Most experiences people have with antiques is stopping at random stores along a country road and browsing among a variety of items from furniture to figurines. Sometimes they are looking for a specific piece.
The behind the scenes of the antique world is far more involved than placing an item in the showroom.
First and foremost is a working knowledge of antiques. Just because a piece looks old does not necessarily mean it is. There are a lot of people who will try to sell reproductions they did in their basement. This is why a lot of antique dealers specialize in one area (furniture) or period (19th century).
Then, of course, is obtaining the antiques. There are many ways this is done. We travel to Europe a few times a year to France, Germany, Romania and anywhere where there may be pieces we wish to acquire for the store or if a customer is looking for a very specific piece. We go to auctions, antique shows, private homes, castles, estate sales, online, wherever there is a chance to find that special item.
If it is purchased overseas and is a big piece then that also involves having it shipped to the US, go through a special customs at local ports and finally being driven to the store.
There are a lot more steps and processes involved but this is a general overview. So next time you see an armoire you fall in love with remember, there is always a story behind how it got where it is.