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September 03, 2006

Comments

Andi

Working through the percentages is why I almost never do consignment anymore. I used to participate in a local consignment gallery's annual holiday show. Their commission at the time was 30%. A couple of years ago, they decided to change their commission to 40%. When I did the math, it was really no longer to my advantage to participate.

Whether I'm selling wholesale or consignment, the work has to be carded, inventoried, and packed for transport. In addition, I need to prepare support matierials, i.e. business cards (usually special cards which don't have direct contact info because the gallery/shop doesn't want their customers to be able to contact their artists directly), Artist Statements and CV.

Under ideal circumstances, the only difference between the consignment arrangement and the wholesale arrangement is that the artist gets paid for their work before they deliver it. Unfortunately, my experience has been that consignment relationships demand much more ongoing involvement, works that don't sell (for whatever reason) are returned and must usually be cleaned, added back to inventory, re-carded, etc... Too often there is no clear policy about who bears the expense of damaged, lost, or stolen work. I've also gotten the impression from several consignment relationships that the gallery/store owner is less committed to making the sale if they haven't committed to buying the work...

To be honest, if the difference in my income per piece is less than 20%, I'd rather put the additional effort into establishing and maintaining wholesale relationships.

sulu-design

I'm not sure where Sue is opening her store (way to go, Sue!), but it seems to me that there are some patterns to consignment percentages regionally. I consign my jewelry at several boutiques in New York City and all of them have a 50/50 policy. Same goes for the other stores that carry my designs elsewhere on the east coast. However, I found that in the south (I've sold at two boutiques in Texas), the breakdown is usually a lot more generous to the designer, like 70/30. I'd check in with other boutique owners (friendly owners, that is) to see if there's a common practice in your area.
I understand the comments of Andi, who, like me, is coming from the point of view of the designer, but I also see things from the shop owner's perspective (as I hope to own my own shop some day soon). Store owners incure great behind-the-scenes expenses and need to make a living beyond those expenses to. To be fair, though, the store owner should spell out clear and respectful policies about damaged/lost/stolen work and about the length of time they will keep pieces before returning them or trading them back with the designer.
I'd just keep in mind that both the designer and the shop owner need each other to survive.

rifferaff

Andi and Susan,
Thanks for sharing your honest opinions.

janet

I think 60/40 is pretty standard, although I consign with two brick-and-mortar shops in small towns that do 70/30, so I think it depends on the location. As a crafter, obviously I want to get as much money as I can but I understand the shop owner's perspective, too—rent and expenses cost a lot—so I don't have a problem with 40%.

sulu-design

I'm thinking that perhaps NYC's typical split is a little stiff (from the designer's perspective) since rent is so ridiculously high here. It seems that elsewhere the 60/40 thing is pretty common. That, however is not why I'm re-commenting. I thought I'd check back in for two reasons. First, I wanted to recommend a great couple of postings on the Posie Gets Cozy blog, which helped me out in regard to consignment and other related issues a while back
http://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/2006/01/wholesale_retai.html
http://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/2006/01/wholesale_retai_1.html
Second, I wanted to clear up the typo that is killing me from me original comment - I know that too has two o's when used to mean "also". Sorry spelling champs!

sue

Thanks for all of the feedback! All of your comments were helpful to me. I am very excited to be opening my own business, and hope those of you who produce goods will send me links to your sites!

Andi

I'm glad that my perspective was at least somewhat useful and that it got some dialogue started. There are some great resources on NOLO for crafters and artists (I was pleased to see the NOLO link in the sidebar) and I strongly recommend poking around their site, particularly their article on consignment issues. Good luck, A.

Bruce Adams

I'm a new boutique owner and will be accepting consignments. I employ a talended young women who makes beautiful dresses and bows. I was going to charge her 35% on whatever she brought into the store. She will also be promoting her product while being paid a hourly salary. Since she works for me what do you feel would be a fair consignment percentage for her?

Jamie

We are starting a new consignment store in South Georgia. Instead of 50/50 we decided to just charge 20% & let the vendors pay a small rental fee for their booth each month. Thinking this will give them more incentive to get their products sold. We'll be taking care of the sales tax, electric/water, & cleaning. We also have an alarm system & security cameras. & as an added bonus, we'll be making them professional business cards. Does this sound fair?

Dolores

I am in the process of starting up a new consignment store after working out of the field for 6 months. I owned a store for 8 years and managed another from the ground up for 6 years. I seriouslly thought about the way Jamie was talking about Consignment/rental. Please email me with results as you see them happen, good or bad. THANKS!

Glulsitte

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