Sunday, June 20, 2010

Always Leave Room for the Other Guy

On this Father's Day, I think of my dad and his wisdom about the economy.  Dad was an amazing business person, he had a sixth sense about what was about to happen between human beings..   His skill of building relationships was one of the strong foundations he imparted on me.   He believed in fairness, negotiation, not bulldozing someone and taking them for what they had.   Dad said, "you always have to leave room for the other guy.  He has to make a living, too."  This value is especially important now.   

Being an entrepreneur since age five,  my self concept is that I sit on a beautiful carpet in a bazaar selling my wares.  It's who I am.  I am keenly aware of markets in all sizes and shapes... how things trade between companies, individuals, online auctions, or set prices.  

We are moving into an age of online purchases of sales that will overcome bricks and mortar very soon.   What I see in these markets is a vast array of pricing--fair, cheap, and clueless--way overpriced because the person did not bother to do the market research.

   What Dad taught me was  to buy things that I loved because I might be stuck with them.
"Buy things at a good price, then mark them up enough to make a decent profit," he said," but leave some room for the buyer to succeed too."   

Dad understood market dynamics.  To keep the cash flow moving you have to price things right.  If you charge too much, or what the "book value" is,  then the item might sit there for a very long time and you will be forced to lower it.    Dad was always about cash flow... "that is what keeps the economy moving--if money does not move around, we stagnate."

I think about this and my current endeavor of running a gallery in Hamilton, New York.   Art is not selling, people do not have the money.  Even if they are well off, they are hanging on to cash.    I feel that one of the biggest mistakes artists make is that they do not know the value of their work in the market.  Artists do not take the time to see what else is out there, what prices things are selling at all over the country.    My feeling is that alot of work is overpriced.    A painting may have taken them months to complete.  If the artist figures the price of a painting based on the time they spent and cost of materials, it may be way off the current market.   This is true if the work is good or bad.    An artist should not define themselves by the dollar amount at which they sell their work,  it should be the quality of the work.

We are in a period of deflation.  Everyone has been forced to cut back, alot have lost jobs, or work two or three to make ends meet.    Deciding to work for less, in my opinion, acknowledges reality.
We need to get the market moving again, and the only way to do it is to come up with a new body of high quality work that you can sell at affordable prices.

1 comment:

Rayela Art said...

It's really tough these days. But, there are those who do their research and who work at a good presentation are doing well. Etsy is full of testimonials of people who have quit their daytime jobs in order to fill their orders. Brick and mortar operations are especially tough because of the high cost of operating them. Events always seemed to bring people in when I had my gallery, but the cost of putting them on (mailings, food, wine, prep time) was also very high and we rarely made a profit.

Here's to you, sending you good thoughts and hopes for success with your gallery!