Mar 6, 2012


consignment: what you need to know

Approaching the store

You can approach the gallery or store in many ways, some are:
  • Calling the store owner or manager and making an appointment,
  • Walking in and presenting yourself to the owner or manager, while having some of your art ready in a tote bag or in the trunk of your car,
  • Coming in the store as a customer and unwittingly “letting them know” that you are a designer and happen to have some of your stuff with you to show them.
If you make jewelry, it’s always a good idea to show it off by wearing it.

Some shops and galleries prefer making an appointment with you, it’s usually the best approach and looks more professional.

At the day and time of your appointment, do have ready with you:

  • Your art
  • Calculator,
  • Pens and pencils,
  • Price tags, business cards
  • An inventory sheet (ready to be filled in with the following information: your name, contact information, date, name of the shop, name of owner or contact and a table showing: number of items, description, unit price, total price)

Negotiating the deal

Start showing your work to the owner, piece by piece.

“Read” the person’s face to see signs of approval or the opposite

Be attentive to their questions too, and give them enthusiastic answers. It’s the time to sell yourself and your work, be honest but don’t downplay yourself.

It’s also a good moment to tie in questions or comments about prices and terms of payment. Never accept “exclusiveness”. If they do want that, they should buy your art up-front from you.

Negotiate the terms of payment with the gallery owner. A 40/60 deal is the most common. Ask about their payment schedule, when and how they will pay you (Do they pay monthly? At the end of the month? Will they transfer your balance to your bank account or do you have to pick up a check?).

All terms of payment are negotiable. If the owner or manager seems too reluctant to negotiate, you could be better off showcasing your work somewhere else.

Also talk about taxes, theft, damage and any other “uncomfortable” topic. You should be absolutely clear about everything, don’t go away with doubts or unanswered questions. The store should be responsible for items being stolen or damaged.

If the store decides to take your work “off the shelf” you should be contacted immediately; you may decide to take your work back or let the store exhibit it again in a few weeks time.

Marketing, promotion and publicity are all vital selling strategies that you need to know, ask the store owner about their promotional efforts and how they affect you (your previous market research might have given you hints about this).

Remember it’s not only about having your work sold, but having yourself marketed as well.

Be creative regarding how customers might know about you. For example, you could agree with the shop owner to be in the store in a busy day to greet customers and explain your work to them .

The agreement

So, you have a deal with a store!

Always have this agreement or consignment contract in writing and signed.

Keep a copy for yourself as well as a copy of the inventory you’re handing over. Ask the owner if it’s ok with them if you stop by from time to time to see how the selling is going on.

Make sure you leave all your contact information to the shop owner and to the sales people.

You can also suggest different or new ideas as to how to display your jewelry for best sales, if the jewelry store owner feels ok with this.

After leaving yourwork, don’t just forget about it and wait for the check to arrive. Building a relationship with each store is vital for your professional development.

Although consigning is a good way to start selling, pricing your work well is critical for your success.