If you’re an antique enthusiast, you know how exciting it can be to search for and find that perfect piece to add to your collection. But finding the right—honest—antique dealer can be just as important. Working with a reputable dealer ensures you buy high-quality, authentic items at fair prices. More importantly, it provides peace of mind and a more enjoyable antique collecting experience overall.
In this article, we’ll provide tips and resources for finding a reputable antique dealer near you, including:
- How to research a dealer’s reputation
- What to look for when evaluating a dealer in person
- Where to find local antique dealers.
Here’s what you need to do.
Check out local antique stores and malls.
Search Google Maps for antique dealers near you. Many of these establishments have multiple dealers under one roof, so you can get a feel for various dealers in one place.
Search online dealer directories.
- The Antique Dealers’ Association of America
- The National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America
- The Antique Trader
- The TIAS Antiques & Collectibles Marketplace
Look for online reviews or ratings.
Many antique dealers are listed on online marketplaces like Ruby Lane or 1stdibs, where customers can leave reviews about their experiences. You can also check out review sites such as Google Reviews or Yelp to see what customers say about a particular dealer. Additionally, check out social media platforms (like Facebook groups) where antique collectors discuss and share their experiences with different dealers.
Be aware of red flags.
If a dealer has a high number of negative reviews or a reputation for being dishonest or difficult to work with, it might be best to steer clear. Similarly, if a dealer’s website or marketing materials seem overly flashy or untrustworthy, it could be a sign that they are more interested in making a quick sale than in building a reputation for quality and honesty.
Be mindful of fake ratings and reviews on sites like Google. If the names look fake and the reviews are overly positive, take them with a grain of salt.
Join local antique collecting groups or clubs.
Talk to people who have already worked with the dealer you are considering and ask for recommendations. Many collectors are happy to share their experiences and can point you in the direction of reputable antique dealers. You can find local groups by searching online or checking with your local library or community center.
Attend local antique shows or markets.
These events can be a great way to meet and talk to several dealers in person and get a sense of their expertise and reputation. You can find local shows by searching online or checking with your local chamber of commerce or tourism board.
Work with an auction house.
While these companies may not sell antiques directly, they can often recommend reputable dealers or point you in the direction of quality items. Some popular online auction houses include Invaluable, Heritage Auctions, and Bonhams. See if there are any dealers selling their items via auction on these sites.
Look for certifications or accreditations.
Some antique dealers may have appraisal certifications or accreditations from professional organizations, like the International Society of Appraisers or the American Society of Appraisers. These certifications can be a good indication of a dealer’s expertise and credibility.
Talk to the dealer directly.
If you have the opportunity to meet with the dealer in person or speak with them on the phone, take the opportunity to ask them about their business practices and the antiques they have available. A trustworthy antique dealer should be willing to answer your questions and provide you with as much information as possible. Look out for the following:
- Look for a clean, organized, and professional-looking shop or showroom.
- Pay attention to how the dealer interacts with you. Do they seem genuine, knowledgeable, and patient? Or do they seem pushy or unwilling to answer your questions?
- Ask about the dealer’s background and experience in the antique industry. How long have they been in business? What is their area of expertise?
- Inquire about the provenance and condition of the antiques on display. Does the dealer have documentation or certification for the items? Are they willing to provide detailed information about their history and materials?
- Consider the price of the items on display. Do they seem fair and reasonable, or do they seem inflated? Are there any discounts or payment plans available?
- Look for any red flags, such as items that are poorly cared for, marked up significantly, or advertised as something they are not.