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Where to Sell Antiques, Heirlooms and Unwanted Treasures

by Michael Snook
Vintage Stores Melbourne

We’ve all seen shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars. And what we’ve learned is that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. So if you have antiques, heirlooms or collectibles that you’re looking to sell, it’s worth doing your research to make sure you’re getting the best deal you can.

Let’s have a look at a few tips for selling your unwanted treasures.

Get your items valued

Before listing or selling your items, you need to get a realistic idea of its value. This will help you choose the best method of sale and ensure you get a fair price for it. Properly valuing your items will help you to set a fair price that will ensure a quick sale, while ensuring you get the maximum return on your collectible.

Depending on the item, you may need to get it valued by a professional. Jewellery, for example, generally needs a professional valuation to confirm authenticity and quality.

For less valuable items like books, records or other collectibles, you can get a fair idea of the market value by checking with specialty second hand marketplaces like Abebooks or Discogs. It’s also worth checking the more general online marketplaces to see what comparable items are going for. It’s important to take into account the condition of the item and factors like year of printing/pressing, original packaging and other considerations specific to the niche.

Know your Options

Once you have an idea of your item’s worth, you need to then think about where you should sell it.

  • Online Marketplaces

If your antique is extremely niche, is in low demand or has a low value, like a mass-produced collectible figure from recent decades, it’s best to handle the selling process yourself. This ensures you get as much of the profit as possible and you aren’t spending money on additional fees. Selling online through marketplaces like eBay or Gumtree allows you to set your own prices and negotiate directly with buyers safely and securely. However, be prepared to deal with time-wasters and a potentially drawn out sales process.

  • Pawn Shop

Pawn shops are a great option if you’re looking to wrap up the sale as quickly as possible. Pawn shops tend to buy most items of value, provided they can be resold. However, don’t expect a good price. Pawn shops rely on buying low and selling high, so they will always offer you less than the expected value of the item.

Before using a pawn shop, it’s worth thoroughly researching the establishment. Choose reputable and reliable stores by looking at reviews and don’t be afraid to visit multiple stores and compare offers.

  • Antique or Vintage Stores

If you are looking to sell vintage or antique items, you may be able to sell them to or through specialist antique or vintage stores. Some stores may sell on consignment, meaning they will offer your item for sale in their store, only paying you when the item sells (and generally taking a commission for the sale). However, most stores will only offer to purchase the item directly from you.

Most antique or vintage stores will only be interested in your items if it fits within their specific niche. So you may need to do some research to find a retailer best suited to your items.

These retailers should be experts in their field, so they should have a fair idea of what your item is worth. However, as with pawn shops, you will generally not get the best price for your item, since the store is looking to on-sell for a profit.

  • Auction

For high-value items, selling at auction may be the best way forward. Auctions will advertise items available before the day of sale, generating interest. Additionally, the atmosphere of the auction house may lead to more people bidding and higher bids. Be aware that selling at auction could be a time-consuming process if the bidding doesn’t meet your reserve price.

When looking at auction houses, choose ones that have experience in selling items similar to yours.

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Tips and Advice for Selling

  • Look out for Fees

As you investigate your selling options, be aware that some services will charge fees or take a portion of the sale price as payment for their work. This is common for dealers and auction houses, for instance.

It’s worth factoring these fees into your decision. While you may get a better price through an auction house than to an antique store, any benefits may be lost once seller fees are deducted.

  • Research the Current Market

The market for high-value antiques and collectibles can be fickle, so it’s worth researching the market before putting your items up for sale. Are your items particularly popular or trending right now? If so, there will be more demand and you may be able to charge a higher price. For example, vintage Nike Jordan basketball shoes spiked in value and demand after the ESPN miniseries The Last Dance.

On the other hand, a trending item could also mean that the market is flooded with similar items, driving the prices down.

If your item isn’t currently trending, it may be worthwhile keeping it safe for the time being and looking to sell it in a few years when it may have become popular.

  • Consider Restoration

Depending on your item, it may be worthwhile restoring it in order to get a quicker sale or higher price. However, this isn’t always necessary as collectors may prefer the option to restore it themselves. Make sure you do your research when looking at antique restoration, as novice restorers can do more harm than good to an item.

Selling vintage items or antiques can be a fun process and get you some cash at the same time. Use the information above to decide on the right way to sell your items to get the best result.

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