How to Become an Antique Dealer in the US

Antiques are collectable items that have become more valuable because of their age, rarity or beauty. If you want a piece of furniture that was used in the 19th century in your living room, or pieces of historical art in your office, then you may need to seek the services of an antique dealer.

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1. What Do Antique Dealers Do?

Their duties include:

  • Travelling to art exhibitions, auctions and other places to buy antiques, which they will later sell at a profit
  • Negotiating the prices of the antiques they want to buy
  • Aesthetically displaying the merchandise(antiques) in their shops or stores
  • Repairing damaged antiques (antique restorations) – this may involve washing or wiping them using specific chemicals
  • Monitoring the antique markets to know when items of great value are up for sale
  • Researching the true value of various collectable items
  • Advising customers on the uses of various antiques

2. Work Environment

Antique dealers have fairly regular schedules, as they have to open their shops between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, and partly on Saturday.

When these dealers are not attending to customers in their shops, they can be found at auctions searching for valuable items.

3. Salary

According to Simply Hired, antique dealers in the US earn an average annual income of $45,000.

4. Entry Requirements

Although there are no set educational requirements for becoming an antique dealer, pursuing a formal training course enhances your chances of excelling in the profession.

Ashford Institute of Antiques in Florida is one of the few schools that trains future antique dealers. AIA offers courses in antique appraising, care and restoration and educates students on how to run profitable antique dealing businesses.

You can also pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in fine arts to broaden your knowledge of art history.

5. Important Qualities

To be a successful antique dealer, you need:

  • Excellent business skills
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Strong sales skills
  • A keen eye for valuable items
  • Good quick-thinking and decision-making skills
  • Good observation skills
  • The ability to persuade
  • A good understanding of the antique market
  • Good communication skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Skills in stock management
  • Marketing skills
  • A passion for art

6. Career Development

Early in your career, you will certainly begin by working at an established antique dealership as a sales assistant. With enough occupational experience, industry knowledge and sufficient capital, you can establish your own dealership.

Like many entrepreneurs, antique dealers need to obtain a license to run a dealership in their state. So you need to visit your state’s licensing board and determine its licensing requirements.

Although requirements for licensing vary from state to state, you will generally need to provide information about the locations of your shop, tax ID number, and the owner(s) of the business.

Finally, be sure to register your business with professional associations such as the National Antiques and Art Dealers Association of America and the Antiques Dealers Association of America. These associations have vast collections of antiques and organize regular events where you can familiarize yourself with various collectibles and meet with potential buyers and sellers.

7. Industry Outlook

According to the Association of Resale Professionals, the resale industry is thriving, as more consumers are becoming value-conscious. Today, it is common to find several antique shops located next to each other, meaning there are plenty of potential customers.

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So if you are interested in becoming an antique dealer, there is a good chance you will run a profitable dealership.

Success Tip: Online antique auctions are becoming increasingly popular, so ensure you have a website for your dealership.