After having one minor bad experience consigning to an arts and crafts shop out of state, I decided to amend my personal consignment rules to only include local Kansas City area shops. I thought that this way I would be able to keep an eye on things and make sure that my items were taken care of, displayed well, and that the payment checks were on time. In hindsight, I realize that it was wishful thinking on my part.
It is an understatement to say that for the past year, I have been busy. Let's see... I had a baby (life changing!), opened a new Etsy shop for my stamp designs, opened a new ArtFire shop, and added fiber supplies and kits to my line of products. That is just hitting the highlights too. It doesn't even include the day to day events of life that can sometimes be overwhelming. Why am I bringing this up? Well, it is just to say that my mind has been preoccupied. I hadn't really thought much about my locally consigned items. That brings me to my recent horror story of local consignment.
A while ago, I got an Etsy conversations message from a fellow local artisan and friend of mine asking if I knew that a local consignment shop had closed its doors. My fellow artisan also asked if I had gotten any of my items back or payment for them. Honestly, I hadn't thought much about this local shop. I was "friends" with the owner on facebook, and she posted quite often to her page there - never mentioning closing up shop once that I remember, but rather talking a lot about traveling, going to the gym, and losing weight. Well, she not only closed up shop, but she apparently liquidated all her consignor's items and pocketed all the money from what I can gather. My fellow artisan and myself have lost hundreds of dollars in merchandise and display items. Not to mention what her other consignors might have lost. It is angering and frustrating to say the least.
How convenient that the store owner can not be reached! My fellow artisan had no luck at all in contacting the store owner. The store owner responded to one of my emails stating that she'd return my items and the monetary value of the merchandise that wasn't accounted for, but I never heard from her after that one email and never received anything in the mail. It has been a few weeks now with no response on her part and no merchandise or payment. It is just shameful too that her store's website is still up with my stolen merchandise and display items pictured for sale on the "gifts" page. I also believe that she is still may be doing business as a balloon artist in the Kansas City area. She's even had articles written about her as if she is reputable. It is all quite disgusting if you are seeing it from my my point of view.
Where does that leave me you might ask? Plainly spoken, up a creek without a paddle.
I have a signed consignment agreement and merchandise list, but that really does me no good at all if I can not contact the store owner. And, it really doesn't help if the store owner is dishonest as in this case. You might wonder why not seek legal action. There are two main reasons: expense and time. I have a good case to collect from the fraudulent shop owner, but the court costs and other fees involved would probably be more than the actual cost of my items. The entire situation seems very unjust to me. It is not fair that someone who represents themselves as a reputable local business person in reality is nothing more than a thief and criminal. Ah, but no one said that life was fair...
Now what can I do? I can learn a valuable lesson and make wiser business decisions in the future. Therefore, I personally will never consign again. This is not to discourage others from consigning or to say that all consignment will end badly because I know that there are honest business owners out there. I recommend doing what works well for you and your arts and crafts business. It obviously does not work well for me to consign so I will focus my time and resources elsewhere. I just wanted to share my experience to hopefully benefit others.