Art Galleries

The trouble with having jewelry creations in another state is that I either have to drive there to re-stock or mail a package containing new pieces.  Over the years I’ve sold my jewelry in a few retail establishments.  All were consignment based except for one which just sold the pieces for me and paid me for what sold.

Some of the places were great and some were just okay. Those that were just okay, didn’t last more than 3 years at a stretch. Most of the problems stemmed from lack of knowledge of sustainable business practices, lack of organizational skill needed to adequately display jewelry, and overextension of the business in general. The venues my jewelry has been shown in have varied from a gift shop at a local eco-park (no longer solvent) to two higher-end gift boutiques (both of which are no longer solvent), a local sports shop (non-consignment), a juried art gallery (the best experience of all), and a juried retail gallery within a community art center. The last place is the only place in which I still show my jewelry in a physical space.  This is the sixth season in which my jewelry has been shown in a gallery in our neighboring state of Iowa.  Overall, it has been a great fit for me.

But, it is located 72 miles away! The gallery has changed management three times in the six years I’ve had jewelry on consignment there. I’ve managed to float with the changes, appreciating each new manager that has assumed the position for what they brought to the job.

For the first five years, to keep my consignment at a higher level, I volunteered in some fashion. For three years, I volunteered my time four times a year at the gallery to help staff it.  This entailed driving to Iowa, serving my four-hour shift, and driving home. Each way, along the Great River Road, took 1.5 hours. I’m not complaining. This is a road that should be driven by everyone in our country. It affords great views of the Mighty Mississippi River and is a true pleasure to traverse. But, it did consume some time, energy, and gas!

After those first few years, I choose other ways to volunteer my time: delivering fliers. sitting on the jury committee, and giving demonstrations. Then, I decided to take a lower commission to not have to travel to the gallery for volunteering. Primarily this decision was made because I had started another job. I was worried about having the time to commit to the trip to Iowa to volunteer.

Thus, this was the first year I accepted a lower rate for consignment.   While it’s not great, it does give me additional time to make jewelry and find other ways to sell it. It also alleviated the pressure of having to take the time to get to Iowa for a day, four times a year while I was working.  In addition, the gallery is non-profit and proceeds go towards providing off-season art lessons to the community. I like being part of that.

Unfortunately, this past week, I had to spend hours looking for a post office receipt for a package of jewelry I sent at the end of November.  When I got my end of season check for sales in November and December, it seemed odd. None of the new pieces of inventory I sent in late November had sold! I was even asked to send more earrings and yet, no earrings sold. The pieces that sold were from my earlier delivery of inventory. Odd.

After two days of digging for receipts, I found the post office tracking and it showed that the package was delivered. This morning I found out the package was there.  Well, come to find out, the gallery had my stock but it never was unpacked and displayed, or entered into the point of sale software!

I am thankful that the package arrived. I had insured it as well. But, I am also sad that I missed a month of potential holiday sales between the end of November and the end of the year. I hope my next consignment check looks better!

In the meantime, I had a great experience with a FB group for artisan jewelers since the first of the year. There is a lot of support from the other artists and I even sold a piece already! It operates on an auction basis with a buy it now alternative.  Membership in the group (free) is necessary to sell or to buy. And, one must adhere to the rules of the group administrators.  So far, the experience has been great! I will continue to list a few pieces there, as well as Etsy. But, as far as the gallery, I think I will hand-deliver in the future!

It might be worth a pretty and relaxing drive down the Great River Road.

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Road trip. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2019

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