I have been invited to display and consign my journals at Artist Alley in Southern Pines, NC! I'm excited about this great opportunity and just mailed my initial inventory off today. I had a friend scout out the shop and she was so impressed she wants to consign there also! It's in the historic district of Southern Pines, right off the main drag.
Here is one of the journals that will be in the shop. Winter Elegance Journal and it's companion, a little mini book. It would make a great wedding or bridal shower guest book!
I have consigned at several other shops and with a little experience under my belt I feel somewhat worthy to offer these tips.
If you're just starting out, I'd recommend consigning locally until you get the hang of it. That way you can go in a check on your stuff whenever you want and can go visit the gallery if there is a problem.
Consigning out of town requires a bit more precaution. If you can't personally go check out the shop, send someone you trust to give you a report. What's the location like? Is there the potential for a lot of foot traffic? How are the items displayed? Is the store cluttered or well-maintained? Check the shop owner's credentials. Do they seem reputable? Ask for referrals from other artists who currently consign there.
The typical arrangement is a 60/40 split with the gallery taking 40% of the sales price. Some galleries are lower and some are higher, but that is the most common scenario. Be sure you both sign a contract. If the gallery does not offer one, bring your own.
Another thing to consider, does the gallery insure your work against loss or damage? This is particularly important if you sell small, expensive items that can walk off easily. Most of the galleries I have consigned in do insure, but some do not.
I've had two instances of loss and damage; the first happened years ago at my very first consignment location. A group of school children came through the gallery for a tour (it was a working gallery where artists rent studio space). My jewelry was ransacked, about 75% of it stolen, but the gallery cut me a check for the lost items so it worked out okay for me.
The second was more recent at a gallery at which I no longer consign because of multiple issues. The price tags on my items were mixed up, causing some items to be sold at a loss to me. I addressed the loss with the gallery and the mixed up tags were corrected, but was not offered compensation and I didn't press the issue.
Then they "lost" one of my journals on the sales floor, only to rediscover it months later and return it to me in damaged condition. It was so bad I had to take the journal apart and remake it. The pages were dirty and rumpled on the edges and they ruined the first page by TAPING a price tag onto it!! That gallery is considered to be the "happening" place to be...I was shocked at their lack of professionalism.
The other local gallery I currently consign with is a new business run by the owner and her husband. Her gallery is small but she offers a nice variety of items and they are well displayed and cared for. Even though her gallery doesn't have a lot of foot traffic since it is rather new, she and I are hoping as the word gets out things will continue to pick up. After my experience with the previous gallery, I'd much rather do business with her, even if it means I don't sell as much!
As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when consigning and you do take a risk once your work leaves your hands. You just have to determine how much of a risk you're willing to take and what the cost will be to you if you experience loss or damage. I do this primarily for fun -- if I had to pay my bills with the money from my art I'd be living in a cardboard box! -- so a gallery that causes me big hassles and headaches just isn't worth it to me.
If you have any questions regarding consignment post them here and I will do my best to answer them!