Cleaning and display responsibility

Hi all, This is a question for those who have work on
consignment. In a consignment situation,who has the
responsibility of setting up displays of your work? The artist or
the store owner? And if work remains in the store for any length
of time,who should maintain and polish it? I am sure different
stores or galleries bring different circumstances. And if the
store buys the work outright then this is really not an issue. I
have an ongoing relationship with one fine jewelry store
nearby,an old friend from years past. His store is still
relatively new and and I have a good deal of work there on
consignment. There is a give and take to the situation. He has
given me an opportunity to display a great deal of work,giving me
my own case as well as placing my work in the front window. Our
business interaction has a kind of freedom to it since we are so
familiar. All this is great. I do though end up having to come
in and maintain my work and I set up all the display in the case.
I purchase and supply the neckstands and such. These supplies are
an investment which serve me well for a long time but it all adds
up in expenses and time. I know at some point I will do little or
no consignment arrangements but this situation gave my friend a
chance to build his business and me a chance to show alot of
work. You get the idea. My situation here may be unique,but I was
just curious what others run into. Also I see that some galleries
request display materials for work to be shown. I am curious
about other fine craft jewelry and metal artists,what they use to
display their work? And is this request unusual or the norm? How
my work is diplayed is very important to me and can really make
the difference in how the customer perceives the work. Thank you
for taking the time to read this and sharing any thoughts-Carrie
Nunes @tnunes

Carrie, I have had things in shops on consignment and I asked for
the job of cleaning. I also came in to inspect my display and
rearrange. That way I know what is there and how it is
presented. It also allows me to rearrange and decide what new
pieces will look the best ( and sell the best) in the display.
It is time consuming, but I feel that I am presenting my own
work in this way. Sharon

Consignment is a two-way street. The shop owner (consignee) gets
merchandise for free to fill up his store without the hassle of
finding a wholesaler, dealing with terms and rates, and a
ready-made worker who will make his repairs and custom orders his
clientele consider to be part of his job description. You, as the
consignor, don’t have to deal with the overhead of maintaining a
storefront, collecting and paying sales tax, and you get valuable
exposure to people you might otherwise not.

Some consignees prefer to use their own displays to fit in with
their store theme. Others prefer you to provide the displays for
them because they still don’t have high quality displays for
jewelry. As a consignor, insist on something that locks, and is
kept locked unless attended. If you supply the display, insist
that only your work is displayed in it. The arrangement should be
done by the store owner, in order to fill in bare spots as the
work is sold. Not everyone is good at this, so talk to them
about display tips. Gallery venues usually don’t have a problem
with it, but specialty shops quite often do because their sales
help is in charge of the displays (which is usually a 16-year-old
more interested in making time with the cute customers).

I expect the consignee to keep the jewelry in top notch form as
far as keeping it polished. That’s part of their job. Don’t they
dust, wipe down fingerprints on the counter, and otherwise
present a neat appearance? What if the shop is several hundred
miles, or more, from your location? Is it a reasonable
expectation for you to travel that distance every month with
your equipment in order to polish? You need to form a firm
expectation of future consignees’ responsibilities. All
consignees should comply at this early stage, regardless of
whether they’re a friend or not. If you expect certain things
from one consignee, but not another, it gets back to the
slighted one and causes hard feelings.

Also, it’s not a good idea to leave things to chance when it
comes to keeping your things sparkly. Dip your pieces in lacquer,
or provide anti-tarnish strips and polishing cloths as part of
your service. Pull your consignments about every six months to
"refresh" the stock. Which types of jewelry sold the best at that
location according to price points and type? Send back more
jewelry which meets that criteria, as well as any previous stock,
freshly polished, which still meets that criteria.

Most of all, have a written contract of your own, between
yourself and the consignee. Spell out every possible criteria
which needs to be addressed now, as well as in the future. It
prevents misunderstandings and everything is there in
black-and-white, so you know you haven’t forgotten an important
point when going over what is expected of each other. Friend or
just a business relationship, everyone likes to know what is
their responsibility. Be considerate, but also be clear in your
contract. Forget the mumbo-jumbo legalese too.

The arrangement I have with my gallery is that they do the
display. Set it and furnish props or stands etc. I however,
remove my work from the gallery three or four times a year (the
gallery is local) this allows me to clean and inventory the
pieces and check any damage or wear on the pieces. While I have
the pieces in my studio I have an open house and invite all my
private clients to come in and see the work and also pick up a
bargain. I discount the work 30% from the gallery price( the
price the gallery sells it at) this gives my private clients a
break on gallery pieces, helps pay for the time and trouble of
cleaning and inventory, and still protects my gallery as I am
not selling at wholesale but just a sale price. My gallery owner
knows of this and doesn’t mind as the gallery gets back cleaned
and polished goods and it helps keep the books in order. It also
puts a little extra cash in my till for new materials and new
product. It is a win win situation. Frank