Although a good deal of focus has been placed by the antiques industry on online selling in general during the past decade or so, conventional antiques venues continue to thrive even when faced with the stiff competition the Internet provides. There will always be those shoppers who enjoy the instant gratification of buying in a physical shop. Besides, not everything sells as well online as it does live and in person.
Take furniture and large decorative items as an example. Because of the high shipping costs associated with delivering these items, they tend to sell better in physical shops or at shows. Likewise, items like an estate ring or vintage jacket might fetch a better price in person, where a buyer can try the piece on. Over time, dealers have gotten a sense of what types of pieces sell more consistently in a brick and mortar shop, and what items tend to do better online where their antiques market reach is more broad.
Besides, some merchants just prefer the personal interaction involved in dealing with customers and other collectors face to face. For them, the time required to sell online – researching pricing, photographing their pieces, writing listings, communicating with potential buyers, and packaging and shipping items – makes vending online prohibitive; it’s more efficient and productive to simply set up shop at a flea market on the weekend for these folks even though the economic downturn has most definitely had an impact on their business in the 2000s.
In a nutshell, the advent of online selling has forced antiques shop owners and show sellers to be more competitive. After all, savvy buyers can find much of the same merchandise online, and even locate pieces that were once considered hard to find more readily now. That means successful sellers must now perform their own brand of market research – which often finds them browsing completed listings on eBay – to determine how much they can ask for an item. The sellers with the most staying power and success seem to be the folks who find a way to balance their business between selling alternatives.