Friday, 17 February 2012

Writing a Sale or Return Agreement

I haven't had a lot of time for making new work lately with all of the preparation for the trade fair. That has led me to think of some new articles I can write which might help other Newcomers who are in the same position as me.

One of the things I had on my list, which I tackled yesterday was 'Writing a Sale or Return (SOR) agreement'. Now, I've been meaning to do this for a while now and after my mentoring session last month with Rachael Chambers from Ferrers Gallery I was advised that this would be a good idea I thought that now seemed like as good a time as any. After all this is something I need to take with me to be able give to any new stockists  and it sets out clearly what is expected from both parties, the artist and the gallery.

Some galleries are willing to purchase work from makers on a wholesale basis but in current economic climes galleries may be more reluctant to buy in work from newcomers to the market or makers who may not be well known to them, and may suggest taking work on a 'Sale or Return' basis. This gives them a chance to see how work sells in their particular gallery at less risk to the gallery, and is a great chance for emerging designers to showcase their work to a larger audience. Some of my inital SOR galleries now buy my work directly and even though SOR may have its ups and downs, my experience has generally been really positive and has led to really good mutually-benficial relationships with my stockists. I'd definitely recommend it but I think there are several things you need to consider...

My SOR agreement covers the following points:

1. A list of work which the agreement relates to, clearly dated to avoid confusion. Prices should be stated and you should make sure that RRP or artist prices are differentiated. You don't want to lose out on profit by giving them the wrong price.

2. It mentions that I retain copyright and reproduction rights of all work, and that the gallery will not permit reproduction/copying/photography without my prior written permission.

3. I state that I will be responsible for shipping of all goods to the gallery.

4. All work is insured by the gallery whilst the work is in their possession and that any breakages, damage, loss will be reimbursed to me at trade price.

5. How you wish to be paid and when and how/when you would like to be notified of sales. I have requested to be informed at the end of each month of any sales and to be paid by the end of the following month.

6. All works remain my property until sold, this is to avoid any claims by creditors if this unfortunate situation should arise.

7. The gallery will be responsible for returning work to artist unless previously arranged.

I intend to supply SOR agreements to galleries who would like to stock my work on a SOR basis so they can sign and return to me before I despatch the work. This avoids any misunderstanding. Most galleries will also supply their terms and conditions, so it is a good idea to read these thoroughly before signing and returning to them.

I hope this has been useful. If anyone would like a copy of my agreement please email me, I don't mind sharing it, as long as you understand that I cannot be held responisble for any shortfalls/omissions etc.... If I've missed anything I'd love to hear from you.


  1. wow - thanks Sue. that's fantastic advice, and a great breakdown of what ought to be in the agreement. Where were you 3 years ago when I first put my work in a gallery on an SOR basis?? I was so thrilled, I trusted them way too far an it all (inevitably) went horribly wrong when they 'lost' a couple of my pieces :-( ... lesson learned - the hard way!

  2. Glad you liked it!! And that it was useful to you, watch out for more soon!!

  3. A great blog post, thanks. Please could I have a copy of your agreement? I don't deal with galleries but I'm sure it could be applied to shops too.

    I'm a new follower of your blog. Found you through the #CBUK chat on Twitter.

  4. dear Sue, this is really helpful, I'd love a copy of your agreement to read through, it would be really useful. I found you via #CBUK chat as well.

  5. Glad I found this. Thanks. Got into the BCTF for the first time this year at short notice, so am now in a slight panic. Would be really grateful if you send me a copy too.

  6. of course Nettie, will email you a copy over tonight

  7. This is really useful, I am setting up a pop up gallery and I'm for my looking for a fair agreement for the brands I stock. Could I have a copy please?

    1. Hi Sarah
      Yes of course just email me, address can be found in contact page of website

  8. Hi Sue,

    Thanks so much for the tips - could I also please have a copy? My address is

    Warm regards,


  9. Please could you email me a copy? my email is
    Many thanks,

  10. Hi Sue,
    I'm a bit late to this one, but would you mind emailing me a copy too please? I'm heading out this week on just such a mission and it would be very useful!


  11. Dear Sue

    I've just come across your blog. Thank you for posting this very useful information. If you don't mind, I would also like a copy of your agreement to guide me to formulate one?

    Thanks and regards
    Jay (Visual Artist)

  12. Dear Sue

    So glad I found you, I have been searching for a template for a SOR agreement and I came across your post. I would be very grateful if you could send me a copy.

    Great to find someone so helpful.

  13. Dear Sue,

    I would love a copy of your SOR agreement, sounds like you've researched it well. Please email to I'm seeing my first potential stockist this afternoon and think they may ask for my work on SOR initially.

    All the best for BCTF,

    Many thanks, Sarah

  14. Hi Sue,

    This has been so helpful thank you can I please request a copy of your agreement to get me started on mine.
    Many thanks


  15. Dear Sue,

    This is great, can I have a copy of your agreement to have a look at please?

    Thank you for your openness in sharing.


  16. thanks for the advice Sue! would also love a copy, will drop you an email...

  17. Hi sue, just found your post via Twitter. Would you mind emailing me a copy of your SOR agreement if it's not too much hassle please? Sounds very useful. Thank you.

  18. Hello Sue
    Could you please send me a copy of your SOR agreement too? That would be really useful.

    Thank you.

    alwaysperplexed @ hotmail dot com

  19. Hi Sue, your tips and advice have been so useful for me thank you!
    Could I please have a copy of your agreement?
    My address is


  20. I think this is fab. I would love a copy. Please could you send it to Thanks xxx

  21. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, it's the most helpful thing I've found x

  22. Really useful article, thank you. I'd be really grateful for a copy of your agreement please. Thanks, Tara x

  23. Please send a copy of your agreeement.
    Many thanks

  24. Hi Sue please could I look at your sale or return agreement? I need to draw one up and haven't a clue how to do it, thanks

  25. Oh me too! Please....

  26. Hi! I came across you from a course I was doing at Craft Central and you came up as some-ones blog to have a look at. Really found this useful and wondered if you could also send me a
    I didn't realise that selling as SOR was different from wholesale in terms of what the retail outlet should be getting. Thanks again :-)

  27. HI Sue,

    I came across your post after searching and searching for information on Sale or Return agreements. Your post is very helpful so thank you so much for posting it in the first place.
    If i'm not too late and you wouldn't mind, I would be very grateful if you could send me a copy of your SOR agreement too. -
    Thank you in advance.

  28. Dear Sue, this is really great, I'd love a copy of your agreement to read through. I am an independent publisher doing my own distribution and would like a rough idea of how to word my own SOR. Thanks. Katie sheba at ekit .com (

  29. Hi, thank you for you article it helps a lot. I would like to receive a copy of your agreement, can you please send it at:

    Thanks :)

  30. Hi Sue,

    Thank you so much for the great tips. Please could you forward your agreement to me at

    Many thanks,

  31. Good Evening Sue,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful artwork with us and for being so generous with your tips. If it is at all possible, it would be very helpful if I could have a copy of your SOR agreement to read through as I am just starting out as an independent card publisher and I would like a rough idea of how to put my own SOR together. Thank you. Regards, Faye (

  32. Hi Sue,
    I have been reading your blog with great interest particularly the section on SOR. I am sure you are fed up with being asked but would it be possible to have a copy of your agreement. Nick (

  33. This is brilliant Sue!
    Just came across your website again when typing in help with sale or return. I see your still writing brilliant blogs.
    All the best,
    Amanda Jane


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