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Know Anything About Importing???

Discussion in 'Safety valve' started by gerry1, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    Those of you who know me know that I'm into collecting marble, bronze, copper etc. sculptures of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian soldiers / warriors as well as mythological gods etc. from the same period. Some are good modern originals while most are excellent reproductions of the classics (reproductions can still be very valuable). I also get into some original and, again, mostly reproductions of the classics (neo-classic is my favorite.) I paint and draw myself (oils and charcoals - realism) so I'm really into this stuff.

    Every now and again, I'll buy a piece of artwork from China. I can get a lost-wax repo or original for $10.00 - $20.00 as well as huge (24X36 & 36X47s) oil repos with damned near exact detail for as little as $5.00 to $50.00; the shipping is expensive though ... a 20" lost-wax bronze will cost about 80-100 dollars to ship; the paintings are usually 30 - 50 dollars. Despite the shipping costs, I can get stuff worth a hell of a lot more than I paid for it.

    I'm thinking of starting my own "on the side" business selling artwork which I've imported. As I would be doing this from my home and "on the side" and not trying to support myself exclusively by these sales, I won't be sacrificing much to get started and I could start with just a few pieces (sculptures and/or painting) which I don't have but would enjoy even if this is a total flop. I could start with as little as $500 to $1,000 for six or seven great pieces which, as I said, won't be a waste even if it doesn't work out because they'd be things I'd end up buying for myself sooner or later.

    I'm wondering if anyone at AD has ever done anything like this or knows an efficient and economical way to ship items from China and other asian locations.

    I know that this wouldn't work in many (if not most places) but I think there would be a decent market for it in Philly. We have plenty of shops who sell this stuff (and not all "antiques" and "originals") for thousands of bucks but I think there would be a decent market for really high quality art work for very little cost. I've purchased a couple of awesome lost wax bronzes which cost me $80 to $125.00 including shipping which I could turn around and sell for two and three times more than I paid for them.

    Does anyone know of an efficient and economical way to ship such things from China to the States? Does anyone have any experience with this or even some ideas? I'm going to buy a couple of books on the subject but I thought I'd ask in case any of you have experience or suggestions. Thanks guys! ... Gerry
     
  2. Auslander

    Auslander Senior member

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    in the industries i've dealt with, guys simply pay for part or all of a container in a container ship, filled with goods of their choosing. that has been the most economically efficient way to import, from my observance.

    best of luck to you, ger. as soon as you show me a cataloge, count me as a loyal customer.
     
  3. ZeroHour

    ZeroHour Guest

    my dad imports clothing from China for his buisness he says he buys part of a container on a ship i believe the container company is called Hanjin shipping
     
  4. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    Hmmm .. thanks guys! I was thinking of just ten or twelve pieces to start just to get a feel for it; methinks a portion of a container is beyond my budget LOL! I know just what to order for you Brandon, there are some awsome wolf sculptures and bronzes!
     
  5. Auslander

    Auslander Senior member

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    wooo![​IMG]

    short of a container, maybe a bulk-rate with an international shipper? i don't think are too many other affordable options.
     
  6. LOCOENG

    LOCOENG Moderator Staff Member

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    Where I work we take trains in and out of the port, if you need help contacting a shipper let me know I may be able to get you some numbers.
     
  7. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    Thanks Loco! I just might do that! It also occured to me to ask the dealer if he knows a cheaper way should I buy more than I'd initially intended. I was thinking that if I put in, say, five thousand or so (which would buy a lot of artwork at their prices) perhaps there is a way for the dealer to send them for a good amount less. Investing merely five thousand or so, I'll only need to kick myself in the a$$ should my plan not work but at least I won't need to declare bankruptcy or owe a loan. I've decided that I'm going to try this when I figure a few things out. I live near a place called "Rittenhouse Square" which has art fairs all the time; they're attended by thousands of people of all incomes but the neighborhood itself is the most expensive section of Philly surrounded by multi million dollar condo and homes. Its worth a shot. Since it won't be my sole source of income, but only an experiment on the side, I needn't worry about where my next meal will come from!
     
  8. Auslander

    Auslander Senior member

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    so, made a catalog yet? :)
     
  9. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    LOL! Not yet my friend! I'll have to figure that one out too! There is one thing I'll need to be careful of: as an artist myself, I need to be careful because some of the things that might appeal to me may not appeal to the average buyer. I've run into this a number of times when I use to perform (piano): a musician tends to like pieces because of their complexity and challenge to master and choose to play it for a performance; while the other musicians might appreciate what you've just played, the average listener just scratches his head and asks "What the f@#% was that?" LOL! I'm sure the same applies to sculpture and paintings!
     
  10. Auslander

    Auslander Senior member

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    run them by me first, then. i'm a complete simpleton! having less than average taste, i should be able to cover all your bases. ^.~
     
  11. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    LOL...I may just do that!
     
  12. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    I tried a bit of an experiment to test the waters; would selling artwork I import from China have any appeal and make any money? The answer, at least in this experiment, was a resounding YES!! There is a fine arts festival in an area of downtown Philly called "Rittenhouse Square". Local artists set up booths all around and inside the park to sell their various artwork; a friend of mine always sets up a booth to sell his paintings. I took ten pieces that I'd imported for my collection and a few from other sources. We put up a sign saying that they were high quality reproductions from museums and collections all around the world and on each item, we put a little card with the name of the object, it's history and location like "Poseidon from.. Bronze, 460 B.C., Athens National Archaelogical Museum". We calculated the cost of replacing them and let him keep the profits (which was only fair otherwise he might lose out from his own sales ... I was only looking to see if they would sell.) He sold nine of the ten and made a decent profit...and I'd be able to sell them for considerably less as not all of them were imports. The experiment was quite successful. I should be contacting some of you soon about your suggestions!
     
  13. Shardel

    Shardel Guest

    Sounds like a very successful market research. Did your friend happen
    to get names and addresses of the purchasers? It is not to early to
    start a database of customers. It will come in handy later. One of
    the cheapest and most effective things for repeat business is a post
    card that says new pieces arrived, see on ____ date. Usually will
    generate 90% or better response.
     
  14. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    @Shardel...awsome idea! I'm an artist & musician (of the "starving artist" variety LOL!) I've been a social worker for the last sixteen years to pay the bills ... but as you can probably tell, I'm not much of a businessman! I know that he keeps a list of names, adresses and numbers but I didn't think to ask if he did the same with my stuff; I know that you're right though because, like me, a lot of people who buy this sort of thing are generally (but not always) collectors of quality material (I'm already commited to NEVER selling low quality artworks; I plan to always sell stuff of the highest possible quality for the best price that I can manage. So, as for your suggestion, I'm sure they wouldn't regard this as junk mail or spam! Also, my Verizon account includes web pages but frankly, I don't know anything about it or if it's adequate... though I wouldn't need anything fancy; just a lot of good pics of what I have to sell (I'm pretty good with a camera), and a way to contact; I do know people who are very good at web sites though. A lot of sites selling artwork don't have prices for some reason, they tell you to contact for prices but I absolutely will not do that because I know that when I run into it, I don't bother.

    Once again, Shardel, thanks for the advise, I really appreciate it and Keep the suggestions coming when you have one! I've already started a new checking account and got a new credit card from my bank just to keep all monies associted with this organized and confined to just one account rather than have to deceipher it from my usual expenses. I've got decent credit so the bank offered me a loan but I have no intention of doing that (at least not yet); if I see some degree of success when I get this off the ground, then I'll consider it if it seems wise, but not yet. I know I'll need to invest some money to at least get this started but I have no intention of getting in it up to my neck. Having a plan and a logical, disciplined approach to this is, of course, essential but when it comes to money, I plan to approach this very conservatively; I'm not about to hang myself financially. Thanks again my friend! ... Gerry
     
  15. Shardel

    Shardel Guest

    Considering your last message, maybe I should explain a little further. If you set up this database, customize it to suit your
    business. The more info the better. An absolute minimum would be
    name, address, and pieces purchased. It is also handy to have an
    area where you can note areas of special interest they mention. If
    you set it up so you can query it. You can track which pieces are
    selling in a matter of seconds.
    People that purchase from this type of business like the personal
    attention. When you send a mailing try not to use printed labels.
    That is the kiss of death as far as junk mail goes. You can still
    print your cards with a computer, but the addresses need to be done
    directly on the cards with a type style that suggests handwritten.
     
  16. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    Thanks again for the suggestions! Damn, you're just filled with all sorts of great suggestions. What you suggest would provide good direction in what to order next. I'm going to have to print out your suggestions to keep track of them and put them in some sort of order regarding a "plan". What makes you so good at this? Anyway, thanks and KEEP THE SUGGESTIONS COMING! ... Gerry
     
  17. Shardel

    Shardel Guest

    I appreciate the compliment, but what I have said so far is just
    simple basic business. Experience is the best
    teacher.
    Aside from a database for customers, I would also set up a database
    for suppliers which includes addresses, phone numbers, contacts,
    email addresses, and terms. Once you get this business going you
    can then set up accounts which will include things like discounts
    for volume orders, invoices that aren't due for 30 days, etc.
    As far as what to order. At first you have to work off your instincts, which seem to be very good from the results of your first
    experiment. That's where your customer data base will come to bear
    fruit. It will begin to show you where the sales are. Business is
    not buying only what you like. It is buying what sells.
    Profit is not how much I paid for this piece and what I sold it for.
    It's also how fast did the inventory turn-how long was money tied up
    in it before it sold. To track this you need to set up and inventory
    spread sheet.
    If you set your computer files up as soon as you can, it doesn't matter if you only have a little info to put in them. They tend to
    snowball. The sooner you get started the more valuable info is not
    lost. When you finally realize you need this stuff it is hard to
    backtrack and find it-not to mention how time consuming that is.
    It also makes tax season a breeze.
    You don't need expensive software to do this. In fact spreadsheets
    and databases you set up yourself with the info you need work the best.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2007
  18. gerry1

    gerry1 Guest

    @Shardel ... I just bought my first (relatively) major piece for peanuts and will (should) be able to sell it for three times what I paid for it! It's nearly three feet tall and weighs a ton!! Also, I won't be tempted to keep it because it isn't the sort of thing I collect. It's not a reproduction but an original. It's the god Neptune having his jollies with some chicken of the sea! (Me forgets the name at the moment.) I had to use the eraser tool to remove the naughty bits so that our younger members don't get excited LOL!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2007
  19. Shardel

    Shardel Guest


    The fact that it is an original is a definite plus when pricing.
    Nudes usually have a wide appeal. Art Nouveau type nudes are usually
    desirable when well done.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2007

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