Knowing where to sell antiques is important if you are ready to part with that vintage table, antique vase, or retro lamp. While it's easy to buy antiques, selling them can take a bit more time and effort. You can save time and energy by choosing the right place to sell for your situation. Don't despair, there are plenty of places to sell antiques to help you reclaim your space, fatten your savings account, and make another collector very happy.
Where to Sell Antiques Near You
You don't have to go far to find places to sell antiques. Most cities and towns have antique shops, flea markets, and other options. These are some places to consider.
Local Antiques Shops - A Hands-Off Approach
There are antique shops in just about every community, and they can be a good choice if you want to sell with a hands-off approach. You can use a tool like Find Antique Malls to find antique dealers near you that buy antiques. While it seems logical that you should sell antiques and collectibles to people who make a living selling them, there are things to consider before you choose that. Antiques dealers are in business and are paying rent, utilities, salaries, and so on. You should not be charged a fee if you sell directly to a dealer or shop, but you may not get top dollar for your items. While the shop should pay you a fair price for your antique, that might mean less than 50% of the piece's value.
- Visit the shop first, and look at the stock: if they sell only glass, they probably won't buy your chair.
- Check the prices. Higher end shops may pay you more for your antique or collectible than a shop that looks like it doesn't sell anything for more than $25.
- Before you bring in something to sell, chat with the manager or owner and see if they are interested in buying. Don't take rejection personally. Dealers have money tied up in stock, and it's not always possible for them to purchase on a moment's notice.
- Get a detailed receipt of the sale.
Flea Markets - Great for Low to Mid-Priced Antiques
Flea markets are a great option if you want to reach a large audience and avoid paying commissions. You pay for a table or booth, which can run from about $10 and up, depending on the market. Then you set up your wares and sell your antiques. You can find local flea markets with a tool like Flea Market Insiders. On a good day, a popular flea market can attract thousands of people who buy antiques. These markets are best for low to mid-priced items you want to move while having a bit of fun.
- Check out local advertisements, then contact the market director. Established markets may have pecking orders (who gets a table where), so you may not get the premium booth you desire.
- Expect to set up early and break down late. Markets run by rules, and you need to follow them.
- Come prepared with covers for your antiques (in case it rains), sunshades or umbrellas for you, tables, chairs, water, food, etc.
- Mark all items with prices; nothing turns off buyers more than assuming you assign prices based on a whim.
- Expect to be offered less than the asking price, which you can turn down courteously.
Craigslist - Local Sales Online
Craigslist also offers the ability to sell antiques online, but you are selling to a local customer base. The listings are free, but you need to do all the work. That includes taking photos, marketing the items, and handling interactions with the customer. You don't get the added advantage of customers finding your wares by browsing; they need to search to find you. These are a few more things to consider:
- Craigslist doesn't penalize you for having an item listed for a long time, so if you want to wait for a specific price, there's no downside.
- Your customer base is limited to local shoppers. This means you need to sell things that are in demand locally.
- This is a great option for big items like sewing machines that are expensive to ship, but it may not be ideal for smaller antiques.
Antiques Mall - Good if You Have a Lot of Antiques to Sell
If you have a lot to sell in a range of values, you might want to consider taking a booth at an antiques mall. However, this is something to consider only if you have time, energy, and you don't mind investing upfront. Antiques malls are a long-term investment for a seller and are best used if you have a lot of stock to move and are not in a rush to do so. Talk with the manager about sellers' requirements: Do you pay a monthly fee? A percentage of sales? Also, there may be time-related fees. Find out if you are required to help run the mall, and if so, how many hours a week you will need to put in.
- Visit local antiques and collectibles malls, and see if they are well maintained, busy, and at near capacity.
- Talk with vendors, if possible, and get their opinion.
- Meet the mall managers: you will be working with these folks, so it's good to know personalities and attitudes from the start.
- Determine the different booth sizes, ask about display cabinet space, and what the minimum rental time is.
- Do a budget and estimate how much you need to earn before you make a profit. That could be surprising.
- You can ask what you want, but remember that you are competing with other dealers in a limited space. If you ask $25 for a dish priced at $15 in another booth, you may need to adjust expectations.
Facebook Marketplace - Reach a Local Audience Online
Like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace lets you reach a local audience. You can list anything from a pair of headphones to a house, all from your own page or your business page. You can create a listing for free and use up to 10 photos to show the details of your item. However, to use the checkout portion of the system, you need to pay 30 cents per item and a fee of just under three percent. There are some reasons to consider selling antiques on Facebook Marketplace:
- If you want to avoid shipping and instead make local deliveries or arrange for the customer to pick up the item, this is a good option.
- Even the three percent fee for the checkout system is less than many other online selling platforms.
- You can easily promote your items using your own Facebook page or one for your business.
Selling Antiques Through Second Parties
Many people don't want to do the footwork to sell their antiques and so will sell through auctions, consignment shops, or estate sales that utilize the experience of other experts in antiques and/or sales techniques.
Auctions - Great for Special Items
An in-house auction is where you consign an item to a sale, and bidders purchase it, then and there. Auctions come in all styles, from formal, high-value "rooms" to specialty auctions and local auction houses. You can contact auction houses to see if they are interested in your items. Remember to read your newspaper for local auctions announcements: these will tell you about firms that have upcoming sales and also give you an idea of local auction firms you could work with. Just a few specialty houses to start with include the following.
- Sotheby's and Christie's have been selling high-end antiques for centuries. Check with them if you have items that have been identified as rare or unique. Furniture, fine silver, jewelry, art, and textiles turn up at their frequent auctions.
- Heritage bills itself as the world's largest collectibles auction. They sell comics, ephemera (baseball cards), movie posters, coins, books, and other items. Visit their hall of fame, which includes record sales.
- Swann Auction Galleries sells posters, books, fine art, maps, and other paper items. If you have a large, fine quality paper collection, contact them to see if they are interested in listing it.
- Skinner Auctions is known for textiles and folk art sales, among other items.
- Theriault's has one specialty: rare and exquisite dolls and associated items.
Consignment Shops - Great for Selling Vintage Items
At a consignment shop, you place an item for sale, the shop does the work and then takes a percentage. Consignment shops come in many forms, from local groups to designer resale, and you may realize anything from 30% - 70% (in general, the more expensive the piece, the higher your percentage, usually figured on a sliding scale). Consignment shops can be low- or high-priced and usually offer a mix of old and new. This makes them great for selling vintage collectibles or clothing.
- Sometimes consignment shops benefit charities, so you are doing good, as well as making money.
- Stop in and meet with the manager to see what the shop specializes in, how long they keep your item on the floor, and when or if they reduce the price over time.
- Complete a consignment form.
- Make sure you know if you are expected to bring large items to the shop, or if the shop can arrange for pick-up.
- The shop takes a percentage of the selling price. In the case of clothing or other textiles, the items have to be cleaned and ready to sell, so that might cost you time and effort.
Tag or Estate Sales - If You Have a Lot of Antiques to Sell
Sometimes you end up with a house filled with antiques, collectibles, new stuff, and used housewares, and it seems overwhelming, especially if you have to clear it all out. This is when you may consider a tag or estate sale: the professionals come in, organize, price the items, advertise, and manage the one or two-day sale.
- Word of mouth helps here; ask around to see which tag sale companies are popular, check newspapers, or ask your bank or a realtor for recommendations.
- Meet with the manager, who will want to see your antiques and household items before they consider a sale.
- If you live where it is impractical to have an open house, ask whether the company can combine your goods with another sale.
- Have a few sale dates in mind, but be prepared to adjust to the company's schedule.
- Experts know how to price things and can save you from giving away a rare item for pennies. But if a company offers you a flat fee to purchase your antiques, take the time to think it over and consider having the household appraised before you sell.
Where to Sell Antiques Online
You can also sell antiques online. There are lots of options for online retailers, but a few are really good for antiques.
eBay - A Huge Customer Base
As one of the first places people think of buying and selling antiques online, eBay offers a huge customer base for your wares. When you list something on eBay, you are capitalizing on this gigantic pool of possible customers. However, selling on eBay requires a hands-on approach. You'll need to take photos of the items, write great descriptions, support customers directly, and handle shipping. Here are the basics:
- You can start an eBay store, which lets you specialize in a certain type of antique and set overall policies about how you do business.
- You pay an insertion fee and a selling fee, often totalling about 2% to 12% of the item's selling price.
- eBay lets you accept PayPal payments, making it easy to keep track of money and make sure you get paid.
Etsy - Perfect for Creating a Brand
For a small listing fee and about 5% of the sales price, Etsy gives you the ability to create your own store brand. This is a good idea if you want to encourage a loyal customer base and an overall look and feel to your store. You can specialize in selling antique textiles, for instance, and have a whole store devoted to that. You'll be responsible for handing customer relations, listing items, and shipping everything. Here are some of the other considerations to keep in mind:
- Each listing expires after a period of four months, which means you'll need to pay to relist it at that time if it doesn't sell.
- It's a good idea to optimize your shop with listings that will show up in Etsy's search. Otherwise, your wares can get lost in the thousands of items available.
- It may make sense to promote your items by paying a fee, especially if you are planning to get repeat business or have antiques of great value.
Ruby Lane - Good for High Value Antiques
Think of Ruby Lane like a virtual antique mall. Just as you'd have a stall or booth at an antique mall, you have a storefront on Ruby Lane. You pay a premium to be part of the service, but there are some advantages too. Set-up fees can top $100 with about $69 per month in regular maintenance fees on top of that. However, for that price, you get to list up to 80 items, and you don't have to pay a commission when something sells. This makes it a good option for higher value antiques, which could have substantial commission fees on eBay or Etsy.
- Ruby Lane is a speciality service, which means people come here to specifically shop for antiques and collectibles.
- Although the up-front costs are high, the lack of commission can work out well if you sell high value items.
- If you want to list more than 80 items each month, you can pay a small fee to do that.
TIAS - Great for Lots of Small Items
If you want to sell a lot of smaller antiques, consider TIAS (The Internet Antique Store). This site, which has been around since 1995, does not charge per-item fees or a set-up charge for your shop. However, you pay about $35 to $40 per month, and there's a 10% commission. For high volume sales of smaller value antiques, this may be a good choice.
- You can sell just about any type of antique on TIAS, but it's especially suited to things like figurines, costume jewelry, and paper ephemera.
- TIAS isn't as popular as some other antique sites, which means you may need to do some of the promotion yourself.
- You'll handle listing and photographing items, shipping them, and interacting with customers.
Go Antiques - No Commissions
Go Antiques is another antique specialty site that lets you create a custom shop and sell your wares. You can choose from one of three plans, ranging from about $25 to about $75 per month. There are no commissions, and the main difference between the plans is how many items you can list. Because Go Antiques doesn't charge commissions, it's a great choice for big ticket antique items. However, it doesn't have the search power of Ruby Lane, so you will need to work hard to promote your business.
- Go Antiques is a good choice for any type of antique item. You'll see a lot of jewelry, collectibles, and glassware.
- Like most other sites, it's a good idea to specialize and create a brand. That gives you a look customers can count on.
- Go Antiques highlights new sellers, giving you a boost when you first start your shop.
Selling Antiques for Cash
If you don't want to hassle with PayPal, checks, credit cards, or another form of payment, there are several places you can sell antiques for cash. This is a good option if you're in a hurry to sell to free up some extra money. Keep in mind, you may need to document the sale in some way in order to file taxes properly.
What Old Antiques Are Worth Money?
Whether you're cleaning out the attic or simply trying to make a little extra cash from your antiques, it's good to brush up on the types of valuable antiques to watch for. Consider getting an appraisal so you know where to set your asking price. If you have a hot item lying around, you may be able to make a great profit, no matter where you choose to sell it.