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Tricky Business

I am starting a business wholesaling handmade glass jewelry. I was
paid for an order delivered for $665. Two weeks after my delivery I
received a call from the merchandiser saying that the jewelry was not
selling, and that she wanted me to take the jewelry back and refund
her the $665. I communicated to her that since I reinvest close to
every dollar back into the business it would be very difficult to
simply write her a check for the pieces as she requested. I do not
want her to put the work on sale as I believe that I can sell it
elsewhere, yet I was counting on that income for next month from
other clients. The other hitch is that the jewelry she ordered is
summer colors and will be difficult to sell in shops looking for fall
items. This is putting me in a very tricky situation and since I want
to meet her needs but also avoid my own loss. I am new to this
business and am trying to get as much advice as I can before I get
back with her. Do you think I should reimburse her f! or the entire
amount or a percen tage of the amount since I am going to have to
either sell it over again, or carry the cost until next spring when I
can sell them again. If so how much? Could there be other options I
could offer her? This is a museum gift shop, by the way, and the
jewelry I design has done very well in upscale clothing shops, so
far, where sales girls often wear the jewelry. I am receiving more
and more orders every day and have had nothing but enthusiasm over my
work until this.

Kate in SC

Kate, I’am answering your question from a garmant industry point of

Never give back money to a store. If you are interested in keeping
the museum store as an on going account — offer her a discount on
further orders [15 to 20%]. As you are selling to clothing stores
with sucess, you may decide the museum store is not worth the effort
to estabolish a relationship with a difficult account. Rember all
stores take a chance with new venders — some work out and some
don’t, it’ the cost of doing business.

Good luck, Adrienne

It seems to me that if your business is growing as fast as you say
then taking back the merchandise shouldn’t place you in an untenable
position. The lesson to be learned, of course, is that you should have
a clearly stated return policy on all your invoices in the future

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

Kate, You must decide if that retailer is one you want to continue to
do business with them. If their store is a good one for you to be in
then you may want to take the work back but not for cash. If you
decide to take back the work then only offer exchange for new
merchandise and you may want to deduct a restocking fee (30%-50%)
from the value of the returned merchandise. It does not sound like
they have had the work long enough to know if it is selling yet and
maybe they are in a cash crunch with the downturn in the economy and
looking for ways to raise some quick cash. If that is the case you
should not be their bank. If the tables were turned I can almost
guarantee that they would not return your money.

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (510) 533-5108
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (510) 533-5439

Member of the Better Business Bureau

Kate two weeks is nowhere near enough time to determine if a line is
going to sell or not.

My question is ,“Have you dealt with this group or person before?” If
so how did your relationship go. This should give you a foundation to
work from.

I suspect the contact person may have spent more that she was
authorized to spend and is looking for a way out of her bind. I would
offer to take the merchandise back but at a discount for the problems
created and handling. Companies call this a "restocking fee."
Refunding 75 to 80% may not be unreasonable in this case especially
if you can get the jewelry back on the market immediately.

In the long run, salvaging the relationship with the store is the
primary goal here. Next time I would lay out a specific policy on
refunds. I have always used the policy of return for credit or
different stock only. Spell it out in writing up front.

I am looking forward to the input on this issue.


Kate, We have sold a line of jewelry to museum shops,the Discovery
store next to the Smithsonian for one.They have many employees.The
first thing they did was remove the tags which described how the piece
was made and what it was.Next they threw the pieces in with other
goods in the back of the store.Without the buyers knowledge or the
floor manager who is responsible for display.A friend of mine went
into the store and called to tell me after we checked on sales and
were told nothing was selling.We live on the other side of the
country.By then it was too late and the stock was put on close out.The
buyer had changed and we were out.If your goods are selling at the
other locations and this is the only one that is having trouble I
would say keep the money. You were paid for items you delivered .You
cannot sit in the store and get the sales people to sell your
goods.You can check on your goods ask how they are displayed how they
are selling and respond accordingly.If you walk into a shop and the
sales clerk looks up at you from behind their book and grunts are they
doing their job.The buyer or manager of that store may have focused on
other items rather than push yours or her sales help may have
neglected your pieces.I would talk to the manager and say that it is
unreasonable to expect you to take the items back as you have no
control as to how they were marketed in the store.Believe me the
manager of that store may well be gone before you design another line
and you will still be selling your pieces.They tend to go through
quite a few management changes.And if you are dealing with buyers get
them to buy your product quickly as their lifespan is short also.There
is also a museum shop buyers association in Denver that puts on a
trade show for museum shop buyers.There are a myriad of museum shops
in this world. J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio