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Biz Talk: Minimum order and payment time?


#1
How do others decide on a fair minimum order and payment time?
I've been inclined toward a $1000 initial minimum, $500 restock
minimum, Net 30, unsold work in good condition exchangeable for new
stock after six months. 
Several friends have suggested this exchange policy is too liberal
and that I should require payment for the initial order in ten
days, rather than 30. I'd really appreciate some guidance from
orther Orchidians with more experience in this area. 

I give net 30, as I feel that this is pretty standard, from those I
have talked to when I did the Buyers Market of American Crafts
wholesale shows. I have never heard of a professional craft artist
asking for 10 days terms. You might be able to get net 10 from some
very sympathetic local store that knows you…I don’t know. Others on
this list may be able to add to discussion on this point.

I did call one client this spring when I was in a cash flow crunch
to inquire how they liked their order, and to ask if they could
expedite the check-writing process, since I knew that they usually
did it on a schedule with their accountant (this was not a store, but
a non-profit foundation that I make tac pins for). They did get the
accountant to cut me a check within a few days…very nice!

Since I really, really want the stores to keep a shelf well filled
with my work, I do not have a minimum on refills. I do not want them
to wait to sell 50% of the work before reordering, to try to make the
minimums! Think about it: the best-sellers sell first. You always
want the best-sellers to be there on the shelf. But refills under
$100 must pay for postage, which is usually included. My best-managed
jewelry store buyer often orders just one or two things, because a
customer comes back to their store to get something they have seen
there, only to find it out of stock because it just sold. So they
give me a call, I ship it to them pronto, and they and their
customer are both happy.

I accept exchanges after the work has been shown for a reasonable
amount of time, at least a full season. I think you might want to
consider a % restocking fee, maybe 5 percent, for the extra work that
returns entail, especially if your work is shown on cards as mine is.
My paper cards come back somewhat shopworn and unusable, usually.

At any rate, you will need to check it in, look up invoices to see
exact prices paid so you can credit the account, and polish it up and
put it away in your studio inventory and storage system. This all
takes time! But it is great to keep the buyers happy and eager to be
your representatives out there. If you sold them stuff that they were
stuck with that turned out to be duds for them, you would not get
reorders, now would you? I have actually had exchanges come back and
sent them out to different stores who were asking for that piece in
the same work week! Just don’t let them do it at too fast a rate; I
feel that they have to give the work a good chance to be seen for a
while. My “best store” mentioned above does exchanges once a year or
so, ordering extra work at the same time.

I hope this helps you in your work!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com