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INVENTORY RECORDS - An Essential Ingredient for Your Business Success

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Two Felt Hats by Dawn Edwards. View more of her work on her web site

Dear Harriete,
Is there an easy computer program
(for those of us who are not much of a "techie"), that you've found works well, and is designed for keeping accurate inventory?
Thanks so much,

Dawn Edwards

Dear Dawn,
I don’t use a special computer software for inventory management. I am much more inclined to save my money and use my own system. No computer program is going to do the work for you and the most tedious and demanding aspect of inventory management is making sure you DO IT! 

Your inventory management needs to start with a complete description in a word document for each and every item (or series of items).  Include the title, date, brief description, dimensions,and photo credit. This can be used over and over for your online postings (on your web site, retail marketing sites, exhibition labels, and on social networking sites).

INVENTORY FOR MAJOR WORK
For major one of a kind work, I use the Inventory Record Form in the Professional Guidelines. Download the Inventory Record FORM

InventoryRecordFORM

Here is a short Slide Share PowerPoint about how to use this form.

When the Inventory Record Form is printed, I hand write the pertinent information and organize it in a binder. For more information about the Inventory Record Form in the Professional Guidelines CLICK HERE.

If you want to keep this information in your computer, then just make a similar outline in your computer (e.g. in an Excel or Word document). Create you own system based on this template form. Make sure that you are noting your all your Cost of Good (COG) hours, and materials on this form.

INVENTORY FOR SMALL ITEMS LIKE EARRINGS

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For smaller items like earrings and bracelets, I just keep a list of Earring Inventory with the name of each item, short description and price. If I send the earrings to a gallery, I move it from studio inventory to a different list, in the same document under the Gallery Inventory.

INVENTORY FOR PIN with a description.
Same idea goes for bracelets or pins. Here are two pins currently in inventory.

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Here is the description for theses two pins in Pin Inventory:
Copycat Won’t Scratch
Ht 3 5/8"  W 3 3/8" pin.  $295
Collect Payment   Ht  2 3/4" height  W 2 15/16"   $195

Sometimes I have sub categories in the same Inventory file. For example in my Pin Inventory, I have lists of my Flower pins. Each pin has a title, date, description, and price.  

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Here is the description copied directly from my inventory records.

April Flower  Pin 48. 3L. 6.11.10 Children toys with doll face center in soft green. Back: Soft Yellow  Almanac Tin with seasonal gardening information. 3 6/16” Diameter $345

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Red Campbell's Flower Brooch-
Recycled Tin Cans
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 2010
Purchase at Julie Artisan's Gallery, NY

If item sells, I move the record to my SOLD INVENTORY at the bottom of the same inventory document.

MULTIPLES
If you make multiples, you still need a document with your handy description. Then you could use an Excel program to keep track of total inventory. Number of items. Materials, Hours, etc.

THE MOST DIFFICULT ISSUE is taking time to keep careful records. You just can't send work to a gallery or store on consignment and  think you will remember where it is. That does not work! If you are sending work to a gallery on consignment, you need to move the record from STUDIO INVENTORY to your list of GALLERY INVENTORY. If it comes back from a gallery, move the items back into STUDIO INVENTORY.

If you sell an item, record it to SOLD INVENTORY.  How else will you know if an item is available or how many you have in stock?

Oh yes! Back up your files on occasion. That is why for important work, I print the Inventory Record Form and keep it in a binder.

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