Should You Consign to Galleries?

The question of consignment keeps coming up and while I’ll address it in more detail in the tele-seminar series this summer,  let’s touch base on some basics since it’s the time of year to get started.

Assuming you’ve selected the galleries where your crafts will be most compatible, you’ve narrowed down the choices and set up appointments, it’s time to prepare for your meeting.

Show up well prepared with your pieces attractively tagged, with the information we’ve discussed. Price the pieces at retail. Number each piece so that it coincides with a number on your inventory list. (which you will duplicate and leave a copy with the gallery.) Ideally, a thumbnail photograph of each piece next to the number will help you and the gallery owner identify them easily. This doesn’t need to be a high resolution photo, it’s for reference only, not a marketing piece. If your objects are fairly flat, for example jewelry, a simple way to do it is to just place it on your photocopier, scan it and reduce to thumbnail size..

Also, if you have a display that shows your work off well, present the gallery owner with that option. You always want to have display recommendations.

If you are consigning work to gallery far from home, consider asking someone in the area to periodically “shop”  the gallery for you.  (they are actually your spies.) I can’t count the times I’ve walked into galleries to see a particular artist’s work and it’s nowhere on display. The artist has no idea why he isn’t receiving commission checks and it turns out

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A little known secret to turn your craft into cash over the holidays

Have you noticed that many of the small boutiques and galleries that sell handmade are low in inventory the last couple of weeks in December? I have, and I know why. And this is to your advantage as a maker with crafts to sell.

As a result of the media’s fear-based reports, small retailers ordered light this season anticipating slow sales. But guess what? Discerning consumers are searching for unique, handcrafted, meaningful gifts this season, catching retailers unprepared with insufficient supply and no time to re-order handmade gifts.  Many people  haven’t even started shopping yet which means shop owners are missing out on revenue if they don’t have inventory. While the big-box retailers can mark their wares down after the holidays, and still make a profit, as you know,  craft retailers don’t have the margin to discount since their markup is so low. So, they are afraid to purchase this late in the season.

But this is where YOU come in. Boutiques and galleries that may Continue reading

How you can open a shop with minimal cash outlay or commitment.

Have you dreamed of opening your own gallery or shop of handmade crafts? So many artists and crafts people confide in me that they always wanted to open a shop to sell their own pieces and the work of other crafters but they think they need to have a ton of capital and be willing to commit to a long lease. Is that you?

If you are anywhere between a little timid and downright terrified at the idea of a big commitment,  this is a perfect time to test out your dream with minimal financial risk. Here’s why:

Retail spaces in many parts of the country are at a near record vacancy rate and landlords are anxious to bring in some revenue so they are more flexible than ever. Often they are willing to do a temporary agreement for a limited period of time rather than sit with an empty space, no income and a big mortgage.

If you know of a space that you believe would be a good location for you, particularly if it’s been sitting vacant awhile, consider approaching the landlord with the offer of a “pop-up” shop.

Here’s how that would work. You offer to pay two months upfront. (Remember, you negotiate for a lower rent than asking.) You commit to Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and see how things go. You can either do a month-to-month agreement after that, with a first right of refusal if he gets an offer from another prospective tenant, or once you see you are successful, commit to a longer lease. So, where do you get the cash to pay two months ahead if you don’t have it? Simple. Start out by renting walls and shelf space to other artists and crafters. This is different than a co-op. You keep control. ( There are lots of different formulas to do this and I can help you figure out which way is best for you if we do private coaching. )

If you do have access to the rent money, you still have the option to carrying other artists’ crafts on consignment rather than have to purchase all your inventory outright. I discourage business loans but I do believe in using credit cards to purchase merchandise IF you are very careful to only purchase as much as you believe you will sell by January first.  Remember that the wholesale shows are after the first of the year so you could start strictly with consignment and that gives you two months of success and cash flow. Then you can go to a trade show and begin gradually adding other artists.

Those of you who’ve worked with me know I’m a HUGE believer in starting small and building on your success.

I do have availability for three more one-to-one clients this fall so if a pop-up location sounds like a great plan to you, contact me HERE and we’ll talk about how I can help you get started.

Right Now is the Best Time to Get Your Craft in Galleries and Shops

If getting your work into boutiques and galleries is on your agenda, don’t wait another week. This weekend begins the wholesale show season and the likelihood of a gallery or shop owner taking your work on consignment is far greater now than it will be all summer. When retailers return from a wholesale show, they have generally spent their budget for the next few months and are anticipating the delivery of all the crafts they’ve placed orders for and they’re concerned about having space to display it all once it arrives. So, make time this week to connect with your target shops.

There are some great tips on approaching galleries in the “13 Tips” at right so do download them. Good etiquette for approaching owners/buyers is key. If you walk in with a box of our wares, you’ll likely blow your chance of them even taking time to view them.  Since you aren’t early enough to mail a brochure, line sheet or info package, second best is Continue reading