Hi Everyone… I was just wondering what alternatives there are to
consignment in shops and galleries. I’m doing research on the
subject and would like to present alternatives to emerging artists,
that they could look at before consigning. I am lucky enough to
work with a gallery I trust and am doing well with consignment so
far, but I also know the horror stories and risks that are taken.
All, To answer this I will have to make several assumptions. #1 The
individual looking to sell thier product is also the individual
manufacturing thier product. #2 The individual has very little
marketing experience. #3 The individual desires to make a living
selling the products that the individual makes themselves.
I have been in this business since 1978. Until 1994 I functioned
mostly as as a commercial repair stone cutter, jewelry inlay repair
shop, and replacement stone cutter. In 1994 I made the change from
commercial work to selling my products. Consignment did not work for
me. Too much money and labor were tied up at one time to make it
profitable. Sales were dismal at best. Next I tried a retail store
front. Quickly I ran into the same problems I had as a commercial
cutter. I took on repair jobs at higher dollar than commercially,
but could not work fast enough to do all the repairs and still run a
store. Again I was against a ceiling of how much work I could
accomplish in a certain amount of time to make money. I tried hiring
someone to cut stones. Trained stone cutters are impossible to find
leave alone get one to work with you while you build a business. So
here I was with a product that would sell if only I could get the
time to market the product. I had to separate the production phase
from the marketing phase. My solution is still in the works, but
here is what is working. We are using a two pronged sales approach.
One is using the Internet and the other is using shows. I will use
any show the is workable.
From a home and garden show to a club show, to a large wholesale
show, to whatever works. We are constantly upgrading our display to
make it more unique and into our store at the show. We take the time
to explain to all our customers how we operate. We are not a
traditional jewelry store. We do not repair jewelry that we do not
manufacture. We do repair jewelry that we manufacture. We offer
true custom stones and custom jewelry.along with much cheaper
manufactured mounts and mass manufactured stones. I show each
customer the difference in quality and price. All our shows are tied
in with our Internet presence. Iinternet operation is a weak spot
because it still takes a lot of time to update our website Still the
internet is viable. We also use Ebay to sell items. It all works
To summarize - You have to work hard at marketing and separate your
marketing from production. Survival depends upon selling a finished
product for maximum profit. A loose gemstone is not a finished
product. A piece of jewelry is a finished product. Educate your
customers to what your business can and cannot do for them. Do not
waste your time on customers that do not understand your business.
Focus on the customers that understand your business and have shown a
desire to have your products. Much too wordy.
Gerry Galarneau, Working hard to build up inventory after a
moderate sales season. Training two young cutters and having a blast
in sunny, hot Arizona, USA.