1stDibs and RH to Face Off in Lucrative Antiques Market


On Gary Friedman’s latest HR earnings conference call, he cautioned 1stDibs about the global antiques market. He does not take it as a target of acquisition, but to eat his lunch. As part of its far-reaching vision for the HR ecosystem of “products, places, services and spaces”, the company will launch RH Antiques & Artifacts.

“Browse and count the number of antiques and artifacts in our galleries. A lot. People want to buy them and we have to say no because you can’t make them, ”he said.

Enter RH Antiques & Artifacts: “Everything we do should make everything else we do more valuable rather than less valuable. RH Antiques & Artifacts will make our galleries more valuable. They will make our customers’ homes more valuable. They’re going to close a lot more sales. They are going to sell a lot more furniture, ”he continued.

Hats off to 1stDibs – “I think that’s awesome. They did a great job bringing together the antiques world. – he continued by reproaching him for having put too much forward.

“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” he said, explaining that RH Antiques & Artifacts will take a more organized approach. “You won’t have to dig through the haystack to find the needle.”

In this, he may be right. As expected, the HR way of marketing and selling unique antiques will be on the gallery floor and displayed in context. 1stDibs sells items. RH will sell them as part of an overall design. “It’s all of those things in integration, not in isolation,” Friedman continued.

On the flip side, people buy antiques as more than just a decorative accent. The objects themselves have special value. 1stDibs understands this better than most and I would say better than RH, having been in the antiques business for 21 years.

First-come advantage

1stDibs, which went public in June, has first-mover advantage as RH tries to gain a foothold in its space, which UBS and Art Basel have estimated at a global market of $ 64.1 billion for the art and antiques in 2019.

1stDibs calculates that it has nearly $ 11 billion in shares available from its 4,200+ sellers. Having transacted with 3.5 million customers over the years, 1stDibs, as the name suggests, first dibs on the best unique art and antiques in demand today.

As strong as RH has managed to disrupt the traditional luxury home market and as confident as Gary Friedman is, he is at a distinct disadvantage as RH ventures into the largely opaque antiques market.

1stDibs has a 21-year consecutive HR startup and real data on what unique items luxury consumers want and what they’re willing to pay for.

More than furniture

1stDibs cut its teeth in the antique furniture and furnishings sector. It initially started out as a service for Paris flea market dealers to list their products for sale with 1stDibs charging advertising fees for the listings.

Then, in 2016, she changed her business model from advertising to an e-commerce marketplace. “In the beginning, all of the conversation between buyers and sellers and placing the order was done offline. Now, under our e-commerce model, it’s a unified experience. We have reduced the friction associated with buying in our market, ”says David Rosenblatt, CEO of 1stDibs.

After joining the company in 2012, Rosenblatt has continued to hone the company’s mission of “bringing beauty, inspiration and incredible design to our customers”.

That meant expanding its product offering to where luxury shoppers, interior designers and collectors want it to venture. And it’s also been guided by its base of carefully selected international dealers who are down to earth when it comes to what people want.

Now, in addition to antique and vintage furniture, 1stDibs offers contemporary design, art, jewelry, fashion and fashion accessories.

And more recently he added NFT art created by contemporary artists like Lee Mason, who calls himself the Metaageist. “NTFs represent the future of digital artifacts because they give ideas the weight of provenance and authenticity,” Mason said in a statement. “I think we are at the start of an art renaissance.

Unlike other items on 1stDibs, NFT art is auctioned off, which Rosenblatt says the company is pricing site wide. Plus, he’s optimistic about the prospects for the new NFT category with a coin that just sold for 19.1 NFT ($ 61,152) by artist OgiWorlds.

The amount of money that is traded on 1stDibs is impressive, especially since the items are bought on sight. It demonstrates the confidence of its customers in the quality and authenticity of the pieces sold there.

Last year, the gross value of goods totaled $ 343 million, up 23% from 2019, and in the first half of this year, GMV reached $ 221 million. Its number of active buyers has seen a similar increase, increasing by 27% from 2019 to 2020.

Rosenblatt attributes some of its recent growth to travel restriction due to the pandemic, as it shares the average distance between buyers and sellers on the platform for all confirmed orders is over 2,000 miles. But as customers become more familiar and comfortable with trading rare and valuable items through e-commerce, he sees the opportunity for 1stDibs to grow exponentially.

And it was in these new product categories that 1stDibs found its highest prices, including a Salvador Dali piece that sold for $ 1.4 million, a vintage Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet for $ 985,000 and a 50 million year old crocodile fossil for $ 880,000.

“We are always interested in expanding the range of products we offer on the site,” he shares.

Limited supply and growing demand are the key to success

One customer segment that 1stDibs succeeds in cultivating is that of independent interior designers. About a third of its sales are generated by designers, and their average order size is significantly larger than that of consumers.

Interior decorators are a clientele that could be a slowdown for HR, especially as it continues to encroach on their bread and butter business. The word on the street is that freelance interior designers hate taking their clients to RH, although they are often forced to do so at the request of clients.

This suggests why 1stDibs should host RH in its previously reserved space. RH is packing a big marketing boost. With the launch of its RH Antiques & Artifacts offering, it will draw attention to a category that may seem off-limits to those who are unaware.

And because this is a market which by definition has a very limited supply, more awareness and more demand will only increase prices. 1stDibs and its huge network of providers will be sure to applaud.

Rosenblatt and his 1stDibs team aren’t worried. On the contrary, his message to RH is to bring him:

“We have become known for providing access to the world’s most remarkable treasures, for our strict control standards and for the overall user experience of our best-in-class platform. But perhaps even more important is the breadth of our offer, which is particularly relevant in the market for unique vintage and antique pieces, as well as the possibility of communicating directly with the dealers who have purchased these pieces.

“This winning combination has made us the go-to resource for our international audience of interior designers, collectors and consumers,” he concludes.


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