But does it work? Well, it can, but first you have to get over the handicap of the customers’ fear of entrapment. Will they be able to get away without buying anything? Many a collection of wonderful stock never overcame that handicap.
Recently I witnessed an imaginative dealer, Steve Rowe, operating in his own home with 20 or so customers sipping wine and nibbling asparagus while viewing one of the best selection of paperweights, if not in the world, certainly in England.
How did he achieve that? By joining the Northern Paperweight Society [see website below], where they do not fear dealers, they welcome them, and throughout the year they hold events in which top dealers from England, Europe and sometimes the States put on a magnificent array of absolutely breathtaking glass paperweights, old and new.
Twenty years ago I was instrumental, with two collectors, in the formation of this society. I mention this because as a dealer I saw the way to draw dealers and collectors together and I believe such an idea might be workable in other areas of collecting.
Since most people enjoy a friendly and well-organised social event where they can meet and mix with like-minded collectors, it should be a recipe for success.
So now I answer my original question: can dealing from home succeed?
Yes, with a good trade organisation behind you and if you are willing to set out your stall from time to time in your own home.
As every dealer reading this knows, there is far more to success than just the above and I am not pretending that the odd collectors’ meeting will make your fortune.
There is still the auction trail, the home visits, wearying fairs and endless paperwork, but I have heard said again and again (with feeling!) ‘it beats work any day’. Only another dealer knows the agonies of dealing and can still say that and mean it.
Anne Metcalfe, Chester
Ex-owner of Sweetbriar gallery and author of Miller’s Guide to 19th and 20th Century Paperweights