Marketing Careers

Antiques and Art Dealers

Antiques and Art DealersAntiques and art dealers make a living acquiring, displaying, and selling antiques and art. By strict definition, antiques are often defined as items more than 100 years old. However, over the last two decades, the term “antique” has been applied to furniture, jewelry, clothing, art, household goods, and many other collectibles, dating back to as recently as the 1970s. People collect a wide array of items, from traditional paintings and sculptures to unique period toys and cigar boxes. Many antiques and art dealers are self-employed and go into business after discovering an interest in collecting pieces themselves. The Antiques and Collectibles Dealer Association estimates there are approximately 200,000 to 250,000 antique dealers in the United States, based in antique shops, antique malls, and on the Internet.

Antiques and Art Dealers Job Description

For Sandra Naujokas, proprietor of Favorite Things Antique Shop, in Orland Park, Illinois, the antiques business is never boring. More than 25 years ago, she started a collection of English-style china, and she’s been hooked on antiques and collecting ever since. Naujokas spends her workday greeting customers and answering any questions they may have. When business slows down, she cleans the store and prices inventory. Sometimes people will bring in items for resale. It’s up to Naujokas to carefully inspect each piece and settle on a price. She relies on pricing manuals such as Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price List and Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide, which give guidelines and a suggested price on a wide range of items.

Naujokas also goes on a number of shopping expeditions a year to restock her store. Besides rummage sales and auctions, she relies on buying trips to different parts of the country and abroad to find regional items. At times, she is invited to a person’s home to view items for sale. “It’s important to be open to all possibilities,” Naujokas says.

She also participates in several shows a year, in order to reach customers that normally would not travel to the store’s location. “You need to do a variety of things to advertise your wares,” Naujokas advises.

She also promotes her business by advertising in her town’s travel brochure, the local newspapers, and by direct mail campaigns. Her schedule is grueling, as the store is open seven days a week, but Naujokas enjoys the work and the challenge of being an antique dealer. Besides the social aspect—interacting with all sorts of people and situations—Naujokas loves having the first choice of items for her personal collections. Her advice for people interested in having their own antique store? “You have to really like the items you intend to sell.”

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