Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Antique dealer: Customer profile

If you plan to operate from retail premises you might have a mix of customers who include:

  • private individuals, many of whom are enthusiasts and amateur collectors
  • other dealers
  • corporate investors and collectors
  • interior designers
  • businesses such as hotels, restaurants or pubs
  • museums and galleries

Some of your customers may be located overseas.

You may decide that you are only going to sell to the trade - for example operating as a 'runner'. Runners generally do not have their own premises but buy stock which they then offer to other dealers. Some dealers just have warehousing facilities because they focus on supplying container loads of antiques to overseas customers in countries like the US, China and Japan.

Many of your customers are likely to become regulars, particularly if you are able to build up a reputation for good quality, fresh pieces.


Haggling is an accepted feature of the antiques trade and many customers will expect to be able to negotiate a discount from the marked price of an item.

If you plan to sell a lot of stock at auction remember that you will pay a vendor's commission on each sale.

Advertising your business

No matter who your customers are, it's essential that they know about you. If you can locate in an area which already contains several other dealers you will benefit from a stream of visitors to the area. It is up to you to attract these visitors into your shop by having a good range of stock, which is well displayed. Once they have come through your door make sure that they receive a friendly welcome and that you have some printed material that they can take away with them.

There are a number of things you can do to promote your business:

  • advertise in your local newspaper and any other local publications and directories
  • produce a newsletter that you send to customers who collect or specialise in a particular type of antique
  • have your own website and offer a mail order service
  • use social media like Instagram to showcase new pieces
  • have leaflets printed outlining your range of stock - you might be able to arrange to leave some of these with local hotels
  • exhibit at antiques fairs and markets
  • choose a memorable name for your business and make sure your vehicle, stationery and literature carry this