5 tips for antiquing from Shrewsbury that can help even the most humble beginner
1. Practice lots of patience. It takes some time to sell some of the products.
2. Try and get the best price. Most people will negotiate at least a little bit. If you can get the price that much better, it helps you have more room to make some money.
3. You make your money buying, not selling. You will always find people to sell to, but it is getting harder to find things to buy at the right price.
4. Buy products that will sell (follow trends). The market is always changing, and you need to change with it in order to stay in business.
5. Find your niche and stick with it. Deal with products you like. You will be able to sell stuff that you like better than stuff you don't.
Want to check out Shrewsbury's wares? Visit him at one of these upcoming shows:
* H&H Homestead — May 6 and 7
* Lakewood 400 Antiques Market — May 19 - 21 and every third weekend of the month
About this article
This article was originally published as the cover story of the May 2017 issue of 400-The Life, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
I’ll take $35,” the man said, turning the rusted 1945 Georgia license plate in his hands.
“Could you do $25?” replied 15-year-old Allen Shrewsbury, looking again at the antique tag he had just found in an orange Coca Cola crate.
The man shook his head.
“$30?” Shrewsbury asked.
The man sighed.
“I can’t replace it; I’ve had some of these 15 years,” he said, his older southern drawl apologetically stressing the “can’t.”
Shrewsbury smiled, turning away.
“That’s basically what I do at every booth; I look to see if there are good plates,” he said. “I just wouldn’t make money on that license plate – it’s a $50 license plate, and once I included [eBay’s] fees, it would $42-$44, and is $35 really worth it? It really isn’t.”
Shrewsbury continued through the rows of trucks, vans and U-Hauls at the Northeast Georgia Swap Meet, repeating the process again and again.
The Forsyth County teen has an inherent understanding of what is worth his time and money and what to pass on, which is part of what makes him so successful.
In 2016, he earned $120,000 in gross income, and this year he expects to make as much as $200,000 between his online business and six stalls at Forsyth’s Lakewood 400 Antiques Market.
Most of his antiques come from shows like the swap meet, which is held monthly in the parking lot outside the Atlanta Dragway, a racetrack in Commerce, Georgia.
For the last two months, the swap meet has boasted more than 300 vendors at each event, with an even larger number of non-sellers attending.
While this was only Shrewsbury’s second time at that particular locale, he has previously attended others across the state and country.
“I do the Braselton Antiques Festival. I do Jefferson. I’ve done a show in Liberty, North Carolina,” Shrewsbury said. “I fly up to Massachusetts for the largest antiques show there and fill up a storage unit and hire people to bring it back … it’s just grown into a huge thing now.”
Shrewsbury officially entered the world of antiques three years ago, at age 12, but his passion for old collectables started more than a decade ago.
“When he was old enough to communicate, like 3 or 4 years old, [he said] he didn’t want new toys from Walmart or Target,” said his mom, Pam Shrewsbury. “He liked matchbox cars, but he liked the old ones. By the time he was in kindergarten, I was taking him to [Lakewood 400] to find the old cars.
“I never did anything [with] antiques or anything, so it was always amazing to me, like, why does he like this old stuff? what does it mean to him.”
Shrewsbury’s interest quickly evolved from just matchbox cars.
“I like the stuff you see on American Pickers – that’s basically what this whole business is,” he said. “It’s digging through barns, dealing with clients in other states and buying overstock and old signs, that kind of thing, and re-selling them.
“I’m doing what I love, and I’m making money at it.”
Shrewsbury is good at it, too, his mom calling him a “naturalborn salesman.”
“It was a little hard for me in the beginning because I would think, ‘Oh, you can sell this for $100’ and he’d be wanting to sell it to that guy for $75,” his mom said. “But the thing is, he’s bought so much where he can move product and make the rest of [the money] back and have more money to spend on other things.
“He’s always understood that somehow, because I didn’t teach it to him. He just naturally has that knack for understanding.”
Shrewsbury agreed, saying the process has always made sense to him.
“You have to have cash flow in this business,” he said. “Everyone’s smart in this business, but a lot of people hold their stuff, they hold their stuff, they hold their stuff … and as soon as a collection comes on the market, they’re like, ‘I gotta get rid of everything’, and try to dump it and they lose money just so they can buy that next collection. Then they sell that next collection and they never make any money.
“The people that sit there and try to get the last little penny on everything [lose] when a big collection comes their way because they can’t afford it. But as long as you keep this stuff turned, you’re on your way.”
He doesn’t expect to ever stop selling.
“I just always wanted to sell stuff and I’d take any job in sales or business, working with salespeople, ” Shrewsbury said. “I love this business so much and I probably will stick with it the rest of my life, but I’ve always wanted to own a company where I can fly different places and conduct large business deals.
“I don’t think I could take it waking up in the morning and driving to a cubicle and typing up whatever I need to do in that moment; I’m much more of a risk taker.”
Shrewsbury sets up shop at Lakewood every third weekend of the month from Friday to Sunday, and while a website is coming, his eBay site can be accessed at stores.ebay.com/toysandcoins0504/.