Sale or return?

Sale or return is a little bit of an odd one, unless you know how it works…

Basically a shop will agree to sell your items in their shop, but they don’t pay you unless it sell.  If an item sells, they will take a percentage of the sale.  Here’s a few things to take into account…


Where do you want to sell your pictures?

Do you want to sell locally?  Is your art suitable for the local shops?  Now if you take images of the local area, then this would seem very suitable indeed!  If you take nude images, then it might very well be that the small giftshop on the corner would not be interested.  Don’t make a situation awkward by trying to force a shop to sell your pictures when you clearly know they wouldn’t be suitable.


What sort of a percentage would you be happy with the shop taking?

This can range from anywhere between 20% to 50%.  You might think 50% seem a lot, but your items will be taking up space in their shop, and if they’re at the high end, then chances are they pay taxes/VAT which is 20%, so clearly only taking 20% would then be completely useless for them.

I would personally stay clear of any shop that also tries to charge you a set fee for each item you put in their shop – this seems a little more like them screwing you over, instead of the two of you coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.


How and when will you get paid?

Chances are they will pay via bank transfer… you have remembered to register as self emplyed have you not?  A small shop that has no card machine might pay you in cash or cheque.  Are they gonna call you up as soon as your items has sold?  Unlikely, this takes up valuable times, that the possible 20% of the sale will nowhere near cover.  Instead you might get a transfer at the end of the month, or the month after depending on when they pay their suppliers.  Unless your items are flying out the door, and they’re making good money on them, then again, it will probably be up to you to contact them to see if they need more.


Damage and theft – what happens?

A shop will always have insurance, and if the shop gets robbed, then you should be in the clear.  But what if a shoplifter steals only one of your items?  They’re not gonna call up their insurance company due to the loss of one item (any claim, and premiums go up)!  It’s not their item…  they don’t own it – will you be taking the loss?  What about damage?  Sticky chocolate (or worse!) covered fingers touching your stuff on display – who will be taking care of that?


And again – get yourself business cards!!!

Business cards is a must.  Even when rejected, always smile and say “I’ll just leave you my details” (and don’t be scared of calling them back in three months time, persistance pays off!).

There are a few things that are important with a business card:

Make sure it represents what you do!  If you’re selling photos, don’t get a bloody card with a cartoon on it!

Make sure it has your name!  Who wants to get in contact with someone if they don’t know their name?

Make sure it has contact details!  You don’t need to hand out your home address on it, but e-mail address and phone number is a must, even if it’s just a mobile/cell.

Make sure it has a web address, where people can see your work!  This doesn’t have to be a snazzy website, it can be something as simple as a flickr account, or maybe your wordpress blog.  If they happen upon your card in the future, although previously rejecting you, it could very well be that they suddenly want photographs… and they will want to see what you’re offering.


Don’t be scared of being a little cheeky!

No suitable shops nearby?  No shops you’re happy with the agreement with?  Then move on to other establishments – and you might even get a deal that gives you 0% comission to where you display your stuff!

For frames photographs – get in contact with local businesses… those where people often have to sit and wait are perfect for this.  See if the doctors office will be happy to put some of your pics on their waiting room wall, and if you can leave some business cards too.  Dentist office, solicitors/laywers, car mechanics – why not ask restaurants and cafes?

They might be happy to sell your stuff right there, or it might be that you’re just allowed to display them, and sales will have to go directly though you, either way – your art will be on display where people can see it.


Promote where your stuff is!

Don’t go keeping it a fucking secret where your stuff is… you might think you’re being clever by not having to pay a shop comission… you’re not.  It’s very different for people to see an image of yours online, and to actually see one in a physical frame on a wall, or to hold one of your cards in their hand.  Make sure people get the chance to do so!

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