Doing the Biz: An Open Letter to Spouses
Published on January 12, 2011 :: 11 Comments
A lot of folks in the antiques biz work alone.
But many either work at it with their spouse/partner/sig. other, or at least have one somewhere in the background. This post is for you.
Steve and I are people-watchers, and love to analyze and speculate about the people we observe. (I know, nosy, right?) And we see lots of couples, setting up at shows, shopping at auction, in line at estate sales. Tons of opportunity to watch and listen.
After years of eavesdropping, I have advice for the antiquing couples out there. Be nice to each other.
Really, it’s that simple. Be supportive. Whether you work together as partners, or if only one of you has been bitten by the bug. Don’t say, “Why the hell did you buy that?” Don’t roll your eyes dramatically as your wife bids on something at auction. Don’t treat your husband like he’s an idiot in front of customers.
Some of our favorite wholesale customers are couples. Often one will look at something in our booth, but instead of buying will say “I want Mark to see this” or “I’ll send Janet over to see what she thinks.” Sometimes it screws up our sale, because Mark, or Janet, or whoever will come to see it and then say no. But truly that is okay with me. I respect it. I understand what it takes to work hand in hand in this business, and I’d hate to ever think something I sold came between one of these couples.
If you are really worried that your spouse is going to send you into 2nd-mortgage-dom with bad purchases, then talk about it and set limits. Agree (ahead of time) that you won’t risk more than $100 or whatever on an item. Or that you both need to see and agree on major purchases. And then don’t say “Why the hell did you buy that?”
It would be just your luck that you’d erode her confidence so much that she would pass up the very thing that could have paid off the 1st mortgage! Think about it.
Sadly, we see plenty of bickering couples at antiques shows. And at times we’ve been one of them. Shows are stressful, everybody is tired. But the arguing takes something that could bind you together, and makes it suck. Not to mention it’s a total turn-off for your customers. Don’t think it doesn’t show – it always shows.
If you both love the stuff, then be loving to each other and your merchandise will be that much more appealing.
And if only your wife loves the stuff and you’re just along to lug boxes, then step back and let her shine. Don’t nit-pick and criticize at the moment she needs your support.
CONCLUSION, AND US:
It takes confidence to stand up at a show and represent this truckload of old stuff that you have brought to sell. Likewise, it takes guts to buy, and try to buy well, when you have to make split second decisions at auctions or crowded, competitive estate sales. The more you can build up each others confidence, the more successful you will be.
I still worry. When I’m out buying by myself, I agonize. This is our livelihood, after all.
But I know that Steve supports me and believes in me. And that frees me to step out, to make bold choices and sometimes score pretty big. Hopefully I do the same for him.