There was a period in my working life when I spent a considerable amount of time driving American antique buyers around English country towns and villages, advising and helping them to buy antiques.
I was what is known in the antiques trade as an ‘antiques courier’. It’s a long story as to how I came by that role, but looking back, I remember it to be a hard-working and (at the same time) idyllic job.
I worked for a London-based antique shipping company in a sales capacity. My job was to sell the company’s antique shipping services to British and American antique buyers.
To help my sales efforts, I decided to offer a service whereby I drove American buyers directly to where the British dealers were located, and basically introduce one party to another.
It became a successful and popular service, as everyone seemed to win. The Americans were pleased to be shown a few secret buying sources. The British dealers were happy for me to bring good-quality trade customers through their doors, and the company that employed me was happy to process all the shipping that ensued.
It’s a strange thing: everyone always considers the grass to be always greener on the other side of the hill.
I used to envy the British antique dealers, and quite fancied doing that job myself, but didn’t have the wherewithal at that time to fund the running of an antique shop.
But somewhat bizarrely, I later found out that many of the dealers whom I visited on a regular basis, also used to envy me and my job role.
Apparently, what they really envied was the freedom that I appeared to have. I was not tied down to a shop premises five or six days a week. I was pretty much a free agent, and they liked that idea.
The reason why I draw this comparison from the past, is because with the advent of the Internet, the whole retail landscape has now changed.
Using the same example, an antique dealer today can be as free as they like: they don’t need to be tied down to a bricks-and-mortar shop in order to continue trading as a dealer.
With the advent of online shopping, many antique dealers have now closed their physical premises and put all their stock for sale online.
They are now truly free to roam the highways and byways searching for new stock without being tied to a physical shop. Their overheads are less and their market has become global… and all in a very short space of time.
This incredible opportunity is not, of course, just reserved for those in the antiques and collectibles trade: it is open to us all.
What we are seeing take place with the advent of online shopping, in the space of a few short years, is one of the most historic step-changes in the history of retailing.
So when Adam Smith, and later Napoleon, described Britain as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’, it has never been truer than it is today.
We all now have the ability to be part-time shopkeepers. We can still keep our full-time jobs if we want, and also trade in the evenings or weekends.
What do I mean by trade? Well certainly not walking to open the shutters of our little high street shop, in the traditional sense. Our transactions could be as simple as putting some of our unwanted clutter on a free local classified website, such as Gumtree.
We could go further and sell our personal items on larger sites such as eBay or Amazon. We become proper traders, in the real sense of the word, when we actually buy goods for the sole intention of reselling for a profit.
It’s at this point we have to declare our activities to the taxman. We can be part or full-time traders in almost any commodity that takes our fancy.
If you like the idea of trading in the ‘collectibles market’, you might want to take a look at my new website: http:// www.TheProfitBox.co.uk
Within this site I show you how to find locally or web-based collectible items to re-sell for a profit.
For those happily trading in the traditional bricks-and-mortar shops, all is not lost. There is always the option to add an online presence to boost your market exposure, increasing your ability to compete in today’s ever-competitive market.
(If you are not yet a member of The Profit Box, click here!)
We are witnessing times of great change, but exciting times nevertheless.
Have a great week,