Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pay What You Think It's Worth Sale - Recap

After closing my Midtown studio in 2014, I wanted to start having home shows again but hadn't gotten around to it.  When I resumed publishing my newsletter a few months ago, I promised my collectors and followers I would have an event so they could see the new art I had been creating, and decided to turn it into a sale they wouldn't forget.

Last Saturday I hosted a "Pay What You Think It's Worth" sale with my original art at my home studio.  An invitation was sent to everyone on my newsletter list, and about 50 people attended.  I have had many studio sales before, but this was an event to remember for many reasons.
Sign made with found objects by Robert Gordon - hung outside my gate
I got the idea of doing a "Pay What You Will" show after listening to a podcast and decided why not try it with my art?  I spoke with several artist friends about this and they thought I was crazy.  What if the attendees offered some ridiculously low price?  What if some of my collectors got upset because they had paid higher prices before?  What if a bunch of people came; ate the food and ran off with my art without paying a dime because they felt that was all it was worth?

Prior to Saturday I heard from several people asking how the sale would work, so decided to print a handout with my retail prices of the various canvas sizes.  My helpers and I let each visitor know the retail pricing was for reference purposes only, and they could make offers based on what they felt the piece was worth to them.  I also let them know as my guests, they would not be allowed to pay more than wholesale pricing for the art, which meant a minimum of 50% off the retail price.

Here's a copy of the price list that was posted at the show

(Since I'm not actively showing my paintings in any galleries at the moment, I felt comfortable with offering the wholesale pricing, and a lot of the glass art that did sell were seconds or old inventory that needed to go bye-bye.)

A triptych and small works in crates under the umbrella on the patio

Lots of glass art, clay ornaments and wood pieces on the table in the studio

In order to beat the heat, I held the event on a Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  I put carpet tiles along the fence and wall of my patio, and displayed the paintings on top of the carpeting.  Small cards with the canvas dimensions were placed above the paintings, and copies of the retail price chart were hung in several conspicuous places.  

Here's a few highlights of the "Pay What You Think It's Worth" sale:
  •  In a four-hour period, I sold 53 paintings and a lot of glass art
  • 5 of those paintings are headed to Alabama to be used in the models of a new home development
  • An interior designer (a guest of one of my friends) purchased 6 paintings for a project he is working on in Modesto, CA
  • Several people insisted on paying way more than the prices I suggested
  • I pre-sold 3 paintings from my website the day before the sale, and 4 more paintings the day after the sale
  • I reduced my inventory by about 25% which means I still have a lot of art but I also have a lot of estatic collectors
  • I added several new names to my mailing list for future shows
  • A large percentage of work sold were my small paintings (12"x12" and smaller) and works on paper which were matted and ready to be framed
  • Two people want to commission me for making art for their homes (one wants glass art and one wants a painting)
  • Several paintings that sold had been very old specimens and doomed for makeovers - now they're hanging in happy homes
  • My helpers were way better negotiators than I ever could be 
  • Two wonderful buyers left positive feedback for me on my Square account 
  • A lot of my collectors told me they loved this concept and are looking forward to buying more art in the future - sale or no sale!

Larger paintings stacked against the fence in the driveway under tents for protection

Smaller works lined up against the house wall on the patio
I think it's safe to say the sale was a huge success, made possible with the help of six wonderful friends who were on hand to prep food; greet visitors; explain the sale process; collect $$$; wrap and package purchases; and lend a helping hand in whatever way they could.   For me, it felt amazing to release so many pieces of art and to make a lot of people happy with their art purchases.

One tired but happy artist!
Now that the sale is over, it's time to start prepping for my December show at FE Gallery and the Sac Open Studios event in September.  But first - I'm off to the coast for some long-overdue R&R and a touch of inspiration.....I can't wait!

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  1. Awesome!!! I'm so glad your event was a success. You displayed a lot of faith in your collectors....that's wonderful!

    1. It was a giant leap of faith indeed, Michelle! But no one came in with absolute lowball, almost free types of offers.....and for the couple of people who came close, my helpers were quick to counter with a more acceptable proposal. It was a great way to make room for a new series I'm working on and get more of my art into new (and old) collector's homes!

  2. This is a terrific idea. I've also got inventory galore and would love to try something unique like this myself. Thanks for sharing.
    Love your work too!