Selling Antiques On Etsy? Great Tips (For Beginners)

Etsy prides itself on its reputation as a marketplace for unique items that can’t be found just anywhere. To uphold this standard, Etsy requires that its sellers only list items that are handmade, vintage, or craft supplies.

Fortunately for those thrift-picking resellers specializing in antiques, Etsy has relatively loose parameters for what can be labeled as Vintage, but there are a few other factors for sellers to look at when setting up shop.

Is Etsy Good For Selling Antiques?

Etsy is an excellent platform for selling antiques and vintage items. Most of the buyers on Etsy are there because they’re looking for something unique which isn’t mass-produced, and often for something that’s got a classic or vintage aesthetic.

As with any online business, however, there are a few things to consider to make sure you’re maximizing your profit margins and your customer satisfaction.

What Types of Antiques Sell More on Etsy?

Buyers come to Etsy because they’re looking for something they can’t get just anywhere.

Some of the best selling antique items on Etsy are:

  • Jewelry – particularly rings and earrings
  • Home decor – such as rugs and unique furniture items, and some smaller shelf pieces.
  • Wall art – such as vintage botanical posters and decorative wall clocks
  • Vintage clothing

However, make sure to always check the prices on any product among the major retailers before turning to Etsy. Products such as rugs may be cheaper elsewhere. So, don’t automatically assume Etsy is the best bargain.

While there are fluctuating trends with specific aesthetics, for the most part, there are enough different items on Etsy to cater to a number of buyer’s unique tastes.

What Are the Rules On Etsy For Selling Vintage or Antique Items?

All that is required for a “vintage” listing on Etsy is that the item is over twenty years old, provided that the same item is not still being manufactured and sold.

However, Etsy may require additional information on some of your items in order to make sure that they are compliant with the platform’s rules. 

Here are some of Etsy’s verification questions that you may be asked to answer:

  • Where have the items come from, and how did you source them?
  • How have you verified the age of the item?
  • Who designed the item? What is the name and year of the designer’s collection from which the item came?
  • (For vintage clothing items) What type of fabric and materials is the item made of? Does the item have a label displaying the brand and care instructions?

Remember that selling items as “vintage” when they are actually less than 20 years old is a violation of Etsy’s terms of service, and this will get your shop flagged. 

Will My Items Be Flagged for Inauthenticity if I Can’t Find Proof of When They Were Made?

Some sellers on Etsy have expressed concerns that their shop listings will be reported by buyers who don’t believe in an item’s authenticity.

Do a few simple searches. You can typically do a Google search of the item to find out approximately when it was made and if it’s still being manufactured and sold.

Remember that personal anecdotal information such as, “This item has been in my grandmother’s attic for fifty years” doesn’t count as verification by Etsy’s standards.

As long as you’re complying with Etsy’s rules for selling Vintage, you shouldn’t have to worry about your items being flagged.

Is It Safe to Buy and Sell Antiques on Etsy?

Buying and selling on Etsy is very safe, and this is no different when you’re selling antiques versus any other category of item.

As with any online platform, it is possible that you may come across the occasional scammer. In the case of online shopping, scammers typically purchase an item and then lodge a complaint against the seller, saying that the item never arrived or arrived damaged.

Scams like these can typically be avoided by making sure that you, as the seller, give full disclosure about the items you’re selling and make sure that you track your shipments so that you are able to verify whether or not they arrive at their destination.

Specifically, with antiques, it’s best to avoid problems like this by providing detailed descriptions and accurate photographs in your listings, and practice extra care when shipping fragile items.

Etsy is very good about upholding its policies, and when a complaint is lodged, the company will do its best to see which party is in the wrong and make sure that the complaint is handled fairly.

As long as you (whether you’re a buyer or a seller) make sure to comply with Etsy’s rules, you shouldn’t need to worry about running into any problems.

Can I Sell Antiques on Etsy if They’re Not in Perfect Condition?

Most vintage buyers know that when they’re buying antiques, the item they purchase will most likely have endured some normal wear and tear. In fact, this can add to the item’s charm for some seasoned thrifters. 

However, one obvious downside to online shopping is the fact that your buyers can’t hold the item in their hands and get a good in-person look at it.

It’s important that you post detailed photographs and an honest description along with the item listing.

Make sure you give a disclaimer for any beauty marks, stains, or malfunctions so that the customer isn’t blindsided when they receive the item.

If you happen to be selling a vintage item that’s in exceptionally good condition for its age, be sure to include this in the listing as well.

“Mint Condition” antiques can be sold for a slightly higher price depending on the item, and you want to make sure you’re maximizing your profit margins.

Is the Cost of Shipping An Obstacle for Selling Antiques on Etsy?

As of July 2019, Etsy gives search priority to items that ship for free, and to shops which guarantee free shipping on orders in the US with a subtotal of $35 or more. 

It’s not always feasible for sellers of vintage or antique items to have this free shipping guarantee. Depending on the weight of the item and where it’s being shipped, the shipping can sometimes be up to forty dollars on top of the cost of the item.

While sellers aren’t required to have this free shipping guarantee, by not having this guarantee, you do sacrifice being given priority in Etsy shop searches, which can lower your sales. 

Some sellers who opt to have the free shipping guarantee choose to increase their prices to offset the cost of shipping.

While this may seem a bit shifty, the idea is that your buyers know what total price they’re paying from the beginning, rather than having shipping costs tacked on at the end as a surprise, and then abandoning their cart.

But this only works well for the seller if their shipping cost is fixed. This can get trickier when you’re selling antiques with varying weights and sizes.

If the free shipping guarantee means you have to choose between doubling your prices and losing money paying for shipping, then it’s not a viable option. Of course, this means your shop won’t be the first to come up with a buyer’s search results.

You can, however, offer free shipping on some of your smaller items, in order to make sure that those items are still given search priority.

But your larger items that don’t have a free shipping guarantee might still have a harder time moving.

How Do I Ship Fragile Antiques and Vintage Items?

Great Grandma’s China set may have made it through both world wars, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on packaging.

Make sure that any fragile items are packaged carefully and wrapped securely.

Make sure the box you ship in isn’t too large for the item. You want your items to fit securely in the box once they’re wrapped, that way they can’t shift around if the box gets jostled in transit. 

If you ship a lot of delicate items, it’s always a good idea to invest in some bulk bubble wrap and “Handle With Care” labels.

Five Great Tips For Selling Antiques on Etsy

1. Sell the things you love. Trust your own tastes! If you like it, you’ll be more excited to share it with your customers.

2. Price things fairly. This means fairly for you, as well as for your buyers. Take into account your time and the work that goes into your shop as a whole, and set your prices at a range that your customers will be willing to pay and that will help you turn a profit.

3. Utilize your social media. Instagram and Facebook have built-in tools for advertising your shop, and these platforms are great ways to spread your brand.

4. Put effort into your Etsy About section, policies, and listings. Take good photos! Care about each product and let your customers know who you are and why they should buy from your collection. Give your shoppers everything they need to know.

5. Know your shipping options. Etsy has tools for calculating shipping based on weight and distance, and USPS has these features as well. Make sure you know ahead of time what your average shipping cost will be and what your best options are.

Selling Antiques On Etsy is Pretty Much Like Selling Any Other Item.

Make sure you’re following Etsy’s terms of service, maintaining transparency in your listings about your items and the condition that they’re in, and doing what you can to give your customers a fair deal on shipping without breaking your own bank.

And be sure to handle all your items with care—especially the ones that have made their way around the sun a few dozen times already.

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