Hemswell Antique Centres

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How to start your own antique business successfully

How to start your own antique business successfully


The decision to learn how to start your own antique business is an exciting one. And now has never been a better time - we’re in the Roaring Twenties once again, after all.

Many hobbyists don’t begin with the intention of learning how to start an antique store. But if you love antiques, are business minded, and value freedom and independence - it soon becomes a matter of following your heart.

Take Hemswell, for example. We didn’t become Europe’s largest antiques centre overnight. Established in 1986 by the late Rex and Nepi Miller, who ploughed their love of antiques into the business, Hemswell Antique Centres is the forward-thinking operation it is today thanks to passion, experience and expertise. The Millers’ son, Robert, has been overseeing and directing operations at Hemswell since 1999.

This guide is not for you if you are still learning how to sell for profit or don’t have any stock yet (this can sometimes take years, especially if you’re working in a specialist niche).

This guide is for you, however, if you already have expertise in the industry, have built up your stock, have established clientele, and want guaranteed trade from customers with a love of history and nostalgia in their veins.

How to start an antique business: The legal side

New decade, new venture. For many, the year of fresh beginnings brings excitement of great change - if you’re reading this, then learning how to start your own antique store may be the new path you need.

Once you’ve got a solid footing in the industry and perfected the art of selling antiques (our blog is your go-to knowledge centre for buying and selling antiques), you can start establishing yourself as a business:

  1. Register for self-assessment.
  2. Open a bank account solely for your antiques business.
  3. If you’re setting up a store, think about insurance. Specialist antiques insurance companies are a good choice.
  4. Make sure you’re registered for any legislations your local authorities may require.
  5. Not compulsory, but if you want to give your clients peace of mind, get backed by an authoritative association such as BADA (British Antique Dealers’ Association) or LAPADA (Association of Art and Antique Dealers).

Many new dealers learn how to start an antique business from home or take up a small stall at a local market until they build enough stock and clients to open up shop - read our guide to becoming an antique dealer for more on this.

How to start an antique store: Finding the perfect space

If you’ve established your client base and are now wondering where and how to start an antique store, find a hot spot for antiques. In London, these tend to cluster together on Portobello Road, Mayfair and Kensington Church Road. In Manchester, Stockport Road is where antique’s lovers flock to.

Renting an entire property requires a big budget. Other running costs should be taken into account when running an entire establishment - such as insurance, mailing costs, petrol costs and staff pay.

The most effective way to test the waters, reduce overheads, save time, and learn how to start an antique store successfully is to set up in an existing, established, professional antiques space. While you will share a percentage of your profit, your antiques will be seen by a wider pool of buyers - leaving you to focus on other aspects of your business.

At Hemswell Antique Centres, this pool stretches across a host of private clients worldwide - think Beamish Museum, The National Trust, television studios, interior designers, retail markets and boutique hotels.

Our team of more than 400 dealers work together to raise standards in the antiques market - a one-stop shop delivering to 25 different countries. From jewellery to militaria, the quality of pieces in our four buildings are always exceptional.

As part of Europe’s largest antiques network, you’ll have:

  • Your very own uniformed sales force.
  • Access to our Dealer Portal
  • National and international delivery, sorted for you.
  • Your digital marketing, covered. Our campaigns reach millions of antique lovers every year via our website, paid advertising and social media.
  • Free card payments and BACs transactions.
  • Status of being part of one of the top five antiques centres (voted for by Homes & Antiques Magazine).
  • Full alarmed security system with gold certification.
  • Your own business page on our high ranking website.
  • Providing excellent dealer support and exemplary customer service.

Download our new dealer brochure to apply for a space at Hemswell Antiques Centres. You’ll find out how we compare to our competitors, as well as our rates and other important details in the brochure. 

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