Friday, August 13, 2010

Art Sales Success Story: Selling Art in a Cafe

One question I get a lot is:  "How have you sold most of your art so far?"  People want to know what sales avenue has worked best for me in this beginning phase of my art career.  While a lot of things have started to fall into place, one successful venue has been putting my artwork up in a cafe.  

When I started selling my art 7 months ago, one of my marketing/sales strategies was to get my work up in local cafes or shops to increase my visibility.  This last week I sold off all but 1 painting from a local cafe and I am pretty pleased.  I have been trying to analyze what went RIGHT to make this happen and I have a few ideas.  Here is what worked for me:

1.  I cold-called about 10-20 places that I thought would be a good fit for hanging my art.  I used a phone script and left a lot of voice messages.  Luckily I heard back from a bunch of shops.
2.  Of the people who got back to me, I made sure that the owners did not want to take any commission and I visited the cafes to see if there was a lot of traffic.  I also asked if prior artists had sold much artwork.
3.  Just Go For IT!  I was nervous for my first cafe set up being "perfect" but I knew I had to just get my stuff out there.  The first place I chose was a cute cafe with a lot of traffic but I didn't sell anything.  This was because of the cafe location - a student/younger adult neighborhood.  I don't think people at this particular cafe had money OR owned homes.  Definitely choose a place in a neighborhood filled with people who are 35 plus and own homes.
4.  Learning through trial and error:  I committed to staying at the first cafe for only 1 month.  This was a good decision since I didn't have any sales and was able to move on quickly.  I was able to learn a lot about how to display the art, the materials I would need and the time it takes.  (Email me if you want more info on the set up process.)
5.  Location is everything:  My second location was an Ice Cream Shop called The Daily Scoop.  Good things about this location:  in an artsy neighborhood, in a neighborhood with homes, (not apartments), shop has a retro/crafty vibe and is known for displaying local art.
Photo Credit: David Olender
6.  Self promotion on-site:  I bought a plastic business card/flyer display at Staples and used it to display cards and a personal flyer (with info on my blog, etsy site, website, and a photo). 
7.  Success!  Sure enough, at this new location, I have sold 7 out of 8 paintings that were displayed.  My prints did not sell but I am finding that people want original, affordable art for their homes.  
8.  Follow up - I have contacted all the people who purchased my art at The Daily Scoop and have received additional sales from these collectors!

All in all, finding a good location is KEY to sales success at a cafe.  The above steps worked for me and I'd love to hear what has worked for you!  If you have any questions about the steps, please email me for details!  Luckily I found a hot spot and I hope that it continues to be a profitable location.  If not, I'll be sure to chronicle what NOT to do in a future post.  :-)       


moddyboy80 said...

Hi Elisabeth - I love your blog and this post is very interesting. I came here straight from the forum thread you started on Etsy. My wife has been after me for years to try and get my paintings hung in cafes. But I'm incredibly shy in 'real' life! Maybe someday...Since you're in SoCal too, I thought you might be interested to know there's a place called HoSums in Newport Beach. They always have paintings by different artists hanging on their walls. And they have a lot of wall space, (vertically anyway). I know it may be a little far, but if you're ever in the area you might want to check it out!

Kawartha Beads said...

Congratulations on your success! I am also here from your forum postings. While my medium is different than yours I have also been toying with the idea of approaching a couple of local cafes with some of my products (ie a display of bookmarks in a coffe shop). Thank you for your superb info. and I wish you continued success!

Sarah Coggrave said...

Thanks so much for sharing some of the secrets of your success - I'm only just starting out, so it's really useful to read advice like this :-)

Sarah x

Elisabeth said...

Moddyboy - the good thing about the cafe is that you can be kind of shy because you don't have to hang around and talk to people! A craft fair is a whole other story - you have to chat it up all day. I'll have to check out that place in Newport Beach. Thanks for the tip.

Kawartha - PS - the ice cream shop where I hung art also had a table with some jewelry displayed so I hope you find a place like that. Thanks!!

Sarah - thanks for continuing to follow my blog. I really appreciate the feedback!

smcneil99 said...

WOW! I can't believe you sold 7 paintings @ THe Daily Scoop! That's awesome! Congrats!

Debra said...

Thank you this is so encouraging I need to get up the nerves to do that. I love your blog and I will be coming back to visit and thank you for the good info. here and on ETSY.


Kim Curran said...

I'm a daily scoop regular, & a child photographer. Found you there, really enjoying your blog!

Elisabeth said...

Kim - Thanks for your comment! I hope to have some new paintings up soon at Daily Scoop!

glaucia said...

I'd love any input on the setup at the cafe...I'm going to be doing a cafe in about a week and it's my first....

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