Tips for Antique Shop Proprietors when selling antique clocks (and other items)

As an avid antique shopper, I understand the thrill of finding a unique and valuable item, especially at a reasonable price. However, on my recent visit to a local antique shop, I found items priced far above their actual value, which was a disappointment.

I expect antique store prices to be slightly higher to cover overhead costs and ensure a decent profit margin, but in some cases, the prices can be unreasonably high. When I frequent an antique store and see the same items over and over should that not be a clear message to the seller that their prices are higher than they should be?

In this article, I would like to offer some tips for antique shop proprietors to help create a positive and profitable experience for all.

Tip 1 – do price aggressively

Antique shop proprietors face the challenge of balancing profitability with the need to maintain a diverse and appealing inventory. While it is tempting to hold on to high-value items and wait for the right buyer to come along, this approach can lead to stagnation in inventory and reduced sales volume.

To succeed in the antique business, proprietors should price their items aggressively to move inventory quickly. This approach ensures that the shop always has fresh, appealing items for customers to browse and purchase. A high volume of sales generates positive word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business.

Being knowledgeable about the values of items is crucial to pricing them accordingly. Proprietors should stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the antique market and be able to accurately assess the value of their inventory. This knowledge enables them to price items competitively while still making a reasonable profit.

Proprietors must strike a balance between pricing items aggressively and ensuring that they are not undervaluing their inventory.

Antique store find – Seth Thomas Adamantine C.1900

Tip 2 – price appropriately

Antique shop proprietors are not experts in every facet of the antique world but they should have a good understanding of the value and condition of the items they are selling in order to price them appropriately and provide accurate information to potential buyers.

In some cases, I have found that antique shop owners are not up-to-date with the current market prices of antique and vintage clocks which can lead to them overpricing their inventory and potentially losing out on sales.

Regularly educating themselves on the values of items they are selling ensures they are pricing their inventory competitively and staying relevant in the antique market.

Tip 3 – Is the customer always right?

Is the customer always right? Not always but listening to customers’ explanations for why they believe the price should be lower can lead to a successful negotiation and potentially repeat business. If customers appear knowledgeable about the item, proprietors should be prepared to give a little on the price. Proprietors that are steadfast on pricing may risk losing potential customers who are looking for a good deal or feel that they are being overcharged.

Inflexibility in pricing can also create a negative perception of the business and its customer service, leading to reduced customer loyalty and potentially negative reviews.

If I encounter pricing resistance while shopping, I may choose to discontinue my shopping.

Tip 4 – staging is key to the presentation

Presentation of merchandise is everything. Thoughtful placement and a well-curated display can make all the difference in attracting potential buyers.

Thoughtful placement can involve creating an attractive and visually pleasing display that highlights the unique features of each item by grouping similar items together making it easier for customers to find what they are looking for and can also help create a cohesive display.

Antique store find – Gilbert Admiral calendar clock C. 1900

Good lighting can make a big difference in how items are perceived by customers. Good lighting highlights the unique features of each item and creates an inviting atmosphere.

Creating a specific theme or style can help customers envision how items might look in their own homes.

Using height to advantage by placing items on shelves or pedestals at different heights. This can create visual interest and make it easier for customers to see everything that is available.

Lexington banjo clock CA. 1927
Antique store find – Lexington banjo clock C. 1927

While it can be tempting to try to cram as many items as possible into a small space, this can actually be overwhelming for customers. Make sure there is enough space between items so that customers can see everything clearly.

Keep things fresh by rotating your inventory regularly. This can help regular customers see new items and also create a sense of urgency for customers to purchase items they might not see again. Rotation will also encourage customers to return to your store.

Overall, thoughtful placement is about creating an environment that is visually appealing and easy for customers to navigate.

Tip 5 – stay up to date

Antique shop proprietors should not only keep themselves updated on the current market value of items but also be aware of any trends or changes in demand. This will help them adjust their pricing strategy accordingly to attract more customers and increase sales. It is also essential to have a good understanding of the condition of the items they sell, as this can significantly impact the value. For instance, a clock that is in pristine condition will be worth more than one that is damaged or has missing parts.

Antique store find – Seth Thomas column and cornice clock C.1875

Proprietors can also consider offering special deals or deep discounts to customers to attract more sales. This can include bundle deals, clearance sales, or discounts for frequent customers.

They can leverage the power of social media and online marketplaces to reach a broader audience and increase sales. By having a strong online presence, they can showcase their unique inventory and reach customers who may not have otherwise found their store.

Customers will ultimately vote with their feet

Customers know they can walk away from a price that is too high. There are many antique stores to choose from, and finding one that values its customers and its inventory is worth the search. Providing fair and reasonable prices can not only attract customers but also build a loyal customer base for an antique store.


By using these tips, antique store owners can create a shopping experience that is both enjoyable and profitable. With knowledge, negotiation skills, and thoughtful presentation, the world of antiques can be an exciting and rewarding one for proprietors and customers alike.


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