To paraphrase Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, as far back as Salvage Hunters’ Drew Pritchard can remember he’s wanted to be an antique dealer.
As boy, he recalls breaking into local scrapyards in search of modern day treasure, sometimes to keep other times to sell on at a profit and still has fond memories of the small wood near his home where people would often dump cars, leaving Drew and his friends to go fishing for parts.
From there, it didn’t take long for him to settle on a chosen career path.
“I think I decided I wanted to be an antique dealer when I was about 11,” he tells loaded. “From then on I just read every book on the subject I could get my hands on.”
In the years since, he’s seen the market flourish, helped in no small part by shows like Salvage Hunters, which celebrate the very essence of what makes antique dealing a fun hobby to some and big business to others.
Best of all, for Drew and any aspiring dealers out there, there are still plenty of bargains to be had and money to be made.
“The joy of the antique market is that it has thousands of splinter groups and my area of interest is just one little offshoot,” he explained. “We’re not all selling the same thing to the same people. It’s a constant flow of mix of people and objects.”
That doesn’t mean there are not some universal steps any and all budding antique dealers should follow if they want to land the best stuff on the market – here are Drew Pritchard’s 11 tips for success.
Buy what you like
“This is a mantra I bang on about time and time again but it’s critically important, because your eye is totally different to everybody else’s and we all like different things. Buy exactly what you like. That feeling where you see something and you have to have it? That should relate to everything you buy.”
Get to know your local dealers
“You’ll meet plenty of dealers but If you find you like one particular dealer’s stuff, get to know him. Chat to him. Join the online communities and build relationships. What will happen is that occasionally those dealers might then come across something they think is ideal for you and might get in touch.”
Don’t waste a dealer’s time at a fair
“It’s time consuming and expensive for dealers to get to an antique fair. So if you are going to stand there and just chat to them, don’t bother. It’s a cardinal sin. If you’re interested, talk to him, get information, find out the best price. Unless you are at that stage, don’t bother them.”
Don’t make daft offers
“If the dealer is asking a certain price like £200, don’t offer him £50. You will get their back up. They have a margin they can work in. As a private buyer you might get a 10% discount if he likes you.”
“You get so many people coming up saying things are too expensive and making derisory offers. You’ll either annoy them or they will just take the item off the sale. That happens a lot. People trying to be smart arses. Friendliness and a genuine like of something will get you a lot further.”
Getting the best discount
“If you want to get the maximum discount on an item offer to pay for it now and take it away. Because what you will be doing is solving two of the biggest issues in the antiques business: cash flow and delivery. If you are able to remove stuff, they will love you for that because you because arranging deliver costs time and money. That’s how to get the best price.”
Cold hard money talks
“If you go to a shop or fair take cash. Not because anyone is dodgy but if you are going to buy something off a dealer from a fair, he doesn’t know you from Adam. Take some cash and ask for a receipt. You’ll get a lot further down the line by paying cash.”
Fairs are the best places to buy
“Ardingly, Kempton, Newark, Swinderby, Lincoln, Bath, Battersea – these are the best places to buy from because dealers save their best and newest stock for these fairs.”
If you are going to go to a fair be ready for it
“If it opens at 5am, I am there at 4am. Don’t be a tourist. Get there when the dealers get there. Get in when the dealers get there. Move around and don’t hang about. If a fair opens at 5am, I have been everywhere, bought stuff packed up and left by 9am. Then you see the tourists get there. If you are going to buy stuff, act like a dealer. Take money, take a torch and know what you are after.”
The golden rule for furniture purchases
“If you want a chest of draws or something of your house. Measure the space, write it down and take a tape measure with you. It saves hours on stuff being returned and the dealer’s time. Even the biggest dealers may have only one or two people working for them. Time is critical.”
Always get a receipt
“Not some simple job either but a broken down receipt detailing the item and it’s condition. It needs to be that broken down in case there is any recourse in the future. A good dealer will put all of that down for you. A lot of it is about insurance. If you buy something for a couple of grand, you want to make sure that you are covered on stuff like house insurance. Keep the receipt. Solves a lot of problems. There’s no buyer’s remorse. It should always have the date, material and the name. If you have those three things you are covered.”
“Where possible, try to go and look at auction items Don’t just rely on the pictures online. You need to be super experienced to see if something has been stripped or over-painted or had a leg changed or is a copy. If at all possible, pick it up, handle it, talk to the auctioneers but don’t look too obvious.”
“Failing that, you can always ring up the auctioneer and ask for a condition report and more photographs and they will do that for nothing. A lot of big auction houses won’t do it for items under a certain price but it can save you a lot of time and driving.”
Salvage Hunters starts on Wednesday 18th January at 9pm on Quest, Freeview Channel 37, YouView 37, Sky 144, Virgin 172.