Remember the old Bob Newhart routines where you only heard his side of
a telephone conversation? I heard a guy, obviously a woodworker, at
the airport in Tampa a couple of weeks ago. It went something like
"Hello, this is Bob."
"Yes, I would be glad to make a walnut dining room table like the one
I made for Mrs. ***. It will be about six months before I can do it
though and it will cost $12,000."
"Yes, I understand that you run a gallery."
"The price is $12,000, payable when it is delivered to your gallery.
If you choose to put it in the gallery and resell it, that's your
"Yes Ma'am, I understand that you want me to build it and put it in
your "gallery" and then you will pay me for it when you sell it, less
ten percent. What you are calling a gallery, Ma'am, is a high priced
consignment shop. The price is $12,000 payable upon delivery."
I've had one or two with similarly clueless folks... and it also brings to
mind another set of conversations that I heard only one side of, a number of
years ago -- the clueless side.
I use to share an office with a woman who, to put it charitably, wasn't a very
careful driver. One morning on the way to work, she wrecked her car for the
3rd time in less than a year, producing the predictable reaction from her
insurance company. So she started calling around getting quotes from other
*Every* conversation went like this:
"Hello, my name is _____ and I'm looking for a quote on auto insurance." [age,
address, marital status, etc. follow]
"Well, I just had one."
<astonished tone> "Oh, that much!"
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
And THAT is the way many people get rich
by using other people's money (time, energy,
resources). They're called Brokers, hence all
the rich Wall Streeters - who make nothing,
risk none of their own money, and take a piece
of the action - regardless of which way the
market is going. And they are the ones that
set the expectations on how much profit a
company who has shares in their company sold
on the Stock Exchange. No matter how well
a company does, if it doesn't reach or exceed
"wall street expectations/projected profit"
the value of the company and its stock drops.
THEY call it investing and make a clear (to them
and apparently lawmakers) distinction between
what they do and "gambling". But any time you
make an "investment/bet" with no guarantee of
a profitable return on your investment/bet -
call it what you will - but it's still gambling. Unlike
a casino which over time always has a "house edge",
you do have a chance, though slim if you don't have
a lot of money to "diversify", of "winning".
Then there's Enron and others like it.
Mr. Ley, I sincerely hope that there is in fact
a hell. And Dubya - you're "war on terror
expenditures" of over a trillion dollars isn't
gonna get you a cooler spot there either.
who had no money "invested" in Enron and still
thinks Ken Ley took the cowards way out. His
wife - well I don't think she'll be needing any
fur coats in what ever happens after death.
Are you suggesting that the gallery doesn't assume any risk just
because they take things on consignment? Who pays their employees,
rent and other bills if they don't make sales? And only taking 10%?
They'll go broke.
I think you are right. One of the larger galleries here got tired of
fighting all designer galleries, the chain galleries posing as
boutiques, and the individuals that show only on consignment. The
owner told my fellow woodturner that put his pieces there that they
weren't making enough to fight it anymore.
Depending on the piece, they would display and arrange your work in a
way to make it the most attractive, and insure it, clean it, and show
it. And they helped with the pricing. He made much more money than
he could have selling out of his house, his truck, his garage, the
church craft show, county fair circuit,etc.
The gallery took between 30 and 40%, and he was glad to get it. He
like not having to shill his products or to make himself available to
have people tramping around his house and shop on weekends and
holidays on the possibility they "might" buy.
And he sold a lot more on the side because people knew he was in a
good gallery in the high rent district.
But the gallery is gone, even at those 30-40% cuts they still couldn't
Most galleries will negotiate with recognized artists or craftsmen
that sell large pieces. If the subject of the OP was getting that
kind of price for his work, he probably didn't need the gallery to
Point well taken. 10% of $12,000 is "only" $1,200, and that's
assuming they sell it for $12K. Anything above that goes in
their pocket or only 10% of the actual sales price goes in their
But your point is well taken. Galleries and consigment shops
CAN be a boon to artists and craftsmen, who are seldom good
business people and often very weak in promoting themselves.
If it's a symbiotic relationship - both the shop owner and the
items maker can benefit. It's the Predator Prey relationship
that's the killer.
It sure is nice to just make things for fun rather than as a way
to earn a living. (still have a problem with the idea of "earning
the right to live" but Darwin was on to something).
After the credit card processing takes their 3% they're left with
$840. A dining set is going to take up a lot of space in the gallery.
My arrangement with the local craft place is 60-40. If they have a
sale it comes out of their 40%, I still get 60% of full price. Some
of the stuff sits there for months. I had one jewelry box that was
the most expensive thing we tried there, it sat there for a year
before they returned it to me unsold. "Lot's of lookers, no buyers".
It's hard enough to make something that is interesting enough to be
worth doing and yet cheap enough that someone will buy it when I'm
selling it myself. Adding another 40% on top of that is a challenge.
Heard it, seen it, know about it.
I exhibited Corian at a 'Home Show' 20 years ago.
It was amazing to see how many people were willing to give me
One woman had the audacity to ask for 12 table tops for her coffee
shop in exchange for handing out my business cards.
Another was a bar owner who thought it would be good 'exposure'.
Yet another kitchen/bath dealer wanted me to put a few complete
vanities on display, and he'd pay me if he sold them. I told him he'd
pay me, and I'd give him credit for each and every piece he sold off
the displays, so he'd get a break. I figured that would at least show
some commitment on his part. That 'Get Your Display For Free' program
works very well for me as my suppliers also contribute in kind for
The whole 'gallery' scam is annoying. Having said that, I am aware
that in the arts it can work if the gallery is established and has a
clientele built up over the years. Those are far and few between, and
can make or break an artist.
I don't know that much about macro-economics but in our free
enterprise system, Darwinism seems to operate ie those that can earn
a living, survive, while those that can't, fall by the way side or
perhaps change the way the earn their livelihood. If the gallery is
able to bring customers to the craftsman that the craftsman would not
otherwise be exposeed to, the gallery is performing a service.
What determines a craftsman's acceptance of the galleries services
and business practices is how busy he is on his own.The busy craftsman
can afford the luxury of being independent.
> "Hello, this is Bob."
> "Yes, I would be glad to make a walnut dining room table like the one
> I made for Mrs. ***. It will be about six months before I can do it
> though and it will cost $12,000."
> "Yes, I understand that you run a gallery."
> "The price is $12,000, payable when it is delivered to your gallery.
IMHO, a good way to go broke.
If I were to bid that job, it would be 50% when order is placed, 30%
when drawings for construction are approved, 10% when construction is
complete but before final finish is applied, and 10% at time of delivery.
Since this topic seems to be partially focused on woodworkers being
exploited by the more selfish type of customer, I relate this tale for
the record. Early in my woodworking career I worked for a cabinet shop
which occasionally got screwed by a customer who made promises (In
writing) but did not pay upon installation. The cabinet shop
eventually resorted to the 50-50 rule but tweeked it to 50% with the
order and the remaining 50% when the finished work was on the trailer
in front of the owners place of business.
Of course you must be willing to lose business to less careful shops.
In the long run,thankfully, most people do honor their commitments to
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