Opening a studio

Dede- I do not own a retail studio or gallery, but my work goes in
them. Our scene here in Montana is probably a bit different than
yours, but here is what I have seen successful galleries do:
Create an environment for your customers to experience. Give the
space its own character and feel. If they like spending time in your
store, they will more likely spend their money as well. Carry a
wide selection in terms of prices. Try to have something for the guy
who comes in the door with $45.00 and needs a pair of earrings for his
niece’s graduation, and to have something for the guy who comes in
looking for that special and spendy anniversary gift. Too often,
people feel “priced out the door” if all inventory is high end. Lower
cost does not have to translate into lower quality. Collect and
make available as much as you can about the people who
make your inventory. People like to know a little about the artist
responsible for their newly found treasures. If they came to you,
they are seeking something unique, not something from the big chain
stores. They cannot take the artists home with them, but they can
take home a small part of the artist if they know a bit about him or
her. This can only add to the individuality and charm of the piece
they are buying. Try to host openings and events that bring the
artists and the public together. This furthers the idea mentioned in
the previous paragraph. Take in only work that you believe in. If
you don’t believe in it, you won’t try to sell it, and the artist
will not benefit and niether will you. The public will sense this,
and this attitude can seep into the rest of the gallery. Educate
your staff. People don’t like to hear ‘I dont know’ very many times.
They may not want a technical dissertation, but they need to feel that
the person behind the counter knows what they are talking about.
Be good to your staff and to your artists. A positive attitude is
usually perceptible to the public, but a negative energy is always
perceptible, and there is no better way to chase would-be customers
out of your store. Have you ever been in a store while the manager
and an employee are having a fight? It’s terrible, unprofessional,
and makes me want to spend my money with nicer people. That’s what
seems to work, as far as I
can tell. Good luck, and have fun! Michael Holland Bozeman, MT