Saturday, April 27, 2013

Follow The Signs To A Good Consignor

Dragonfly Pillow Bead Ornament
If you've ever considered consigning some of your handmades, you know some of the things to take into consideration.  When choosing the venue and the person to manage your consignments, it's important to remember that you will rarely be there to insure that your carefully-crafted items are presented in the best light.  Do you have confidence in the skills and commitment of the owner/manager of the consignment space?
"The Door Of My Heart" wall art, "You knocked at the door of my heart but I did not answer, because I thought I had to search for love.  You knocked again, and I cracked the door of my heart, because you were so insistent.  You knocked a third time and my heart's door swung wide.  Because love had found me, and I chose to answer."

You look at the shop, booth, or space itself.  Is it neat or unattractively junky?  The operative word?  Unattractively.  Do the products look neglected or well-tended to?  Is the space dusty and repelling, or sparkly clean and attractive?  It doesn't have to be a large and expensive space, but if it's well cared for it will attract discriminating customers who will be excited about returning to buy your products.
Coffee Greeting Card: "You are like a swig of rich coffee, fragrant, smooth, mesmerizing."
What about the products of the other consignees?  Is there a variety of merchandise so that everyone gets equal attention?  Too much of one type of product (unless it's a theme shop) means less sales for any one vendor.  Evaluate the type and style of your products and compare them with what is being offered.  Before you commit yourself, insure that your products will receive equal attention, and not be crowded out by a glut of similar items.  Ask if the owner has a plan to counteract this.
"I Am Positive Minded," ornament, "I am positive-minded.  Each day I attract money, resources & opportunities.  I look forward, not behind."
What about the pay out or distribution policy?  Do consignees receive monthly payment for sold items, bi-monthly or quarterly?  Is it restricted to automatically-timed distribution, or can the pay out be requested at other intervals?
"Sweet Bliss," wall art featuring Karo

"Plant Lover," blank greeting card
Another thought is what type of advertising and promotion does the venue do, if any?  It may be important to you that the owner has a plan or program for attracting customers to the store.  The importance of this is different for each of us.  Maybe you are consigning in order to gain experience with this selling opportunity.  You may be simply doing someone a favor, or bartering products and services.

In these cases and others, these points may not be critical.  But think again.  Anytime we are allowing our products to be seen, the method and place in which they are being presented can have a negative or positive impact.  This is true even if sales are not the driving decision for which to display.  We always want to be well-represented where ever our products are.
"Imagine. Do. Become," small wall art
Is the consignment place a co-op, where all consignees are expected to share in the management of the facility?  If so, will you have any time to devote to manning the store?  Is the amount of time per month established by the owner, or is it voluntary and flexible?
Coffee Greeting Card: "May your day be filled with...Coffee."
Will you be required to occasionally promote by making products on site, in full display of visitors?  Would you feel comfortable working while under public observation and scrutiny?  Did you think to ask about price-setting, and sale pricing?  Are you allowed to set your prices, or are they determined by the owner?

Is any vendor allowed to put products on sale, or is that controlled by management?  If you want to put an item on sale and it is not allowed, do you know if you can remove it immediately so that you can list it, as a sale item, in your online shop?  The answers to these and other well-thought-out questions can help avoid headaches and strained relationships.
"Imagine. Do. Become," small wall art
Is there a contract?  Have you read it and highlighted any questions you may have, or clarifications that may be needed?  Read the fine print.  How often do we hear that?  How often do we obey?  Obedience is good.
"Friends," greeting card, "Friends are like leaves.  First there's the budding.  Next, comes the growth.  Then surprisingly there's the falling away...and finally, the regeneration."
As with any agreement or contract, the considerations are many.  It's a business agreement that as business professionals we should take the time to fully understand.

"Treetown I," small wall art

Teresa Rusk at Hollyhocks, my consignment venue, shares some considerations to remember when selecting a consignment location for your products.  She says you should ask yourself just what does that venue offer.

Teresa has taken the time to share handmades of some of the many vendors at Hollyhocks.  Her video is a great example of good marketing and promotion.  She is a consignor who has a commitment to putting her best foot forward, for herself and  her consignees.

The product images in my blog post are items that I've consigned at Hollyhocks , which is located in North Carolina. Consignor Teresa says,
Hollyhocks, LLC is located in the historic district of downtown Mebane. Our address is 102 West Clay Street Suite C, Mebane, NC 27302.  We are located in a walkout basement with Poythress Studio being directly above us. Look for our pink and green stairwell or come around the building for the back door. Our space is as unique as our products!  Our phone number is 919/563-2522.  

For more help with the consignment process visit these links:

Lisa McGrimmon, at, credits much of her success to the time she spent building good relationships with consignors with whom she's worked.

April MacKinnon has experienced the pros and cons of consignment.  She offers ways to protect yourself.  Her readers offer their expertise within thirty-five comments.

Cindy Keyes has a board at Pinterest titled Online Consignment Shops.

Ever thought about being an online consignor yourself?  In his book, How to Start and Run an eBay Consignment Business, Skip McGrath offers sample contracts, forms, flyers and guidelines on selling other people's stuff on eBay.  You could adapt his plans for the work of handmade artists and crafters.  Mr. McGrath is a longtime eBay powerseller and author of several bestsellers about eBay commerce.

Good luck with your consignment ventures.


judie said...

Thanks Sandi, for this informative post. I will be checking out Hollyhocks soon. Love that dragonfly pillow art above. xo

Sandi Holland said...

Hi Judie: I love dragonflys and enjoyed making the hand-carved stamp that I used to design the pillow bead. Hope your spring weather is as good as it's been here in Northeast FL.

Teresa R said...

Fantastic article my friend! Thank you so much for mentioning Hollyhocks too. I appreciate that very much! I've looked at a couple of the other links you provided and have found them to be very informative.

Sandi Holland said...

So glad you found it useful, Teresa. As I work my way to having more time, I will be adding more useful information to my posts. Thanks for visiting.

Beads and Threads by Amy on Etsy said...

Thank you for this article! Very informative and helpful as I am entering into my first consignment contract. I am sure the fees vary from store to store and location to location. What kinds of fees are "normal"?

Beads and Threads by Amy on Etsy said...

This was a great article! Several things I hadn't considered, but will now as I enter into my first consignment opportunity. The shop, Bellezza Design, was very selective about the items they wanted in their shop (which was a relief to me). I have already sold about half of what I took in during their open house. I need to ask about sales/removing items for sales. I'd love to hear about fees (understanding they vary by location) and any "red flags" to avoid. Bellezza has a lovely shop and thoughtful displays, so that is not a concern for me at all. They have been great to work with so far.

Sandi Holland said...

Sorry it took me so long to reply. Have not yet found out why I'm not getting my email alerts right away.

I've never received anyone else's items for consignment so don't know about normal fees. It may be discussed at one of the links that I provided. Also, you may be able to ask in a comment at one of those.

Congrats on your success at Bellezza Design.

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