Updated: Sep 14
Have you recently stumbled upon a gorgeous piece of vintage furniture? Have you ever dreamed of making antiquing your hobby and wondered how you'd sell your stock? From important definitions to commonly asked questions, and much, much more, we'll dive into the vast world of vintage furniture and help you learn how to become an antique dealer.
Learn the different ways to determine the age and value of your piece, and get ready to understand the types of furniture people are obsessed with buying right now (hint: it’s mid-century modern furniture!). Join us to learn the ins and outs of vintage furniture and what it takes to sell it. Welcome to our complete guide to selling antique furniture like a pro.
What is Antique Furniture?
Understanding what qualifies as antique furniture is the first step to selling like a pro. When you're scouring estate sales, antique malls, or local flea markets, furniture can be defined in a few ways. Look for something that you could sit on or an item that provides storage. Antique furniture also includes items that hold things off the ground, like a table.
Antique furniture, something older than mid-century modern furniture, can have exceptional value depending on its age and condition. From collectors to people shopping for their home décor, there's something unique and exciting about finding furniture from a different decade. When you're gathering pieces to sell, look for those in excellent condition with unique, sought-after designs.
Vintage Furniture vs. Antique Furniture
When you're collecting furniture to sell, it's important to note the difference between vintage and antique. Simply put, antiques are items more than 100 years old, whereas vintage items are a tad younger, with a minimum of 20-30 years of age. Both can be extremely valuable and luxurious and elevate any home they are brought into. For instance, mid-century modern furniture is vintage, whereas Victorian pieces are antique.
When deciding on pieces you want to sell, you can choose to focus on antique furniture, vintage furniture, or have a mix of the two and cover your bases. There’s a buyer for every style and decade!
Why Do People Buy Antiques?
When learning how to sell your newfound vintage furniture, it’s crucial to understand what type of person buys antiques and why. Shopping resale and vintage furniture is all the rage these days, and whether these buyers are falling in love with the timeless quality of the vintage furniture, are after unique pieces for their home décor, or enjoy the rich history of antiques, there are countless reasons. Some people are avid collectors of specific eras, like mid-century modern furniture, and will hunt those down!
Some people buy antique furniture rather than cheaply made modern furniture in the act of sustainability. Whether they are using the piece as is or upcycling furniture, this gives the furniture a second life and helps our planet. Shopping vintage is perfect for those who understand the speed of consumption in our world today. Instead of cookie-cutter shopping styles from cheap, unethical businesses, they can look towards the past and reuse priceless furniture pieces. Shopping for antique furniture is a sustainable and unique way to decorate a home!
Becoming a collector and vendor at antique malls with your products is a great way to rescue and rehome vintage furniture. Not only will you become a trusted member of the vintage furniture community, but your efforts will breathe a second life into pieces and keep them out of landfills. Understanding these reasons for buying vintage will be vital to finding your clients when selling antique furniture.
7 Benefits of Buying Antique Furniture
Use these points when talking up your products at your antique booth or on your online catalog to make even more sales. These are benefits for everyone, from dedicated collectors of mid-century modern furniture to new buyers wandering around the store:
Find one-of-a-kind furniture
Know the quality is made to last, as it already has
Own a piece of history
Find inspiration in past eras of home décor
Find trendy mid-century modern furniture
Antiquing can be your new hobby
Why is Mid-Century Modern Furniture Popular?
When you're searching for vintage furniture to stock up on, don't forget mid-century modern furniture styles! Right now, mid-century modern furniture and design are all the rage, and your clientele will love any authentic pieces you find. Mid-century modern refers to the style of furniture, clothing, and design that began in the 1940s and lasted through the 1970s. These mid-century modern furniture styles boomed in the post-World War II era and have continued to be timeless pieces in every home.
Mid-century modern furniture has made a comeback in our trends, and rather than buying new items with lower quality, lovers of this era will seek out vintage furniture pieces. Millennials are now buying and decorating their own houses, and a wave of nostalgia for the way their parents or grandparents decorated means that mid-century modern furniture is all the rage again.
When hunting for these popular mid-century modern furniture pieces, look for minimalist, clean lines and curves and mixed industrial materials. Most pieces will have muted, earthy colors with a bright accent color. Think of the gorgeous furniture of “Mad Men” and other mid-century era shows, and you'll soon understand why everyone is obsessed with getting their hands on mid-century modern furniture.
The 5 Steps of Selling Antique Furniture
Now that you have some basic knowledge covered, it's time to take tangible steps toward selling your antique furniture.
1. Identify the age of the vintage furniture
2. Check for furniture marks
3. Decide on pricing
4. Take high-quality photos
5. Find your selling method
1. Identify Your Antique Furniture's Age
When stocking up on the antique furniture you would like to sell, it's important to note the distinct different eras and styles throughout history. An antique desk from the 18th century could look vastly different from one from the 19th. Understanding the different eras, like the currently popular mid-century modern furniture, will give you help you determine the age of antique furniture and give you a starting idea of value.
There are countless resources for learning how to identify different eras on your vintage furniture. Different centuries' styles are defined by the makings of different hardware features and types of décor styles from the century. You must look past its initial style and design and look further into the way it was made to identify the exact age. For instance, mid-century modern furniture has clean lines and gentle curves made from solid wood and may have a pop of accent color.
Furniture Elements Used to Determine Age
Though it's not an end-all-be-all list, start here when researching which era your piece could be from. Investigate the different details, and you'll be ready to determine its value:
2. How to Check for Furniture Marks
You can't find a vintage furniture piece and assign it value without looking for furniture marks. Furniture marks, also known as a "maker's mark," are typically stamps, tags, and labels created to confirm the creator, authenticity, and value of a piece. Each authentic label should have the initials of the makers, whether it's handcrafted or created by a manufacturer, and some will even have the year or city they were made! Any time period should have an indicator, whether that’s mid-century modern furniture or something even older.
You could be lucky and find it quickly or find the shadow of a label that was peeled off long ago. Check the undersides and insides of drawers in desks and dressers or underneath chairs and other seating furniture. Determining who the furniture maker is on antique furniture is the key to selling vintage furniture with ease. After you discover the furniture mark, do your research in local libraries, online guides, historical societies, and old furniture catalogs to understand your wares.
3. Determining Pricing for Antique Furniture
There are a few ways to go about pricing your prized vintage furniture. There are antique furniture lookup tools and price guides available. You could also browse other antique markets and websites like eBay to understand how similar pieces were priced. But the tried-and-true method is getting a professional to help you with your furniture appraisal! Put your mid-century modern furniture and other eras into the right hands and find fair pricing with the pros.
To make pricing more accessible, list everything you know about the piece, such as the information from the maker's mark to style elements, materials, and more. Bring this information to an appraiser or investigate with those online resources and find a price for yourself! Vintage, beautifully crafted pieces are almost sure to get valuable pricing. Remember, your buyers want stunning antique furniture filled with history that will last for years to come.
4. Take High-Quality Photos of Your Vintage Furniture
Taking pictures is one cog in the machine of selling antiques—but don't fret, it's simple! Whether you're selling it online or sending the pictures off for appraisal, every detail must be shown and clear to get the best price. How is that mid-century modern furniture fanatic going to know they'll love your piece without seeing pictures of it? Having photos of every piece will be an excellent record of what you have and what you can sell!
The best place to take photos as gorgeous as your vintage furniture is anywhere with natural light. Snap pictures from every angle, front, back, side, top, and bottom, as well as any little design features, such as engravings and handles. Remember to take photos of the furniture mark and any other identifying pieces. If there's any damage, don't try to hide it! Take a photo of that, so your buyers know you are a trusted and honest seller.
Hot tip: keep your photos for each piece in a file with its description, maker’s mark information, and appraisal for easy selling online and in person.
5. Choose a Selling Method for Your Vintage Furniture
Now that you fully understand the age and value of your vintage furniture, it's time to decide on your selling method! There are many options for selling vintage furniture, from creating a website, using vintage sites, attending auctions, or setting up a booth at a local antique mall. We recommend finding local places to sell so you can set up shop and join a tight-knit and supportive community of buyers and sellers.
We at America's Antique Mall make selling easy! We are dedicated to supporting our vendors with full retail help, a clean and secure store, and even access to an easy online inventory system. Your vintage furniture stock will be welcomed by customers who come from near and far to visit. With complete control of your vendor booth, you can create your mini store and make it your own. Selling your vintage furniture in person at one of our locations is a direct, simple, and fantastic way to sell like a pro.
5 Benefits of Selling at Antique Malls
Our top five benefits include:
Gain a connection to vendors around you
Create a community with customers
Have full control of your booth
Attend events at the store
Obtain easy access to our online inventory system
How to Set Up Your Antique Mall Booth
The way you set up your vintage furniture booth at an antique mall will say a lot about you and your business. You can dare to make unique design choices to stand out and can get creative with every element in your booth. Perhaps you make walls out of antique doors or display your favorite patterned vintage curtains. Think of your booth as your little slice of vintage heaven and turn your interior designer on.
Make sure to have a clear price tag on every item, as well as a concise and organized way to keep track of your sales! Keep an inventory list and pictures of every item handy for potential buyers and collectors to browse. Most importantly, keep those "SOLD" signs for when you inevitably make your sales!
Turning your love of antique furniture into a business may seem daunting at first, but with easy steps to follow, it's simple! From hunting down valuable mid-century modern furniture to searching for important maker's marks, this complete guide has everything you need to know to get yourself started. Join this community of passionate vendors and become a pro at selling vintage furniture today. We hope to work with you soon at America's Antique Mall!