Antique Dealer Santa Barbara - How the Internet Has Changed The Game, Good and Bad

E-commerce is coming for every retail sector, and antique dealers are no different – online antique sales is a burgoning billion-dollar industry. This shift has had a definite impact on the perceived value of antiques. There are both good and bad aspects to this trend, and as a top antique dealer in Santa Barbara, we’ve seen them all.

The Good

It wasn’t long ago that only the most high-profile merchants could offer their wares to the entire world, and now anyone can do it. Whether you’re buying or selling, you have much more options than you would have had in the past, and more people are shopping online every day. In theory, this should mean that every antique being sold can be found by the one person in the world who places the greatest value on it, maximizing its potential price.

Further, the greater accessibility of online markets means that more antiques are being listed for sale, theoretically making it far easier to accurately determine the value of any given item. There is a finite number of antiques in the world; you can’t just manufacture a piece that qualifies, but must wait a long time for the item to age sufficiently to deserve the label. Prior to the dawn of e-commerce, not all of them would make it into an antiques dealership even if the owner wanted to sell them, since they had to be physically transported to a new location and held in a commercial space with limited inventory (as a trusted antique dealer Santa Barbara knows well, our shop might have an excellent sales rate, but space still gets tight in here sometimes!). These problems don’t exist with online antique sales, so those struggling items often do get listed, and everyone in the industry has a better idea of what else is out there and how comparatively rare a particular item is.

The Bad

This all sounds great, but of course, there are downsides. Things get lost in the vastness of the web. Search up ‘antique jewelry’ on eBay, for instance, and you’ll find plenty of beautiful, legitimately old and unique pieces – but you’ll also find a mountain of cheap mass-produced knockoffs being marketed with whatever keywords the seller could think of at the time. These mismatched results are not only inconvenient but can drastically impact the perceived value of the genuine items around them. Antiques aren’t usually exorbitantly expensive, but they’re naturally pricier than these trinkets, and categorizing the two together like this incorrectly makes the disparity seem unjustified.  

Value is further distorted by problems with item identification. Just as a print of a piece of artwork is worth less than the original piece itself, so too is a convincing replica of a classic collector’s figurine or a later reprinting of a book that looks deceptively like a first-edition copy. A seller without knowledge of professional antique appraisal techniques may not be able to tell the difference, and a more savvy seller may even try to take advantage of their customers that way – when you’re shopping online, it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between authentic and lesser versions of items, and you have to take the seller’s word for it that you’re getting the authentic one.


The Brick-and-Mortar Niche

Because of these online drawbacks, old-fashioned antiques dealers are still very relevant. A proper antiques store only carries items that are vetted by the antiques appraisers that work there, so there’s no low-value objects around to psychologically discredit the operation. Everything you see is also exactly what it seems to be, and you can confirm that for yourself by handling the item in person. It’s a market created with care by people who are passionate about old and unusual things, and that makes a big difference.

Speaking from a personal point of view, we are one of the most well-known local antique dealers in Santa Barbara; this gives us another unique vantage point in terms of knowing the local market. For example, if a Santa Barbara shopper came in to look at our selection of antique jewelry, they would find only true antique pieces that we know will be appreciated by our clientele. As part of a professional display alongside other similar pieces with the sure-fire appeal, each of the items has the foundation it needs to command its true value without being misrepresented as something it is not. We don’t need to have the wide reach of online markets because we know exactly what works when operating as an antique dealer in Santa Barbara.


If you’re interested in selling your estate, you're in the right place. Contact us for a free evaluation. EstateSalesInSantaBarbara is heavily leveraging our online platforms which drive total revenue for the owner. If you're not ready to jump online, you may want to consider visiting our Antique Store called, Antique Center Mall in Santa Barbara. 

David DeLisleComment