Tips for selling a piece to an antiques dealer?
August 2, 2012 7:12 AM   Subscribe

I have an item I'd like to sell to a local antiques dealer. It's a mid-century modern piece and the dealer recently listed a similar item for $1200. Mine would need a bit of refinishing, but what's a fair offer?

This particular dealer buys items from individuals but explicitly states on their website that the seller has to come up with the amount. I'm moving at the end of August and need to be rid of the piece by then. It's not a family heirloom or anything -- the previous tenant in my apartment left it behind when she moved and only when photographing it for craigslist did I realize it might be worth something -- so I'd like to make as much as possible but it's all free money either way. I was thinking of asking for $500, and hoping he would negotiate from there. Does that sound reasonable? Will dealers negotiate from the asking price or is it usually a yes-or-no thing? I've never dealt with an antiques dealer before so if anyone has any advice I'd greatly appreciate it.
posted by jabes to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
I can't speak for this individual, but dealers almost always haggle, unless you've made it explicit that you're not flexible on price. If you want $500, don't open with $500. Start at $700 or higher and negotiate downwards. When they state that they want you to come up with a figure, that's their way of getting bargains from people who have no idea what their items are worth.
posted by pipeski at 7:22 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think you should start a little above half price. So, let's say $1200 might be list. Start at $700.
posted by amanda at 7:27 AM on August 2, 2012

$500 seems reasonable to me. I used to deal in antique and collectable books, but to give you some idea for the most part dealers I knew made offers that were in the 50% to 33% of retail range depending on how quickly they thought to sell it. A dealer without a shop front can offer more as they have a lot less overhead. Haggling is pretty standard. Your price seems a very reasonable starting point if the piece needs work, assuming the piece needs a hundred or so spent on it to fix it up.

Having said that dealers in any sort of secondhand/antique goods are all completely nuts (they don't think they are but they are) and can have the strangest "rules" for no real reason other than they got a bee in their bonnet about something 10 years ago and still haven't let it go. Don't be surprised if that happens, though most likely everything will go fine.
posted by wwax at 7:32 AM on August 2, 2012

I agree with the others on here so far. $500-$700 is fair. Though the dealer will probably offer like $300 let them know you've done your homework and you know what they sell for. Don't let them know that you got it for free.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:34 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do NOT refinish it, even if it's not in great shape.
posted by Madamina at 7:52 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you know that it's worth around $1200, bring that info in with you, that gives you more bargaining leverage.

Start at $700 and see what happens.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:21 AM on August 2, 2012

Thanks for the advice everybody! I think I'll start at $700 and see where they go from there. FREE MONEY YAY
posted by jabes at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2012

Not an antique dealer, but a former (mostly vintage and antique) jewelry dealer here.

1500 for a similar one? Needs work? 6 or 7 hundred would be the top end for something of a type of stock I needed. If not, I'd offer 400 against 700, and probably not go as high as 500.
posted by cmoj at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2012

Not an expert of any sort, but be sure to include them picking it up, if thats what you desire.
posted by Jacen at 6:47 PM on August 2, 2012

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