Tag Archives: antiques

The Curse of the Brown Furniture

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Some furniture just isn’t selling well right now, especially what is being called “brown furniture”, such as mahogany china hutches, oak dressers, maple coffee tables and the like (read this article about why it isn’t). Or if it is selling, it is going a rock bottom prices.  This can be a big disappointment to estate sale companies who need to sell it to make a profit, and an even bigger disappointment to their clients who had long believed that they harbored treasures in their homes only to discover that nobody really wants them–not their children, not their friends and sometimes not even the buyers who “settle” for something they don’t love just because it fits their small budget.  Don’t panic: there is hope yet!  Here are some ideas that might help change your customers’ minds (or your own!) about buying:

  1. Give them some ideas about how to make an out-of-date or ragged piece into something more contemporary and fun!   Post photos of something similar that has been transformed by paint, updated upholstery, new hardware, or perhaps a totally new shape and function. (Here are some before and after ideas in this article by Better Homes and Gardens)
    Before

    Before

    After

    After

  2. Make it a gift idea.  Everyone knows someone who is just starting out.  Maybe it’s a newlywed, or a college student, or your brother who has been living in your parents’ basement but is finally venturing out into the world.  With usable older furniture prices at an all time low, here is your chance to help out for very little.  Encourage your customers to buy for someone with a limited budget that could use a desk or a much needed storage item.
  3. Educate your customers about the value of older, better made furniture.  It’s still around in abundance for a reason!  It was made to last for generations.  Too often today’s furniture, especially the stuff bought from big retail stores known for cranking out cheap and momentarily attractive pieces, are made with built-in obsolescence in mind.
  4. Encourage green living.  Buying used furniture means saving our natural resources, and it also assures that the furniture that isn’t purchased doesn’t find it’s way into a (gasp!) landfill.
  5. Suggest that buying might be an investment for the future. Antiques are cheap NOW, but they probably won’t always be so.  Trends are cyclical, and what is out of fashion now may be all the rage next year.  For instance, Victorian furniture (previously so popular and expensive) is out, while mid-century modern furniture (once the bane of younger boomers maybe because it reeked of the boring bourgeoisie world of their parents) is still highly sought after several years of booming sales. But MCM furniture sales are slowly waning in popularity.  What will be the next trend?  Maybe, just maybe, it will be all those Victorian pieces full of frills and curlicues that someone was smart enough to buy a lot of while the prices where low!

All that you need are some helpful ways to help customers recognize the benefits of buying the furniture that you know is still fantastic and useful.  They want it, they just don’t know it right now.

If you want more ideas about buying, read 18 Tips on Shopping at Estate Sales.

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College for Appraisers

If you love vintage or antiques, consider attending the College for Appraisers. I did, and I loved it. The instructors are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. I don’t work as an appraiser (at least not right now), but I learned so much about the kinds of things I find while running my estate sale business, things like glass, furniture, pottery, etc. The college has classes you can attend in Whittier, CA, where the instructor brings in lots of examples of the items being discussed. They also have a home study program for those who live too far to attend the classes. The Glass Class is starting soon, so check it out. Visit their website at http://www.cfacollege.org for more information. And no, this is NOT a paid advertisement. I just like to support an organization as good as this one.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

The College for Appraisers Certificate Programs are for everyone from professional appraisers, dealers and collectors to the incurably curious. Our career programs lead to AAS degrees for those seeking careers as professional appraisers and for those who seek to become more successful dealers, estate sellers, auctioneers, dealers and collectors. Our courses provide the specialized knowledge and hands-on practical experience you need to make that great leap from simply looking to truly knowing what you are seeing.

UPCOMING SEMINAR College For Appraisers! AUGUST 20, 2011 / Glass 1-day seminar…

Includes an overview of glass and cut glass history as well as specific ways to observe differences between pressed and cut glass – both old and new.

Date: SAT August 20, 2011 – Instructor: Tom Ahern

Make sure you don’t miss this wonderful seminar! Happy Friday!

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Here We Go…

I’m a full-time, bona fide treasure hunter who searches through ordinary homes for extraordinary finds. I’m a estate liquidator by trade, which gives me unparalleled access to the private recesses of a great many dwellings. I go places that most people (especially the voyeuristic) only dream of going. And some of the places many only have nightmares about. I see the messes, the sacred, the heartbreaking, the absurd, and the mundane. I uncover the secrets and the secreted, the forgotten and the unknown, the useless and the valuable. Some finds anyone can locate. Other finds may take a trained eye to discover, maybe because the items are covered by years of dust and grime, maybe just because one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I find all of it, all those things you purposely left for your family, but also those things you never planned for others to find. Once you are gone, it all comes out in the open.

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