We recently had a couple come into the gallery look-ing for a sculpture to give as a gift to their son and daughter-in-law for their 25th wedding anniversary. The parents had a very specific subject in mind – they were looking for two figures embracing, and they were look-ing for a less contemporary, more traditional style. My gallery director, Elaine, showed them around the gallery and presented a couple of options, but it soon became clear we didn’t have what they were looking for. Rather than simply sending them on their way, Elaine promised the customers that she would find the perfect piece for them and took down their contact information.
She started contacting our artists to see if they had anything that might work, and I sent out an email to art-ists on our mailing list with a description of what the clients were seeking.
Within twelve hours our inboxes were overflowing with options. The email we sent out was passed on from artist to artist and we soon found that the problem wasn’t that we didn’t have enough options for the client, rather, we had too many great ones.
Elaine began sifting through the images and forward-ing selections to the clients. We decided to send them in small groups, rather than overwhelming the clients with all of the options.
Within the first five or six images the couple saw a piece they liked. Elaine contacted the artist, Phyllis Mantik, who lives in Oklahoma and asked her to send the piece out to us so the clients could see it in person.
Once the piece arrived we called the clients in to look at it. They loved the sculpture but felt the wood base was inadequate. They asked us to find a replacement base, easy enough to accomplish, except that their son’s anniversary was now imminent. We basically had a three day window in which to have the base made and delivered to the gallery.
After several hours of calling around we found a base maker who did bases for one of our other sculptors who thought he could create the base in time and was close enough that he could ship it and have it arrive within our three day window.
Our deadline was a Wednesday afternoon. The base arrived around 2:30 and I spent the next hour mounting the base and name plate.
The clients made it into the gallery just before closing time and were thrilled with the result. They completed the purchase and provided us with their son’s shipping address.
As we were sitting with them finishing the paperwork the husband said, “You know, when we started looking for a piece we visited half-a-dozen galleries and told them what we were looking for. None of them had it and they all tried to send us on a wild goose chase. When we told Elaine, she said she didn’t have it, but would find it – we truly appreciate your efforts.”
Kudos to Elaine. Not only did we make the sale, but Elaine built an incredible relationship with the custom-ers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised is she gets a holiday card at the end of the year, and certainly, the next time the customers are looking for art, they will begin the search at our gallery.
In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.