During my career, I have held positions as a museum director and curator, university professor and certified appraiser and authenticator. Today, I share
my appraisal expertise with television audiences worldwide, but my favorite task is to share my tips about shopping for the old and the outstanding with readers
of my internationally syndicated column.
In the art and antiques marketplace, there are a few tips to remember no matter if you are shopping at the high-end antiques shops or at the low-end flea
markets. Good deals are available if you do your homework and know your stuff.
Ask for It
When shopping for a work of art, antique, or collectible, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. You should always ask if the asking price is the dealer’s “best price”. People will tell me that they think asking for a discount will
insult the dealer. Don’t worry about insulting a dealer or any other seller. Many expect to bargain with informed shoppers. Be polite —you may just get a great deal.
Never let them see you swoon
Don’t admit to any seller that you “just love the piece” — even if you do love it. You will never get a good bargain if you let the seller know that you love it or that you are emotionally attached to it. Never tell a seller that you
just have to have it. Once you show such emotion about an antique, work of art, collectible, or vintage object that’s for sale, your negotiating power is gone.
When in Rome ...
When shopping for art, antiques, or collectibles, buy like a local. Even in one an antiquing stronghold, you want to know what to buy and what it should cost.
Locals know what to buy and where to find the best deals. So, as an out of town buyer, it is best if you don’t reveal that you are from out of town. Don’t admit that you are on a business trip or on vacation. Don’t offer the
information that you may be the type of ‘one time only’ client who is probably never to be heard from again if something goes wrong with the sale that an
unscrupulous dealer is looking to hoodwink. Also, informing a seller that you are in town on vacation suggests that you may be willing to spend more than you
would on a work of art or antique if you were shopping for the same piece at home.
Most people realize that many antique dealerships are in vacation spots. Perhaps the reason for this location selection is that sellers know that most
vacationers will spend more money on a piece of art or antique if purchased while on vacation as a souvenir.
If you are tempted to buy on vacation, ask yourself, “would I spend this much on this art or antique if I were buying it from a shop at home?” and “is the
piece as good an antique or work of art as one I might find at home for less money?” Smart art and antiques collectors know that prices are higher in vacation spots or resort areas.