Day two at the gallery

On my previous post I wrote about opening day at the Natural Images Gallery. Opening day was exhilarating. While part of that exhilaration was seeing my pictures sell. It was just as rewarding to witness the reaction of complete strangers as they circled around the small gallery, sometimes spending several minutes looking at and discussing a single framed image.

We were all tired at the end of the day and feeling pretty good about the results of all the pre-opening work.

Day two was a little different. Most of the “Olde Home Days” activities were no longer on Main Street and moved instead to a nearby county park. Nearby, but far enough away that the sidewalk in front of the gallery was empty and so was the gallery.

Over the next few weeks the opening day flood turned into a trickle. It took weeks to equal the sales of that one day. But, despite limited sales it became evident that those who did visit liked what they saw. The numbers of visitors were small. However my spirits remained high thanks to a steady stream of complimentary comments and a small number of buyers.

Still, even though the custom publishing business is paying the rent the promise of the gallery succeeding on its own beckons stronger each day, with each visitor, with each print I frame and package for the trip to a new home, with each visitor’s encouraging comments.

Over the months a growing awareness led me to a simple realization that someone with a better understanding of retail business would have likely arrived at weeks if not months earlier. Retail sales is at least as much about attracting customers into your store as it is convincing them to buy.

The old adage that “if you build a better mousetrap people will beat a path to your door” isn’t really accurate. Somehow, people need to discover that the better mousetrap exists, even before the make the trip to your door. So the wheels are turning again, much like they were a few months before that opening day at the gallery.

This time, though, I find myself asking more questions. What would make the gallery more attractive to potential customers who just happen by? The current gallery often not noticed by people who regularly travel through our village. It looks too much like a small office and not enough like an inviting retail establishment.

What will attract customers to this small, rural, Central New York village? How do we manage whatever that is on a modest marketing budget?

Should the gallery provide something for everyone or perhaps focus on the more affluent? Should the gallery be limited to my images or should I include other photographers, artists, and media?

As a one-man show, one man operating two businesses, (remember one of those businesses is currently paying the bills) what creative ways can we come up with that will allow the gallery to be open, at least during normal retail business hour?

Now the search for answers.