The world of antiques can be a fun and rewarding one to enter. If you are considering a career in dealing antiques, there are many types of people you will encounter and each of them have a different role to play. If you do not know much about antiques, here is an over view of the groups that antiquing is divided into.
Traders: A trader is someone who does not have their own shop, but takes part in an indoor market that is open year round. Traders can also be those who sell their antiques at flea markets. So, there can be a big difference in this type of clientele. With all of them, be prepared to document the pieces that you are selling to them. Same thing if you are purchasing your pieces – make sure you get a paper trail on the piece to protect yourself and your end customer.
Collectors: Serious collectors know their antique niche inside and out. They are usually seeking specific pieces in a specific condition. These collectors also have a set spending limit. Most collectors do not have shops, as they are primarily keeping the items for themselves, although you may run into another dealer who is creating a complete collection to sell. To work with a collector, you need to have very well versed in whatever type of item they are looking for. Collectors can be a very picky bunch.
Runners: Runners are those people who buy antiques for dealers. They are called runners because that is what they do; they are constantly on the road looking for pieces at great prices. The runner has a set price the dealer will pay for a piece and they try to get it for less than that and pocket the difference. This give the dealer the advantage of not having to go look for items and the runner makes a fairly quick profit on the turnaround.
Exhibitors: Exhibitors are usually those that have a shop, but are open limited hours. Or they run shows for a brief period of time, say one week, at a large venue. These exhibitors have a very high quality of stock, so the shows need to be sporadic as it takes time to find that many quality pieces. With a large venue and exhibitor may invite other exhibitors to create an antiques market. Usually they will be in a non competitive niche.
Restoration houses: While not involved in the actual buying and selling, restorers are critical to the antiques industry. These are the people that bring an old piece back to life without diminishing its value. Restoring antiques is not an easy process and knowing what to change and what to leave to keep a piece's value high is what makes restorers so valuable.
For your career in antiques, you could be dealing with any of these types of people, or you could become one of these yourself! You could start off by being a runner and then graduating to being a market trader or exhibitor. There are many avenues in the antiques trade to explore!