Friday, 1 June 2012

BCTF - from a buyers point of view - Jenny Creasey, Itch Gallery

Itch Gallery, Oakham, Rutland
My BCTF - what worked for me - series has gone down really well and I've had some lovely comments and emails from readers who have found this useful to them. To add another useful and practical dimension to my posts about my first tarde fair I thought it would be helpful to hear things from the buyers point of view, so I asked Jenny Creasey, owner and proprietor of Itch Gallery in Rutland if she would mind writing a blog post for me. I'd like to thank Jenny for agreeing to take part, this is what she had to say....

'As I am both a maker and a Gallery owner, Sue thought it would be good for me to write a guest post for her blog about what I look for and how to approach galleries etc. I have previously exhibited at BCTF, but this year I went as a buyer.

What I looked for:
• Simple stand designs giving the work on display the space to be appreciated
• Would it fit in with the other work in my gallery?
• Was it too similar to anything I already had?
• Friendly and approachable stand staff!
• Clear and consistent pricing
• Good mark up – is it worth the risk of buying it in?
• Do they work on Sale or Return?
• Range of prices
• Professionalism

The things I looked for were very simple but enabled me to sift out suitable artists out of the many stands at BCTF. As a business owner, time is a precious commodity. I had to get round the show in one day, which is no easy task! The first 3 bullets helped me to avoid the stands I knew wouldn’t work for the gallery. Often one glance is enough. Don’t be disheartened by people glancing at your work and then moving on, often it is just a case of knowing that the work won’t fit in at your gallery, it doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t like it!
Jenny with her Creatiev Business Award which she won a couple of weeks ago

Be aware that in the current economic climate, buyers have to be sure about the things they buy in. I only placed a few orders at the show and took most of the information back with me to go over at a later date when I had more time to think about it. I also got quite a few bits on a sale or return basis. This allows me to ‘test the water’ as it were. If the work goes down well with my customers then I can feel confident about ordering it in.

Obviously sale or return is a good option to start out with but as a maker myself I know that at BCTF you really want to get some big orders. I placed orders with artists whose work made me say ‘wow!’ Some of these had very simple stand layouts, nothing fancy at all - but the pieces themselves drew you in. Quite often these had a really good mix of price ranges. I always look for some pieces that will retail at around the £30 mark as they are great for gifts but I also need pieces that will retail higher up the scale as well so a good range of prices is essential.

Once I had been drawn in to a stand, the friendliness and professionalism of the stand staff played a huge part in whether I decided to take a pricelist etc. Being a new maker doesn’t mean you will be less professional than the more established makers. Having the right attitude and the ability to develop a rapport with visitors to your stand will help you no end. Remember – people buy people! Unless work was exceptional I would very rarely consider ordering from someone who had been a pain on their stand as I have to consider that I will be working with them from the moment I place an order. Their conduct on stand gives an idea of how they will be to work with – and why order from someone who will make your work difficult when there are hundreds more stands to choose from?!

Jenny's own paperthin porcelain creations
As Sue has already touched upon, I would say less is more when it comes to the amount of ranges you have on display. This also means you are more likely to know your prices back to front and are able to talk confidently with visitors to your stand without having to keep checking back at your paperwork to answer questions on your pricing and your terms. Confident answers show that you are professional; you know what you’re talking about and give the impression that you’ve done this before and are no stranger to large orders.

There is a lot more I could say but I don’t want this to be the world’s longest blog post! For those who are interested, I also run a mentoring scheme which covers everything from product development, pricing, and terms to approaching galleries – and everything else in between. This can be done over the phone or in person at the gallery. The price is £20 for a one hour session. I hope this has been of some help to you all!'

Jenny Creasey
Itch Gallery


  1. Good article and some very useful points for sellers.

  2. Another fab post, thanks Sue! Really interesting to hear what's important from a buyers point of view!

  3. Just re-read this great post, a good refresher for my next show in January!


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