Sell Your Antique Furniture to a Pawn Shop

February 01, 2020 - Antiques, Art and Collectibles

We already know what you’re thinking!

Every time you pass your antique furniture, you loved so much a few years ago, you may think to yourself about how much space it takes up in your house. Not to mention, the hindrance of moving furniture. Any damage antiques take on during transit severely lower their value. Despite your antiques’ aesthetic and nostalgic value, sometimes it’s better to sell your antique furniture over hanging on to a high-value piece.

Many are turned off to the idea of selling antiques. Furniture is bulky and precarious to move to avoid damaging the craft pieces. Antique dealers are typically snobby and will not offer free evaluations. You’ll need to know the time-period, artistic techniques, and material of your antique furniture to gauge its value. You’ll be expected to know these details before doing business with a dealer. If you are in possession of a family heirloom you might feel guilty about selling the furniture. Don’t sell if you’re not ready! The choice is personal, but you may be pleasantly surprised at how much your antique furniture is worth at pawnshops!

In the past, many believed there are only a few reputable avenues for selling their antique furniture and pawnshops did not make this list. In the digital age, this could be the furthest from true! Using PawnGuru, you can corroborate offers between pawnshops to ensure you’re getting the most money possible. This allows you to comparison shop from the comfort of your own house. Just create a free listing without any obligation to any business. Within minutes, dealers will email you their offers. Just choose the highest one and go sell your antique furniture to get cash in your hands today!

Before pawning or selling your antique piece you should prepare it.

Start with the Right Piece

If you aren’t an expert woodworker or an especially adept handyperson, be selective with the items you decide to refinish. Consider the time and effort each piece will demand. This is an important consideration when the plan is to resell.

Unpainted wood is ideal, but many older pieces may already have two or three coats of paint. Removing that paint can be time-consuming. Anything that is very intricate or large will obviously require more time and elbow grease.

Avoid choosing to refinish antique furniture that needs extensive repairs. A loose screw or a missing knob is one thing, but avoid picking anything that has splitting in the wood, missing or cracked legs, or other structural issues.

If the piece has upholstery, determine whether that will need to be redone when deciding if you want to tackle it or not.

The time, effort, and money that it will take to repair the larger issues (or outsource them to a pro) can easily eat up any profit you’ll get from reselling the items after they are finished.

Whether it’s fair or not, the antique furniture market has many pretentious individuals dealing in the trade. Finding a pawnshop who has the infrastructure and professionalism to handle your vintage collateral is key!

Identifying the value of your furniture can be challenging. Almost no antique furniture dealer will be willing to give you a free evaluation. Knowing the time-period, artistic techniques, and lineage of the furniture factor into its value. Many antique owners have a semblance of these details but are not experts. You don’t need to be!

This makes using pawnshops an advantageous system for those looking to get quick cash. A reputable pawn dealer will be willing to explain the justification to the value of your furniture. Many pieces made in America from heavy oak during the early 1900’s will be more valuable than crafts made more recently. Finding a good dealer willing to explain this to you isn’t as difficult anymore. Just use PawnGuru!

Clean and Strip

So you’ve picked the right piece of furniture to refinish — now the fun begins.

First, clean the piece to remove any grease or dirt. This can be done with mineral spirits and an old t-shirt or lint-free rag. Moisten your rag or t-shirt with a small amount of mineral spirits and wipe with the grain of the wood.

Follow this with a good rinse with clean water and give the piece a day to dry completely. Once dry, sand lightly with 150-grit sandpaper and wipe with a lint-free cloth to remove any dust.

If the piece is already painted or finished, you will need to strip it. Using a paste or liquid stripper, apply and let sit for the amount of time as suggested on the product’s label.

Once the stripper has sat as recommended, use a plastic putty knife to gently scrape it off. Steel wool can be used to remove stripper and old paint from rounded corners or carved areas. For getting old paint out of very fine recessed details, an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled paintbrush can help.

For stubborn paint, you may have to repeat this step.

Once the piece is completely stripped, clean it again. If you used a latex or water-based stripper, use water to clean it. If your stripper was solvent-based, use mineral spirits. Allow the furniture to dry completely.

Sand and Refinish

Once your furniture is completely stripped, you’ll want to give it a good sanding. Sand with the grain of the wood and use increasingly fine grits until the piece is smooth. Wipe with a damp rag to remove any sanding dust.

Now, you can restain your furniture using the stain of your choosing. Using a rag, stain in the direction of the grain. Follow all directions on the product label and discard used rags safely and appropriately.

Allow time for the stain to dry completely. Then, stand back, admire your handiwork, and resell the piece for some profit!

Free Appraisals

The pawn industry is relatively unique in offering free appraisals. If you’re selling to a pawnshop this gives you an advantage, especially if you’ve got a rare, high-value piece! The nature of the industry creates a mutually beneficial system. Pawn dealers do not receive their commodities from bulk vendors. Instead, their inventory derives from the community selling and pawning their items at the shop. If you bring in a high-value antique piece of furniture to sell, this diversifies a dealer’s stock and attracts more customers for them. This is why they’re willing to give free appraisals and pay more for antiques!

A free appraisal is not common with other platforms for selling antique furniture. This niche market often takes advantage of people not knowing what they have—making it difficult to negotiate. Antique dealers commonly won’t budge on asking prices and will expect you to know key details about your piece. You’ll be expected to justify your asking price by conveying lineage, craftsmanship, and medium. Most people don’t know these details! With a pawnshop, you can work with a professional who will educate you on the value of your antique furniture for free!

No Shipping Costs

If you decide to use common online furniture dealers, the majority of these sites will either make you responsible for shipping the furniture or severely lower their offer to account for shipping. Most antique furniture is made from heavy oak, which can cost a fortune to sell. Not to mention, you’ll be liable for any damage that the furniture endures while being shipped out. This means not only are you paying for shipping, you’ll be expected to pay for the necessary precautions ensuring the furniture makes it the dealer in top shape.

Doing business with a local pawnshop can help you avoid this unnecessary stress and cost. If you use PawnGuru, a dealer can do a preliminary appraisal based on a few questions you’ll enter into the website. Many pawn dealers will even send out a certified professional to make an appraisal at your house and offer suggestions for the best method to move your rare furniture. This takes out the hassle and gets money in your hands much quicker!

Finding a Pawnshop That Can Handle Antique Furniture

There are some things pawnshops truly covet. Diamond rings, electronics, and, of course, antique furniture. The reason these items are so valuable to pawn dealers is because they are valuable to consumers. This is why pawn dealers are willing to increase the payouts on short-term loans for these commodities.

Think of your antiques as an investment. Instead of visiting a bank or small loan agency—filling out mazes of paperwork—and getting equally high-interest rates with a credit-damaging check—pawn your antique furniture instead! Although this is the savvier option, there are still some challenges you will need to solve. Many pawnshops do not have the infrastructure to store your antiques in a secure location. Damage to your pieces can drop their value dramatically so you’ll want to find a pawnshop that you can trust, with the kind of facility that can properly store antique furniture.

Even after finding a store that specializes in antiques with a proper storage facility—you’ll still want to get the best deal! Although not technically a monopoly, pawnshops that specialize in artisan craft-work do have the advantage of possibly being the only shop with the reputation of handling antiques. You could take your business to this shop without knowing a shop with the same support is right down the street! Don’t gamble on this, use PawnGuru!

The industry standard, whether at a pawnshop or a dealer, is to offer anywhere from 25-50% of the furniture’s original retail value. The key to getting closer to 50% is to be able to negotiate and educate yourself on the value of your antiques. The best way to do this is to use PawnGuru to find a reputable shop that is willing to offer the best deal and conduct honest business with you!

Create a listing on PawnGuru for free by clicking here!

David Stiebel
David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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December 18, 2019, 4:59 AM

I have a solid gold spoon that I would like to learn a little about if possible?

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