A very important part of your business will be finding good quality stock to replace items that are sold. This helps to keep regular customers coming back. You might source and purchase some stock to order - if you do this you'll need a good list of contacts to help you find the right items. You'll regularly buy in other items for the yard too. Sometimes you might go out looking for certain types of stock and other times sellers may come to you.
Sources of architectural salvage items could include:
- private sellers - keep an eye on the classified ads including online classifieds like Gumtree
- other salvage dealers in the UK, including 'runners' who specialise in finding good items and selling them on to the trade
- overseas dealers - these can be an excellent source of quality stock if you're prepared to travel
- antique dealers, secondhand dealers, house clearance specialists and junk or bric-a-brac shops
- fairs and markets
- auction houses and sale rooms
- demolition specialists
- builders and property developers
- organisations that own or manage large numbers of properties, for example the local authority, the National Trust, the Landmark Trust and so on
- businesses that are located in period buildings and are having modernisation work carried out - these could include pubs and hotels
Sometimes you'll just be buying a single item - other times it might be the salvage rights to a whole building.
Whatever you buy, you'll need to take steps to make sure it hasn't been stolen. The more you can prove in the way of provenance the more the item will be worth - so ask the seller about it and don't be fobbed off with dodgy stories. The trade organisation Salvo helps architectural salvage dealers to identify whether or not items might be stolen.
Being a successful salvage dealer is all about keeping your ear to the ground and spotting a bargain before your competitors do. It can pay to be well informed about upcoming demolitions, major property conversions and so on. If you keep your eyes open you might even find good stock in a skip from time to time - but make sure you get the owner's permission before you take it.