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galleries and shops and janet's comments

updated fri 9 feb 01


Dave Finkelnburg on wed 7 feb 01

Hello all!
I've been considering Janet's long-awaited comments :-) on the
gallery/shop discussion. You recall this came up when Mary Lou Zeek asked
the list what potters want from gallery
owners. Perhaps we should be asking gallery owners what they want from
Leaving that aside, though, my thoughts on Mary Lou's question are, that
IF this were a perfect world, here's what I'd want to see between a potter
and gallery.
First, I'd want a written agreement. No, not a lawyer-made tome,
verbiage forever, etc. Rather, I am thinking of a simple statement in plain
English of what the potter agrees to do and what the gallery owner agrees to
do and what each party can do if the other doesn't do their part. This
would cover such issues as who's liable for breakage or loss, returns (if
any), warranty, FOB point, pricing, payment terms, marketing effort, reorder
minimums (if any), turnaround time on orders, record-keeping. I am sure
many on the list can think of other important items which could be covered
here and would head off problems in the potter-gallery relationship.
Second, I'd want a relationship which is genuinely intended to benefit
BOTH potter and gallery. Like anyone else, I like having my money up front.
At the same time, I strongly dislike wholesale pricing, because, from my
perspective, it's really based on, "buy low, sell high, maximize profit for
the gallery by beating down the selling price of the potter." I dislike
consignment on a fixed price because the potter takes the risk, the gallery
makes the profit. Consignment on a shared percentage can work, but it needs
a minimum selling price to protect the potter. What I prefer is a minimum
wholesale price (say to cover all direct costs from materials through to
shipping), and a shared benefit/shared risk approach where the gallery and
the potter work together to raise the selling price of the work. No, I
haven't met a gallery owner/manager willing to do this yet with my modest
work, but I know there are such enlightened people.
I really think this is all that's needed. The traditional adversarial
approach of the potter and the gallery grappling to get the upper hand is so
tiring, so unconstructive that it makes direct retailing, tiring as that is,
look very attractive at times.
I agree totally with Janet's comment that the gallery/artist
relationship is a 50:50 partnership.
Dave Finkelnburg in frosty Idaho