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Internet Commerce Phenomena

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts on my posting about the
online gallery. I have identified that what bothered me the most was
that I do not care for the woman and her business practices - and
this would be included in that. It seems to me that if a Gallery that
has purchased your work is going to market it on the net - that the
artist should at least be informed about it. I found Charles
Lewton-Brain’s explanation of the legal side - most interesting, and
apparently the Law agrees with my feelings about it. Yet… I do
know of another Gallery that has images of my work on their site, (I
don’t remember giving my “express permission” ) and I don’t mind at
all… One, I respect the owner immensely and have a great
relationship with her - and two, she has it priced it at what I would
consider “fair market value”.

In the vein of “fair market value”: I do understand that some areas
that Galleries reside - do have higher rent, commissions to pay
landlords, etc. In this particular situation - I happen to know that
her son designed the site for her, so her cost was at best less than
average. Still, there are submission costs to search engines etc. I
have no objection what-so-ever for a business to make the profit they
need to make to sell my work. I know that Galleries often add from 1
to 3 % to cover shipping and handling; return aders - etc.

Bottom line - she skunked me on the last order she placed with me,
and I was taking it all personal. She received the order the first
of December last year, and kept it through the holiday, When I
called because she was past due - which took several tries - because
she was always “with a customer” - she finally sent the check,
returning three of the higher end pieces, (of course deducting them
from the invoice amount) stating that her customer base wouldn’t buy
the higher end items. She forgets that my Service/Retail business
was 10 doors down from hers, and I KNOW that they would.

  Why in the world would you like to see your work sold for less
than someone thinks they can get for it?  If they think your piece
is worth more than you do maybe you  are underselling yourself. 
And if they bought the piece from you wholesale and have paid for
it they have the right to ask any price they want for it. 

I feel I have a pretty good handle on the value of my work. A good
example is that of a very well known Gallery that placed an order in
Baltimore in 99. It was a fairly well selected collection, and I
was looking forward to future orders. When I followed up on several
occasions following the order - I found that it wasn’t selling.
Through talking with other Artists that had done business with them,
I found that they also hiked up the prices considerably. I will
never know for sure - but my suspicion is the same as this situation

  • that it didn’t sell because it is over priced.

And yes, I do feel that I have an appreciation for what it takes to
sell a product. I’ve been a business owner and or artist for 20
years. Just what it takes to get my jewelry out there allows for a
pretty fair appreciation, I feel. But I did own a Service and Retail
operation - with at one time 12 employees - in a high rent suburb of
Minneapolis as well.

As For:

 A jeweler I know was asked why he didn't wholesale and his reply
was "other people will be making money off my work". 

I wonder if this person is still in business.

I don’t feel I am an unreasonable person - or business person. If
this Gallery had treated me with the respect that I feel I gave her -
I probably wouldn’t have been as bothered by this. When I changed
careers - I made a promise to myself that I would only do business
with people that I liked. I know to some - this may seem crazy…
But it fits with my values. And I would personally rather make less
money than to compromise that. I like to do business with respectful
people. I’ve built my business by trying to support the Galleries
that support me. Presently - I do only two local Guild Retail shows -
although I am considering changing that. My business is about 75%
wholesale. In addition, my website was also designed to promote the
Galleries that represent me, rather than having it be for direct
selling on the net. Of course all that could change tomorrow given
the present state of the economy. Baltimore should prove very
interesting this year.

Warmest Regards and a Happy Holiday to you all!


Jody, Thank you for your open and honest post. I have a retail
jewelry store, we buy lots of finished inventory and we also produce
our own custom designs. This will be my 13th year at this location,
our sales are in the mid six figures and I started the business with
about $350, believe it or not. Lots of lean times. Something has
always bothered me about the Gallery/Artist relationship, maybe it
would be a good topic for discussion, pl ease bear with me here. My
wife has a close friend who is a sculptor (sculptress?), MFA, works
in marble and soapstone, very recognizable work. Nice stuff. She
approached us a few years ago about displaying her work in the store.
We get 40%, she gets 60%. She had expected those figures to be
reversed, which I thought was unfair to her. Her prices were rather
low and we finally got her to agree to increase her prices by 50-60%.
Result is, she gets more, w e get more, no problem. And I only have
to devote a few square feet to her stuff, which is mostly table top
to coffee table size. It enhances the look of our store, and the
inventory is without cost to us, except for the small space it takes
up. When a piece sells w e call her right away, and send a check that
day, and ask for another piece. It sure would be nice if my regular
jewelry vendors would let me select inventory and return what hasn’t
sold three to si x months later, and not pay them until the item
sold!!! That does not and will not happen, and, for the life of me, I
can’t figure out why artists work this way with “galleries” When I
create a piece of jewelry I get paid for it, period. And when I see
a piece of her work that I’m not excited ao ut I say no thanks! It’s
my job to SELL it and I do. Now, I know that artists and “galleries”
(it’s a store, folks) have worked this way for a long time, but…
if I were a gallery, I would want to pay the artist what they want
for the piece up front and own it. And sell it for the most I co uld
get…and if it doesn’t sell in a few months, I’d want the right to
sell it at whatever I feel like, or if the artis t objects, to return
it for a piece of equivalent value (or trade it in on another piece).
This keeps money in the hands of the artist, keeps the gallery owner
on their toes, and each person in complete control of their own
business. I’ve seen way too many galleries that were overstocked with
an artist’s work…some great, some losers (sorry), but they take
all they can get from the artist in the hopes they’ll sell some and
can always return the rest. Doesn’t seem fair to the artist, IMO,
unless every piece flies out the door. If it DOES fly out the door,
raise the pric es 25%. Now, if there’s anyone out there who wants to
supply me with wearable, functional, well-made jewelry on
consignment, plea se let me know. I won’t hold my breath. Can
someone clear me up on this???

Wayne Emery
Jewelry Design Studio

Hi Wayne, Thanks for your post! When we first started, we did some
consignment and got burned a couple of times. We currently have only
2 places (previous clients) that we still do consignment and there is
a 20% fee on anything they keep longer than 30 days. Also we don’t do
the percentage game. We have our wholesale price, period. Whatever
they want to charge their customers above our price is up to them. I
feel good about the pieces we are developing. If a gallery wants to
consign, but won’t buy outright, I go to another gallery. I certainly
respect a gallery’s choice on whether to consign or buy. But
consigning reduces my available inventory without putting money in
my pocket, so it’s no longer a part of my business plan.

JoAnna Kelleher
Pearl Exotics Trading Company