Approaching stores and consignment contracts?

I am looking at approaching stores soon to see if they will take any
of my work and I would assume that probably it will only be taken on
consignment if it is taken by any stores.

I have a lot of questions swimming through my mind about how best to
go about this task so I thought perhaps I could get some answers to
some of the questions here. I hope these questions don’t sound
silly… the whole process is foreign to me and I will admit I’m
feeling a little anxious just thinking about it all.

First of all - what is the standard consignment arrangement? - I am
interested in hearing from everyone on this topic and am
particularly interested in hearing the specifics from others in
Australia. I assume that law somehow covers us to say that if we
give someone stock on consignment they must pay for lost and damaged
stock… however I am concerned that it is probably very difficult
to make the law work for us in a practical way. I thought perhaps
some of you may get stores to sign contracts that say that they
agree to pay for lost or damaged stock and/or get them to sign off
on lists of stock that you give to them at any point in time
(keeping a copy for yourself of all such things). That sounds like
the most logical process to me … but then, also, I am worried that
some store owners may take offense at you being so official when
they perceive that they are taking on more work with trying to sell
your stock. It also occurs to me that having to spend time reading
a contract before taking on work that they may only ever have been
luke warm about anyway could damage your chances of getting anything
into stores.

Sample Consignment Agreement contract
http://www. Sample Consignment Agreement Contract - Ganoksin Jewelry Making Community

Also, the other area that I am unsure about is approaching the
stores in the first place. I can see that there might be a few
alternatives. You could phone a store and ask to make an
appointment with the owner, manager or other appropriate person, you
could email a request for an appointment (giving the store the easy
option of not replying to your email if they don’t feel like it) or
you could go in in person and ask for an appointment face to face.
I have been thinking that perhaps the best approach would be to go
in and ask for an appointment face to face taking with you a small
photo folio of your work to either get their attention and make them
feel enthusiastic about meeting with you or, to give them the
opportunity to let you know (before anyone’s time is wasted) that
your work is not in a style that they would wish to sell. I could
also see a problem with this in that some store owners/managers
might make hastey decisions about not wanting to meet with you
because they misjudge the pieces seeing them only in 2D form.

One more thing - I am wondering if jewellers on this forum find that
stores that hold their work on consignment are willing and
successful at referring customers to you, or making a request on a
customers behalf, to have a piece made up in the customer’s size?

Oh, and another thing - what is a good amount of stock to offer a
store? Would something like 3 or 5 designs be considered a strong
enough start? And, how many of each design might a store expect to
be given to start off?

R.R. Jackson


A consignment contract is a must. You should have your own written
up, one that you are very comfortable with. The store may also have
one. If you are comfortable with theirs, fine. If not, perhaps you
can draw one up that you’re both happy with. The SNAG website
( has an example of one, which you can tailor to
your own specs. I believe that stores and galleries truly appreciate
a businesslike, professional approach. If they feel “threatened” or
put off by your having or insisting on a contract, stay away.

If you are in a store that you think would be appropriate for your
work, it’s fine to ask them for an appointment. Or call. Don’t walk
in with examples of your work–it’s kind of bad form.

If the store does want your work, ask them what a good selection
would be for their needs. Obviously, you will have looked around and
seen what others have on display–that’s a pretty good indication.

But don’t be timid–that’s probably the most off-putting of all.



My experience has been this:

First of all, the stores aren’t doing you a favor by carrying your
work, especially on consignment. You are both in business and you
will both make money if your jewelry fits their market. I know
that’s a hard feeling to get over, especially when it’s your first
time getting your work out there! I’m not sure what type of jewelry
you make, so my experience is based in bridge jewelry, mostly in
sterling and semiprecious beads that retails for between $60 and
about $250.

What I found to work for me was this: Canvass an area that has a
bunch of boutiques – I’m from California, so I hit certain areas in
San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Gatos – chi chi little shopping
areas. If I thought that the clothes and accessories the shop was
selling fit into my look, I would take a card and write down a
little bit about the store in a notebook. Once I had finished
checking out a certain area, I would call the boutiques, asking for
the accessories buyer and let them know who I was and what I did and
that I’d like an appointment to show them my line. Getting this
appointment wasn’t particularly easy, but persistence pays off. I’d
take in probably 20-30 pieces on black trays with black or grey
"velvet" pads and show them part of the line. I feel like 10-12
pieces is a good representation of my “look” for any boutique – I
think 3-5 is too little, but that’s just me.

A contract is key. You’re not going to offend anyone – you’re
business person giving a retail location goods to sell. You need a
contract. (I have a copy of one I’ll send to you off list if you’re
interested.) I had them sign it the first time I dropped off
inventory. I also had an inventory list (my inventory number,
quantity, description, my price, suggested retail, paid or not paid
columns for each piece) of what I was leaving, they got a copy and
signed the copy I took for my files. That way, if there was a
discrepancy, I could take that sheet back and say, here, you signed
for X amount of pieces and you don’t have them, nor have you paid
for them. That’s only happened a couple of times, and they’ve paid
up eventually.

As for prices, I found that some places did 70/30 (70% to you 30% to
the store) lots did 60/40, but most wanted 50/50. This seemed
outrageous to me at first. But that seems to be the way it goes, so
I figured out how much I needed to make per piece, suggested they
keystone (double my price) each piece for retail, and let the store
sell it for whatever they wanted. I got the price I needed and that
worked fine. Most stores keystoned and added a little bit like 10 or
20% to cover credit card processing or what not.

Consignment for me was a great way to start getting my pieces sold.
Most store owners were easy to work with, some will be more
difficult. I found the biggest pain was going back to the stores,
checking their inventory against what they’d had the last time I was
there and making sure that they paid me for all the pieces sold.

Good luck!
jocelyn broyles

I have done a fair amount of consignment, and I will not ever pay
more than 30% commission on consignment. To me, 50% discounts are
solely for retailers who buy my work on my wholesale terms. In my
mind, the biggest advantage of consignment is that I’m at least
getting a bigger percent of the sale than with wholesale, which helps
make up for the additional risk of having my work out there, unpaid
for and unsupervised by me. And you also have the responsibility of
keeping track of the inventory.

No retailer has ever suggested 50/50 commission to me, and if they
did I might feel they weren’t quire sure what they were doing. Maybe
the 50/50 consignment issue is particular to the market you’re in, or
more competitive markets in general.


Courtney Graham Hipp
cgHipp Jewelry Designs


If it is possible I would appreciate a copy of the contract you use.
Please contact me off list.

Thank you
Greg DeMark
Longmont, Colorado
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry

I have had my present retail store for 13 years, and recently have
been able to afford to take artists work on consignment.
If I buy something, I can mark things up from 2 times up to 10 times
on some things. Something I pay 10 dollars for and mark up over a
hundred is similar is quality to something that would sell for $300
at a dept store.

So why would I want to use my valuable real estate to make 30%?

We are generous, and pay our consignment artists 60%. We advertise,
have an opening with wine, cheese, and chocolate, stay open longer
hours, pay employees for more hours. I can afford to do this as a
draw, to make my store special, have it be remembered, and they come
back and over time it makes it worth it.

I’m wondering if you depend on this for your income, or some extra
income. The artists we work with usually get 50% from their other

If what you are doing works for you, you are doing something right.

The amount of time it takes to make a sale has to be figured into
the price, as does rent, utilities, insurance, taxes, ect, so 30%
would not cut it for me, and I believe I know what I am doing. At 40%
I am probably breaking even unless I sell $3000-$4000 of consignment
in a few days,along with sales of my merchandise, repair and custom
orders. Then there is the issue of the customer who wants a deal,
(there goes 10%) and this happens more and more (Dr. Phil did a show
on women learning to negotiate for EVERTHING.

I do not know what others are going through right now in retail, but
here in Denver, people come in, look around, and complain about not
having money. People are very careful now, and we have a huge
inventory of easily afforded merchandise.

I am an artist first, businessman second, and God Bless myself (and
my wife who is my better half), we have been able to juggle all this
and be between surviving, and thriving.

A diamond in the rough,
Richard Hart

I get apprpoached by shops and gallery owners to take my work on
consignment all the time - 9 times out of 10 the percentage is 50/50
(this is Ohio) and I always say no thank you. They never raise the
percentage - they just move on and ask for someone else’s work. . . .

I simply can’t make any money tying up my work for any period of
time for 50% of retail. If you are getting 70% I’d like to know what
market you are working in??

Let me comment from the other side of fence. My primary business is
retail. I also do jewelry repair, hence my interest in Orchid. My
consignment policy is really rather simple. Unless a consignor is a
large company with its own percentage policy, I use an 80/20 formula.
I do not feel comfortable asking for more that 20 percent from
individuals. After all, the only thing I am really providing is some
space in my store. The consignor owns the product, pays any personal
property taxes on it, sets his/her own retail price, etc.

Here is a copy of my consignment agreement. I have not run it past an
attorney because I am of the old school, my handshake is my bond.


This agreement is between…, hereinafter called
CONSIGNOR, and…, hereinafter called CONSIGNEE.


-All merchandise taken on consignment by CONSIGNEE must be approved

-CONSIGNOR will retain title to all items placed on consignment.
CONSIGNEE will not carry the items as inventory, and CONSIGNOR shall
be responsible for any and all personal property taxes on the items.

-CONSIGNOR and CONSIGNEE may each remove any item or items from this
consignment agreement at any time.

-The retail price of each item shall be established solely by

-CONSIGNEE will collect and pay to the Texas State Comptroller any
and all sales taxes due as a result of the sale of any consignment

-CONSIGNEE will retain twenty (20) percent of the retail price of
each item sold; CONSIGNEE will remit eighty (80) percent of the
retail price to CONSIGNOR on a monthly basis, or upon removal of all
consigned goods and subsequent termination of this agreement.

Agreed to on…



In addition, there is an attached sheet showing description, retail
price, and quantity of each item consigned.

Please note: This is not an attorney-approved contract, just an
in-house document that works for me and my consignors. There is a
huge trust factor involved since my store is a Christian general
merchandise venue.

Del Pearson, PhD, of Designs of Eagle Creek in Beautiful South Texas,
where the wild flowers are just starting to paint the landscape.

Consignment for 50/50 is out of the question for me too. If a
retailer wants to carry my line, 50/50 is wholesale and they will
need to purchase the items upfront. If they don’t want to purchase
wholesale but want to “try out” the line and see how it goes, then
the cost for me to tie up my merchandise that may or may not sell
(depending on how well the shop knows their own customers) is at
least 10% - because, in all actuality, it’s a loan. I’ve actually
stopped selling items on consignment. I can’t afford to have my
money tied up in consignment situations and, to be honest, I felt a
little taken advantage of in past situations. I know there are
retailers that will probably have a different view on this and state
the cost of running a shop, etc. - but the cost for me to design
items and have them stocked in a shop without any cash in my hand
costs my business money also. 50/50 is wholesale.

I drew the line and got out of consignment when a shop that was
selling my items (almost as fast as I could bring them in) told me
they had a 20% off sale and I needed to eat 10% of that sale
discount… on top of the 50% they were already taking. For as much
of my jewelry as they were selling every month, 60/40 or even 70/30
would still have been a good deal to them. I know from the amount of
sales per month that their take on my sales covered the monthly rent
for the shop - and I was one of many lines in the store. If I ever do
consignment again, it won’t be for 50/50.


I posted essentially this same message around a year ago with
slightly different numbers, reflecting our 2003 income and expenses.
We have a store on the Big Island of Hawaii. Business is great. It
has been boom times for construction, tourism, retail, real estate,
etc.since 1999.

On this island the 9/11 downturn didn’t last through October, 2001.
Our store has had 30% annual growth since October of 1999 and this
year, so far, it is beating the average.

So this is not a “poor me” posting.

Last year our daily average take was just over $900. Our daily
expense was just under $270. Mostly wages, followed by rent,
electricity and the rest.

This means that for every $100 we took in (1/9 of our average take)
we had to cover $30 (1/9 of our daily expense) just to stay open. If
I sold a $100 consignment item at 70/30 that would mean $70 went to
the artist, $30 to overhead, $3 to the credit card company and about
$1 more or less for bag, bubble wrap, gift wrap…

So I would end up paying just under $4 for the privilege of selling
the piece.

If the piece was $100 at 60/40 I would actually make money, about
$6. If it were $100 at 50/50 profit would be about $16. Not exactly
greed head territory yet.

If it cost $50 and was marked up 2.2X the profit would be $26. We
mostly buy outright, jewelry, glass, pottery, wood, about 35 artists
in all, and usually mark up 2X (wholesale + shipping). We sell our
own jewelry and also some things we can mark up more than 2X. We also
wholesale our jewelry to about 30 stores in Hawaii, the new Maui
Hands in Santa Monica and soon the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I know
what it’s like on both sides of this issue.

I have to groan every time I hear about the greedy gallery owner vs.
the poor starving artist. Everybody is busting their ass to make
this all work.

John Flynn

Hi guys,

I am VERY interested in this consignment discussion but am a little
bit confused about the percentages people are debating about.
Shouldn’t the percentages be only be compared and considered only
when taking into consideration of how much markup was built into the
price. But since every designer has different work efficiency and
raw material prices, it’s really hard to get an accurate percentage
of markup. Isn’t it?

My experience approaching stores (warning: a bit long)

It’s a little different for me, since we mainly sell unique, but
mass-produced items (as opposed to many here who designs and sell
limited-production pieces). In the short period of time that I have
tried to sell our products to retail store owners, I have experienced
a whole lifetime of emotions. I really did not know what I was
getting into when I left a six-digit job in the computer industry to
help my girlfriend’s family business. (Her superman father passed away
unexpectedly few years ago while the company was in pre-ipo stages.
Kids were way too young to pickup, debtors who owed close to a couple
of million simply said they didn’t owe, diamonds in inventory missing
from employees opening safe)… oh oh, here’s a tip: never do biz
just on a handshake. the contracts are important… probably not
because the other party will default their promise to YOU, but
possibly to those you care about. it’s important for your
beneficiaries, the ones you work so hard for.

Anyway, back to my experience approaching retail store owners, I have
met some of the rudiest and most selfish people I have ever met in my
whole life. Since I am new to selling, I took it very hard
personally, and often came home literally crying to my girlfriend
asking why? one time after setting up an appointment, I walked into a
store only to get a response from the owner who put up her hand to
stop me at the door, and said in a rude manner “we are not interested
in seeing your products today, bye” The worst of it is that she didn’t
even raise her head to look at me!! Another owner, a bench jeweler
himself who knew the cost of diamonds and labor, got my factory
production cost + a mere 10% markup, and he still haggered me down on
pricing to 5% cuz “cash-sale”, then a month later returned almost all
the goods to me saying business was bad and that other mfg reps allow
returns all the time. We were new and just starting out… what could
we say?? I even had a so-called "mfg"er who outsourced to my factory
and made me conquer all kinds of initial first-order problems to
satisfy his low price at our quality so that he can make a huge
profit on his wholesale clients. When I deliver his order on time, he
still said it’s too expensive, when in fact, he was afraid that his
clients find out they can find us directly, in the US, and not have
to use his services or go to Asia directly.

Sorry about the rant… I just feel like as a community, we do not
have to try to grab the whole pie, let’s share the profit and think
for others. I know there are many factors and overheads, etc. but
please be nice to each other especially struggling new
designers/companies like me :slight_smile:

We were also fortunate enough to meet a few VERY VERY nice jewelers
with whom we are so happy to call business partners. one guy we met
while vacationing and we came back home to mail him 5K’s worth of
stuff, but neglected to get his signature FIRST! he sold a piece and
had a check with a signed memo mailed out to me. It’s giving me a
better outlook on humanity :slight_smile:

Dr. Pearson’s email prompted me to write all this. I can tell that
he is probably one of those very nice jewelers who thinks of others.
Bless your heart!

Teddy Wu
Talent Jewelry Mfg, LLC

I really think that you should re-think this policy. Not only do
you provide ‘space’, it is also your responsibility to safe-guard
against loss (theft & otherwise) or damage, you pay 100% of the
selling expense for upkeep of your location, utilities, salaries,
etc., and you or your employees do all of the selling of the
merchandise. If you sell a consignment piece this month, and it
comes back next month due to a defect, what will you do if the
consigner no longer consigns to you at that point? You need to keep
in mind that when one of your customers buys a $20.00 consignment
item, you will get $4.00 to cover all of these expenses. PLUS, the
customer DIDN’T buy that OTHER $20.00 item that YOU have already
paid $10.00 for, and would have gotten $10.00 to cover your overhead
expenses with. These consignment goods are in competition with your
regular merchandise, and you stand to lose quite a lot of money when
the sales are of consignment goods instead of your own merchandise,
if you don’t get sufficient margin on them.

Lee Cornelius


I have found that most stores and galleries who do business on a
consignment basis use a 50-50 split. Lots of artists think that
this is unfair–that they should be making more on their work than
the person/business selling it. I would love to find enough places
that would do a 60/40 or 70/30 split–but I can’t. I do understand
that the store earns its half by marketing and selling my work, as
well as having to support employees and pay store expenses. I
believe that they earn their 50%. And they take on the task of
selling–one that I gladly relegate to them. If you set your price
so that you make the amount you need, you aren’t losing.

The same relationship doesn’t work with those businesses that buy
work outright–they own it. They make the investment. And they can
mark it up as much as they’d like. If your work is being sold at
more than 100% or 105% markup, you might want to reconsider your own
pricing. If you don’t like the idea of others making money from your
work, decide to sell it yourself–shows, online, etc. But also note
that when you do this, you are also spending a lot more money (and
valuable time) doing this.

Just one person’s opinion…

I sold both on consignment and wholesale - I’m now just selling
retail but am seriously thinking of getting back into wholesale once
I get a better feel for what my “line” is going to be so I can sell
it as a story.

This is just my point from experience and it may not be the right
view or the wrong view - just what I found in both experiences - If
I’m selling on consignment and plan to make a living selling my
designs, I need to have my merchandise on consignment in a lot of
shops and galleries. Let’s say I have 20 galleries and each gallery
has about $2,000 inventory of my merchandise at a given time and my
take on that is 50% or $1,000 from each shop - that’s still $20,000
in inventory that I have out there. The cost, in both material and
labor, to make up that inventory is huge and a risk if it doesn’t

To me, making up a sample line and spending money on a large
wholesale show (including travel, booth fees, everything) is still
going to be a much safer bet and the initial cost will be lower and I
won’t have thousands of dollars in inventory on hold somewhere.
Maybe I’m not understanding something - I have done wholesale shows
in New York and none of the buyers have ever requested or expected
consignment. I haven’t yet applied to Buyer’s Market because I don’t
feel I’m ready - but do the buyers that go to that show (as well as
ACC shows) want to consign? I was told by someone once that buyers
don’t buy on consignment at those shows.

Anyway… having done the wholesale trade show route, consignment
doesn’t work for me because I can sell my items for wholesale at
50/50 and I’m paid for the merchandise upon shipment (sometimes
terms). If I can sell my designs outright at my wholesale cost and
get paid upfront, what incentive is there for me to take the risk of
sending thousands of dollars in merchandise out on consignment and
waiting months for the same amount of money I can get selling
outright wholesale? It’s not being “selfish” to view it this way,
it’s a big risk and a lot of money in merchandise - at least for me.

I’m spending time and labor that goes into making up the designs
which could be spent filling orders, marketing, shows, or creating
new designs. I’m at a point in my business where I’m really
beginning to see the meaning of “time is money.” Time spent on
"possible" sales versus actual sales is a risk and a big expensive.
It costs me more - piece for piece - to sell on consignment than to
sell outright wholesale, which is why I say 50/50 doesn’t work for
me. The costs are not the same. Any inventory I have in a shop on
consignment is money that I cannot put into my business. Whereas,
wholesale orders are paid for upfront at 50/50 - and I’ve made back
the money I’ve put into the business. Plus, I know that the labor
spent is also getting paid for when each order is placed. What if
the consigned items end up being sent back to me - what happens to
all that lost labor? I’m asking that seriously - what are the average
losses for lost time, returned merchandise? I can imagine it could
really add up to a lot of money. I’ve tried both routes and can
vouch that the consignment situation was more risk and more cost for
me and I was much more limited in what I could do and what I could
sell because of the cash flow situation and waiting for money that
comes with consignment.

Hi - I’m coming late into this conversation… but I usually give
the stores my wholesale price and they can do whatever they want
from there. I will ask to see my pieces every so often, I get them
back to look over them, and then I’ll send them back, and I have a
simple contract that includes that if they go bankrupt my pieces are
not their inventory, that they must ship overnight and inform me that
they are shipping, and how soon I want to be paid and notified after
a sale has been made as well as asking them to give me the name of
their insurance company and signing for the replacement price
(wholesale price) for any lost or injured pieces; I have been lucky
so far, and had some really wonderful galleries sell some great
pieces. I have a primarily wholesale business and that wholesale
price is all I expect to make, unless I do a retail show - I also
like using my wholesale prices because if they sell an item, they
usually, eventually, will buy the same item and that way they know
my wholesale price structure and their customers know the retail
price structure and it is an easy transition.

Best, Jennifer

So well put Catherine! I couldn’t quote from your excellent post –
too many good points – but you articulated what I’ve been grappling
with for this past 3-4 months as I get a better business plan

My solution, which I’ll test over the next year or so, is a hybrid.
Or more precisely, diversity. I’m developing lines for consignment,
lines for retail (i.e. - wholesale) and lines for art shows and my
website (i.e. - direct retail). I see the advantages to all, and I
see the advantage to not putting all eggs in one basket or booth, as
it were (at one show last year my booth was smashed up by a storm!).

For consignment, I see the advantage of getting my more daring
pieces out there and testing them. I also have control over them, how
they’re displayed, and if they’re dogs, I can pull them and replace
them. I work hard to only have relationships with gallery owners who
see artists as partners, not as slave labor to help them afford the
second home in Vail.

For wholesale, I focus on production pieces and high profit margin
for ME. Cash now, they pay the shipping, and it’s great feedback,
too, to a more mainstream market. I am working toward partnerships
with other bench jewelers or production houses to create these lines
once they’re tested and out there.

For direct sales I will have a mix of the above lines plus some fun
stuff that sell well. This is where I get the absolutely necessary
direct contact with customers and also meet new gallery and retail
store owners.

For wholesale and gallery accounts, I have been doing in-service
days for the staff and owners. That’s where I come in before the shop
opens and bring coffee, juice and Crispy Cremes and get to know the
staff while showing them how to sell the jewelry, teach them about
the unusual stones, get them excited about it - and low and behold,
they love to sell MY work over the other work. I have relationships
with them, and they call me when customers have questions, etc.

We’ll see how it goes!!

    Anyway.. having done the wholesale trade show route,
consignment doesn't work for me because I can sell my items for
wholesale at 50/50 and I'm paid for the merchandise upon shipment
(sometimes terms).  If I can sell my designs outright at my
wholesale cost and get paid upfront, what incentive is there for me
to take the risk of sending thousands of dollars in merchandise out
on consignment and waiting months for the same amount of money I
can get selling outright wholesale? 

I don’t have a lot of experience with either, but I agree, if I
approach a store about carrying my jewelry, I much prefer wholesale
to consignment.

On the other hand, I spend lots of time in my studio, and only do a
couple of open studio shows a year, and I will say that I’d prefer
consignment to having inventory sit in my studio unsold. While I do
sell some jewelry on a fairly regular basis to coworkers, friends,
and through word of mouth, it isn’t enough to keep me earning a
profit in the months that I don’t have a show, so I’ve started
looking for both wholesale and consignment venues. I imagine that at
a certain point, the negatives for selling on consignment will
outweigh the positives, but if jewelry is going to sit in my studio
for the next few months, I’d rather have it sit in a shop where
someone might buy it. I could always pull the merchandise if I
needed more inventory for a show…


one time after setting up an appointment, I walked into a store
only to get a response from the owner who put up her hand to stop
me at the door, and said in a rude manner "we are not nterested in
seeing your products today, bye" The worst of it is that she didn't
even raise her head to look at me!!

Wow. This is terrible business etiquette, as well as just incredibly
poor form. To me (and indeed to most people), an appointment is a
verbal contract in which two people agree to give each other a
certain share of their time. You had to sacrifice part of your
working day to meet with this person; she should have honored your
agreement by doing the same. Honestly, you are muchbetter off
without this dishonorable person in your life.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this immensely helpful thread.
I think I have been convinced that selling on consignment is not for


Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, Ohio

I think that it really depends on the work that you wish to sell. I
still rely on consignment for much of what I make. When I ship a
group of work off to a gallery or store for a show, the holidays,
etc, it most often consists of rings, earrings and a larger body of
one of a kind brooches and neckpieces. I don’t really expect the
gallery to purchase what I-- and they-- might consider "riskier"
pieces. This might include work whose subject matter might express a
personal viewpoint, work that is made primarily of non traditional
materials or work that might be considered in some way challenging to

I feel that this allows me a greater latitude in what I want to make,
since the venue does not feel the pressure of making a purely market
driven decision on what items of mine they will carry. It also
allows me a greater control of my retail price, since they can only
mark it up 50%. (Collector discounts not withstanding.) This way
there is a parity between pieces from a given body of work spread out
among a bunch of galleries. Maybe most importantly, this guarantees
that my work will not appear in the bargain bin or clearance rack.
(This, of course, is not true of items that are sold and then
returned past the allotted time for returns. In this case, the
gallery owns the work and can do what it wishes: sell it at a
discount, donate it to an auction, etc. This is a whole other can 'o

Another way to go is to to establish a rule that the sales venue will
be offered certain pieces on consignment but they must purchase
earrings, rings, whatever outright. Maybe this is the best of both

I’ve found that the galleries that I’ve established relationships
with and continue to do business with really do earn their
percentage. It is their job, as I see it, to promote me and my work
in print and in person with their clientele. Ideally, they will help
you build your career. It is, in my eyes, a partnership. They also
are the firewall between you and what can, at times, be a strange

I do balance this with a custom and commission business-- I like
dealing with people for the most part.

Not all sales venues are the same as can be said for jewelers and
metalsmiths. It really boils down to the type of work you make, the
type of place where you wish to sell it and your own comfort level.

Take care,
Andy Cooperman

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this immensely helpful
thread. I think I have been convinced that selling on consignment
is not for me. 

I’m currently setting up a gallery in a small tourist driven town
where we happened to have alot of artists of various persausions
around in “the hills” They have no studios open to the public and if
they did I doubt the lazy tourist would seek them out. Our gallery
has been set up with the artists wellfare in mind. The only way we
can run this store is on a commission basis 60/40. The artists for
the most part are thrilled to have an oportunity to be able to show
their work. Commission is not for everyone but it does give those
who can’t yet sell outright or want just a chance to show what they
do. Without this chance the artists would never been seen. I know
because I’m one of these artists and I was very happy to have that
first gallery give me a chance. Finding a gallery that has a decent
attitude toward the artist is not impossible.

Lisa in NY