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November 2008

My gallery asked if I would share a discount. What shall I do?

If you have been asked to share a discount with your gallery,
below is a sample letter that you can copy (amend or alter) and send to your gallery. In addition, read the previous post, and the Discounts document in the Professional Guidelines to understand the full impact of discounts.

Dear Gallery,
I fully understand the tough economic times, but a “discount sale” on one-of-a-kind or limited production work does more harm than good.  It may generate short-term cash but it erodes the current and long-term value of yours and my entire portfolio of work.   It is shortsighted to offer a discount to try to close a sale quickly. 

Calculator-EXPENSES.72My material and labor costs are already expended in this work and you are asking me to accept a loss.  That is bad enough, but even worse, I am more concerned about how the remainder of my portfolio will be cheapened because of anticipated or expected discounting.  A “discount sale” either sets a precedent or reinforces a discount mentality on all future transactions in your gallery and on my work.  I cannot afford it – and it is unproductive for the art community.

My material and living expenses have risen dramatically in the past few years.  Perhaps your expenses have risen as well.  My share of the retail price barely covers my expenses.   Consequently, a discount approach would ultimately drive me and most other artists to bankruptcy.  That is not good for your business.

Furthermore, most buyers and collectors buy art primarily because they like the intrinsic qualities of the work.  Price is important but is not the primary factor.  By refusing to discount the price, you may lose one out of ten sales.  But if discounts become routine, you will lose the value of the discount in 100% of the transactions.  That is not good for business either. 

Ultimately, the practice of discounting would cause both artists and galleries to inflate the retail price to anticipate the discounting so that both can make a living and stay in business.  Do any of us want to waste our time in this type of price game?

Consequently, I decline to participate in any discounting of my artwork/jewelry.  I would also like to appeal to your sense of good business practices and ask you to refuse to offer discounts on all your gallery transactions.  After all, both of us want to build and maintain reputations of quality.
(your name)


This post was updated on January 9, 2022 

Have you been asked to offer a discount for the holidays?

Calculator-EXPENSES-ASK-Harriete-5buttonsHave you been asked to offer a discount for the holidays?

Has your gallery asked you to participate in a discount?

What is happening here?
Discounts say that the work wasn't worth the retail price in the first place.
Is that the message you want to send?
Discounts erode the market!
Our prices are not inflated, most artists don't even earn what a plumber or waitress earns. The prices for our work represent many hours of hard work, in addition to artistic vision and technical skill. The prices are not inflated with executive salaries, luxury offices, retirement funds, etc.

Artists AND galleries need to support their retail prices. It's better for the entire community.

Do we want a flea market mentality in our galleries? Does Apple discount its products?

JUST SAY "NO"! The gallery should sell the attractive and amazing elements and details of the work, not how cheap it is.

If you aren't sure why or how to do this, read the Professional Guidelines document about Discounts which can be found at:

Open your eyes to the real impact of discounts. Read this document
Harriete Estel Berman

This post was updated on December 15, 2021