Inventory Is Evil

17 May

Selling fine art photography is a lot like owning a store since they both require that you have a physical product on hand for the customer to see and experience, otherwise you are not going to sell anything. People don’t go to a brick and mortar store to look at a catalogue and they don’t go to art fairs to look through brochures. They have money in hand and want to take that piece of art home shortly after the purchase.

But why is inventory evil, at least for the proprietor?

Inventory is speculation. When filling up my frames and bins for the season, I have no idea what is going to sell. I have some history on things that have sold in the past, but I really don’t know what people are looking for at any particular moment. Often my sensibilities do not line up with the average art buyer. I might have some biases towards a particular piece that causes me to favor something that will not sell or to reject something that will. It is inevitable that in the process of stocking the booth, good money is put into products that will not sell. Ever.  It is lost forever.

Inventory is space. What does store all those framed prints? They have to go somewhere. For me, they take residence in our bedroom. The plastic storage tub does not make for attractive décor. Since it is a given that we don’t store our prints areas of high humidity, that makes some of the most convenient places the most undesirable. Basements, garages and sheds often provide sufficient room but in the short time their environment will destroy your work. So unless you have a home or office with extra room in a climate controlled environment, you work often has to be stored in places that are not convenient.

Inventory is at risk – The more the work gets handled (in and out of boxes) the more it is at risk for damage. This is especially true of hard and fragile objects like picture frames. I did not sell many framed works last year and the frame show wear and tear. I have seen enough abrasions, scuffing, scratches on my frames to make me sick in the stomach.

What is the answer? I have a few thoughts, but will save them for another post….Stay tuned.

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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Business Advice


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