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wholesaling to shops & galleries

updated fri 25 jun 99


Wendy Rosen on thu 24 jun 99

clayart response
From: Tena Payne
Re:Questions for wholesalers/production people: help!
Tena in Birmingham, Alabama

When a client makes a huge order, how do you integrate it with other orders?
Your buyer should understand your production limitations and be
willing to schedule several small
shipments instead of one large shipment. This is especially important due
to the "credit risk" involved with one large
shipment and invoice. Each of your accounts really shouldn't "monopolize"
more than about 10% of your annual
production due to credit risk, and how difficult it might be to replace the
customer should they abandon you.
Back in the mid-eighties some artists really spent alot of money "tooling
up their studios" to find that they
were relying too much on big department stores that were going bankrupt ...
some studios lost everything
in the process... better safe than sorry.

How do you project your delivery dates?
Bring a simple calendar with you to market. Estimate how much you
can produce each week. fill in all your vacation, estimate a week for flu
in the winter, block out the weeks you'll be on the road... then fill in
the available time with orders. If you know that you can make $700 worth
of work each week ...then don't take orders for more. Don't forget
to block out special time for production required for those few top retail
fairs that you still want to exhibit in!

How do you determine discounts? (Some will always ask for volumn discounts
over the norm.)
They may ask... but EVERYONE I know turns them down! 50% off
retail is standard... and
expected NO more. (You may offer 2% net 10 on your invoices if you
like)... The trick is to know the REAL value
of your work in retail/gallery terms... not in retail FAIR/FESTIVAL
terms... they are two very different things.
I can go to any show in the country (almost) and find 70% of the potters
underpriced compared to the local
shops and galleries nearby! (Your galleries will mark-up your work 2.2x or
2.4 times to cover freight, shrinkage,
breakage etc...

What about shipping? Or delivery?
Everyone ships UPS... unless you're selling elephant sized work
then it goes "common carrier" (yellow freight etc.) Freight is most often
added to the invoice as a percentage (4-6%).

When do you just say no?
Generally... you'll feel it in your gut. Demanding buyers with
snotty attitudes are the best signal... the most powerful big buyers in our
marketplace are soft-spoken gentle souls that have walked in your shoes.

How do you know when it's time to raise your prices? By how much?
If you're taking orders for over 6 months out it may be time to raise
prices... but not if you haven't got a "track record" with the shops and
galleries yet. You could go into the market underpriced and sell out for
the entire year... but if your work isn't selling off of the shelves in a
3-4 month period then you've got a problem. Galleries expect the artists
they represent to "turn orders" 3-4 times each year... That's the sign of a
successful body of work!

How do you know when it's time to hire help? What kind and how much? $$??
Do you pay by the hour or by production?
Every task in your studio has a "$ value".. always think about how much
you'd have to pay someone to do any job... packing/shipping $6 per hour,
bookeeping $8 per hour, ...assisting you with trimming, cleaning etc... $6
per hr...
a good thrower will cost you at least $10-$15 per hour. If YOU expect to
make $30 per hour it must come from SOMEWHERE... often it comes from you
throwing off some of the "grunt" work to someone else... don't expect those
to ANALYZE or STRATEGIZE about marketing or selling your work! That's your
job! Too often artists with wet ink on their BFA certifiates think that
they can find a way to "CREATE" and not think about where the money will
come from... CREATING is also the process of growing a business! Look it
from a right brained perspective... especially when you're facing
spreadsheets... creative visualization is you're best "ASSET" use it for
all those uckie left-brianed tasks... and you'll discover your creativity
extends far beyond art and design!

Do you divide your work week into segments.... like throwing/building
Mon-Wed or do some of everything every day? I'll leave this for someone

Tena, we have mentors available for all our new exhibitors... call us if
you need some help! The worst thing that can
happen is that we might loose a new artist because the proper information
about show preparation wasn't available !
Call or email if you need anything.
Good Luck,
Wendy Rosen

Wendy Rosen
The Rosen Group

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