It is much easier for a photographer because I am not necessarily tying up the piece. I can print another out if I get a chance to sell one. One of the galleries I show in has a two-month layaway program and I have sold several pieces using their plan. It is optional. Not all members allow it.
A painter has to be more careful and make sure they get a significant amount of money up front.
It is really not an issue of trust because you never deliver the piece until it is fully paid for.
but unless there is a contract that states, you will pay X now, then have a total of XX amount of time to pay the rest and retrieve the art. and if you don't, you i don't know lose the deposit or get it back and the art goes back on the market.
the main thing is, while its in holding, a real buyer with real money that wants it right now, can't get it, because someone called dibs. and that person may never pay for it in the end, and you'll lose the sale from 2 people.
I wouldn't do it without some kind of "contract" like Mike indicates. Since I hate paper work and having transactions just hanging in the wind so to speak I don't do it, though no one has ever asked either.
If you do a lay-a-way right, you can not sell it out from under the buyer. I have no idea if that is a legal issue but it is an ethical one. You would have to honor the terms of the "contract".
Again, there is no risk if it is done right.
If it is an original, you have to hold if you tell the people you are going to hold it. You can keep taking offers on it, like a pending sale in the real estate business, but you have to hold it. If you think the buyer is not going to honor their commitment, you can call them and ask them to let you out of the deal because you have an all cash buyer.
If it is a print you sell the one you have to the new buyer and order a new one for the lay-a-way buyer.
Again, if this done right, there should be no risk to either the buyer or the seller.
We are not reinventing the wheel here. Every major retailer in the world has a lay-a-way plan. All you have to do is adapt it for the particular details of your situation.
Back in the '70s, I did 30 some odd street fairs a year for several years. We did very well and about 75% of our business was all cash.
But we did take credit cards and personal checks. The first year or so I asked for ID, took their driver's license number and worried a lot. Then after that year or so, I realized not one check bounced. So I stopped asking because it was time-consuming. We took dozens and dozens if not hundreds of checks and not one of them ever bounced.
I was always amazed because we did have a few bounced checks in the brick and mortar stores but not that many in all the years we were in the business.
My experience of the nearly 50 years is that there are not a lot of people trying to run bad check scams or other "cheats" operating in the decorator of the low-end art market. Even in the art we had and still do have that sells in the low to mid thousand dollar range. There is no way to turn if. I had little or no resale value on the secondary market, pawn shops rarely if ever take it and there are no professional fences that want to deal in $100 stolen art. lol
The Internet has changed all of that but not because it is art per se... they are targeting anything for sale on the Internet.
Thanks everyone for their input, it was interesting hearing so many different views, I personally dont do Layaway's, but i think if someone said, here is a deposit, i will pay the rest in five weeks time, I would.
I was asked how much of a deposit I asked for on a lay-a-way.
I will not do one unless I have experience with the buyer and know at least a little about them unless I get the full cost of the item and small bit of profit out of the piece. Keep in mind here I am talking about repeatable art like photographers or prints including Limited Edition Prints.
A hypothetical may be a 24x36 stretched canvas that I pay $60 and sell for $239. I would want at least $100. That way I have no money tied up for the length of the lay-a-way. Typically I will not go past 90 days so the receipt would show $100 deposit and two additional payments of $69.50 each. On the reciept, I would get the exact dates the other two payments would be paid.
I am very lenient with people because I have never been burnt. I have had people call and tell me they can not make the second payment and wanted to pay the balance in full on the last payment date. I will do that.
When we did originals on lay-a-way in the galleries we took no less than 50% down.
I'm with Floyd on this. One of my largest sales recently was a Lay-a-Way. The client really loved the work and had me hit her credit card every month for about six months. She then paid off the remainder when she could.
I'll do that any day. When a client really loves the work and is willing to stretch their finances to buy it, a very satisfying sale. Those with the cash to just buy sometimes don't have any real love for the art. It's just another decorative object among others they don't much care about. Some clients are far more satisfying than others.
It is very similar here in my brick and mortar framing & gallery. I have never had a bounced check, never had any issue with credit cards and not had an issue with theft either. It's just not a concern. I've been running my own shop for the past 15 years but been in the business for 50 working for others a good part of that. It's different than other businesses for that.
Hi Floyd and David, glad to hear that you had good experiences with your lay a ways, I was never asked personally but it is good to know what to ask for % wise if I was asked.
Not everyone has the finance to purchase an original piece when they see it and fall in love with it, A lot of stores in America used to do it before but it is becoming less common now due mainly to the popularity of the credit card.