This is a question that we get fairly often. Selling antique furniture online can be a very simple process, provided that you know what you’re doing and you have the resources to do it. If not, then what is often a pleasant learning experience can turn into a frustrating push to dump unwanted furniture. To help, we’ve put together a few useful tips that should help avoid this problem.
Know the value of your piece. Luckily, we’ve already written an article on just this subject: How to Determine the Value of Your Antique Furniture.
Be patient. We have 15,000 square feet and it’s absolutely full of furniture: we can afford to wait if it means getting a fair price on our antiques. Individuals, however, usually don’t have the luxury of constantly moving furniture in and out, so it can sometimes feel like an eternity. Depending on the uniqueness, beauty, and price of your piece, it could take several months to sell it…which brings me to my next point.
Value and price are never the same thing. For one thing, value is relative: before the recent market crash, antiques were selling at slightly higher prices than they do now, because people expect a deal when times are tough. So even if you do all of the right things and get your antique(s) appraised, you probably won’t sell them at the maximum possible value. This is why market research is so important to the selling process: if your piece is just a few hundred dollars lower than the average, you are substantially increasing your odds of selling the piece in a reasonable period of time. But since you determine what is “reasonable,” that means striking a balance between how long you want to wait and how much money you want for your piece.
Take great pictures and write a great description. In our experience, pictures make a huge impact on whether someone decides to buy or not—especially over the Internet, where a picture is often the only thing the customer has to go on. Likewise, a detailed description of the piece—including, if applicable, history, wear, special features, etc.—can go a long way towards telling the customer that you care about the sale and you know what you’re talking about. This is another reason why research is so important, and it’s also another of countless examples of the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.”
Diversify! This is a lot like saying, “Location, location, location.” List your piece in as many places as possible: Ebay, Craigslist, GoAntiques, whatever it takes. Of course, dealers have a much wider range of venues to sell their furniture, but that shouldn’t keep you from occupying enough marketplaces to make the sale happen. Many of these venues and platforms require listing fees, so this is another example of balance: if you expect to get a lot of money for your antique(s), then you might not mind at all whether you’re paying $10/month to maintain your listings. If your piece is cheap, though, you may want to consider minimizing where possible so that you don’t wind up selling at a loss.
Think about shipping: this is always a big plus, as it opens up new markets. You may not be able to ship yourself, but you can always call blanket wrap delivery companies—which, although expensive, still provide essential services. Ever see a gorgeous antique on Ebay that sells for $150 and doesn’t have shipping? That’s why. Again, this is one of those issues of balance, but on average, you will fetch a higher price for your piece if you can make it available to the most people possible.
Enjoy yourself! Selling furniture is definitely a learning process, but the world of antiques—especially online—is constantly evolving and there is always more to do and more to sell. Good luck out there!