As someone who once ran a gallery that dealt with consignment you
are right, they are benefitting by having your work for free on
consignment, and when it sells, you both benefit. However, that having
been said, you are also getting "free" secure display space ~
insured, heated, well lit and displayed for much longer than a
week-end craft show, with none of the upfront money that craft shows
require to be laid out beforehand. Your rent is paid by someone else.
With luck, the atmosphere is professional and one that promotes
handmade work. You are hopefully having your work marketed to a
distinct clientele, and the person who allowed your work in their
shop chose it because they thought they could sell it.
My particular experience has demonstrated that work was very seldom
returned, and usually only when there was a defect in craftsmanship.
At least this person has been up front with you through her honesty.
In today's day and age that should count for something. That having
been said, I have also, as an artist, lost entire works through
unscrupulous dealers who closed up shop and left town before paying
me, and one didn't even return the unsold goods. I was very young
then and would have handled it much differently now than I did then.
My policy is this ~ if a work is damaged, broken, stolen or lost,
the shop pays for it. If a work were to be returned to the shop due
to poor craftsmanship/artistry (heaven forbid!), I would of course
repair at no charge to either the shop or customer. Our policy in the
store was to only offer exchanges on consignment goods rather than
cash refunds, and yes we did end up buying a few pieces. If we could
not sell those pieces after a time, the artist was usually kind
enough to exchange them for newer or different pieces. At least then
they could market them to their other venues. If they would not do
this, then we often were forced to sell them at cut-rate prices,
which I believe was not so complimentary to the artist, and may have
even undermined the value of their other works. This happened very
rarely. Perhaps I was lucky in dealing with reasonable people.
The advice is to be very careful, and if you find a dealer that
respects you enough to be honest, perhaps to be patient ~ but only to
a point. Waiting ten days seems reasonable to me. If it goes on past
a month, I would begin to question it. Confused? I know I am . . . .
Best of luck with it all Susan