by Shelagh Blatz.
(Priddis, Alberta, Canada)
I have been doing shows for about 5 years and have a fantastic booth. I ordered your jewelry show book and it’s confirming a lot and also teaching me new things.
I also sell wholesale to stores/galleries and do some consignment in art galleries. I also sell off my website.
I recently got an email from a gallery that purchased about $700 in product from me. Here it is:
I do hope you remember me. Although your work is amazing and I have many gallery guests commenting on it, unfortunately, I’ve not been able to sell even one piece. As I purchased this jewellery, I’m not sure if you would prefer that I mark the price down or if you would be willing to switch all the items ~ let me know your thoughts on this and we’ll go from there.”
I’m not quite sure how to handle it. I have an upcoming show next month and I’m launching a new website.
I don’t want to do any trades until after that show, if I do it at all.
Any advice?? I’d really appreciate your feedback.
Thank you so much,
Designs by Shelagh
by: Terri Wlaschin
In the letter, they stated they purchased the items. I take it that means you are paid – no strings attached. Why did they come back to you to ask if they can reduce the price? Isn’t that their option to do so?
I’ve had this happen before but not on the level of a shop owner not having been able to sell anything and wanting to exchange it all. I’ve usually been amenable to it because I’ve wanted to maintain a good relationship with them and its not worth a $30 pair of earrings. But my circumstance is waaaaaaay different from yours it sounds like.
I have had retail customers who have wanted to exchange something, in some cases years later AND it was an item that I made and they wanted to exchange it for something my partner, who I was exhibiting with was selling. Blargh.
I would ask a few questions:
Is this a gallery you want to maintain a relationship with?
How long have they had the jewelry now?
Have you been in the gallery to see how it has been displayed?
Do you think it is likely that they might communicate to other gallery owners if you are unwilling to arrange some sort of compromise?
I would try and work something out with them because you may want to preserve feelings of good will with them. However, I would try and work out an arrangement with them that perhaps is not an equal exchange, or perhaps, if the problem is pricepoint for them you could switch out for a small number of items that are more in a pricepoint that would be sellable for them.
The gallery indeed purchased the jewelry from me. She had asked at the time if I would consider consignment & I told her I only do a certain percentage of consignment & that portion was filled. She willingly paid for the jewelry (I was surprised).
It has been in the gallery for about 6 months. It is a brand new gallery (another reason why I wasn’t doing consignment) in a small rural community. I haven’t been to see it, its quite a drive away.
What I’ve done is told her to feel free to mark down the jewelry, I mean its hers. I was considered how this would effect my ‘brand’ or how I’m perceived; but seriously Chanel goes on sale, why can’t I??
I also told her I’d try to help bring attention to the gallery through my Facebook group & during my new website launch. The new website includes a blog, so I’ll do a post or two. I won’t mention that the jewelry is on sale, just that its there. I don’t want other galleries/stores thinking that I’m giving out deals on wholesale prices.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll make the trip & switch out a few pieces with what I have in stock. I’m sure she’s struggling & is regretting paying outright for the jewelry, so she’s looking for any solution to get things going.
Doesn’t matter how big the town, the community is small, I’m going to be nice & try to help her out as much as I can; but I can’t bend over backwards because you made a bad decision about opening an art gallery in a small farmer/rancher town. (Don’t take offense farmers, I’m a farm girl)
Thanks for the feedback, I’d appreciate more. I just love this community I’ve found.
Gallery Wants to Trade Out Pieces
by: Melanie Hay
This is a tricky situation & you are handling it admirably.
For future reference, I guess this is something that needs to be clearly stated in your terms of sale because while it is indeed a shame that things haven’t sold for the owner, you sold them to her in good faith & hence are not under any obligation to trade them out.
It is also going to cost you extra time & money (ie: fuel) to visit & negotiate the trade out & the pieces that are swapped back will also probably require cleaning – all of which represent the downside of a consignment arrangement instead of a wholesale one!
All the best
Thanks, you’re so right. I’ll leave it for a while & if she gets back to me about switching them out, I’ll consider it.
I love wholesale, pre-paid sales, but I didn’t expect this. Hopefully it will work out!
Something to consider
Judging by seeing a few pieces of your jewelry I would think that there should not be a problem selling your jewelry.
However, you might not be in the right location. The store owner may not have taken that into consideration.
Before you make too many concessions I would consider asking a few questions like, what is selling? What price points are moving? What marketing is being done on the store owner’s part?
The store owner usually doesn’t have an option of returning merchandise because it doesn’t sell. I’m not suggesting playing hardball here, but don’t take it in the shorts either.
Why not try a Trunk Show?
by: Sarasota Mary
One suggestion is to mention to the gallery owner that you might be amenable to coming there for a trunk show. She could advertise that the jewelry artist will be at the gallery for a set date and time period, you could advertise on your blog, website, Twitter, etc. and it could be a great way to bring new business into her gallery. Trunk Shows are a wonderful concept because everyone loves the idea of meeting the designer in person and having the designer help them select just the right piece for them.
If you felt it might work, you could even take more of your pieces along to sell at that time, and arrange with the gallery owner that she would get a small percentage of each sale of that additional jewelry that you bring.
Trunk Shows have worked well for me. If you have never tried it, this may be the time to try the concept out for yourself.
Good Suggestion, Mary!
I like Mary’s approach – it sounds like a win-win. The gallery gets exposure and you get up-close and personal with new potential buyers.
I like the suggestion that you ask the owner some questions to find out if anything at all has been selling recently and, if so, what? And for how much?
It seems that if you’re open to working with the gallery owner (and it sounds as if you are), you will be able to come up with something that works for both of you so that you can at least make adjustments after your upcoming show. I would imagine this would alleviate some potential stress for you in the short-run.
Good luck with the gallery situation, your upcoming show and your new website.
I recently pulled all my jewelry from a consignment shop. After 3 months they had sold only one item, I found out they had doubled my prices , and that was the end of it. gouging people isn’t my idea of a good reputation. I had stopped in to switch out some for new designs, but after seeing the prices, took all of it out. Another smaller consignment shop sells plenty of my items at the prices I set.
working with clients
by: archipelago jewelry
I never had any success with consignments, so this is the reason I only sale my jewelry to stores/galleries, etc. I have had a couple of requests to change out pieces that have not sold and have accomodated the request ONE time for each store. After that, I let them know that I am not able to sale wholesale if I treat them as consigment sales. I have offered to bring display pieces and to set up display to help in selling.
Client vs. Customer
First, let me say that the idea of a trunk show seems like the best idea, hands down. It is a way to develop a relationship with your customer – thereby turning them into a client who will repeatedly buy. THIS is much more desirable than a one time purchase. You know how best to sell your jewelry and you may need to help teach the shop owner how to sell your jewelry. Who doesn’t love a jewlery artist who steps in to help a shop owner – especially one who took a chance on your work and bought outright. Of course you could say to yourself ‘self, screw them. I have my money.’ However, I think it looks bad to take that attitude. And as someone suggested it’s very likely that she has contacts with other related businesses in the area and word of recieving a cold shoulder from the artist could spread rapidly – especilly in a small farmers town. I say do the trunk show. It’s a win-win situation.
Do you know how long she has been in business? You suggest that she’s new and inexperienced as a Gallery owner, having opened her gallery in a low income area. Is that a fair assesment of her?
I also agree that you should ask a few questions to help determine why it’s not selling. Many excellent questions are listed above.
‘How is the jewlery displayed’ – very important.
Did she stick to your suggested retail prices, or did she get greedy and double your retail price? That’s a sure fire way to slow sales.
Also, swapping out a percentage of items (Not all pieces, but a number of them) might help to stimulate sales. Someone may have been admiring a piece but they keep telling themselves ‘next week’ … if it’s there week after week it’s easy for them to convince themselves *next time* that it’s okay to put it off a little longer even still … becasue after all it will still be there, right? Swapping it out will make them think that it sold and remind them that something so unique will NOT be there forever and that they need to buy the next peice they fall in love with before someone else walks away with it too.
Either way, good luck. It’s great that even though you feel reluctant to oblige her that you are taking steps to assure her that it wasn’t just about getting a one time sale from her. Having a cooperative relationship with her is your best course of action. With a little nurturing you could make a long term buyer out of her.