Statista claims that in 2017, the official annual turnover of antiques and vintage markets exceeded £1.250 million, and that’s only according to official data. At Whidegroup, we realize the growing popularity of this market, and have thoroughly investigated the question of how to start an antique shop online. To do this, we explored the best online antique stores and auctions specializing in collectibles. So, if you have been curious about how to build an antique store, you’re in the right place. We will provide you with every possible detail, from the rudimental points about collectibles to the technical nuances, and development costs of your own e-store.
Where Should You Go to Find Collectibles?
The answer to the question “how to get into the antique business” starts with finding items to sell. Today there is a wide variety of sources to find collectibles for your store. From the well-trodden routes that everyone knows to some of the lesser known options,they each attract beginners in the sphere of vintage and antiques business in their own special way. So then, what are the best places to look for collectibles for your store? Here’s a list of some of the more well-known sources for getting those incredible pieces for your collection:
- Garage sales. The well-known proverb “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” will never become obsolete in the world of antiques. Garage sales are, and always will be, a valuable source of items for your store. A lot of people luck out in finding interesting things at garage sales. Who knows! You might be one of these people, and if you are, it won’t be a challenge for you to find items for your shop!
- Flea markets. In a lot of cases, flea markets are now outlets for cheap imported goods, thus making hunting for collectibles a bit tricky… but not impossible! The best way to hear about flea markets is to monitor online events calendars provided by several antiques publications. Another tip – don’t forget to check local calendars while traveling, so you can find out which markets you can visit while you’re on the road!
- Live auctions. While this source has seemed to have been a bit forgotten in the public eye, you can still hit good ones time and again. The best tip when it comes to auctions is to arrive as early as possible in order to check the items you may be interested in. This allows you to make sure the pieces are authentic and in good condition. Many auction houses give interested parties the opportunity to view the items several days before the auction occurs.
- Thrift stores. In order to catch a good find at your local thrift store, it is helpful to establish a rapport with employees of the store. Be nice and friendly to them, and make sure they understand which types of collectibles you are on the lookout for. Leave your business card and ask them to call you in case they come across items you might be interested in.
- Antique shows. Don’t neglect visiting antique shows, even if you think everything is going to be overpriced for further resale. While the concern about price is not without merit, you may end up coming across a seller with items that are outside their area of specialization, and therefore put them for sale at a more palatable price. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see what you may find at antique shows. Furthermore, antique shows are great places to introduce yourself, meet new dealers, and do some market research!
The last recommendation here is do not ever limit yourself with a shortlist of sources and/or events. Always be ready to meet new people, and visit new places and events. We even suggest that you sometimes just test the wind and let it take you in its direction!
How to Verify Antiques and Vintage Items?
After you learn where to find collectibles for your store, it’s time to estimate their authenticity and price them objectively. Of course, if you are already qualified in this area, you have no concerns. But how can you make money selling antiques if you have no experience in this area? Well, in such a case, it is advisable to engage with a person who is knowledgeable about the items you have your eye on – this can help protect you against inadvertently buying fakes.
Evaluation of antiques and vintage collectibles is performed by experts called appraisers. As a rule, these specialists usually have formal education in the field of economics, law, art history, or fine arts. It may be a fine art expert, museum, or auction house employee. Most of these experts form appraiser associations where they can be easily found. Some countries add certificated appraisers to the state registry.
Another thing to consider is that these experts may be widely qualified, or only specialize in particular items such as books or coins.
Nothing stings more than unwittingly buying a reproduction or a fake. Protect yourself from such a disappointment by hiring a highly-qualified appraiser.
Antique Store Features to Build an Online Antique Website
Part of a narrow niche, online antique malls and vintage e-stores have some specific features compared to other kinds of online stores. Before putting up this article, we analyzed a plethora of shops and explored the sheer variety of the features they excel at. Below you can see the frequency distribution of the features we’ve found.
Shipping Issue Consideration
Shipping has always been one of the cornerstones for any antique & vintage store. Even the rarest and most precious items will stay available for years if a buyer is not fully convinced the purchased product will be delivered intact. Taking this into account, it would be good to review some of the most popular and dependable shipping services used for transporting antique and vintage collectibles.
Shipping services listed in this article can be divided into general and specialized options. As for general – you likely already know the world-leaders, such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL. They can deal with a wide range of cargo and are truly appreciated by their customers. However, they may not always be the best choice when it comes to shipping particularly fragile items. For those cases, it’s a good idea to turn to specialized shipping services.
Specialized shipping service providers offer particularly delicate treatment to the delivered items. It means that the customer gets a pack and shipping guarantee, and insurance based on the declared value. In addition, a customer can opt for special packaging, and choose from cushioning, corrugated boxes, wood crates, and many other special packaging options. The most known companies providing fragile shipping services are Craters and Freighters, uShip, and TSI. These companies claim their main customers are museums, which are undoubtedly interested in procuring safety for the items they ship and receive. Thus, opting for the companies listed above, you can be sure of white-glove delivery of any item, even the most delicate. However, you will have to be prepared to pay higher rates.
Best Antiques Stores and Auctions Review
Antique and vintage store development is a daunting task, and it requires you to approach it quite inspired. Let’s take a short look at some of the stores and auctions that are considered to be amongst the best in the antiques and vintage selling industry.
Founded in 2001, today 1stdibs is the most well-known and influential antique store online, hosting a wide range of goods of all types and kinds. Originally a resource for interior decorators to find exclusive pieces, within a short time 1stdibs turned into an antique marketplace, bringing together more than 2,000 international dealers who specialize in design, fine art, and collectibles. In 2014, 1stdibs’ gross merchandise volume was $1.1 billion, a 20% increase year-over-year.
1stdibs has a mobile app for IOS-platform users, enabling an easy transaction for their fans purchasing collectibles everywhere. Outside of the standard sorting functions such as “Name” or item type, 1stdibs allows users to sort by style (Art Deco, Rococo, Gothic, etc.) and project type (family home, beach house, apartment, etc.). It also has a blog that provides visitors with some inspiration and describes new trends in design.
This marketplace is considered to be the world’s largest for selling antique collectibles online. Famous and popular, Ruby Lane knows how to make money from antiques well, thus it often becomes a source of inspiration for industry beginners, to no surprise. Along with exquisite design layout and impressive functionality, Ruby Lane can also boast a wide range of collectibles available to purchase.
Concentrating exceptionally on antiques and vintage collectibles, Ruby Lane meticulously monitor every new item before placing them on their website. Customers can be fully confident that every item they purchase has passed a multi-level verification of authenticity. Additionally, customers can check the chosen items personally before making a purchase, by making an appointment with store representatives. Such an approach provides Ruby Lane with a strong reputation, trustworthiness and authority, which attracts customers!
As for auction sales – naturally, the most famous are Sotheby’s and Christie’s. These two giants have over 90% of the global market of antiques and collectibles auction sales. Both of them were established in the 18th century, and both have built a strong reputation offline before going online, where they continue to do their best. Check out their websites to see how flawless they are!
Finally, we’d like to recommend that you not overlook picking ideas on how to start an antique business online from the true professionals of the e-commerce sphere. You can find them by reading high-reputed e-commerce blogs, topics, and podcasts.
Antique Online Store Cost: What Does it Consist of?
An average e-commerce website has a complex structure and consists of many elements. In this section, we review the main elements affecting the cost to build an e-commerce website and estimate the costs involved in order to get a full view of the price. So, without further ado, how much does it cost to build an online antique store?
- E-commerce platform cost. Let’s consider Magento and Shopify, which are the most popular e-commerce solutions to date with over 31% of the global market share. Magento offers three options to choose from to run your e-commerce store. The lightest one charges from $190 per month. As for Shopify – it provides customers with four plans, and the lightest one charges $29 per month.
- Price for e-commerce hosting. The second step after choosing a platform is hosting selection. We recommend that you consider A2 Hosting, SiteGround, and HostGator – these options are the most popular ones to date. The monthly price starts at $11.95 and goes up to around $120.
- Price to develop e-commerce pages. The most common way to measure the cost of page development is by using an hourly estimation. A developer’s hourly rate varies from $50 per hour to $200. The time needed for custom product page development is on average 50 hours, homepage development is commonly estimated to run 10 hours, and category page development on average takes 36 hours. As for the checkout page – on average, its development takes up to 40 hours while optimizing an existing one takes around 20 hours.
- E-commerce website design post. Here everything depends on whether you prefer to use a ready-made theme or implement a fully-custom design, and the price difference between these two options can be dramatic. As for the themes – the prices for antique store website template start at $37 and go up to $179. You can also find free themes. However, they tend to look cheap – a bit outdated and out of style. A custom design development process takes from 10 to 500 hours to be completed, while the web designer’s hourly rate starts at $50.
- Payment processing rates and fees. To date, the most popular e-commerce payment solutions are PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe: together they own over 75.6% of overall market share. None of them have setup fees and they charge 2.9% + $0.30 for successful transactions.
- Price of SEO promotion. Typically when speaking about SEO, copywriting and link building are implied. As for copywriting, it will cost you from $50 to $500 per page, while link building services charge from $500 per month.
- E-commerce website maintenance cost. E-commerce maintenance pricing includes many components such as domain name (from $2 to $20 per year), SSL certificate (from $6 to $99 per year), regular upgrades and troubleshooting services. The last two services are mainly estimated on an hourly basis and an average hourly rate for tasks like this starts from $25. It would be a good idea to learn more details about Magento maintenance cost from some additional sources.
However, this brief guide can’t cover all the aspects of online shopping website development cost. Thus, in order to get a precise project estimate, we recommend that you learn the project estimation process in detail and then drop us a line with all the information regarding your project! (We’re keen to help!)
Antique and Vintage Store Themes
Magento and Shopify offer plenty of online antique store themes to develop an attractive and fully-fledged store for selling antiques and vintage items. Built according to the latest web-development best practices, they enable you to start a vintage shop online without a large budget. Let’s take a closer look at them below.
Antique Store Magento Theme
The layout of this theme is complemented by brownish retro colors with a white brick background that delivers a special charm to the web page. The slider and banner photos are intended to demonstrate luxury photos. An “Add to cart” button follows the visitor up and down the screen without being intrusive. This is very convenient because it helps customers make a purchase from any place on the website.
Antique Magento Theme
With its 100% responsive design and a wide assortment of advanced tools, you’ll be able to sell antiques online problem-free! The Antique Magento Theme enables you to redesign the template to make it fit perfectly to your project. Its compelling look along with a minimalist layout makes the content’s view clear and easy to read.
In addition to the themes listed above, you can consider some more narrowly-specialized themes to create the best online antique and vintage stores. There are themes targeted for the development of stores selling furniture (Magetique – Furniture, Furniture Responsive Magento Theme), jewelry (Jewelrix), pieces of art (Art Store Responsive Magento Theme, Mag2Antique), coins (Collectible coins) and countless others.
We develop optimized
To date, online store development is undeniably the best way to sell antique furniture and other collectibles. So, it makes sense to invest in this idea and enjoy your profit growth!
As you can see, opening an antique store is not a challenging task. Furthermore – it becomes even easier with qualified assistance. In case you are still hesitating or would like to learn more details on how to become an antique dealer online – just drop us a line! We’ll be happy to help you!
Want to know what celebrities think about antique and vintage items? Just look:
The best way to look stylish on a budget is to try second-hand, bargain hunting, and vintage.
Most of my wardrobe is vintage and I’ve worn dresses to the Oscars that I got for $10. At Sean Penn’s last Haiti gala I wore this vintage dress that I’d worn to a film premiere in 2005. I know that’s kind of a no-no in the fashion world, but why wear something just once if you love it?
I spent my first paycheck on a vintage Mercedes.