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What's a fair percentage for a trunk show?

Hello! I have recently been approached about doing my first trunk
show at an upscale boutique down town, and I really have no idea
what is a fair percentage of the sales to pay to the owner of the
store. Can anyone advise me on how this typically works? She sells
mostly clothing, and hosts a special trunk show each year for one of
her higher-end clothing artists. It is this show that she’s invited
me to participate in. She advertises for it and rearranges her store
some, but is open for normal business regardless (I’ll be there
10-5). She is asking for 25% of my net sales, and I honestly don’t
know if that’s reasonable or not. As usual, I greatly appreciate any
and all opinions on the matter.

Thanks, Nisa

I don’t have any experience doing trunk shows, but I do have
experience with galleries. 25% of sales sounds very reasonable to me
when many galleries take 40-50% of your sales. I belong to an on-line
gallery that takes 25% which I feel is reasonable since they are
doing everything except mailing out the merchandise.


25% is very fair. I know of some places that demand 50%.

Judy Shaw

If you can get 25% go for it. As 50% is standard and I’ve seen it go
even higher in the oppositions favor.


Jump on it. I’ve done trunk shows where I’ve had to negotiate for
50%! She wanted to do a 2.5 markup and I took my regular wholesale
price, while she made 2.5 without purchasing anything.

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge

Dear Nissa,

I just got finished with some trunk shows and the stores got 40% of
sales, some require 50% but I won’t do that due to my costs of
transportation, hotel, and time. I am selling for them in the shows
but they are processing the reciepts so I consider 40% fair, 25% is a
great deal if they are doing advertising to support the show. Do you
already have work in the shop? If not try to get them to buy pieces
after the event to keep the momentum going for their customers…I
would love to hear what others are working out on this kind of event.
OH, and we are now calling them “Personal appearances” instead of
trunk shows as people outside of the clothing and accessories
industry don’t really know what a trunk show is sometimes.

Good Luck!
Beth McElhiney

Lets see, I promote a artist, advertise, invite my customers, serve
food and alcohol, set up, clean up, provide staff to assist.

I have a retail store, and I work in collaboration with an artist
who does art shows and does trunk shows. I believe that we make as
much if not more when we do a trunk show over an art show.

Art show, set up tear down, hotel, days of sitting there, food, gas,
travel time. Trunk show, one day, target rich environment, free food.
If you have had some success in the past and you know how people
respond to your work and you generally know you will sell something
and you feel you have some idea of what you can sell and you know
your time and energy is worth should determine what you can pay the
host. If she sells thousands of dollars of your work in less time
than you can move it yourself, there is a gratitude factor.

I could not have a trunk show for an artist and make only 25%. If
the person hosting the trunk show has experience and can do it for
25%, good for you and God bless her. A good gallery that is
responsible, sells your work, reports once a month and pays, promotes
your work, takes custom orders for you, keeps it nice and neat and
clean in the case and makes it attractive to look at is worth 40-50%,
we do, we are.

Working with a gallery should be a team effort, you make work that
sells, they are responsible to provide a venue for you so you do not
have to be an artist and a retailer.

  • When you do shows, if you do not sell much, you can loose money.
    When you do a trunk show, you are not going to lose much if you do
    not sell anything.

Richard Hart

Are there online galleries you have had good luck with?


Keep in mind that 25% of very high priced goods is a lot of money.
50% of sales from inexpensive goods, unless there’s a huge volume of
sales, is not a lot of money.

Everything is relative.

Hi Beth,

OH, and we are now calling them "Personal appearances" instead of
trunk shows as people outside of the clothing and accessories
industry don't really know what a trunk show is sometimes. 

When I first read the term trunk show, I was a little confused as I
thought it was the equivalent of what we here in the UK call a “car
boot sale”!!! I don’t know whether you have them in the US (I think
maybe they’re a bit like your yard sales or garage sales). People
turn up to a pre-advertised grass field, pay the organiser a fee for
parking your car and then set up tables and unload your car boot
(trunk) and sell things you don’t want or need anymore. It’s bizarre
but some people love it. I’ve done one once, when my children were
all out of the baby phase so we sold the cot, pushchair, toys, etc,
etc. Never again, sat in a cold, windy field with people haggling you
down to a UK pound or two for a piece of furniture. We had neighbours
and the husband loved to do car boot sales (much to his wife’s
annoyance) - instead of selling unwanted things, they came home EVERY
saturday with a car FULL of absolute junk to fill up the house a bit
more! They may, however, be a very good source of second hand tools -
maybe I should take a look next time I see one.

Incidentally, I’m still confused - what is a trunk show!


Incidentally, I'm still confused - what is a trunk show! 

A special event at a gallery or boutique, featuring one artist and
much more of her work than is normally carried in the store.

The artist generally stays for the whole event, may bring their own
displays (varies).

I always picture the artist standing in front of a stack of steamer
trunks, but that’s not part of it.

No car boots involved.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Actually I do believe that the term came from the garment industry
when a designer or rep would show up at a department store with
trunks of clothing that they would sell for the day. So there were
originally trunks and probably steamer ones, but no car boots! I
mentioned the term “personal appearance” due to the fact that alot of
people are no longer familiar with the term trunk show even here in
the US. If anyone has any ideas of other descriptive terms to use I
would love to hear them as I am doing quite a few now in stores and
privately at clients homes.


A special event at a gallery or boutique, featuring one artist and
much more of her work than is normally carried in the store. 

I think it’s called a trunk show from when clothing designers
brought a trunk of their newest designs to a store for a private

I know a lot of boutiques are going with "personal appearance"
instead of trunk show these days because there is confusion.