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Working with galleries

Hi folks. I have a few questions re: the galleries that sell my
work.1-- How do I get the galleries to post updated photos and info
on their websites? Several galleries have asked for this info, yet
it’s been months since I gave them the new photos, artist statement,
etc. How do I help them (and myself!) with this without annoying the
hell out of them?2-- I have a hell of a time getting a response from
one of my wholesale shops, re: returning calls to set up appointment
for new pieces. The last time we spoke (a few months ago) she was
very friendly and very interested and told me tocall back in
Aug/Sept. Now I can’t get her to return my calls or emails (2 weeks).
I’m trying to figure out whether to just back off or keep plugging
away. She has always loved my jewelry and has been a good customer –
once I get there! How would you deal with this’thanks, Pegi


Sounds like you need to visit in person, find someone from Orchid who
lives near the gallery to visit. Sounds like trouble. Not returning
phone calls, really, no excuse if it has been 2 weeks. On
consignment? More respect should be shown to you.

Hi all

How would you deal with this, thanks, Pegi Simply I don't. I am in
Australia so things my be different in the US. 

Galleries here often charge 30% on sale price. Does not sound like

But if a piece from the maker is $100 then the gallery sells it for
$150 they get $50 or 30% of the sale price.

So if you did not sell through the gallery but sold through markets
at $100 instead of $150 how many extra pieces would you sell?

I did use to sell through galleries there were always some
complications. In the end my contracts were not “on consignment” was
told “sorry it was stolen” no money for me.

They contracts were “sale or return” I visited the galleries and
stock not in the gallery was paid for.

No excuses.

Web pages? Everyone I know, no matter the business, who was going to
be a solely on line seller, are still years later selling in shops or
at markets.

Google “gem set sterling rings” 155,000 results and that includes
ebay and gumtree.

How will you get on page one instead of page 14?

Pegi email the shop with a read receipt so you will know if it is
read. How far away is the gallery? Why not call by? “I was just in
the area and thought I would call in to see if there was anything you

The responses to this will be interesting.

all the best

I wish I could give you great advice but all I can say is that each
situation is like Schrodinger’s cat. Until you open that box, you do
not know whatyou will find. Any course of action you take may work
out. But then again, anycourse of action you take may not be that
wise in hindsight. The bestyou can hope for is to prepare for a bad
reaction, and hope that when you talk to each of these accounts,
that it turns out that the better situationis what happens.

Gerald A. Livings

I would go there immediately, and try to see her. I would have a
navy colored outfit on (the “trust” color) and be wearing some new
work. If she owed me money, I would have an official envelope to take
out which had written all the accounts, and a record of what she
owed. “How’s business?” would be my friendly opening line.

I have wholesaled in stores for 30 years, and try not to do so over
50 miles away, so that I can visit the stores where my jewelry is
selling at least once a month. Whether they are purchasing, or
consigning, visiting once a month, sometimes by surprise, and
sometimes by appointment is the only way to find out what’s
happening. You may find out any number of things and you have to be
mentally prepared for the reality of all of them.

Stores are having a hard time and going out of business right and

The only people left renting the storefronts now are wealthy people
who are slightly spoiled, and most often can’t even be civil, once
they have your product. The display may have broken, and no one can
fix it. The manager may not be passing on your messages. Her
husband/father may have passed, leaving no daddy/hubby bank to get
through the bad times. Someone may have broken and returned one of
your pieces, but she lost it in the shop somewhere instead of
returning it to you to fix, and now is unhappy with your work! You
may find there’s no tags on your work, and no one’s sold them because
of only that. I learned to put my earrings on a tough displayable
mat-board card, with the retail price written on the top, and
provided a variety of displays to choose from/change out. I have
checked up on stores and found someone else’s earrings on my displays
(while mine languish in a box under the counter).

My favorite was when my unmatched modern earrings (a veteran of 30
years of fashion changes) mysteriously stopped selling on the plaza
in Sonoma. It turned out the salesperson had started calling them
"crazy, mixed up and wacky". The owner relied on this person so she
could travel, take pictures and write it all off by buying a few
pieces of handmade cloth from India or Africa on her extended
traveling indulgences, and would not correct the language the manager
used, to avoid “offending” her. Instead, she lost $200 a month
profit, and returned the earrings.

So. visit, and often. Ask that your items could be shown together in
the windows; provide good displays where possible, suggest places in
the store where there’s better lighting for your items. Send
customers into the stores who will mention that you did so, promote
the stores on Facebook where you can. One vendor I know redoes the
front window for any store where she finds out the owner doesn’t like
to do it. Guess what’s featured in those windows? I found out when
she redid the windows, and every month, had to go in an ask that a
display of my earrings be added to the front windows. Because my
"wacky" earrings were what brought in the customers, the owner always

So, so much to tell about dealing with stores. I learned to be very
patient, and never burn a store bridge, trying to always keep a
wholesome working attitude with the owners, always listenening to
their problems, and never taking personal offense at whatever
insanity was affecting my jewelry at any given moment.

Richard, I hope you will forgive me for commenting on the following:

So if you did not sell through the gallery but sold through
markets at $100 instead of $150 how many extra pieces would you

I think this suggests a fundamental issue in the way so many of us

The way I look at it, if a gallery sells a piece, they get the
portion of the price that is set aside to pay for that (typically
half, in the places I have worked with, but whatever the mark-up is).

If YOU sell it, YOU earn that percentage. It takes time and effort
and investment to sell, regardless who does it, and it has value. Why
would you fail to make sure you get paid to do it? And why would you
undercut your galleries? Why would you fail to appreciate that
selling the work has value whether they do it or you do?

The retail price is the retail price-- you just divide it
differently according to who does the work. When you give away your
time, you hurt yourself and everyone else.


Noel is spot on. And the idea that it is somehow ok to undersell
your galleries is WHY so many galleries are so cautious about
working with artists. It costs money to have a gallery - rent,
utilities, insurance, advertising, salaries, office supplies, etc.
Costs of doing business. They MUST cover this in their part of the

Correctly priced work gives you, the maker, a profit at wholesale,
which traditionally is half of retail. That other 50% gives the
retailer the money to cover the aforementioned costs and make THEIR
bit of profit.

If you regularly sell for less than your galleries they WILL and
SHOULD drop you like a hot potato! That is incredibly unprofessional
behavior. Practiced by way too many artists who simply don’t seem to
comprehend the expenses of business.

The other issue that comes up so often is a gallery sending
customers to an artist for custom work, then the artist not giving
the gallery any of the sale. Sorry - the gallery SENT you the
customer - they should still get their percentage! You wouldn’t have
HAD the sale without them!!!

If you can’t comprehend this take some basic business classes. your
business will be MUCH stronger for it!!!

I get an acceptable profit when I sell at wholesale or consignment,
but when I take the time and expense to do a show myself and sell
directly it is at the SAME retail price it would be in one of the
galleries or shops that carry my work. That protects everyone - and
is why the galleries and shops that carry my work like carrying it
and like selling my work - they know I have their back, and in turn
they have mine.

Frankly, I generally make more money staying in the studio and
letting the galleries and shops sell my work at wholesale that I do
by losing however many days/hours to packing up, driving to the
show, setting up, selling at full retail, breaking down, driving
home, and unpacking. Add up the hours and costs for gas, food,
lodging, show fees - then see how much you really made. you might
surprise yourself!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

I learned to be very patient, and never burn a store bridge,
trying to always keep a wholesome working attitude with the owners,
always listening to their problems, and never taking personal
offense at whatever insanity was affecting my jewelry at any given

Thank you for this very good advice. I plan to print your entire
post and re-read it as often as needed.

Janice Lea

I have sold through a gallery with in driving distance of the shop
in a small resort town in the Finger lakes of New York State. My
prices that I charge at my home shop are already pretty much a
wholesale price. The gallery kicked the price by 50% making a
$100.00 item become a $ 150.00 item. The end result is why would a
customer drive 35 miles to but a bracelet for $150.00 when they
could stop at the house and the same bracelet for $100.00 and a cup
of coffee to boot. I no longer sell in any galleries.

Now I sell over the bench in my shop. I do some shows so I can
travel a bit with my wife. I sell about everything I can make
including the art pieces and I am happy with that. When I retire
may change my marketing style but for now its OK.

Don Meixner

Hi Noel,

While you make some good points, I still think that every situation
is different. Your market in a stall somewhere could be a different
one from a gallery market. For instance, if I put items in a gallery
in Gatlinburg, TN, which would be a tourist market with lots of
summer traffic, I would not worry about selling the items at a small
craft show or flea market in Knoxville at a slightly lower price. Of
course, my store or gallery partners would be told up front what area
they had exclusive rights in or how far away I would consider it my
right to set a different price.

In Richard’s case, I don’t think he sells in galleries and it’s my
impression that he sets a price that fits the market he is in. From
what he’s said before, I think he prices above the similar "junk"
mass produced items imported into Australia, but not so far above
that he’s at “gallery” prices. That way people appreciate his
direct-from-the-craftsman situation and his superior quality of
goods, but feel they are getting a hell of a deal.

Again, from my impression of what he’s said before, I think Richard
wants to make it and sell it all in a week or two and not even carry
it home one time. and that justifies a slightly lower price. If you
do a quick turn around, there is less work in selling, which justifies
the lower price.

So you have to consider what market you’re in and how long you want
to sit with your precious goods and also what agreements you might
have with other sellers and how close they are to where you might
also be selling. And, yes, if you’re on the 'Net, that would again be
another situation with another set of rules and expectations, right?

Hi all

So if you did not sell through the gallery but sold through markets
at $100 instead of $150 how many extra pieces would you sell? 

Noel makes some good points about my above statement. So does MJ ST

My above question was written to get responses about increased sales
being worth the extra work. Hence Noel’s response is apt but is only
half the story. To sum him up “you do extra work, sales, and should
be paid for it” Totally agree. My point is would there be extra sales
to justify the extra work?

By selling at $100 I would get the same sale price as if I used a
gallery, but and it is a big but, there is extra expense and time
involved. So how many more pieces would need to be sold to justify
the extra time and expense?

My extra expenses are petrol $20, stall fee $15 (I share it with my
wife so pay half).

Extra time is a full days work. Having to load and unload the stall
is annoying especially if it has been raining.

Getting up at 5.30 is not fun.

Do I sell more than in the galleries, yes. Do I get paid
immediately, yes. Also I get orders which I do not get from

Also I have much less $ tied up in stock.

I also deal directly with the customers and make lasting
relationships and so get repeat business.

That said I did wholesale Australia wide to over 100 shops, but the
time and problems did not give me a good lifestyle.

So for me the happy medium is to do 6 markets a month and make a
nice little income. Also it allows me to invite customers to my
appointment only show room. Also I have jewellery parties in the show
room. Works for me. Also teaching for 7 hours a week at $80 an hour
is a bonus. At my age it is a trade off between work and lifestyle.

Why not have a full time shop? The rents are too expensive for the
number of customers where I live. Half the time the town is like a
ghost town and about a quarter of the towns shops are empty, not a
good look.

I guess the point is you have to design your business to suit

all the best

How do I get the galleries to post updated photos and info on their

If they own it, they will put a lot more effort into selling it than
if they have nothing in the game.

I think the best way to work with galleries is to sell your pieces
to them directly and avoid any type of consignment. If your work is
truly salable and is priced sensibly, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Just for what it’s worth, there are almost no jewelry manufacturers
that will do consignment in any manner. Some will memo extra pieces
to a good client for a few months, but other than that, they
practically laugh at any retailer that wants them to provide pieces
on consignment. It’s just not done at the professional level.

Assuming your jewelry is salable, a gallery that is actively selling
jewelry that wants you to carry all the expenses of creating the
jewelry and then assume all the risk by giving them full control of
your property while they have nothing at all at stake in any part of
the transaction, is taking advantage of you. Period. That’s why the
pro’s refuse to do it.

I used to play the consignment game, on both sides of the counter.

Consignment is fraught with potholes for both parties. There is so
much room for misunderstanding and the like, it’s just not worth the
risk and hassle if you are making jewelry that will sell.

In my opinion, there are only two scenarios in which consignment
makes sense. The first is if you have a long-term relationship with
the other party and both of you know exactly what you are getting
into and neither of you is likely to get freaked out if something
doesn’t go exactly according to plan.

In the second scenario it can be used as a way of sweetening the
deal, such as “you buy $1000 worth and when it’s paid for, I’ll memo
another $100 for six months.” That’s the only way I’d consider
putting any of my jewelry on consignment. And even then, there needs
to be something special about the agreement and/or the people

Whether the jewelry is consigned or not, it is important to match
the jewelry with the retailer. One type of jewelry may do very well
in one place and may just sit there in another place a half-mile
away. A retailer that is willing to buy your jewelry knows or
suspects it will do well and will have a stake in making sure it
does. One that wants you to take all the risk by way of consignment,
is telegraphing everything you need to know about them, their
business and how you are likely to be treated as the relationship
continues, and unless they are a personal friend or a long-time
business partner, they most likely should be avoided.

Your description of your situation makes my point exactly, Pegi. If
making money is an objective, it is important to know that creating
your jewelry is one half of what you have to be able to do, getting
people to pay for it is the other half. Have confidence in yourself
and your work and don’t give either one away. Believe me, if they can
make money with your work, they’ll buy it.

Dave Phelps

Hi all

In Richard's case, I don't think he sells in galleries and it's my
impression that he sets a price that fits the market he is in.
From what he's said before, I think he prices above the similar
"junk" mass produced items imported into Australia, but not so far
above that he's at "gallery" prices. That way people appreciate his
direct-from-the-craftsman situation and his superior quality of
goods, but feel they are getting a hell of a deal. 

Well Roy summed it up very well where I come from. My prices are for
a poor rural area. I advise people who live in cities how to construct
jewellery like I make. E. g. solitaire stones in open back bezels and
how to make my mobius rings.

I also advise them that city prices should be 3 times what I sell
for in “Deliverance” land.

It is very hard to compete with the “junk” from Asia, buyers here
are not well educated about jewellery.

“Its shiny and cheap.” Wow!

Recently was shown a ring made in Asia, sold as handmade in
Australia. It had lost a stone, a green citrine cab.

The ring was a low grade casting and not even fineness marked 925.
The seller, pretending to be a silversmith had hammered up the shank
to enlarge the ring to get a sale. Of course he says he makes it all.

I said to my mates in the market “Hear that comedy act.” Just the
sound told us a disaster was in progress.

The ring shank was hammered down to half a mm, bent out of shape and
of course a crack was starting.

I told the lady the truth, not enough metal to hold the bezel set
stone. Band had bad hammer marks and was out of shape.

Taught her to use a loupe and showed her the start of the crack. She
said she had emailed the seller but no replies.

Told her to see the market organiser and next time he was here to
demand her money back. This is a market that says it has no imported
goods LOL.

This guy sells amber from Asia aka plastic. He was caught out, a
gemologist tested a piece confirmed plastic. But when the market
organiser was told this she told me the seller said it was “young
amber”. Well she knows the gemologist who tested the piece.

Who does she believe? The seller who pays for a stall not the
gemologist. She said “Am I to say he is lying?” I said “Well if he is
lying to your face, he is a lying.”

So the greedy market organiser does not realise she is an accessory
to a crime, fraud in Australia.

We shall have “a little chat” this week about the potential
consequences of letting low grade imported goods into a market that
promotes itself as only locally hand made. I am already organising
other markets to go to.

If this one is shut by the council because it breaches its license.
Not my problem, but I will organise a class action if it does close
against the market organiser for lose of income, because of her

all the best

Thank you for all your responses.

Beth and Naomi, I’m with you, re: respect and appreciation for my
galleries. They are all owner run, some are wholesale and some are
consignment. My jewelry is selling and they all like me and I like
them, they pay me on time (mostly) and I like working in my studio
instead of being out trying to sell my jewelry – part ofmy reason
for my question. I don’t like to disturb the waters. But I will keep
calling the one gallery until I can actually talk to the owner and
just make sure she is still interested. And I will figure out a way
togently remind the other galleries about the new images they have

I do price my jewelry the same where ever I sell it, although I will
give a discount to some direct sales. I will continue to sell
through galleries because they do a better job at what they do than
I would, but I realize I need to get out there and meet/greet/sell
to the public once in awhile. Need that personal connection for
feedback from time to time.

Thanks. Pegi

ooooh Richard,

You commented about the consequences of letting inferior imported
products into a market that advertises as allowing only hand-made
products. In my limited experience, there is NO consequence. Even
when the stall-holder admitsthat the jewelry (or whatever) is
imported, commercially made costume jewelry, there is no change.

I have suggested that the organizer dedicate a space as ‘flea-market
goods’ just for those people. That way, their booth fee can still be
collected, butthe goods are properly identified. If the stall-holder
has ‘mis-identified’ their stuff as hand-made, there is a place to
which they can be re-assigned. I should add that this event benefits
the local hospital, so I understand their interest in collecting as
many booth fees as possible.

So far, no changes have occurred, and it does irritate those of us
who have made our jewelry. To be even-handed, we have not backed out
of the event because it has good traffic and sales. So, maybe we are
getting our knickers in a twist for nothing???

Comments welcome, Judy in Kansas, where the rain falls all around,
but NOT on my garden.

okay I’ll chime in

The Retail Price HAS to ALWAYS be the same no matter through a
gallery or through you. or on line. the client has got to getthe
same pricing for your work where ever they purchase it from.#1 it
gives a much more honest and trusting relationship between client
and your work/brand. that they will keep coming back for.

#2 it gives a trusting and honest relationship with your gallery.
which will work harder at selling your work, and sending you clients
who in turn you will pay the galleryfor 10-15%.

now the wholesale part is really simple the reason why the gallery
gets that pricing as in a piece is priced at 200.00. (sold through
the gallery you get 100.00 sold through you you get the whole thing)
as it was posted before, you are doing more work and all that, or
the galleryis doing the sales work for you. BUT its not the only
reason why the Gallery is getting their share to pay their rent and
bills, the biggest misunderstanding here is exactly that. in the
business world when one is dealing with another business for sales
and marketing, and you have signed a contract however it reads, they
are getting the percentage agreed upon from you because they are
promising that they will keep working hard and keep sellingmore for
you to make you a living.

it has got to go down that way, where the example of it would be, I
get orders from a gallery for 3000.00 wholesale lets say which they
will in turn sell for 6000.00 retail and they made their percentage
as we are discussing in this thread, the most important reason why
(which is missed here) the gallery gets this great percentage is in
the promise of they will be back to purchase more from you with in a
short amount of time. and keep coming back for more. If they don’t
do that, and they purchase once a year or less at wholesale prices,
you willnever make any profits. there is a numeric ratio in every
business where so much wholesale orders will start making a profit
and help the business thrive. this is from personal experience, by
the way. I did a lot of wholesaleshows and could not figure out why
I was not even breaking even, even though I was getting great sales
and good amount of orders. it was because thetiming was bad
(2009…) and we were not getting repeat same gallery orders except
for 1-2 times a year. every business is different with the ratio and
have to figure it out for yourselves. differences arise from, for
example if I made a pair of earrings, and pricing came up to 600.00
retail. my studio is located on the north east coast in a large
metropolitan city. same earring made oh lets say for example in
Nebraska in a small no town some where out of the way, WILL cost
300.00 retail. this is where you can compare advice to a degree but
then it does not work. same with galleries, gallery in NYC
percentage is 3 times that of the wholesale. as in if the wholesale
piece is 100.00 the gallery will sell it at 300.00 and keep the
200.00 vs a gallery in Georgia will sell the same piece at 150.00
and take the 50.00. in the end you as the “manufacturer” are
responsible to keep the retail price the same no matter what your
share is. the secret is great business relationship with you r
gallery and back. same with your clients. our field is completely
depended on Trust. Hratch

Atelier Hratch Babikian contemporary Jewelery and sculpture

Hello Everyone,

My gallery experience has been this. I have worked with two
galleries, one as a consignee and one as a wholesaler. Since I make
predominantly bracelets, a product my family is well known for in
our market area, our prices are known to the local population.

For me to sell to the gallery as a wholesaler to keep our prices
structured the same, or roughly so, I took what amounts to a 30% hit
while the gallery raised the end price by 10% leaving only a slight
difference in my endprice and theirs. My break even pricing was
about 65% of my end price so this was hardly the work of a financial

This gallery is in a small Finger Lakes resort town and while the
localscertainly know our product the primary sales were to out of
towners and people buying summer memories a much as jewelry. Sales
were OK and business cards and product history went away with each
piece sold to Mary from Maryland. The locals knew enough to come the
12 miles to the shop for jewelry and coffee.

The gallery owner decided she want a better price concession for her
wholesale price so she could double her price. I decided to end our
relationship, amiably, and I did.

The other gallery at a different Finger Lake wanted me to consign
which I hadn’t done before so I tried it. I ended up tying up stock
40 miles away, agreeing to do no craft shows within 50 miles of the
gallery, and allowing the gallery to use my designs in their
copywrited advertising. The gallery wanted to add 40% to my price
which was fine with me.

However my jewelry was at that time the most expensive in place
competing with assembly beads, heirloom auction finds, and one off
art from “Found” items. None of which is bad in my view but it is
not the companion stock for sterling jewelry in a Hand Crafted
Tradition. Again not the work of a financial mastermind.

The end result is I sold poorly, best month being $ 325.00 or so and
limited access to my complete stock. I got the, “I’m sorry Don, you
jewelry just doesn’t sell well at your price.” phonecall. Since I
had pulled my stock for a show in Albany, where I sold verywell. I
decided I was done with the gallery experience and did not return.

This is my experience. I am sure it isn’t everybody’s but as I said
in the earlier post, until I retire I am done with the
gallery marketing scheme.

Don Meixner

Dear Don… multiply your experiences times 30 years, throw in a
couple of heros of retail and a couple of gallery thieves, and you
basically have described my life. Which is why when two years ago I
designed my Gemflowers, after I tested the market, I immediately set
my sights on developing my own website, and what relief.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat these days, as they say, and
thank God for that.