I grew up with game shows like “The Price is Right” blaring in the background. (This U.S. TV show premiered in 1972 and continues today!) Contestants had to figure out the prices of various items to win them or move on to the next level. Some folks were quite good, while others were clueless. It never seemed interesting to me, but I remember my mother watched it while doing the weekly ironing.
But that show got me thinking about how hard it can be for sellers to price antique and vintage items. How do we know if “the price is right”?? It’s like trying to hit a moving target. Things go in and out of fashion. Trends change. Stuff gets popular and then the market gets flooded and it crashes. For a while bakelite jewelry was stratospheric and then it started cooling and headed back to earth. Milk glass is still at a cool stage, but brown furniture is making a comeback. Mid-century modern is still going great guns and industrial items have a strong following. Formal china sets are weak. On and on.
There is no easy formula. Like many vintage/antique dealers I work hard trying to figure out the right price for each individual item. I look up sold listings on Worthpoint (which includes nine or more years of data) and current listings across many online platforms. I take into account age, condition, provenance, maker, etc. I look up information on trends. Is this item selling well? Is it a scarce item or are there dozens and dozens for sale? I put a lot of work and thought into every price I set.
This one was no exception. I bought this oak biscuit barrel ($35) at an upscale thrift store in Carmel Valley July 2021. But afterwards I regretted it. Prices were not as strong as I thought they would be. So I tucked it away. Till now.
It’s been gathering dust and I knew I needed to get it listed. But what was the right price? Online listings for similar pieces are all over the place for antique oak biscuit barrels–from $50 to over $400. So, I looked at the SOLD ones most similar in design and composition to mine. These two sold a few months ago–one for almost $160 and the other for $129.
Okay. So that’s helpful. It showed me that perhaps there is a bit more interest in these now.
And I did find one EXACTLY like mine listed on Etsy for $225, but it has been painted blue which purists may not like. (I will say this store does amazing staging on their items and puts my photos to shame!)
In the end I decided to list my biscuit barrel for $130. Priced higher than some (there is a similar one on Etsy priced at $68, but it has cracks in the wood), lower than others.
We’ll see how long it takes to sell, but I do believe I have it priced fairly and competitively at the moment!
Wishing you happy hunting,
P.S. By the way the original host of “The Price is Right”, Bob Barker, is 98 years old and still enjoying life!
Wow, can’t believe he’s 98! I remember watching The Price is Right, and I agree that it’s so hard to price vintage items. I’ve always struggled with it. Trends change fast and we have to keep up. It’s been a year since I stopped selling in my booth and I miss it. But I don’t miss those frustrating questions of what to charge! When I begin again, maybe it will be easier? Ha. I know better. Hope you get your price for that cool biscuit barrel. 🙂
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Thanks Patricia. Yes, coming up with fair and competitive prices is such a challenge! We’ll see how I do with that biscuit barrel. Hugs, Karen
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