How can I protect myself from loss if a business goes under and
disappears? Is there any kind of insurance I can get for my work
if it’s displayed at a store? What should I look for in a
retailer as signs of stability and good business ethics?
Your best insurance is to sell outright (no consignment) and
know who you are dealing with. Ask for references, then check
them all out. If you can, go into the store to see which other
artists are represented, then call some of them and ask about
their experience with the shop owner. I usually ask for COD on
at least the first order. If the shop is new, or under new
ownership, I keep them on COD until I get to know them better.
Set some basic policies and, though its good to be flexible from
time to time, beware of shopkeepers who insists on exceptions to
your policies from start.
If you do mostly one-of-a-kind or high-end pieces, consignment
or a very generous return policy may be your only avenues, but
beware of shops which only offer 50/50 consignment with no
protection against damage or loss. I recently went into that
type of gallery to check it out, and found that their security,
which I had heard was not real great, was appalling. Most of the
lower-end (under $30) jewelry pieces were displayed in baskets
in several locations around the store, just ripe for the picking.
The more expensive pieces were in glass cases. When I asked to
look at some very beautiful and expensive gold rings in the case,
the sales person placed the tray of rings in front of me and
walked away into a back office to socialize with another worker,
leaving me and several thousand dollars worth of jewelry alone.
After a few minutes of waiting for her to return, I finally
walked away, leaving the jewels on the counter. I observed that
she never looked back at the counter, nor did she return for
several more minutes. I or someone else could easily have
pocketed one or more pieces and disappeared.