Friday, January 9, 2009


For those of us who make and sell handcrafted items, we often sell in multiple venues at once. For me, everything is online as of right now, but there are often offers of consignment. I was recently approached again to sell my jewelry in someones B&M boutique. Though it was very tempting, I graciously declined. I wanted to share my reasons why and to share some tips that I've learned.

Read the contract very closely...and for goodness sakes read the fine print. I know you're very excited at the prospect of getting your products out there, but look before you leap!

Where is the B&M store located? It's better if you can keep tabs on your product, easier to restock and to keep in contact with the store in general. But, there have been successful consignment agreements where the store and designer are great distances apart.

What is the agreed consignment ratio? Is it 70/30, 60/40 or 50/50? The higher numbers should represent what you, the creator, should receive after your item has sold. Personally I would never sell at a 50/50 ratio, but that's just me.

Who is liable if your items are damaged or stolen? This is very important to me, and has been a deal breaker. I personally feel that if I take the time to insure my products for delivery, that while they are in the hands of the seller, store, or boutique, it then becomes their responsibility should something happen to my product. Many stores have insurance to cover just that, so be sure to check on it and ask if it's not in the contract.

Do you as the designer still retain your ownership rights? You will find that sometimes the seller does not want you to include your website or other personal information about you because it may draw business away from their store, understandable...BUT...I feel that you should at least be able to have your business name or logo on your product. After all, YOU are the designer.

What is the term of the contract? Sometimes there is a trial period, make sure you read this closely as well. At the end of this term what happens? Who's responsible for packing up your stock and returning them back to you? There are many times when it is your responsibility, and when you live across the country from the store, this is not a viable option.

How often will you receive payment? This is often done once a month on a particular day and is done by check. Find out if you have to include stamped envelopes for them to send your payments to you. This can sometimes be hidden in the contract somewhere too.

How do they want you to present your items? Do they want you to make certain labels, use certain price tags verses another type, boxes, display cases? This can be a lot of extra work if the store is requiring that you package/display your items differently than what you usually do.

A few other things are to make sure you take a copy of the signed contract, check out the store (look them up at the Better Business Bureau), ask for references. If your not happy with something in the contract, ask if it can be adjusted. If you see that something is missing, ask and most of all trust your gut feeling!! Even then, sometimes the best intentions with both parties can go south.

I'm not trying to be a "negative Nancy" here, but I think that we all have to protect what we have worked so hard to make. I will eventually do consignments, but it's a matter of finding the right fit, both with the B&M store and the contract. For now though, I'm content with where I'm at, I've found my happy place so to speak....I hope you can too!


Beadin By The Sea said...

Thanks for some great insight here, Shi. I recently approached a small shop here in my town about wholesaling and decided it probably isn't worth my time especially with a 50/50 split. I'm pretty happy where I'm at right now also.
Oh, by the way, I've tagged your blog, Shi. Rules are on my latest post!

Mea Culpa Bath and Body said...

Shi, that was awesome....I have been contemplating about asking someone I know to have my items in her store....but decided not to. I really dont want to spoil a wonderful friendship over business. I have a feeling that I might not like the percentage offered to me

SHI said...

Debora and Mea...I'm so glad to have offered some light on the subject. Selling on consignment really is a personal decision, and these are just my experiences and opinions on what I've encountered with it. Really it just comes down to what's right for you :)

Wishing you both a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!!