When buying antique furniture online, there are many aspects of the research and buying process to take into account. We’ve decided to put together a list of the 5 most important things to look for when buying your furniture from an online dealer.
- Primarily, the quality of the furniture. Depending on how serious you are about this, you may want to do some research (i.e. the difference between solid wood and veneers, how significant dovetails are, different types of finishes and wood types, different furniture traditions like American vs. English). If you could find a retailer who gets their supply from the U.S. or England, I would recommend doing that.
- The quality of the website. If it is an out-dated or poorly designed site, then chances are, the business isn’t very serious about selling online. They probably don’t have an updated online inventory and in all likelihood lack property security measures in the code that runs their site.
- The quality of the photos. If they’re beautiful and plentiful, you can probably ask the retailer to take more pictures for you, which can be very helpful when you’re trying to make the right decision.
- The responsiveness of the dealer. If they’re polite and have good etiquette and passable grammar, chances are they’re a professional who knows what they’re doing. Ask them plenty of questions about the piece(s) that you are interested in. If applicable, ask about the wood type, the finish, the manufacturing process, the period (Victorian, Georgian, etc.), the origin (England, China, etc.), and anything else you can think of. The more you know about furniture, the more productive these questions will be, because you may be able to catch a dishonest or ignorant dealer before they get your money. However, I would add that most serious dealers are for the most part honest about their product, because it is difficult to run a successful business by treating your customers badly.
- Their online reputation. If you found the website at the top of a search engine results page, then they have probably devoted an incredible amount of time and resources to getting there, which means they are serious. Also, check if the dealer is on Ebay, Amazon, GoAntiques, or any other furniture outlet. Sometimes you can even get a better price this way. You may even want to see if they have a Facebook or Twitter account, just to see how involved they are in the business. Taking that extra step towards social media can mean the difference between a lazy dealer and a zealous merchant who is dedicated to their business.