Why Selling Vintage Is Like Gambling

I recently had a conversation with Deanna Dahlsad of Den of Antiquity, a woman with decades of experience in dealing in antiques and vintage, about how her business is just another form of gambling. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share it. 

Why do you say that being an antiques dealer is like gambling?

Because it is lol 

Instead of putting your chips down on red 32, or putting bills into a slot machine, you put your money down on an item and hope for a higher return. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But that’s how you learn.

Surely it is more strategic than that!

Yes, but it’s not quite like poker, with rules and a relatively limited number of options. It’s a bit more random… More about betting on your instincts and what you know – or at least believe you know – about trends and people’s interests – like when you bet on sports, the presidential election, or celebrity baby names. You believe you know something about the market or your customers that leads you to have confidence in buying an item, a collection, or an entire estate at a specific price so that you can resell it at a profit.

What sorts of factors are you looking at when determining whether or not to place that bet?

It rather depends upon your customers, your market, your venue…

For example, if you’re dealing more with true antiques and collectibles, you have to know what you’re looking for – no knock-offs, reproductions, etc. And condition is everything. 

If you’re primarily selling to home decorators or vintage fashion lovers, condition matters, yes; but it’s more about trends and the look of the items. Many of these customers are fine with the imperfections of age as it is largely what provides the unique look. Your knowledge base here in terms of decades, designers, makers, periods of style, etc. has to mesh with what’s on trend now. And you also have to know your market. If you are selling online, you have a wider audience base, including reaching places like the coasts where trends are exploding. If you are selling in a brick-and-mortar or at local markets, you need to know what trends are and aren’t happening where you are. For example, where I live in Fargo-Moorhead, we are not exactly trendy. It may take years for some trends to hit here, even if we all share the same Internet! And there are some looks, such as farmhouse style, which will remain popular in a large part of our area forever. Also, specific markets will attract certain demographics, so learning what that crowd wants is an important part of your calculation.

Resellers or flippers may deal in clothing, games, media, etc. which is not necessarily vintage, but they must know their items and buyers. Some dealers specialize in finding pieces for artists, makers, restorers, etc. There may be lower retail prices, but usually those pieces are less expensive investments. There are as many types of sellers as there are categories of items to sell. 

Often it’s the bigger ticket items, the biggest scores, that take longer to move – no matter how hot they are. So part of the calculation always includes how long items will sit around.

You’ve told me that storage is just one of the other “chips” you have to factor in… 

Yes, as an antiques dealer or vintage seller, you invest more than just the chips you put down on the items; you invest time and other costs. For any given “score,” you have the costs of obtaining the item (price paid, plus shipping or transportation costs); time hunting for and claiming those items; time and money spent on cleaning, fixing, and storing; and then there are the costs of selling – be it seller fees online, rent and/or commission in a shop, or booth fees at a market. Items sold online also have transportation and packaging costs. Items sold offline also accumulate costs such as price tags, display item costs, and more transportation fees. These aren’t fees and costs that many buyers consider, but they exist and wise sellers quickly learn to account for them as they can really eat up your profits!

However, when all is said and done, being an antiques dealer, vendor of vintage, reseller, whatever you want to call this business, can be as addictive as gambling. The rush of a big purse, the goals of becoming a high roller, and looking for the next thrill is the same.

Many of us prefer to think of how we are rehoming items, saving them from landfills, delighting people with our finds, but underneath it all, we are gamblers plain and simple.

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Dirty Las Vegas History

Whenever I’m in Vegas, I can’t help but envision its past… I’m not saying I want to be in the Las Vegas of the past; but visiting it in my mind is somehow very romantic… One way to safely be there is via books like The Green Felt Jungle:

The Green Felt Jungle, “The shocking documented truth about Las Vegas — told for the first time in this controversial best seller that blasts the lid off the fabulous ‘entertainment capital of the world’ and lays bare a corrupt jungle of iniquity.”

By Ovid Demaris (a former United Press correspondent and newspaper reporter, who wrote more than twenty books and hundreds of newspaper articles, most known for his Mafia exposes and biographies) and Ed Reid (who won a Pulitzer in 1951 for his investigations into Brooklyn organized crime).

Notable names included in the book: Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Gus Greenbaum, Benny Binion, Sam Giancana, Frank Sinatra, etc. Lots of celeb names dropped as well. Includes an appendix of casinos, owners and their percentages.

Contains black & white photos in the center of the book, primarily of mobsters, gangsters, and Mafia folks — including grizzly crime scene photos.

Covers the history of Las Vegas, from founding to the early 1960s. Mafia, murder, mayhem all set back in the day.

las vegas gambling mafia history

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The Zodiac Gamble In Horror Movies

A funny little take on how your zodiac sign behaves in horror films.

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Slotozilla Gambling Horoscope 2015

Slotozilla.com provides the players with a make-it or break-it 2015 Zodiac Sign Lucky Horoscope that will favor the brave and daring or caution those who may not find it the best time to gamble. Come see if it’s your lucky time!


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Feeling Lucky, Saint Patrick?

What could be luckier to wear on Saint Patrick’s Day than these? A pair of vintage green shamrock-shaped key chain tags from the long gone Nevada Club in Las Vegas. I’d so make them into a pair of earrings!

vintage vegas shamrock keyrings earrings

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Psychology Of Gambling Infographic

Another infographic about the psychology of gambling and gambling addiction.

Psychology Of GamblingSource:VegasSlotsOnline.com

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Pat Morrow On Academy Awards Odds

Pat Morrow, head oddsmaker of Bovoda, was on MSNBC’s The Cycle this week talking about the Oscar odds. It was rather interesting — but when I tried to find the video, I had no luck. (At first I thought it was some sort of station sanitizing, removing the gambling footprint; but not only has the program discussed Oscar office pools, but they still have the video from Morrow’s appearance last year, so… Your guess is as good as mine.)

Anyway, you can see that (at the time of my writing this) that Michael Keaton’s Birdman is kicking everyone’s ass, including American Sniper. I’ve been preaching about Birdman ever since I saw it. Even laid down a few bucks to prove my faith. ;)

Academy Awards best picture odds

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If Only Voters Were As Serious As Gamblers About Presidential Elections

Yes, you can bet on presidential elections. And gamblers betting on the election have a pretty good history of predicting the next US president. Better than the bulk of polls and surveys, in fact.

vintage card playing donkey mechanical valentineExperts say part of the accuracy differential lies in the phrasing. While polls ask you “who you are going to vote for”, a question that is one part emotional response and another part assumptive that a person is actually going to vote, placing a bet is something else entirely.

Despite the popular media depictions of gamblers relying on such tropes as lucky numbers and rabbit’s foot, gamblers aren’t just hot heads willing to put their money where their political party mouths are; instead, gamblers do the research. In the political world, that means those betting on elections will study far more than polling data, but the debates, platforms, issues, crises, scandals, world events, and more. Something any serious voter ought to do, right?

If you’re going to trust those who are betting dollars on the 2016 US presidential election — and I mean the gamblers, not those who donate to candidates, Super PACs, etc. or the politicos who draw salaries from, or otherwise become financially enriched by, political campaigns — there are some potential insights into current American politics to be found.

You are currently able to bet on the following political outcomes at Bovada:

* Who will be the next President of the United States of America
* Which party will win the 2016 presidential election
* The gender of the winner of the 2016 presidential election

The information at this time is fuzzy, of course.

For one, it’s early, and many of the supposed contenders have not even officially announced their intentions. Some on the list, like Elizabeth Warren, have vehemently denied running for the presidential office — and George Clooney seems to be just another dream entry.

2016 presidential candidate betting odds

But the info is also a bit unclear because we aren’t getting a polling survey here with easy to read respondent answers as percentages.

With a survey or poll, the percentage is based on the number of participants who responded to all the questions. However, when we are looking at the bets placed data, the pool of gamblers may only bet in one area. For example, they may only answer the question “Which political party will win the presidential seat?” and not bet on (participate in) any of the other questions. The result is some contradictory answers.

According to those placing bets at Bovada, Hillary Clinton is going to be the next United States President. But she is not, as the gamblers predict, a member of the Republican party.

2016 us presidential betting odds

[If you are not familiar with that sort of plus or minus odds system shown here, it’s called “moneyline odds” or “American odds.” If that sounds confusing, simply note that positive or plus odds are better than negative or minus ones. Using an odds calculator, you can see how this works:

odds converter 1 odds converter 2See?]

It may be heartening, as a woman, to see that gamblers are currently predicting Hillary Clinton will be our next (and first female) president — and others betting that if not Hillary, a woman will become president in 2016. But there are others predicting contradictory outcomes. Who can say what’s in the cards yet?

Image Credits: Vintage mechanical die-cut Valentine’s Day card via Fair Oaks Antiques. (It totally looks like the Democratic Party’s donkey playing cards!)

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Mobile Gaming

US mobile game revenues (including both downloads and in-app purchases) leads growth of $10 billion mobile content market as ebook and music downloads stagnate, according to new figures from eMarketer.

In-app purchases are driving increases in US mobile game revenues, due in part to growing popularity of freemium models among app developers. This year, in-app revenues for mobile games will total $1.82 billion, or 59.8% of all mobile game revenues, increasing to nearly $2 billion next year, when share of the mobile game market will be 60.1%.

mobile game revenues

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New Years Can Be Messy

Which is why casinos have napkins — special New Years Eve napkins, like this one from Caesar’s Palace.

CAESARS PALACE 1984 New Years Eve retro casino gambling napkin

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