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consignment: rules of the road

updated wed 24 dec 03


Eleanora Eden on tue 23 dec 03

Hi all,

When something is sold, ie wholesale, the new owner can set any price
he/she thinks will fly. When it comes to my attention that a retailer has
done this to my stuff I then raise my wholesale price to them. When
something is consigned, the retail price is absolutely the domain of the
consignor, ie you. If somebody changes the retail price they aren't
playing by the rules.

There is a nearby gallery that did this several years ago.....I think the
proprietor thought he could avoid telling me his consignment cut had gone
from 40% to 45%......he thought he could just raise the ticket price to
make up the difference. I was out of there in a NY minute......people who
cruise Vermont are likely to see my stuff in multiple places and I need the
price to be consistent or they think it is me messing with them and I can't
have that. I won't ever get a chance to put them straight.

A related issue is that I don't undersell my local galleries. If somebody
approaches me thinking that they will get a better price from me I try to
very sweetly explain that by coming to my studio they will get a far
greater selection and many designs not available in galleries, but, on
pieces that sell in galleries, I will not underprice them. Also do the
same at fairs. I actually believe that the galleries assume we underprice
them and I don't get into it with them as a rule. But I don't do it. By
selling at the same price as the retailer I know by experience that the
stuff sells for the price on it so if the gallery gets into me about that I
have lots of confidence in my pricing and I never budge. That also gives
me the right to take the high road on all issues related to the galleries,
because I know I am playing absolutely fair.

BTW another gallery issue came up with me recently. This is my pet
peeve. A gallery manager asked me to come and pick up a piece that had
been damaged. I demanded particulars. She said a customer had cracked a
piece and I had to come and pick it up. I stated that I don't ever absorb
the cost of damaged pots, that they would have to pay for it. She still
wanted me to come get it. I patiently explained that if they paid for it
they then owned it and could sell it for that price if possible or
whatever, but if I picked it up then I would own it and they would have no
reason to pay for it. So. When you consign you will eventually be
confronted with this and I would have it at least as an oral understanding
that they pay for breakage. If you leave this open you are asking for
damage as pots are vulnerable and if they think they won't be liable for
damage they won't be as careful. As it happens she tried to insist and I
held the line and she later wrote an apology. I think this issue is the
real deal-breaker when it comes to consignment arrangements.

Remember, either you get the pot back or you get paid. I have had to
explain this quite afew times recently, over and over again insisting that
I wouldn't pick it up because I was expecting payment at the usual
consignment rate.



Eleanora Eden 802 869-2003
Paradise Hill Road
Bellows Falls, VT 05101