As with any business, the most successful entrepreneurs have a natural ability to spot trends, learn to stay ahead of them and be prepared when they hit. Successful antique dealers think the same way.
Listening the the Buyers
Listen to the buyers. Note their requests. If enough people suddenly begin asking for bakelite jewelry, the dealer should consider building an inventory of bakelite pieces. When retro furniture stops selling, the dealer could put sale tickets on them or hold them back and reinvest in earlier pieces. It could mean there is a very good chance the next wave of Victorian or Mission oak antiques is about to hit.
Style in the Media Predicts Trends
Style in the media often predicts trends. Popular periodicals like Martha Stewart Living, Victoria and Country Living Magazine, have a huge influence of what people buy, and it’s a good idea to subscribe to those magazines to do some antique trend-spotting. Television programs like Antiques Roadshow have been known to create a buzz around a certain antique, and if anything, the dealer might gain more knowledge from the program.
It also makes good sense to subscribe to antiques journals like Journal of Antiques and Collectibles, New England Antiques Journal, and Main Antique Digest, to name a few. And there are numerous online journals to peruse regularly in order to stay in touch with trends in the antiques world.
EBay’s Completed Listings
Dealers who make a habit of watching the completed items on eBay can see what the trends are. Some trends on eBay may be short lived, like the paint-by-number paintings people were paying exorbitant amounts of money for in recent years. This was a direct result of the craze for shabby chic, cottage style, junk style and flea market style – all styles that were well-promoted in home decorating magazines. And styles like these do eventually go by way of the cherubs and passimenterie of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Many antiques sold on eBay do have staying power and the closed listings are useful trend-spotting tools. EBay dealers did do well with those vintage paint-by-numbers, however short lived the trend.
According to eBay’s most recent Pulse offering for antiques, sterling silver, all silver, oak furniture and antique furniture in general, old clocks and clockworks, lamps, quilts, and anything art deco, top the most often searched list in the antiques categories. It’s a very good indication of what people want, but an indication of what they want now.
Short-lived Annual Trends
Seasonal antiques are short-lived annual trends that sellers should take full advantage of. Buy the vintage Christmas lots at auction in the summer, but hold them back until November in order to maximize the sales and pricing.
If the town has an upcoming historical celebration like a centenary, buy related regional antiques well in advance of the celebration date. Events like these often bring in throngs of people interested in owning a piece of local history. Short-lived annual trends are obvious to predict and antique dealers who pay attention are prepared for them.
Google Trends and Antique Trends
Google Trends is a wonderful little online widget that shows what people are searching for on the Internet via Google’s search button, when they search for it, and where in the world they are searching from. As of June, 2010, the search terms for American art, arts and crafts, and modernism all show downward trends in searches, which could mean antiques and collectibles of these genres are going out of favor.
The tough economy does have effect on selling antiques which aren’t essential items and this certainly plays a role in people’s buying patterns. Using Google Trends is a good way to find those patterns.
Good trend-spotting and being open to change, could help antique dealers move their businesses forward, something to consider in challenging times.