Selling your arts or crafts on consignment can be one of many ways you use to market your arts or crafts. Consigning your products means you find a retail shop who wants to carry your work but the kicker is that the retailer doesn't outright buy your goods; they only pay you when and if your item sells.
I'm not a big fan overall of consignment sales. You're at the mercy of the retailer to make sure your arts or crafts items are aggressively marketed to customers and protected from theft and breakage. Many think that retailers will push their owned inventory over consignment items. Although I haven't found this to be particularly true of my clients, I have seen the work of artists and crafters languishing for years on the same owner's shelves.
Here are some facts to consider if you are thinking about consigning your arts or crafts:
Reputation of the Arts or Craft Consignee
Find out how long the shop or gallery has been in business. Never place your goods with a brand-new shop or gallery. Check out their customer traffic by visiting the location a few times. Contact other artists or crafters who consign there to get a read on the profitability of the arrangement.
Keep in mind that other vendor's perceived happiness with the arrangement may be colored by their lack of interest in having your goods compete with theirs. So, it's recommended you contact artists or crafters working in a different craft profession.
Defining the Consignment Relationship
Major issues include the length of the consignment agreement, commission percentage and mark-down policies. What's a good length of time for the consignment? Consider what you find to be optimal for your business. Maybe you just want to consign out some items between shows (very short term) or you're placing past season items that haven't sold so you are accepting of an open-ended arrangement. Most often, the consignee will have a standard length of time by which you'll have to abide.
Find out if you set the original price for the art or craft or that's something the shop mandates. Also important is how much your commission will be when the item sells. Likewise, the consignee may have a policy of discounting items if they haven't sold after 30, 60 or 90 days. Consider whether you'd rather have the items returned to you (most likely at your expense) if they don't sell at original agreed-upon price.
Protecting Your Art or Craft
Discuss who bears the risk if your good on consignment is stolen or damage. Also, how about keeping your good clean or in the case of a piece of sterling silver jewelry, tarnish-free. You have to make sure that if there are any special day-to-day care instructions, the gallery will follow them.
Promoting on Your Arts or Crafts Website
Let's say you have an internet presence and you consign, make sure you list your retail consignee as a location where potential customers can see your work in person. Of course, there is always the risk that once in your consignee's shop they'll spend their money on other goods for sale.
However, it can also work to your advantage by driving sales back to your website. For example, the potential customer likes the quality of your work which will give them the required confidence to press the 'Buy' button on your website for another item you have for sale, not on consignment.