Sunday, September 28, 2008

Is a Shakeout Imminent in the Antique & Fine Art Industry

In several of my previous blogs, and in my book 31 Steps to Your Millions in Antiques & Collectibles, I’ve commented that the marketplace will always adopt to the conditions its presented. Right now, in the Antiques and Fine Art Markets, we’re presented with various venues along with their associated fees that, today, have risen to unheard of levels. For example, today you find Auction houses collecting close to 50% of an item’s value in commissions and fees. They collect this amount by “double dipping” – collecting, what I consider, out-of-line- fees from the seller, and then charging the buyer a fee for the privilege of buying. I don’t know about this, but I have to ask myself this: When did auction houses become part owner of your inventory or your personal belongings? Last time I checked, my real estate agent was collecting 6% or less from the seller, and the buyer certainly didn’t have to pay a buyer’s fee for the privilege of buying.

This is just one example of what’s happened within industry, but the point is this: There is only so much people will take before they “revolt.” Lately, I am beginning to see the marketplace adapt to the conditions its been presented with lately, and people are beginning to rumble.

Business who have thrived on eBay in the past, are heading for the exit doors today, finding alternative sales formats due to eBay’s escalating fees. It can’t be too far down the road that people will revolt against the fees charged at auction houses, as well. I believe a shakeup is imminent, and ideas that have been germinating are now just sprouting.

31 Club and its programs for our industry is part of this shakeout and is sprouting a new venues, where both seller and buyer will benefit by lower fees and no buyers premium. A company who makes money on the back end after having provided a service, rather than on the front end.

There is no question in my mind that the Antique and Fine Art markets are going to have a shakeout, however the bigger question is this: What form will replace the existing way of doing business? I believe it will be a model similar to what we are creating at 31 Club, and a place where you can do the majority of your business on one site. 31 Club is a company you can partner up with and one that has been formed to assure your success before thinking about themselves. For these reasons and many more, I believe that the formation of the 31 Club is a glimpse into the future of this industry.

I believe companies like Blackwells Live Auction and Antique Associates at West Townsend, Inc. are companies whose pages you might want to explore, among others. If you become aware of companies who are shaking off the unreasonable ways, or you might be one of these companies yourselves, please send us an email and let us know. We’ll be writing about this approaching shakeout over this coming year and want to include those who are in step with the changing times.

Jeremy has assured me he hasn't even begun to create the most exciting site on the web for us, and we have begun discussions conducting having our own auctions. Wouldn't that be great to have fees for services that don’t require you to declare them as half owner of your belongings.
Your ideas about how we might improve services to members are welcome and encouraged. Please e-mail us at or give us a call at 847-784-8544

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