Queen City Emporium: A Lesson Learned
Today begins a special series on handmade artisans from around the nation. You may be asking why this is anything different from the normal spotlight I give to small business owners through my regular features on Etsy artisans and local talent from around here in Rochester.
Let me tell you a little bit about these men and women from around the USA. We all have formed an unusual bond because of our experiences with a boutique in Springfield, Missouri called The Queen City Emporium.
When I first started my jewelry business and had my site on the now defunct 1000 Markets, a woman named Kate made a post on the forums about how she was opening a boutique in Springfield for handmade artisans to sell their wares. If you've ever wondered how people get their items into boutiques, it's via consignment or wholesale. If you're selling wholesale, you set a minimum order (say $250 or something like that) and the wholesale cost is typically 50% of the retail price. You'd sell your items to a shopkeeper and then the items are theirs to price and sell at their discretion.
Another option is consignment. You work out a deal with the shop owner. You send them your items and price them and they would keep 30 or 40% of the cost (this is the norm...some might take more or less) and then send you the money via check or Paypal.
This new artisan boutique in Springfield sounded wonderful. It was going to be located on historic "C Street" (Commercial Street) in an artsy neighborhood with galleries. It'd surely attract customers with an appreciation for handmade wares. This is what so many of us believed.
I was drawn when I saw the announcement from Kate about this boutique. My dad was the editor of the paper in that city when I was a teen and I had fond memories of my visits there. I thought it'd be cool to branch out beyond the Northeast. What a huge mistake.
I am one of many (more than 60 at last count) people who signed contracts with this business to consign. What happened to me is minor compared to some of these people who are now out thousands of dollars.
It was just a few things, thankfully, until I knew what type of business this was. I sent just under $200 in earrings, hair pins, rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
They had the items well before their grand opening--they kept changing the date. The USPS website confirmed that they had received my jewelry in March. Once they received my jewelry, all communication ceased.