Friday, 1 October 2010

Ms Indignant

I thought i'd do a post about being approached in the shop by various artisans requesting us to stock their gorgeous creations. I could honestly write a book about some of these people from the shy and less confident to the downright rude, we've been approached by all sorts!
I will point out, however, that before i opened the shop, at a time when I was able to work regularly on my own art and other various creations, whilst holding down a full time job with contracted hours and regular pay that i was also horrified and indignant (although never rude) to discover that shops, galleries etc wanted such a high percentage from the sale of "my" hard work...and for doing what? !!!!!!! After all, it was me who was doing the work. To me, back then, they seemed almost like crooks, parasites even.
However, now, having got my own shop, i'm more understanding of why and what those costs are to the owners. As most of you will know, Gavin and I had such a hard time setting up this business The cost wasn't just in money terms, but in terms of our precious time. To make a start, we had life changing decisions to make, properties to sell, then there was new business properties to look for, then all the moving, the planning of the shop, planning applications to complete and employing a consultant to deal with the planning department, a builder to build to regulations...naming just a few. It cost us thousands of pounds just to get that far. In addition there were shop fittings, building equipment, not to mention a huge amount of stock to pay for as well as signage and advertising. When we'd got this far there were then business bank accounts to be opened, computerised costing systems to be purchased, credit/debit card machine to be paid for and bags and wrapping. The ongoing costs are the electricity in having the lights on constantly, heating costs, business rates, our time spent in the shop regardless of how many customers come in (bearing in mind that if we only had one customer our own pay alters accordingly), making the shop look nice by having it stocked up, continuous bags, tissue paper and packaging as things are sold, storing of multiple items, trawling around auctions and fairs for the vintage items and days spent at the trade shows and the constant thinking behind what people want to buy, how can we display it? and what will work well for us in a relatively small, seasonal market town?
So.. given all that, i think 40% (which is average, some people charge more) is not too bad.
So when....lets say..."Ms Indignant" turned up...well here's the conversation:
I'm sat at the counter, checking a new delivery of jewellery stock (everything has to be individually checked for correct amounts and damage). In walks "Ms Indignant", straight up to the counter and announces she makes things...
"I make things"
"Oh yes, what do you make?"
(big sweep of her arm around the shop) "all sorts of things"
"Do you want some of it in the shop?"
"anything in particular?"
"well I make jewellery" (surrepticiously looking at my newly delivered stock)
"what sort"
"well anyway, i don't want you to have those, i do paintings, watercolours, are you interested"
"what sort of watercolours?"
"well you know, all sorts"
"are they landscapes, people, local scenes?"
"they're big!"
" big?"
" big" (big sweep of the arm around the shop)
(I thought lets try another train of questionning)
"well, i can't have anything big, as you can see i don't have the space, but if you have some smaller stuff, depending on content, i can look at taking those. Alternatively if you'd like to give me some out of the frames, mounted, sealed and in a rack, i could think of taking some"
"what do you mean, no space? One that i have will fit nicely just there! (casual point of arm towards the wall) ...if you take that down...(clearly now, pointing at "my" art on the only bit of wall space i could find for my shop)
"well, there's art already on that wall as you can see"
"you could move it and put it in a rack instead" (me gobsmacked!!)
"I'd rather not do that, but if you'd like to bring in some smaller pieces i can have a look and tell you if it's suitable"
"what's your commission"
"forty per cent of the selling price"
"WHY?" (indignant raised voice)
"that's our policy (politely holding back "so like it or lump it")
"well, that's a lot innit?"
"I don't think so, i think it's normal"
"I'll think about it"
"what about the jewell........."
"sorry...don't need any jewellery, already have lots" (thinking..."shut the door on your way out")
"ok, i'll pop back in then with the pictures...i'll just have a look around"
(she continues walking around the shop) "I can make these" (holding up a vintage quilt)
(i just smile)
"I can make these" (holding up knitted brooches) and...
"I can make that and on and on and on...seemed like she could make everything in the shop)
(all the time i'm thinking "can you make yourself disappear" and i'm looking at her with a frozen smile on my face)
Fortunately...she hasn't come back with the pictures, but i've asked Gav to be on hand just in case...he's better at dealing with that sort of thing. Having said that, we've had really nice people as well and i'm getting more used to dealing with them and answering their questions.
So, if anyone out there is thinking of putting their artwork/creations in a shop....just have a thought for the owner and the costs/time involved in them setting up too.