Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Antique dealer: Market research

When you plan your new antiques business it's very important to research your market - how much demand there is and how well that demand is already being met.

Estimating demand

You will need to make an estimate of the number of pieces that you are likely to sell in the year, based on the number of customers you hope to attract. Much will depend on the nature of the business you are planning - if your stock is very expensive you may only need to sell a few pieces every month. If you plan to stock modestly priced bric-a-brac and collectables you will need to sell many more items every month in order to generate enough income.

Some antique dealers specialise in a particular type of antique and build up a regular customer base of other dealers and members of the public to whom they sell most of their stock. In some cases items will be bought with a particular customer in mind.

Demand for different types of antique rises and falls as trends and fashions in the market change. The industry journal Antique Collecting looks at current trends and is used by many collectors and dealers to keep up to date with the market. It may well be important to make sure that your stock reflects current trends in demand.

You might try buying enough stock to take a stall at an antiques fair or market as part of your market research. This will give you an idea of the likely demand for the type of pieces you plan to stock as well as the price that customers are prepared to pay.


Unlike some other retail businesses it can positively encourage trade to locate in an area which is well-known for its antiques shops and which attracts large numbers of dealers and amateur collectors. Because each item is virtually unique customers will buy from whichever outlet has the piece which attracts them and they will be prepared to visit every outlet to see what is on offer.

One of the best ways to attract custom is to stock good quality 'fresh' pieces which are well-displayed in a welcoming environment. Although the existence of other antique dealers in your locality can prove beneficial to your trade you will need to make sure that your particular business stands out and is memorable enough to make people return to your outlet.

Check out other antique dealers in your locality and note down details of their outlets - what sector of the market they target, the prices they charge, their opening hours and so on. This will help you to decide on the range of stock to offer and what you can do to differentiate your outlet from the others.

Trade sales

Most antique dealers sell quite a lot of their stock to other dealers, who may well call on you from time-to-time to check your stock. If you are going to specialise in a particular type of antique you might consider contacting other dealers in the same line with a view to offering them stock on a regular basis.

The Record sheet will help you with this aspect of your market research.


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