Many Galleries are Closed on Mondays . . .

(in photo: clients with 3 Geometry Totems by Linza)

Several weeks ago, I happened to be alone in the gallery on a Monday. This isn’t usually the case, but my gallery director, Elaine, was out of town, and with the with the work schedule that week, it turned out that I was flying solo. This didn’t present a big problem because we were coming to the end of our spring busy-season, and traffic had already begun to slow down.

I arrived at the gallery around 7:40 a.m., which is pretty typical, and began tackling a couple of big projects. After a while, I heard a rattling at the front door, and realized it was after ten and I hadn’t yet unlocked the front doors (evidence that perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to fly solo!). I rushed to the front door just as a couple was walking away. I quickly unlocked the door and beckoned them back. It turned out that the had driven to the gallery from an outlying suburb some 35 miles away, on the recommendation of a friend. They had just purchased a new home and were looking for art.

I began showing them around the gallery and telling them about the artwork on display. We had a great visit and they found the work of a particular artist that really spoke to them. I carefully began working toward a close. After they had selected three pieces they particularly liked, the wife said “this is our first time in Scottsdale, we want to visit a few other galleries before we make any decisions.”

I understand this desire, and Xanadu was their first visit. I used a soft-close to get them to put the three pieces they liked on hold, and they told me they would be back after spending some time on the street looking at art. I also gave them a recommendation for lunch.

One never knows what’s going to happen in this scenario, after all, I’m on a street with over 50 other galleries – there’s always the possibility that the client might find something they like better than what they’ve seen in my gallery. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about this for several reasons. First, my highest priority is making sure that clients find the perfect piece of art for their home, even if this means that they find it in another gallery. Sure, it’s hard not to feel a bit envious when that happens, but I know that this attitude and approach creates positive energy and good karma. I’ve sent clients to a specific gallery before when I knew that the gallery had exactly what the client was seeking.

The second reason I didn’t worry too much in this particular case was that the pieces the couple was interested in are very unique and striking. This art would compete extremely well with anything else the couple was likely to see in another gallery. I could tell that the couple were in love with the artist’s work.

The third reason I didn’t worry was because it was Monday morning, and I have a competitive advantage on Monday mornings because a large number of galleries on Main Street in Scottsdale (where my gallery is located) are closed on Mondays!

Sure enough, several hours later the couple came back. “Were you worried we wouldn’t return?” the wife asked.

“Not at all!” I said, “I knew you would be back.”

They laughed, and then said, “We saw some good art, but nothing compares to these. We’ll take them!”

As I began writing up the sale, the wife commented to me, “a lot of the galleries were closed. I guess it’s worth being open on Monday’s for you!”

I agreed as I ran her credit card. Definitely worth it.

Because the couple was driving a small sports car, I told them I would be happy to deliver and install the pieces the next morning. They were thrilled.

I asked if I could bring out any other pieces so they could see how they would look in the new home. There were several pieces, by the same artist they had just purchased, that they liked, but they weren’t sure they wanted to have more work by the same artist.

Several hours later, however, the husband called  and said they did want me to bring the additional pieces out when I came – if I was driving all that way, I might as well.

Not bad for a Monday morning!

94165
Time Out by Gary Lee Price (http://www.xanadugallery.com/2013/Artists/Detail.php?InvID=94165)

The day wasn’t over, however. Mid-afternoon another couple walked through the front door. After welcoming them I learned that they were collectors who had purchased a number of pieces from us previously. They were just in town for the day and were interested in adding another sculpture to their collection. It turned out we had just the right piece, a life-size child sitting in a rocking chair, reading a book. We negotiated a bit on the price, and I wrote up the sale and made arrangements to have the piece delivered to their home in the mid-west. As soon as we finished they were on their way out the door to head to the airport.

Tuesday morning I drove out to the first clients’ home, a beautiful house on a golf course, and installed the pieces they had purchased. I then brought in the additional pieces the husband had called to request. We found the perfect spot for them. “Would you like to try them?” I asked.

“No,” the wife said, “I don’t want to try them, I want to buy them!”

Darien by Linza
Darien Series by Linza (http://www.xanadugallery.com/2013/Artists/ArtistPage.php?ArtistID=63)

“Great, I’ll hang them!” I said. When I was finished, the husband gave me a credit card, which I processed on my phone, and I was off.

As I drove back to the gallery, I couldn’t help but think about how right the wife was when she said being open on Monday was worthwhile. This particular Monday resulted in the sale of 6 paintings and a major sculpture.

To be clear, not every Monday is nearly this successful in terms of sales – in fact, many Mondays don’t result in any sales, but this experience points to several principles I believe in:

1. Be there! I remember an art dealer in Jackson Hole once telling me “You can’t sell if you’re not open.” There’s a lot of value in working harder and smarter, but in the retail business there’s also value in simply having your doors open. If there’s a chance a client is going to walk by, it’s in my best interest to be open and ready for business.

Obviously there are limits to this rule – I’m not open 24/7 – the gallery closes in the evening, and, in fact, I’m closed on Sundays and holidays. I’ve been in business since 2001 and I’ve experimented extensively with every combination of open hours, and what I’ve found is that if more than 50% of the galleries on the street are going to be open, I want to be open as well. Any fewer than that and I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to be open. Hence our closing on Sundays and holidays.

One of my artists has a gallery in Prescott, AZ, a small, touristy town, and they have experimented and learned that being open on Thanksgiving Day is worthwhile for them. They end up being one of the only businesses open, and it turns out that a lot of tourists in the area have nothing else to do

2. Provide an exceptional level of service. I mentioned my willingness to send clients to other galleries – this idea of holding your client’s best interest as your highest priority helps you build credibility. Additionally, offering to install the artwork in my clients’ home gave me the opportunity to sell three additional pieces (consequently, those three pieces were worth more than the initial three I sold to the clients!)

So how does this apply to you?

If you own a gallery, I would encourage you to push your hours to the max, to be open as much as possible. You never know when your next great collector is going to walk through the door. I do understand that being open comes with a cost – there are employees and utilities to be paid, so you want to balance your hours against the cost of those hours. Better to start with too many and work your way back, however, than to start with too few. If your are experimenting with new hours, I’ve found you have to commit to at least six month on those new hours to determine how well they will work for you.

If you are an artist participating in a show or festival, stick out the full length of the show. I know it’s a huge temptation to pack it in early, especially if the show has been poorly attended, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a client come into the gallery right as we were closing and end up making a purchase. If you’ve gone to all the effort to get to the show and set up your space, you should try to squeeze every moment of possible exposure out of it. I know that most of those moments are going to be fruitless, but you just never know when a big buyer is going to show up. Over time, the cumulative effect of being more available is going to add up.

Additionally, I make the most of my time by making sure that I always have something to work on in the lulls between clients. I try never to be sitting idly by waiting for a customer to come in. I’ll work on marketing, or on following up with customers, or on any of the other projects I have going at any given time. Not only does this allow me to get a lot done, it keeps me alert and primed so that I’m ready for the next customer.

What is Your Philosophy About Making Your Art Available for Exposure?

What do you do to maximize the exposure of your art? How have your efforts resulted in successes? What do you feel you could be doing better? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

19 Comments

  1. Very true, Jason. As an artist who does a lot of art fairs, many promoters will not let you pack up early without good reason (blowing gales, pouring rain). For someone at one fair for the first time, it’s good to know from returning artists what time the crowd usually gets there. Sometimes it’s hours before ‘opening time’. Sometimes I’ve sold while setting up. Sometimes I’ve had to pull stuff out of the back of the truck before I drive away….

  2. I totally agree with sticking it out to the end of an art show! I have been to several where sales were slow but I ended up selling enough in the last half hour to make up for it! Also, I am slow in cleaning up and have managed to make sales after the show is over and most of my booth is cleaned up and packed. (I keep my inventory out on the table as long as possible during the process.) I have watched other artists turn people away because they are too busy packing up!

  3. – I admire your Gallery going the extra mile in showing on Monday’s. I never did understand why most Galleries choose to have closed doors on that day? As far as reaching out to clients interested in my work I send a special invitation to my Houston Studio and my work on the easel as well as my – inventory of work – ready for viewing. Recently I also included an image of my Studio Entrance with invitation on Facebook page . . . ‘Great Article’ here Jason. Thank You – http://www.facebook.com/carole.orr.50

  4. I admire your business principles. They hold up – no matter what product you offer. Thank you for taking the time to share.
    great article.

  5. As Georgy Rock said above, your business principles are impeccable. I admire your friendly professionalism. And as my dad, (a salesman that people liked!) said, “Polite persistence pays.”

  6. The article was very interesting, and you have a philosophy and customer service ethic that I believe in.
    At present, I am trying to work diligently on my painting series, and promote my work. I am looking to spread my work out to a larger area, by trying different types of venues and exposure, and to advertise.

  7. I have got to the point where I live & breath my Artwork every moment of my life, I know this will not work for a lot of artists but I have dedicated my life to my Art… It is paying off big time! I have an Art-Agent that has secured an Art-Exhibition for me in Dublin at the Google European Headquarters & an Art-Dealer that is based in the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean that has just asked me to quote for a big commission there, my quote comes to £10,000 plus shipping, we’ll see what comes back…

  8. oh yes ,totally agree when I had my studio behind a gallery I was open for every major event all the openings in our gallery and the one next door and our nearby neighbors makes a big difference.

  9. Great article. I am with a gallery that is open Wed through Saturday. For a while this spring we were closed on Wed. I think we should try to be open on Monday and Tuesday during the summer and there is a camp ground close by and we could get some traffic, Eileene are in a small Midwest town. We don’t have many members to staff the gallery either.

  10. I have a story to relate about an artist exhibiting in a gallery sponsored display at a local art festival. I was at a subsequent event and got to hear her story. It was a cold blustery weekend; the event was for three days.
    A couple stopped by her booth on Friday evening, found a painting they liked, and said they will be back….(who has not heard that story).
    Sunday afternoon, she was strongly considering packing up early and leaving. She hesitated, decided to stay and the couple returned, shortly before the event closed. She made a $750.00 sales as a result of hesitating.
    I myself have been packing up to leave when an event was closing and made a last minute sale…..unpacking the pieces the customer was interested in.
    So, while it is tempting to “cash it in early” pack up and go home…staying until the event closes may be more profitable.

  11. Great article Jason! I don’t have a gallery but understand your point perfectly, (in a silly comparison), some hair stylists don’t open on Mondays which happens to be a good day for me, so I go to someone that does.

  12. I loved this story. I sell my art at a farmers market every Saturday. Most weekends are slow, and I am always very tempted to pack up and leave early. However, I cannot tell you how many times a client will show up two minutes before closing, and make a huge purchase. You just never know!!!
    I am so happy to have found your blog.

  13. Great reminders in your article and all the comments! I make it a point to open early and never close early at festivals too and it has paid off for me as well.

  14. Hi Jason,
    Thank you for your sharing your expertise through your articles.
    I grew up working with my parents in our family corner store from the 1960’s to 1980’s. At that time grocery stores closed at either 5 or 6pm, 6 days of the week and were closed on Sundays due to laws here in Ontario, Canada.
    Corner stores were exempt, so my parents used their advantage and were open during the day on Sunday, and then on Monday to Friday they were open from 6am to 11pm. The only day we closed was Christmas.
    As for myself, I am retiring this year from my full time paid job, and am transitioning into a full time art career. My first big show is this November, do I am working hard building up my portfolio of pieces.
    Presently I do have a website, a Pinterest site, Instagram and I use my personal Facebook page to advertise my art. But, I do need to work more diligently on my news/blog.
    I just finished reading your book “How to Sell Art” which I found very helpful and I know I need to read it again and start to implement your ideas. My biggest issue is going to be how to talk about my art.
    Thank you again for all of the information that you share.
    Carolyn from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

  15. Thanks for the article Jason. I have always enjoyed doing business with you and your level of service has always been impeccable. What struck me most about this piece is the willingness to direct an art client to another gallery. As you know I have a retail and event space here in the valley. I work with over 45 local artists, doing everything from mixed-media and acrylic, to jewelry and sculpture. Yet a large part of our business is gifts, crystals and unique one-of-a-kind finds.

    Since opening over 8 years ago, we have constantly referred our clients to other businesses in town who might have a product that is a better fit, or a different selection of inventory. We have a referral book at the front counter, and will frequently call the other stores or galleries to confirm they still carry, stock or have particular inventory on hand as a way of doing a warm handoff. I see this as good business.

    Not only does this create happy clients, it also create the opportunity to build relationships with other small businesses. Still, there is another aspect. The energy of scarcity. The fear that if someone goes some place else, you loose them as a client. This is an old mindset that promotes competition, isolation, and comparisons.

    It is my hope and dream that the successful businesses of the future are collaborative and co-creative, who know and understand that there is more than enough to go around – for all of us!

    You model this beautifully!

  16. Your story rang a bell with me! I was in Charleston SC to meet a man who wanted to talk with me about the possibility of doing a a painting for him and his wife. I had several hours before we met so I decided to do a small Plein air oil of a gazebo in the Battery Park. It came time to see the man and he told me he and his wife had saw the Plein Air Painting I had posted on Facebook and wanted it too! I ended up painting another one like it because the size was too small. Since that time I have thus far completed 9 paintings for them and he tells me they want more! My being “open for business” in the few hours before our meeting ended up being a good move!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *