Mary Lou Zeek, owner
Have you reduced your inventory levels? What needs to happen before you will feel comfortable increasing your inventory levels?
Yes I have. I put thought into it last October because at that time sales had started to dwindle.
Of course sales need to increase a bit. I am seeing people moving towards “handmade,” which helps the gallery business … especially if one can inform the client of just who these artists are.
What indicators do you need to see before you’ve decided that the economy is indeed improving?
I look at the job market and employment as an indicator. The housing market also needs to build again. If people are losing their houses, we can’t expect them to purchase art.
Are you advertising consistently?
I haven’t given up on my regular advertising. I advertise in national publications, travel guides, and send monthly postcards and e-mails.
I now have relationships with these publications, and I do feel that they are looking out for my business. I also receive the most calls when an ad runs. I keep my ads consistent with my branding so they are always recognizable.
What are a few other ways you’re preparing for the rebound?
I look for work that fits the “sustainable and recycled” verbiage that we’re hearing these days.
I also let my artists know that I haven’t forgotten about them and will be placing orders soon. I keep in touch because I want to nurture our relationship.
What have you noticed in terms of consumer confidence?
I think people are just beginning to come out of hiding. They seem more confident because they have assessed their buying power and know that they can spend by keeping a budget. The public has looked at their finances and are more aware of what they want, and spend time thinking about their purchases. They don’t want “stuff” (mass-machine-made items) but are looking for artwork that has a connection to the person who made the object. That’s where I come in … I can talk about my artists and share their background.
I sell paintings that are higher-ticket items, and I am finding they are beginning to sell again. Overall, I think items that are below $100 can sell easier than the high-ticket items.