entrepreneur to know which legal entity to choose and so it is usually best to engage the services of an attorney.
The different kind of legal entities that are available to entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses in the United States of America include; sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC) and Corporation. Each of these legal entities has its pros and cons and you should consider them when looking to choose any one for your antique business.
A corporation is a formalized kind of legal entity that is usually very strict and requires the help of a lawyer before one can be set up. The corporation is usually regarded as a separate entity that can sue and be sued in its own right without affecting the owners.
The LLC is regarded as a hybrid form of legal entity because it incorporates all the features of the other legal entities. The LLC is another form of legal entity that most entrepreneurs usually go for because of how flexible the structure is. Owners in the LLC have limited liability and the taxes paid are usually on the personal income returns.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Whatever business you are looking to start, having a name is necessary because your business name identifies and makes you stand out from other similar businesses. While you might decide to use your name or a fictitious name for your new business, it is important that the business name is catchy, unique and indicative of the industry that you are in. Also, the name must not be in use by any other business in the same industry.
Some of the catchy business name ideas that are therefore suitable for your antique business include;
- Janice Quaint Antiques
- Moremo Antiques
- Selbol Antiques
- Revealed Antique Furniture
- Golden Antique Stores
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
When looking to run any enterprise in the United States, it is best that you look to purchasing insurance policies that will enable you protect yourself, your investment, your employees (if any) as well as your bottom line. Most entrepreneurs often spend all their life savings when starting up a new business and when a disaster occurs, they often cannot keep the doors of their business open due to the fact that they were carrying the risks themselves without handing over to a third party.
Buying insurance when starting the antique business will help you to avoid fraud. If you are however not sure of what insurance policies to buy, you might need to engage the services of an insurance agent to help you out. Some of the insurance policies you can purchase for your antique business in the United States of America are;
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Payment Protection Insurance
- Business Owners’ Policy (BOP)
- Property Insurance
- Employment Practices Liability Insurance
- Casualty Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The antiques business is one where dealers look out for valuable antique items buy at a reduced price and then sell to interested buyers at a marked up price. Nothing is invented in this business and so it is not usually considered important to file for an intellectual property protection.
However, some entrepreneurs usually apply for intellectual property protection on the names of their companies, slogan and any other material that they deem important enough for their company and therefore do not want used by another. Engage the services of an attorney with knowledge in this industry as well as intellectual property law to help you out.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Those that start an antique business are those that have developed a passion for it, where they had been collecting antique for a long time and deciding to make it into a business. The antique business does not require any form of certification before the business can run.
You can however choose to join reputable professional antique organizations in order to network and promote your business.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Even though the antique business might not be as regulated as some other kinds of businesses in the United States, this does not mean that you do not require any sort of legal documentation as any business that must be run in the United States requires some form of documentation in order that they might be able to run without getting into trouble with constituted authorities.
If you do not know what documents will be required of you when looking to run your antique business, you should make inquiries from others in the same business or engage the services of an attorney to help you out. Some of the legal documents that you would therefore require before you can start your antique business include;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreements
- Business License and Permit
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Employment Agreement
- Seller’s Tax Permit
- Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
The antique business requires a substantial amount of capital because you will be buying items that will be of considerable value to your target market and then generating interest about them in the hopes of reselling them to make your money plus profit.
If you do not have all the capital needed to start your business, you might need to approach external investors which is why it is always necessary to have a business plan at hand as this will help in convincing your potential investors on how serious you are about the business and how you intend to generate revenue that will ensure that they get their invested amount plus interest agreed upon back.
Some of the financing options that you can therefore explore when looking to start your antique business include;
- Generating part of your startup capital from personal savings and sale of property
- Sourcing for soft loan from your family members and friends
- Applying for loan from the commercial bank
- Getting a business partner with which to split start-up capital with
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Whatever business you are looking to start, one important aspect that must be taken into consideration is where you are going to start running your business from. While the internet has made it possible for entrepreneurs to run their stores online without owning a physical office, there are some that still prefer running a brick and mortar facility.
Depending on the scale of your business, you can decide to run the antique business from home by opening an online store. If running your antique business from home, ensure that there is a place where you can store your items properly. Also, you will need to properly store your documents especially if you have children and pets in your home.
However the fact that you can run your antique business successfully from home does not mean that location has no impact on your business. This is why dealers that are looking to make a statement always lease or rent a facility to use in running their antique business.
If you are therefore looking to rent or lease a facility to run your antique business, there are several factors that must be taken under consideration. One of the factors that must be taken into consideration is the visibility of the place you have chosen and the easy accessibility for your intending customers. A mall might be a perfect location for your antique business.
Ensure that you have a budget set aside for the facility which you intend to lease or buy and let the real estate agent whose services you might have engaged know, so that they do not waste time in taking you to facilities that are above your budget.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The antique business should be started on a small scale and then grown as interest picks up and revenue starts to flow into the business. Before the internet turned the industry into a huge sensation, most of the auction items were purchased by only dealers, marked up and then resold in their stores; however, the internet has offered end users the same opportunity as the dealers, where both parties can deal on items and then resell on popular auctioning platforms without needing to own an offline auction store.
Even though most people have started using the internet to buy what they need either for their personal use or to resell, there are still people going to flea markets, offline auctions, estate sales and such other places to buy antique pieces. Even those who sell online buy most of their antique pieces offline and then make tremendous profit.
Starting your antique business can either be cheap or expensive depending on the kind of antique pieces you are looking to stock and the scale of your business. This is why it is necessary to have a business plan in place as this will ensure that you have an idea of the size of the business you are looking to start and how much you will need depending on your budget.
Once you have had the required startup capital which is required to run the business, you must decide on the various items aside from your stock that you will need in order to run the business efficiently. Some of what you will need to be in place are; display cases, computer, cleaning materials, phone and software.
If you are running a small size shop, this is a business that you can run by yourself except you get one or two hands to help you out in the store.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
In getting antiques to sell to your intended target market, there are certain processes which you must undergo for your business to become successful. The first step is in knowing the value of antiques which you have collected, which means that you must be familiar with the different levels of antiques available.
Once you have decided on the antiques you intend to sell and their value, you must source for reliable places where you are going to be getting your antique pieces from. Several places such as auction places, flea markets, other huge antique stores, garage sales, fairs, the internet and individual sellers are often some of the places that dealers often visit to get their antique pieces.
Once you have purchased the antique pieces that you intend to deal with, you will need to get a store – either physical or online – to display your products and then look towards attracting customers that you need for your business.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
If you are not only passionate about collecting antiques but are looking to make a livelihood out of it, then being able to market your business is inevitable as this is the major way customers become aware of your antiques which then leads to awareness and then the desire to patronize your products, thereby generating the revenue that will let your business attain its intended goals and objectives. If you do not engage in marketing, you will find that you will struggle to keep your business afloat.
Even though it might look like marketing is a straightforward activity, it is usually not so as you need to correctly anticipate what your target market wants and then look to meet those needs.
If you are looking to penetrate the market, get a share of the market and compete favorably against your competitors, then you must be ready to use a combination of strategies. Technology has made it very easy for entrepreneurs to reach out to their target market more effectively than if they were using only print or offline means, especially as more people are always online.
You can also decide to seek the services of a reputable marketing consultant who understands your industry well to help create the right marketing strategies that will enable you achieve your intended goals and objectives. However, you must ensure that you monitor the marketing strategies so as to be able to remove or modify those that are ineffective.
Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can use for your antique business;
- Distribute fliers, handbills and business cards in different strategic locations in the area where you are going to operate your business from
- Ensure that your antique business is listed in yellow pages as well as in online directories
- Place adverts about your antique business in local newspapers and related business magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Use the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Linkedin to market your antique business
- Advertise your business on popular online forums
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are expecting your business to be successful without putting in efforts to boost awareness for your brand, then you might not be able achieve the success you desire because no business can function or attain its goals in isolation. An entrepreneur that is looking to build a profitable business must ensure that he or she engages in activities that will not only boost awareness for the brand but also create and communicate a positive corporate identity to its intended target market. Engaging in publicity activities also helps the business to compete favorably against its competitors.
If you are looking to start an antique business that will grow and become widely recognized within and outside the country, then it is necessary that you set aside a certain amount of money to enable you engage in publicity activities.
Before you can however come up with the right strategies that will ensure that you are able to promote your business effectively, it is pertinent that you understand the industry, your intended target market as well as where they are likely to visit. You will however need to use a combination of means to promote your business to your intended target market as the internet has made it possible for entrepreneurs to promote their businesses without having to spend so much.
The antique market is a tough one to crack and so you might need to hire the services of a publicity consultant to help you create strategies that will enable your target market and stakeholders to be aware of your business. Below are some of the platforms that you can leverage on in order to boost awareness for your brand and create a corporate identity for your antique business;
- Place adverts in local and national newspapers and related magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Use your website to promote your antique business
- Make use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus and other such platforms in order to promote and create awareness for your antique business
- Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business
- Install billboards in strategic positions all around the city where you are looking to operate your business from
- Attend auctions, estate sales and garage sales in order to network and increase awareness for your antique business