This week I sold one of my favorite pieces, “Waterfall”, a 24” x 48” mixed media to an incredible couple in Colorado. During the process of the sale I ran into a couple common questions and want to share them and some appropriate responses here.
“We’ve never bought a piece like this! I think it’ll work really well in our space, we’re just not sure. Is there any way we can see it actually in our home before we buy it?”
My answer to this is “yes” if at all possible! Bring it over, and take a photo of it in the space for yourself and them. Discuss how it looks candidly and openly, and if you need to do a larger, more expensive custom work to fill the space better? That’s awesome!
You can also use this as an opportunity to make suggestions for other walls, if you feel it’s the right thing to do.
If you’re unable to take it over, or don’t feel comfortable, politely decline.
”I need to display the work here as long as possible, but you’re welcome to photograph it and measure your wall, I’ll be here until 5 pm.”
“We really love it, it’s just reflective, and we want to see how it interacts with the light and feeling in our home for a little before we commit. Can we keep it in our home for a week just to see?”
This is a fabulous sign, because it means they’re serious about the work!
There are a few appropriate answers to this question, and I want to present a few that I recommend.
1. No. Whether you’re uncomfortable with them and don’t want to drag out the interaction, need to take it to another show if there’s not a guaranteed sale, or just aren’t able to work with scheduling, there’s a number of ways to decline politely.
“I have an upcoming show that I need to take it to if it doesn’t sell here today. I’m sorry. I’ll be here until 5pm if you need to go home and take measurements”
“I’m here from out of state and need to go back shortly, so unfortunately I can’t lend out work this week.”
“I don’t loan my work overnight for liability reasons, but I’m happy to bring it to your home for an hour, and take some high quality photos of it in your space or Photoshop it in place on your wall so you can see what it looks like and make decisions based on that.”
“I need to display the work as much as possible during this sales day, I’m sorry! But feel free to take photos of it and measure your home, and I can bring it over for a short period of time tonight if you’d like.”
2. Yes, but not the whole week.
Creating a sense of urgency is important! A week is also a long time, and you might be out of state and traveling home shortly (I was this week). What then?
“I understand the desire to live with the art for a little before committing! Because I’m driving back home tomorrow, I can’t let you keep it for a week, but I’m happy to let you live with it overnight.”
“I totally understand why you’d want to try it out. A week is a bit long for me, though. Can we do 24-48 hours instead?”
Always remember to set a specific time and date with them right then and there to show up at their home to either collect payment or pick up the art.
3. Yes, with a refundable deposit
Taking a deposit lets you know they’re serious, and reduces your own risk.
“I’d love to let you keep it for a week! Because of potential loss of the sale elsewhere, I do need a deposit of $500, which will be refundable if you return it, or will go towards the sale price if you fall in love with it.”
4. Yes, with a check you’ll hold until a decision is reached
The biggest downside I see here is that some people like to negotiate price, and if they were hoping to do that, this would seal that door off, which might make them sad. However, it also means...no loss to negotiation! And no negotiation might be your policy anyway.
“You can totally take it home for a little! I do ask that you write a check for the amount in full though, and I’ll not cash it until I get a yes or no at the end of the week.”
5. Yes, they can take it home after paying you, with a 7 day full refund guarantee (or minus a $100 restocking fee or similar).
“If you love it that much, and just aren’t sure on spacing, I’d be happy to sell it to you, and give a 7 day satisfaction guarantee, with a full refund, minus a $100 pick-up fee.”
What do you think? What is your favorite response? Have you had experience in this before?
In the end, for this situation, I chose #2. Dropped it off, let them have it overnight, and they bought it in the morning! It fit this couple’s space splendidly, and I consider it a privilege to have been able to see its new home.