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Why are my feet stuck to the floor THIS time?

I was thrilled to do Amdur Productions, "The Inside Show" this past weekend. Only forty artists were chosen, ten of whom were jewelers. The air was rareified, let me tell you. But that is not what this post is about.
On Monday, I received an email from a lady (who shall remain nameless) telling me that anyone from "The Real Thing" show OR the "Inside Show" were being asked to join a limited engagement Co-Op of some artists at an abandoned Borders store across from the Woodfield Mall(very very exclusive high-end shopping mall). Thirty artists had climbed on board and they would love to have me with them.
They wanted $300 up front and 20% of every item sold. No contract. They had never run a Co-Op before but as she wrote:" it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do it."
No security...but you don't have to be there.(?)
She keeps repeating that they sold a vase for $4000.
I called two artists on the list of six she gave me. They haven't returned my calls.
Question: Am I being naive again and missing out on a great opportunity?
Or are my feet stuck to the floor for some other reason?
Help!

Views: 1781

Comment by Annette Piper on December 8, 2011 at 4:17pm

Hmmm, if I didn't know any of the artists and trusted them, I would be making lots of enquiries - the shopping centre for one - do they have permission to set up in that store?  Then I would ask for a full list of artists from the woman who contacted you and keep trying to contact them - and I'd be speaking to more than one of them.   I would also be asking details of how it the mechanics of it works - who is in the shop all day long and attending to customers?    You need as much information as you can to make an informed decision.

My first reaction is it is pricey - but perhaps they have to cover the rent of the store, so that is what the $400 per artist is for.   Who is the 20% commission going to?  Perhaps its to cover wages of those working at the store.   But these are all guesses - you need to find out the facts first.

Comment by geri a. wegner on December 8, 2011 at 4:41pm

Woodfield is a very very nice mall but it is by no means exclusive or high end.  You only have two weeks until Christmas and if it is for a short time, that seems to be the market they  are going for.  Is it worth the money for that short of a time?  Sure it is like a booth fee but unlike a festival where you are there to promote your own work, you will have sales clerks  who don't have the same incentive to sell your jewelry as you do.  Be flattered that they asked but there seem to be a lot of unanswered questions.  

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 8, 2011 at 5:54pm

Be stuck, Linda... I don't think the price is too bad given the location -- but is it a good location in that mall? Is it near stores that get good traffic? Oh, it is in Borders, so probably not too bad -- but maybe it was an anchor at the end of a leg of the mall. Bet you can find a layout of Woodfield online and get an idea on this.  It would be fabulous if you lived near enough to really keep an eye on it, but you don't do you? These venues are popping up everywhere and some of them do well. I don't have a problem with it being last minute, sometimes good things come along when you aren't expecting it. Definitely do some more homework on the person who called you and who the other artists are. 

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on December 8, 2011 at 6:38pm

Linda - we had a call like this a couple of years ago with a similar situation.  Upon further questioning we found out they were hiring high school and college kids to staff it for a short term, so that covered the 15% commission, the upfront amount they asked was slightly less ($250) than you are being asked for, however, our big backing away point was that they assumed no liability.  They weren't hiring security, weren't providing glass cases for our jewelry, didn't want us to bring our own because they didn't want to be bothered with the hassle of keys and having to open the cases, etc.  They asked for at least 5K-10K of inventory, we walked away.  No way were we going to commit that kind of inventory without security, glass cases or experienced sales people working in a mall environment.  We looked at the potential payback and were more concerned about the risk of losing inventory.

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 8, 2011 at 8:05pm

Good points, Ruth. The places I know about are co-ops and the artists take turns staffing the "store."

Comment by Jim Parker on December 8, 2011 at 8:26pm

Ruth spelled it out quite well. Having participated in several co-ops over the past couple of years, the key issues are security, especially for jewelry; how is the work being sold, and where is the traffic coming from? If they haven't furnished a contract that spells everything out, including the responsibilities of both parties, that would tell me that they have no experience and that it is likely going to end badly. At this late date, it is probably best to walk away. 

Comment by Jean Houndsome on December 8, 2011 at 8:28pm

Sounds like a slippery sloap. $300 PLUS 20% COMMISION...mmmm I wouldn't do it. And then you don't have to be there.....hellll to the no!! No one ever care as much about your product than you do!  Wayyy to many unanswered questions. I would go visit it this year and find out what the artist thought after.

Comment by geri a. wegner on December 8, 2011 at 8:46pm

Based on what Linda said,it isn't in the mall itself.  There is a newer outdoor area where there is a Dick's Sporting Goods and other big box stores and I think Borders was located there.  

Comment by Geoff Coe on December 8, 2011 at 10:23pm

Not a jeweler.  Don't own any.  Lord knows, can't make any.  But this much I do know: If this is such a great opportunity, it'll be around next season.  THIS year, I'd visit it, several times if possible, and trust your instincts. 

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on December 8, 2011 at 11:02pm

Linda, it sounds to me like the consenses this year is to wait and observe.  The deal seemed too iffy to me.  You may have too much to lose.  Take your time and think.  If it sounds too good to be true it usually is. 

 You have a lot of good advice here.

Jacki B

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