May 2017


Operating is Risky Business Without Insurance

In my July 26, 2012, Behind the Gavel column, I related a story about the Mountaintop Antique Mall in Hillsville, Virginia. This popular mall near Interstate Route 77 is one of my favorite places to visit when I go antiquing near Hillsville. Last month, intending to visit Mountaintop, I drove right past the mall entrance. […]

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estate sale

The Need for Estate Sale Operator Licensing

The headline of the consumer complaint post was brash: “They literally stole our whole house: they sold $42,527 worth of items and gave us a check for $1,682.” The details of this homeowners’ plight were tragic: he had been “ripped off” by an estate sale company. According to the story on (specific company/client has […]

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capture attention

Capture Attention Merchandising with Sight, Sound, and Smell

The classic sales formula is AIDA: capture Attention, pique their Interest, stoke Desire, and convince them to Act (buy). Selling has never been that simple, but as a process the formula offers good advice.  Marketing is part of the sales process: it’s what connects us to prospects and turns them into customers. I’m happy to […]

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antique books

Books the Antiques Experts Use

I recently read a comment on an antiques forum that referenced a 2009 blog post titled “Being An Antiques & Collectibles Dealer Isn’t Rocket Surgery, But…”. The post was by Deanna Dahlsad, and is found on the Collector’s Quest blog. Mixed metaphors aside, Ms. Dahlsad shares the point that like both rocket science and brain […]

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Hillsville va flea market

Flea Markets: The Times They Are a-Changin’

“Where are all the antique dealers?” I wondered as I wandered through the roughly one-square-mile of dealer booths at the annual Hillsville (Virginia) Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show. The show, in its 47th year, has morphed over the decades from a local VFW-sponsored gun show and flea market to a national event that […]

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Why WalMart Is Good For Your Antiques Business

One of my favorite quotes (erroneously attributed to Mark Twain) is “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Statistics are a business writer’s favorite device. I use them often to support my conclusions. Statistics help me make connections between what seem to be unrelated issues and draw parallels to the antiques […]

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slow sign

When Auctions Move Slowly, It’s Good for Buyers

I had a wonderful experience last weekend: I attended an old-fashioned onsite country estate auction. This auction was “way back up in the hills,” so there were no cell phone signals or WiFi connections available. Consequently, no credit or debit cards could be accepted: Cash or check only. Everything was sold absolute to the highest […]

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Avoid Accounting Workarounds: Use the Right Software

Work-arounds: We’ve all used them. Sometimes, we use them for so long that they become our normal way of doing business. Eventually, the cost of a workaround — in time, money and aggravation — becomes so high that we consider changing the way we do things. A few months ago I spoke with a dealer […]

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pinterest logo

Pinning Down Pinterest Marketing Basics

As a small businessman, I’m very conservative (read: cheap) with my resources. I’m tight with my money and even tighter with my time, because I don’t have an excess of either to squander. Consequently, I’m very reluctant to jump onto the latest bandwagon because I’ve found that too often those wagons don’t go anywhere. Remember […]

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turn antique mall browsers into buyers

How To Turn Antique Mall Browsers into Buyers

A friend who is an antique dealer says he likes to visit antique malls so that he can see how much other dealers are getting for their wares. I pointed out that what he was actually seeing was the prices that dealers weren’t getting, since all the items he would view were unsold. “Yeah,” he […]

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