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holiday sales / consignment thoughts (longish)

updated sun 30 dec 01


chris Campbell on sat 29 dec 01

Hi all -

This Holiday season has been strange to say the least. People seem to
have flocked to the 'safe' venues of craft, studio and home sales and stayed
away from malls to a great extent. I wonder if they sub-consciously saw large
malls as possible targets?

My Gallery clients locations range from Hawaii to the Caribbean and
the sales in vacation areas have been dismal. It is so sad to listen to
people I have worked with for years struggling to keep their fine galleries
afloat. One has had to go back to his former job to pay the rent and another
is facing losing her home as well as her shop. They cancelled second orders
and I've extended payment terms into next year. These are good people and I
will do everything I can to help them through this.

Other galleries in central areas had good sales this season. Locally
(North Carolina ) my sales were about the same as last year. The demand for
patriotic items died after only a month or so ... we do not have long
attention spans !!

On the topic of consignment ... I used to believe that 60/40 was a
workable arrangement for consignment but I must say that I don't anymore. I
really do not think that a gallery can survive on only 40% of the purchase

I say this reluctantly, but the proof is that very few of these
galleries in good locations survive. They usually are staffed by the owners
to keep the expenses down but the fixed costs don't go away and it is hard to
generate the sales necessary to survive on 40%.

Decide what price you want for your work and let the gallery price it
wherever they want. As long as you get what you asked for, you should have no
complaints. This sounds a lot like wholesale doesn't it ?? More like
wholesale with no risk to the gallery - BUT - if you just want a venue for
your work to be seen, is it really so bad? You win by getting an audience,
they win by having good work to show.

Not everyone wants to leap into wholesale. Consignment is a great way
to get your feet wet and learn the ropes. As long as you have a signed
agreement in your hand as to the terms of this partnership, you could have a
great experience.

I personally prefer wholesale with the cash in my hot little hands
but to each his own. Since I do credit checks on every customer and never
ship a second order until the first is paid for, I have never yet had a

If any of my troubled galleries go under next year it will break my
heart. The minor losses I might suffer will be nothing compared with them
losing their dreams through no fault of theirs.

Chris Campbell - in North Carolina - glad not to be in Buffalo. Used to live
across the river from them near Niagara Falls ... we would get one inch of
snow and they got a foot. Methinks Tony & Sheila are outside shovelling about
2 feet of the white fluffy stuff !!