Coffee (from Jupiter Coffee) in the Chicago skyline mug, "In Without Knocking" by Mission Mountain Wood Band on iTunes. Straight to the rant. At the tail end of the Buyer's Market of American Craft last February I had a guy fly into my booth and place a small order for a "gallery/store" in Las Vegas. Gallery/store is in quotes because that was my assumption. I sell to galleries and stores, this is a wholesale show for GALLERIES AND STORES, therefore that's what he must have. Some time later I am updating the Locations page on my website and I go to add his "business". I google his business name and find "Your Source for Quality United States Mint Postage Stamps at Reasonable Prices." What the hell? So I dig a bit more and find that he he has a store on eBay and is selling all the glass art he buys at wholesale at the BMAC on eBay! If I wanted my work sold on eBay, I would do it myself!
Whatever one's personal feelings about eBay, selling your work there is a personal choice and I feel violated that someone has made that choice for me. There are a number of glass bead artists who sell their work on ebay and do very well at it. They have built a following of collectors there to rival any gallery's. And they sell their own work. I find it sleezy in the extreme that someone would set up an eBay store to sell the work of many artists without their knowledge or permission. Just the decision of whether or not to sell online is a big one in my community.
So I stewed for several months, resolved not to sell to him again, filed a complaint against him with the BMAC, told other artists work whose work he was selling there about it, and let it go. He called me *yesterday* about the larger of the pieces he bought from me because there is devitrification on two of the Pop Art circles and he is afraid his "customers" won't understand and think it is a defect... Well of course they won't! In a gallery there is someone knowledgeable about the creation process for the piece who can explain how glass changes at high temperatures and some surface variation is to be expected. You go looking for art on ebay and expect perfection at dirt cheap prices. The pieces are *exactly* what he saw at the BMAC, and now he has a problem. And what is he doing just getting around to opening the shipment from me now?!? I sent it in August!
I did not say anything about eBay to him. I was not friendly, but I was professional. He is sending the piece back, I am replacing it. I should have just refunded his money. Today I looked at his "site" again and he has my bio and picture on it! He is selling my work at retail, but every piece I sent him is also listed on ebay and the photos are truly bad (everything was shot on a wood-grain background).
Thinking the day couldn't get any worse, I went to put on the new "gallery" I got an order from in October (also from the BMAC, this time July's show) on the Locations page of my website. I google the "gallery" name and find "Experts in Home Automation, Whole-House Audio & Video distribution, Home Theater ...". What the hell, what the hell, what the hell?!? So I call the guy. I tell him I am trying to update my website with his "gallery" information and all I can find is a home theater store. Does he have an alternate website? Uh, no, he and his wife have a "high-end private gallery in their home". I sweetly reply, oh, okay then, I will put his phone number and address on my website for contact information.
I was completely mystified by his order until this morning. He ordered two 11"X7", and five 7.5" Morceaux de Verre pieces in different colors. Not something you would purchase (wholesale again!) for a home collection. The lightbulb has already gone off for you, I'm sure. He bought inexpensive gifts! Employee Christmas, give-aways to customers for big purchases. Whatever. My work is not the diamond in the Spic 'N Span box!!
Would I have sold to these men had they been honest with me from the start? Maybe. Every BMAC I get private shoppers who want to buy from me, but it is usually cash and carry at the end of the show--no extra effort on my part, just less to pack and take home. If the pieces have already been ordered by a legitimate gallery (or requested by another artist), I don't do it. For someone to order from me under false pretenses (especially the tv guy) and cause me to go to extraordinary lengths for what I think is a start-up gallery order just frosts my cookies! Okay, off the rant and on to work.
PS--I took the tv guy off my web page.