Monday, January 17, 2011

Consignment?

I get some variation on the consignment question frequently:
  • Do you take consignment?
  • Is all this *stuff on consignment?
  • I make (fill in the blank), can I sell it here on consignment?
  • I have my grandma's (fill in the blank again), will you sell it for me, like on consignment?
When I first opened the shop, I did have several crafters on consignment. It helped fill the shop, but after a few years, I realized I was hurting myself by having it. Why?
  • Because consignment items were taking up floor space.
  • Because that floor space could have been holding my own *stuff.
  • Because I make more profit on my own *stuff than on consignment items.
  • Because to stay open, I have to make more profit.
And, as you might imagine, consignment entails lots of paperwork and time.
LOTS of paperwork and time.
Time that again, I could be investing into my own *stuff.

So, I let my crafter's go. That wasn't easy, because through the years, I got to know them, and they became friends. But, I had to look at it from a business perspective.

Is there anything wrong with consignment, or consignment shops?

No, not at all. I've been on both ends of the issue. Taking consignment crafters in my shop, and also selling my own crafts on consignment in other shops.

It just didn't work in the long run for me to continue it here.

Do I have any recommendations on consignment?
Well yes I do, thank you for asking.

If you are the shopowner:
  • Charge a monthly rent. If Crafter Sue doesn't sell anything in May, you'll still make something.
  • Charge a percentage of each of Crafter Sue's sales if the montly rent is low. If it's higher, skip that.
  • If you have booth space, let Crafter Sue do her own thing with it. Within reason of course.
  • If you mix everything together, make sure Crafter Sue's things get rotated to the "hot spots".
  • If you see Crafter Sue's inventory getting low, let her know. She'll thank you.
  • Don't charge Crafter Sue for advertising, unless that is specifically outlined in the contract.
  • Have contracts. And even if Crafter Sue is a friend, or family, have her sign it.
  • Limit how long Crafter Sue can have each item in your shop, so the inventory stays fresh. In other words, if a wreath hasn't sold in such and such a time, it has to be removed.
How much to charge for rent? And how much of a percentage of her sales?
Check around your area for comparibles.

If you are Crafter Sue:
  • Pay attention to the general theme of the shop. Only bring in things that fit in.
  • Pay your rent on time.
  • Pay attention to the contract.
  • Bring in fresh *stuff as often as you can, within the contract.
  • Don't call the shop every day to see if you had any sales. The shopowner is quite busy.
  • Don't be offended by the monthly rent fee. Remember, the shopowner has LOTS of expenses that you the crafter don't have. And if you have a slow month, the shopowner still has to keep the shop open.
  • Get insurance on your *stuff. If there is a fire, or robbery, the shopowner may not have you covered.
  • Listen to the shopowners suggestions. She knows her customers better, because she sees them more often.
  • Watch your pricing. Keep it reasonable. Don't try to undercut everyone else.
  • Make sure your price tags are neat, and easily read. And make sure they make sense.
Oh, there's lots of other advice, but that's all I can think of right now, off the top of my head.

So, no, I don't take consignment anymore. Will I ever again? I don't think so, but I learned a long time ago to "never say never".

*Stuff (noun) - the technical term for crafts and antiques.

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