Sue O’Kieffe (in a comment) recently wrote “what is your philosophy/formula for doing work on consignment? i have done shows where any sales were between buyer and seller, and no consignment fee was expected, so i was able to set my price for what i wanted and felt was fair. when i sell on consignment i never feel as good about the price because I come out on the short end, invariably. i understand about galleries needing to charge a fee because it is their business, too, but i am leery of shops who won’t buy wholesale. maybe if i had a balance of both or a majority of clients who were wholesale, then consignment wouldn’t feel so *not right* to me.”
Animals VI, Digital Â© Diane Clancy
Great question, Sue .. and one that several other people in comments expressed an interest in my answering. So here goes ….
I agree – I want to maximize my profit for selling to people. I put a lot of work into the original artwork and then in preparing the work for sale. This is true when I am uploading (and re-uploading and re-uploading) images at CafePress for people to buy merchandise with my paintings on them. It is also true when I prepare prints, cards or ACEOs for sale at Etsy, fairs, wholesale or person to person. It just plain takes me a lot of time – and materials. There is not a very high profit margin in any of it (for me anyway). Then remember to subtract Etsy and PayPal fees and this reduces the margin even more.
Wholesale sales are good because I get paid a chunk of money all at once. It is the repeat wholesale buys that are very sweet. Most of the marketing is done, I know they like my work and my product and it is fairly simple. Of course, I get only half of my usual price – since most retail is 100% markup – so I have to sell to then at 50% 0f my usual price. That leaves not much profit for me since my materials are archival and top quality.
Consignment is all over the map in terms of % in my experience. I have had a few stores (including maybe this new one) who charge me 10 – 15% markup. That is a good % from my perspective. I have some of my work at a few galleries who charge 50% commission. I don’t really care for it, but the 2 places are galleries of higher end crafts and arts where I want my work to be – for the exposure and for my resume. If a store I did not consider high end or particularly desirable, offered 50%, I would pass.
More often, it is 40% that most stores take. I can live with that because the extra 10% is my profit. Not a lot of money when talking about a $4 card, but this is the market I am in. One really big benefit is that THEY are the ones who are there and there and selling to my customers. They are the ones who are doing the advertising (for the most part) and who are paying the rent. That works for me. I have had consignment % at 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50% … all over the map. I have been offered 55 and 60% and that is a flat no!
I am going to continue talking about this tomorrow … and bring in fairs too … because that is partly what I am comparing these experiences to. There are a lot of layers to this question for me. Thank you for asking!
~ Diane Clancy