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Ok, the time may finally be coming after 39 years to minimize our antiques business(for the same reason affecting all of us worldwide-the downturn in the trade).  We have perhaps 8000-10000 item/lots and will keep a 3000-4000' selection of them in a personal warehouse to store and wholesale from v. our big retail operation. We already downsized once and moved 7 semis worth of inventory from one state to our new home in FL last year(whew).


Anyway, the question posed is: what/where would you advise is the best way fro a fast-ish (2-4 month) sell off of mainly French furniture, 100's of lighting fixtures and seemingly endless smalls these days? I find that most online venues are slow & tedious, yet public auction (which we had  at the old shop) returns <10% on the retail(and very fairly priced)$. Now I understand why it's largest organisms (dinosaurs, sabre tooth tigers) that are the first to die off in bad times and the roaches are the survivors...!

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And it just occurred to me that this advice is quite universal and may help others.  I'm not the only one doing this. In our former town in NY last year, we we're one of the oldest shops there and saw 2 dozen open up there after us. There may be 3-4 left in the last 5 years. This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon as well since most of my smaller sources in France have shuttered also.
I will start crossing that Down Sizing Bridge, in 2013. I wish I new the best way to cross that river and not get too wet.  I will be watching this discussion closely.

I think you are right about using auctions to be able to liquidate quickly. It can take a long time for some things to sell. Right now I am looking into a local auction house that will be selling over the net this fall. I know you can draw more interest and get higher prices for your merchandise if the auction isn't just live but also an on line auction that can reach the world. You might try looking into a place close by you that have some upcoming auctions such as that. Just a thought. :)


PS- love your humor


Thanks for the good wishes. The mind's been boggling with thought of a 10000 item collection-we're jam packed into about 9000'. I may have to use several auction houses. I'm looking for a a home with a huge out building to save what I know will be irreplaceable and  will have to keep. It's like selling old GM stock for .10c when you paid $39/share.


Anyone know if you need an auctioneers license/bonding to conduct your own auction of only your own items?

Thanks for that. Of course FL has a regulatory board for everything imaginable. 


My question to them will be-can a private citizen auction off their own property as a one time affair ala ebay or any online auction offering? No bonding would be needed as the property is titled to the seller. Can the board make a rule making it illegal to auction your own personal goods?

There are a lot of sellers from Fl. that sell on Ebay. I don't' think the same rules apply to on line auctions as it does if you were to hold an auction in Florida. Think your safe. :)

Good advice and I did that last year in my former shop and not in their gallery which was a BIG mistake. We took in less than 10% on very fair(not my opinion, my client's) retail prices.

That's why I want the control myself, and I DID attend auction school in the 70 so maybe it's time for a little payback...!


I went through the same thing in Feb. 2010, ugh, I started with an on site auction. I pulled out everything that I did not want to sell for pennies on the dollar and found an auctioneer to come out to the shop. That went pretty well. The items that did not sell we took to a local auction company and they got rid of the rest of it. I came out ahead on the 2 auctions and the burden was off my shoulders.

I am down to about 300 boxes, all the furniture is gone. Some of what I have will go to my online shop (which is undergoing a major renovation) and the rest is going to an antique shop on consignment.

I still have a lot of work ahead of me but feel the worst is over.

Craigslist is a good place to sell furniture or if you are willing to sell at dealer price make some flyers and take them around to all the antique shops in your area.

Good luck.

If you are the owner of your personal property you have a right to sell it, give it, bequeath it, mortgage it or auction it and the State of Florida can't do squat. This applies to your own personal property.  Inventory in your store, if an individual proprietorship, is considered to be personal property.

This is general law; to be sure you should check your own state's laws.

If you plan to become a professional auctioneer, then you must jump through the hoops.

Another way to sell all your inventory is to sell the store with inventory included. You would be advised to use an attorney to draw up the contract.  You could take a substantial amount down, say 25%, and carry the balance at around 7% interest, over a period of time.  Since there is no collateral I would suggest taking a second deed of trust on the buyer's home.

Discounting your inventory and selling to the trade is another method.  My understanding on discounting is to take the market value and divide by 4.  This allows the buyer to sell it at half price and still double his money.

What is your peace of mind worth?

Good reply Tom, thanks. FL law coincides with your info also. It's a corp so that settles the shops inventory. I have a certificate in auctioneering but never used the skills-may be time for a payoff.


Not too sure how marketable an antique shop is these days, particularly an old one  like ours but in a new venue. No one was interested while in NY for 38 years and most of the 15 shops there in our town of about 200000 are gone now or doing mid century modern nonsense.

The wholesale route sounds the best and the formula sounds about right though I was hoping maybe 30-33%. we have about 35-55% into most things but are priced the lowest from what I see at online competitors nationwide so maybe 1/3 would be more in line with everyone else's 1/4. You always dream about the selling out day but never cope with the nightmare of the logistics of it-must be 10000 items and maybe 6-7000 lots....

An Officer of the corporation can sell property held by the corporation. A Resolution by the Board of Directors will allow same.


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