Dealing with Dealers
March 15, 2013 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm helping a friend liquidate the contents of his mother's apartment, and we have two weeks to do it. I have some antiques dealers coming over who will make offers. I have questions.

We are on a tight timeline, and my friend is in dire need of cash ASAP. There is some antique furniture, and last night I found a cache of vintage Chanel handbags, along with some other high end brands. I have a dealer (who is a friend of a friend) coming over to take a look at the bags, and some silk scarves and costume jewelry.

After a night of research, I have an idea of what the bags might be worth (we are certain they are real). The dealer who is coming over has very similar bags (and in one case, the exact same bag) for sale on her website in the $2,000- $3,000 range. eBay prices are wider in range, but $1000-$3000 seems to be the average. I don't expect that we will get top dollar from a dealer, but what should we hold out for? Is $500 a bag reasonable? Is there a formula that we can apply given that we know about what the retail price is? Or is it all a matter of bargaining?

The furniture is a little trickier. I don't know much about most of it. I did find exact auctions prices for a gaming table. In the last 4 years, one sold for $700, and another sold for $900. My friend has two of them. I'm hoping we can get $500 for the pair. Is that reasonable?

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time... this has to be done be done by March 31. Bonus question- Can anyone recommend reliable antique dealers in NYC (apartment is on the UWS)? I've had people flake on me all week long.
posted by kimdog to Shopping (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'd say half of what they can get for it retail is fair for a liquidation.

I think your ball park is correct.

When the dealer asks what you'll take for them, give them a higher number, because no matter what you say, they're going to negotiate. That's okay.

So for example, your FOAF will ask, "So how much do you want for them?"

Y'all say, "I see that they're selling online for anywhere from $2k to $3k, so I'm thinking about $800 to $1500 apiece is fair. You can have all 5 of them for $4,000 if you want to bundle." It's going to depend on popularity and condition of the bags, so once you get to a price you like, deal.

Not knowing what you have with the furniture puts you behind the 8 ball, but start off with an offer on the high end, and then see where it goes. If they come in too low, ask if they'll take X, Y, or Z for a higher price. You'd be amazed what sells in antique stores, so if the dealer is looking at a pair of Charles Rennie McIntosh chairs and he's offering you $500 apiece for them, offer to throw in the Hamms Beer sign, if he can give you $1500 for the lot, you never know.

There are liquidators for the rest of the stuff, the clearly not antique, or clothing or housewares. Once the good stuff is gone, call one of those folks in to give an estimate for the lot. You get $$$ AND you don't have to haul it out.

Google Estate Liquidators, it might just be easier and more lucritive than an antique dealer, especially if the furniture isn't museum quality.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2013


Prices for vintage bags can vary depending on condition, popularity of the particular style, etc. Vintage Chanel bags tend to hold their resale value pretty well. Honestly, if I were you, I would consign the bags yourself with one of the higher-end consignment shops in the city or online. I would specifically recommend Ina in NYC, and Real Deal Collection or Decades. I have consigned with RDC and Ina quite a bit and I can and will help you with this, if you like.

Unfortunately I don't have any advice regarding the other antiques, but I think you will get more for the handbags (and possibly the scarves and jewelry, depending on if they are designer brands) if you consign them.
posted by bedhead at 9:15 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google Estate Liquidators, it might just be easier and more lucritive than an antique dealer, especially if the furniture isn't museum quality.

This was approach #1. Out of the three I've been in touch with, two have said they would get back in touch with me after reviewing photos, but haven't so far. The third never returned my calls or email. I would be thrilled with reliable recs.

I think you will get more for the handbags (and possibly the scarves and jewelry, depending on if they are designer brands) if you consign them.


I don't doubt it. But my friend just doesn't have the time. He needs the money to avoid his own eviction. He sort of shut down after his mom's death which is why this is now so frantic. And while I've been willing to do the legwork on getting people there to buy, I can't manage consignment.
posted by kimdog at 9:31 AM on March 15, 2013


Another option would be to call a second-hand store. They too buy entire apartments of stuff.

I don't have any specific recommendations. Sorry.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:12 AM on March 20, 2013


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