When I last wrote a blog post we lived in a different world. I simply stopped blogging here on Antiques Diva last year for a variety of reasons – both personal and professional.
But Baby –and just in time for the holidays – I’m Back!
Whatever your view on the pandemic – we can all agree on one thing – the world is now a different place. The last two years of NOT traveling – of being in one place – of finalizing what felt like a neverending divorce – of spending a lot of time alone – at home here in Venice – has changed me too. I am in a different place.
I’ve spent the last two years reconsidering not only my travel-based business but also my entire way of life. Finalmente I learned Italian (Non parlo bene italiano ma sto facendo progressi.), and somehow I think in learning a new language – new words and new ways of saying things – I was also teaching myself a new way of thinking.
With time in one location I was finally able to be consistent in going to the gym. I am incredibly proud of myself because I went to the gym every week for a year. #IHaveBunsofSteel. Perhaps my favorite thing I’ve done during the pandemic is learn to drive a boat in the Venetian lagoon. It’s a metaphor in a way – learning to navigate new waters with a variety of opposing forces – currents, winds and man-made waves from passing vaporettos.
I loved my pre-covid jetset way of life – but being grounded has grounded me. It has balanced me. I have different priorities. From a business perspective – taking the time to re-evaluate my company has made me a better business person with a higher profit margin and diverse revenue streams.
When the pandemic hit, I thought I would lose my company. We lost 90% of our antique tour business for the year within a single week. When times are tough – I always do 3 things:
- First I cry like a little girl. Crawl under the covers and hide. Take a really long nap. And probably drink too much wine.
- Then I get smart. I call it the Hunting and Gathering phase. I process. Evaluate. I ask both myself and others a lot of questions. I read. I listen to podcasts. (Check out mine wherever you listen to podcasts, click the hashtag for direct link) #BusinessofAntiques. I learn. I spend a lot of time thinking about things. Sometimes people see that thinking as non-action… but thinking is the most important part of my process. It’s sort of like learning to drive that boat… when you learn to drive a boat you have to take time to feel the water around you.
- And then I get even smarter by refining…Refine. Refine. Refine. This is my pattern. As my mom (and Nietche) always said, #WhatDoesntKillYouMakesYouStronger
If you don’t polish antique silver – the silver darkens. For silver to truly shine, you need to keep polishing it.
Refine. Refine. Refine.
Who you are today is not who you were yesterday or who you will be tomorrow. This is true for you as a person, but it’s also true for you as a small business owner. Your business will change over time as your needs –and those of your clients – and change. You have to keep polishing – refining – your business the way you would do silver.
VIRTUAL ANTIQUE TOURS
As a company The Antiques Diva & Co is known as being the world’s largest company offering antique buying tours in 16 countries. Tourism came to a stop in 2020. As soon as the stores and flea markets were reopened post lockdown, I began offering VIRTUAL ANTIQUING TOURS (You can WATCH a slew of the promotional tours of the Paris Flea Market, Antiquing in England, and the South of France on Instagram @republicoftoma to get a feel for the experience)
During a time when our client base couldn´t travel abroad – we brought the experience of being abroad VIRTUALLY to you through video. Now, even though the borders have opened again post-covid – and Americans are allowed to travel to Europe – we continue to offer both in person/real life antique buying tours as well as virtual tours depending on the clients needs.
The reality is – even when it’s not a pandemic – clients can’t always travel abroad. Sometimes it’s faster to fill a container via Facetime video calls and Photos than to take a trip. Plus, it saves you a bundle of money on traveling expenses! We have spent the last 9 months refining the process of sourcing via video so we can now offer you the best experience based upon months of trial and error in what works…and what doesn’t.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
Join me – or a member of my team – to do a #ToTheTrade Virtual Tour of an Antique Fair by booking a private tour slot. (email me email@example.com)
Shop with us at the Wholesale Deballages in the South of France, Brocantes, The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park in London or in Bath, Mercanteinfiera in Parma as well as the Paris Flea Market, Ile sur la Sorgue and more.
The Virtual Tour takes place on Facetime or Whats App Video.
You Have to Wake Up Really Early. But – video phone – by waking at 3am or 4am – you can literally shop with us LIVE as we shop the wholesale antiques fair on your behalf! That means you get to interact directly with our vendors. We inspect objects together. You are even involved directly in negotiations. You get to ask all your questions LIVE!
These video tours are supplemented by sending a slew of targeted PHOTOS of inventory.
Most of our vendors give us first dibs when they have new inventor. With global sourcing being a competitive market – having first dibs gives our clients an advantage over their competitors.
My team then sends you targeted customized photos each week – until your container is filled – based upon what we are receiving from vendors and what we are discovering in our travels.
WIth global supply chain issues and a world wide shipping crisis – there will be delays for receiving inventory in 2022. The only way to beat it is to have good connections, realistic expectations on delivery times, and inside information on which shippers are successfully navigating the crisis. But here’s the deal…if you would like to receive your inventory in the first half of 2022, NOW is the TIME to BE Proactive. You need to start buying NOW if you’re going to want to have a container by end of SPRING/EARLY SUMMER. Once we have confirmed clients who have started sourcing – we are able to work with our shipping contacts to BOOK your container or GET YOU on a WAITLIST for and EARLIER delivery of goods.
Our unique advantage in this industry is our BUYING POWER. At any given moment we have up to 7 containers at sea. Your advantage in working with us is that you have not just your buying power as a dealer who sources in Europe once or twice a year – but rather the buying power collectively of all our clients.
If you can’t wait for a container – consider restocking your store temporarily with smalls and accessories. We have an entire album of frequently available accessories we can help you with to give your antiques store a refresher while waiting for a container.
BOOK a FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTING CALL WITH ME to DISCUSS SOLUTIONS TO YOUR BUYING AND SHIPPING NEEDS
MORE THAN TOURS:
OUR ANTIQUE DEALER TRAINING PROGRAM & MARKETING SERVICES
I started my business The Antiques Diva & Co in 2008 at the height of the global recession. It was the worst possible time to start a business. And yet… troubled times are when there is the most opportunity. My business became a huge success because of that recession. While a lot of dealers were getting out of the business – and a lot of stores were closing – others were making the decision to take the plunge into sourcing globally. And I was there to help them buy antiques overseas. My company was their solution for learning the ropes quickly on how to buy antiques in Europe. Providing solutions for antique dealers is our Sweet Spot as a company. Along with my team, I work to identify the problems and come up with a variety of solutions to help antique dealers run successful antiques businesses while living the life of their dreams.
Well-positioned antique dealers have thrived in this pandemic as sales of furnishings and interior design products have reached an all time high.
Over the last two years, I have spent the majority of my time working with clients in our Antique Dealer Training and Mentoring Program
In our Business Coaching for Antiques Dealers, my colleague and I have helped our clients refine their entire antique businesses – helping clients develop multi-prong approaches for online sales as well as for in person shopping experiences.
Additionally, at The Antiques Diva & Co we started offering Marketing Services for Antique Dealers – helping clients to rebrand and market their business. We started a service building websites for antique dealers and offered monthly content management services for our clients newsletters, and we have even done social media for clients. Confession: I may or may not have pretended to be my client more than once on social media commenting on interior designers Instagram posts to help my client build relationships with the right designers. I know what to say to each designer to help my dealer client make the connection faster and smoother. Once there is a rapport, I step out of the social media scene and let my client take over from there!
The Republic of Toma
While you were not hearing from me often here on The Antiques Diva blog these past two years – I WAS blogging. I was just not blogging where you usually find me. Or on the topic you normally expected. I started a new blog, The Republic of Toma.
The website is still underway, and the identity is not fully developed as I have a million new ideas brewing that I will corral heere eventually. But for now, if you want to read my personal musings – about life, love, and other mysteries – follow me at the Republic of Toma. I will keep you informed when additional product launches are on the way!
The Business of Antiques:
In the spirit of keeping you informed, it’s with great pleasure – I announce THE BUSINESS OF ANTIQUES podcast IS BACK with Season 2.
For the 1st episode of Season 2, we sit down for a conversation with Erin Gilbert, VP of Sales, for Chairish comparing various sales strategies for selling antiques and telling you Why You Should Be Selling on Chairish. Next up is LAPADA CEO – When Freya SimmsTalks People Listen. Followed by a fabulous conversation with Rich Schell on The Advent of the Concept Store. I personally think the concept store is the future of antiques. We even talk auctions with KC AUCTION HOUSE.
I have a slew of subjects scheduled from talking about the shipping crisis, to discussing why concept stores are the future of antiques, and how to do an end of year review for your company then preparing a marketing plan. Stay tuned.
Make sure to subscribe wherever you normally listen to podcasts – Itunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, or TuneIn Radio.
Announcing Our New Sponsor: The British Shop!
The British Shop transports fine art, furniture and antiques by air, land and sea around the world. David Hockney once said “Art has to move you” and The British Shop offers a service which moves ART AND ANTIQUES with personal care delivering care. Whether you’re shipping an entire container or a few items via consolidation – The British Shop is your solution for shipping antiques from Europe to the USA. Schedule a CALL with Malcom Disson of The British Shop by visiting their website https://thebritishshop.com/. Tell them you heard about them on the Business of Antiques Podcast to receive a special offer on your Insurance for your delivery!
Net Net over the last Two Years at The Antiques Diva & Co we have updated our business so we are a full service consultancy for Antiques Dealers – helping clients with everything from sourcing antiques to providing shipping solutions to educating dealers and offering business coaching and marketing services. Mamma Mia, my goal for 2022 is to get a new website that really shows who we are and what we are doing.
In Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game, he tells the story of the difference between presenting at Microsoft and Apple conferences (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEOftmUJ6a4). Microsoft spent their conference talking about how to beat Apple, while Apple talked about helping teachers teach and students learn. This story made me smile. I realized as CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co, I’m playing The Infinite Game. My objective is to stay in the game and to continue to serve the antiques industry overall listening to your problems and continuing to provide solutions to help you as an antiques dealer be more successful, have a more profitable business, provide structure and confidence, and most importantly help you to live the life of your dreams while pursuing your dream of being an antiques dealer. After all, Dreams Do Come True.
Or rather, let me call you. I’m offering a free 1 hour business consultation to help you change the way you do your antiques business.
Happy Holidays. I promise I won’t wait so long until my next post.
My warmest wishes,
Toma Clark Haines – CEO The Antiques Diva & Co https://antiquesdiva.com/
Founder Republic of Toma https://www.republicoftoma.com/
Drum Roll Please…
The AD&CO team had so much fun reading your stories about your 1st visit to le Marché aux Puces… thank you for sharing your adventures, and the treasures you’ve discovered!
Diva Readers share my passion for the hunt, and the determination to get that special piece back home again! Every piece in our homes tell a story about who we are, and I loved learning more about our Readers!
The winners of The Antiques Diva & Co #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime at the Paris Flea Market Giveaway are:
Grand Prize 1 Day Tour at the Paris Flea Market
1st Prize Aidan Gray Paris Flea Market CandleStick
3 RunnerUps – DesignHER copies by Julianne Taylor
Congratulations to our winning stories!!! And thank you so much to everyone who entered!!!
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva