Marketing and Selling your woodworking #6: Galleries, Consignment shops and more

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Blog entry by huff posted 07-03-2013 11:43 AM 7525 reads 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Image (finding the right market) Part 6 of Marketing and Selling your woodworking series Part 7: Marketing and Selling on the Internet »

Galleries; Art galleries, craft galleries, co-op galleries can be another way to get your woodworking in front of the buying public.

There are thousands of Galleries available to a woodworker. They may not be in your town, but guaranteed there are some close enough for you to check out and possibly use for part of your marketing.

You do need to understand how most galleries work though; most galleries don’t pay for your inventory up front, but takes a commission when the item is sold.

The commission rate will vary from gallery to gallery (between 30 – 50%). They may also charge rent for space at their gallery but it all depends on the type gallery and their particular set-up.

Galleries can range from very high end for art and crafts to pretty much run of the mill variety type store that will allow almost any type craft to be put on display. (“Gallery” is another one of those words that gets used quite liberally),

Of course the higher end galleries are much more selective in who or what they allow because they like to feature their artist (that’s part of their draw for their customer base).

Advantages; An established Art or Craft Gallery will already have a customer following and continues to market to attract new customers. They have an established place of business and your items are on display for customers to be able to actually see and touch.

Like I said earlier; some galleries like to feature one of their artists each month. They actually like having an artist there to meet and talk with customers.

Great exposure if you can get your work in a gallery like that.

A Gallery also gives you a physical location you’re able to direct customers to through other marketing avenues.

A good Gallery will be selective of who they allow to display at their location, so you’re not mixed in with a bunch of flea market type vendors.

The typical customer that shops at an upscale gallery will be looking for unique items and willing to pay a better price for such.

A Gallery will take care of all the sales and collect sales tax if applicable.

Disadvantages; you will have to pay high commission fees for their services (You’re basically selling at wholesale prices but not wholesale quantities).

You may have to travel a greater distance to find a good gallery that will accept your product.

Nobody at a gallery is typically “selling” your items, they are just order takers (your product has to be able to sell itself).

One last note; if you decide to try galleries, take your time and do your homework. Make sure it is an established business and they have the ability to draw the type customer that would be interested in your type woodworking.

Keep very good inventory records of what you have on display with them (I would recommend you have a picture of each item you have on display with any gallery along with a detailed inventory list.).

Consignment shops; a consignment shop can also be a good way to market your woodworking. They work pretty much the same way as a gallery, but usually focuses more on used items, but more and more consignment shops are handling new items to broaden their customer base. A consignment shop is not as targeted towards art and artist as say a gallery may be.

Again, it gives you a physical location to be able to have your projects on display and be able to direct customers yourself to that location through other marketing venues.

Commissions can be high, so make sure you know all the details before displaying at one.

Like Galleries, make sure it’s an established business and they have a customer base that would be good for your type woodworking.

Never let a Gallery or Consignment shop make you feel like they are doing you the greatest favor ever by letting you display in their place of business. If they are interested in your line of woodworking then it should be a win – win situation for everyone. Yes, they have the retail location and they do marketing to draw customers and they do all the selling for you, but then again, they get “all” their inventory absolutely FREE! They’re basically a retail store that doesn’t have to pay for inventory until it’s sold yet still buy your product at wholesale prices.

That’s why a lot of galleries and consignment shops are renting their floor space now. That way they not only get their inventory free, but you’re paying all their overhead for them whether anything is ever sold or not.
So remember, you are doing them just as much of a favor as they are for you!

Wholesale; If you have the ability and desire to build large quantities of the same item effectively and efficiently then you may be more interested in selling your products wholesale.

Selling wholesale is actually selling your product to a middle man that turns around and sells it retail to the end user. Example; you sell your inventory to a store and they sell it to the retail customer, or you may sell your inventory to an individual that will turn around and sell it at a show or market it as part of their inventory.

Looking at it from the other side of the fence; the bases for being able to “buy” at wholesale prices is for you to buy in larger quantities to get a better price. You buy at a wholesale price so you can turn around and sell it to the end user, (retail customer) and are able to make money. You are the middle man between the manufacturer and the retail customer).

The reason I put that last statement in there and hi-lighted it was to simply remind woodworkers what wholesale buying and selling is really all about.

Too many times a woodworker is willing to sell his or her products at a wholesale price but has no requirements for the person or business that’s buying it to qualify for a wholesale price. You just sell them one or two items and they get a wholesale price so “they” can make money, yet you are giving it away at half price!
Truly selling wholesale should either have a minimum dollar purchase or minimum number of items to order to qualify for a wholesale price.

You should never allow the customer to decide what the minimum order should be.

If you want to sell your work one piece at a time and get paid ½ of the retail value then I would recommend you put your work in a gallery or consignment shop.

Selling wholesale is all about building in volume and getting paid for selling in volume.

Designers, Design Centers, Contractors and Architects; These are other avenues you may want to pursue to market yourself and your woodworking. This usually works for the woodworker that is doing furniture or cabinetry, but could also work for a woodworker that designs and build accessories.

Not necessarily a way to display your work, but it ties more into wholesale selling or selling your work at a discounted price so they are able to turn around and offer it to the end user and make a profit also.

Advantages; they are doing most of the selling for you. They may also be doing all the design work, dealing with the customer and some may even do the delivery or installations.

There’s definitely pro’s and con’s to dealing with each, so make sure you understand how they work and how they pay before jumping in too head strong.

Tomorrow, let’s jump into cyber space! We’ll talk about the internet.

-- John @

6 comments so far

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4053 days

#1 posted 07-03-2013 12:16 PM

It all makes sense. Appreciate all you input and blog on this

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Sanding2day's profile


1018 posts in 3095 days

#2 posted 07-03-2013 02:23 PM

Greatly appreciate these postings… Really gets me thinking :) Thanks for sharing your input…

-- Dan

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4534 days

#3 posted 07-03-2013 02:39 PM

Thanks Roger and Dan;

Hope there will be a few ideas that can help. I still have a couple more segments to go, so hope you will follow along.

-- John @

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4091 days

#4 posted 07-03-2013 03:21 PM

Huff (John),

Guess I asked my question too soon. A previous blog re: Arts and Crafts shows. Thanks!

James Krenov would sell his furniture to people he liked but he also had pieces with

I checked these people out before I’d ever heard of Lumber Jocks.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View challenged's profile


1 post in 2905 days

#5 posted 11-14-2013 10:57 AM

Thanks for sharing good knowledge.
Easy consignment

-- Easy consignment ,

View Mauricio's profile


7168 posts in 4400 days

#6 posted 01-07-2014 05:40 AM

thanks for writing this up, great info!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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