The Cheaters No 3

I must admit that I have employed about 45 different employees during my business life; as luck or careful selection would have it ; my experience of cheaters over the 50-year span was very limited.

This incident occurred during the 20the year of my business experience, but I will address it prematurely to get the experiences off the radar.

This particular employee was a mature retired professional person; she came highly recommended and was very familiar with engaging with the public. My trust in her was built up to such a level that my record keeping became somewhat too casual and certainly not up to the required standard for a retail business.

As I was entering the gallery on one particular day, I met a couple in the car park who I knew were family to the employee; they were excited to show me their purchases, which I carefully made a written note of as I entered the gallery. The news of meeting the family in the car park was kept secret. A careful examination of the sales for the day did not include the family purchases.

The matter was not raised for a week, just in case there was some form of arrangement made for future payments; a careful stock take was personally carried out just in case there would be a future debate over the incident. Another week went by and nothing was said nor was the sale registered; It was time to pay the monthly salary and I approached the subject by announcing the meeting with the family in the car park on the day of the purchase.

“Oh I forgot to tell you the items were credited on my account; I will pay for them, but please don’t take the funds out of this month’s salary”

“But why didn’t you record the purchases as was required; your relatives told me they bought the items”

The relatives had left the Island by that time, there was no chance of verifying her story, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Sometime during the following month I was informed that she had paid for the items, which were hand woven place mats.

After the employee had left work, another stock check was made and the mats sold for that day were missing from the stock; she could not have made the payment; another double check revealed that the mats were paid for by credit card, providing indisputable that she could not have made the payment, plus there was the evidence of the missing stock.

On further careful examination of what stock keeping there was, there was evidence that the employee was stealing for some time.

The following day the employee was confronted with the facts of her dishonest activities; I assured her that I would not involve the police on condition that I can withhold her holiday pay which was due on termination of employment

Boy of boy, she raised hell, screaming and shouting; You have to pay me you have to pay me”

My only choice was to call the police; they came and arrested her for theft in full view of passers-by; no doubt the scandal was out the following day; only then was I told stories that would have caused me to terminate her employment sooner.

The police decided to carry out a search warrant for the missing place mats in spite of the story of how the mats came to be missing; This was my second encounter with the police and the second time I had experienced their incompetence.

As I had suspected the search warrant was unsuccessful and the police dropped the charges and the issue was not pursued any further, and I was left with the choice of looking for another employee. The successful applicant turned out to be one of the truly honest souls in this world.

That assessment did not come without roof. I had a new method of testing one’s honesty. The retail business is a cash business, so a fixed sum was left in the cash pan for float every day. My instructions to all employees was to acknowledge any discrepancies in the sales on reconciling each day; report it whether it was over or under because there will always be an explanation.

Occasionally an extra ten to twenty-five dollars would be added to the float during the day, unknown to the employee.

The extra cash was added to the float one day, the new employee did not report it, but the following day she was definitely emotionally disturbed as she had checked and rechecked to see if she had made any mistakes; the extra money was not taken, it was still part of the float.

When the question was asked as to why the emotional upset, she explained the additional money and how she could not find the mistake.

‘Sorry I forgot to tell you, I was changing a hundred dollar from the float, but did not wish to take all the one and five dollar bills, the extra twenty was my fault. That particular employee worked in the gallery for years and was one of the three most loyal employees ever graced the managing of the Devonish Art Gallery.

Soon Come

The Divorce From the Beer House.

The greatest challenge with managing the Beer House was the daily shopping, hardly a day went by without having to purchase supplies, especially fresh salad supplies which I insisted on managing personally, since I ate my meals at the restaurant.

New Manager

With the expansion of the Art and craft outlets; time became a major factor; A close relative was hired as the new manager; but my presence could be experienced at any time.

In the meantime there were stressful elements at home, the wife could have been feeling insecure, because she was complaining that her name was nowhere on the documents pertaining to the Beer house. Being the peaceful and considerate person that I am, and to maintain a harmonious relationship in the home, I acquired the services of a lawyer friend, who was one of our regular customers to execute the wish of making the wife a fifty percent ownership in the Beer House.

Unfortunately the relationship in the home continued to deteriorate. There came a point of no-return and I made the decision to end the union, one of the most painful experiences in my life, as there was the problem of a young three and a half beautiful son. The situation was compounded as it involved the wife and son returning to England.

There was no discussion, but out of the clear blue sky, I was confronted with the fact that the wife had sold her 5% shares in the Beer House to my close relative I had hired as manager. The feeling of betrayal was so strong that I made the decision to just walk away.

My close relative was summoned to a meeting, my sentiments of betrayal was made known, and was deepened by the fact that another close relative who was probable the closest friend from among the family, lent the manager the funds to purchase the shares without one word of notice.

The Beer House was handed to my manager relative and 50% owner on the understanding that I was relinquishing all interest in the management of the operation, without offering up my shares. My final words were ” if you make any money send me my share”

I no longer ate my meals there or took any interest in the book keeping of daily operations as a 50 owner of the business. Former customers would meet me on the street and express their sorrow of not patronizing the Beer House anymore and were surprised to learn that I no longer had any relationship with the business, but were relieved to understand why the business was loosing its customers.

Not a penny was received following my departure, but notice of how badly things had deteriorated came in lawyers request for payment for outstanding bills due to one of the main suppliers to the Beer House.

When I explained to the lawyer that I had nothing to do with the business during the period the supplies were ordered, he reminded me that the business continued to receive supplies in my name, I did not notify them of the change, plus I was still part owner in the restaurant.

On consultation with my school mate Layer friend, I was informed that I was in fact liable for the outstanding bills since there was no notice to discontinue the arrangement, and the manager who was my manager continued to make orders which they thought were on my behalf.

The long and short of the story was I had to pay the bills and another family member took over the Beer House until it finally closed, No attempt was made to ask for funds due for my 50% share in the Beer house from the day I walked away until it closed.

Soon Come.

The Nightmares Of A Retail Businessman

Small businessmen are faced with many challenges, overhead costs must be kept to a minimum and must be able to trust your employees; unfortunately this is one of the hardest goal to achieve in business, I have heard horrendous stories from businessmen; I have seen it, experience it and have been the victim of dishonesty on many occasions.

There are two memorable experiences that scared the daylights out of me. I was brought up in the church and has always practiced -honesty is the best policy. I was on vacation in North America and asked a friend, I cannot say we were close; but set off together on a shopping trip, a warehouse where the prices were reported as very competitive. The logic of him offering to pay was beyond my comprehension; maybe the purchases were a gift.

The cashier was a girlfriend, she appeared businesslike and proceeded the checkout, but the costs were nowhere close to the true cost of the purchases. When we got to his I was asked to be paid the true costs of the purchases; there was an arrangement between him had and the cashier. My anger and displeasure was clearly demonstrated. I assured him it will never be repeated, I was blatantly exposed to criminal behavior.

On another occasion in North America, a friend invited me out to dinner at a very upscale restaurant; after consuming almost all the food that was served, one of his own hairs was plucked from his head, placed in the little morsel that remained, as my friend pretended to wanting to vomit, in a manner for all to see, pointing at the hair in plate. The head waiter rushed to the table and ushered us both through a side door, and my friend pretended to be taking out his wallet to pay, at which point the waiter uttered in a soft voice,” I am so sorry, but it is on the house”. I was more disappointed than angry because this was someone I knew for years and trusted.

“If you continue to pull stunts like that you will end up in jail; but if ever we go to a restaurant again, I am paying”

Second Retail Outlet.

A second retail space was opened in Bridgetown to accommodate the expansion of handicrafts, there were adequate suppliers and the increase in my own production warranted the expansion.

The space was small and required only one sales manager; It was necessary to keep overhead costs to a minimum, which ruled out hiring an accounts clerk or a stock supervisor.

After some lengthy brainstorming, a scheme was devised to manage stock control and to find an honest person. My choice was a devout member of a church with good character references. There was a record of all stock entries but supervision required time and labor. The insurance plan was to undertake all shop displays, the sales manager was ordered not to do any rearrangements, even when items were sold from the displays.

Caught Redhanded

Random display shelves were selected and monitored carefully. On one of my visits to the outlet it was evident that a very prominent vase was missing, there was no need to check the records; To my disbelief the sale was not recorded anywhere and the sales manager denied selling it, and suggested it must have been stolen.

The sales manager was issued a warning, the space was small and could be easily monitored. Bless my heart, a few weeks later a lady walked in the outlet with the same vase in her hand.

“Ah Mr Devonish I am so happy you are here, I bought this beautiful vase a few weeks ago, but you brought another since that I like better and wonder if I can make an exchange and pay the difference”

“Can I please see the receipt”

“The young lady did not give me a receipt, but there she is, ask her”

Not a word was exchanged, the young lady walked out and never came back, not even to ask if there was any funds owing to her.

During all my interviews it is clearly understood that there is a zero policy towards dishonesty.

Please whenever you are purchasing from any business especially small business without sophisticated security control, always ask for a receipt, the only time you should refuse a receipt is when you are served by the sole owner.

Soon Come.

The Beer House
My First Negative Experience

The Barman

Do you remembers the barman I hired?, the one that I had encountered in the Tourist Trap, the one I angrily told he should be a slave all his life, my first challenge in the Beer House had his fingerprints all over it.

The Restaurant was doing well, the food was attracting more and more Bridgetown office workers, the reggae music was attracting workers who lived near Town and did not rely on the buses for transport, or they owned their own vehicles Bridgetown in those days was a ghost town at night, but I kept the restaurant opened until 11 pm mainly as a bar with good rhythmic reggae music; some of my old school friends started to become regular afternoon and evening customers.

One school friend who was now a practicing lawyer was causing me some serious concern; he would visit the restaurant before going to the office in the mornings, purchase a bottle of rum, have a couple drinks from it and returned in the afternoon to continue drinking from the bottle; he would continue to perform the ritual until the bottle was finished.

It was my daily routine to have lunch in the restaurant and then leave for the workshop. Collect craft purchases or spend some time in one of the retail outlets. One day after lunch a friend told me he thought the barman was feeding his family from the restaurant daily.

A plan was hatched to try to catch the cheater in action. I wore a beard for years going back k to my college days. The beard would be shaved and was always handsomely trimmed. None of the six staff members knew me before I left Barbados and none of the had ever seen me without a beard; It was a painful emotional experience, but the beard was trimmed for the first time in over five years.

One of my friends was invited for lunch and was to remain with me for the better part of the afternoon; The plan was m friend was to undertake all the ordering; because my voice would be familiar to the staff. Lunch was ordered and after lunch we sat, listened to music and ordered some banks beers.

The three family members entered, were served lunch and drinks and after exchanging friendly words with the barman left without being offered a bill or being asked for a bill; This would only mean that both waitresses knew of the arrangement.

We had had a few beers and I did not wish to be intoxicated, I decided it was time to let y voice be heard, so I ordered the last two beers. “I know that voice, Mr Devonish?”

“Yes it is Mr Devonish”

“Oh OMG you saw everything”

After work, I had a heart-to-heart talk with the barman; he was a good barman and interacted well with the customers; I was not interested in how long the practice was going on for ; I asked him to use his conscience and pay the restaurant what he thought was an appropriate figure.

This led to another eye-opener; he suggested a figure and I did not question it. the arrangement was in exchange for him keeping his job.

“Please do not take it from my wages; I’ll pay from my tips.

“This is a small restaurant and most of our customers are office workers, I can’t imagine they are big tippers”.

“Sometime when guys are drinking at the bar, they will offer to buy me a drink; you see that bottle up there, that is soda water and angostura bitters, when they buy me a drink, I drink that and charged them for a gin or a scotch, and take the money from the cash register. That incidentally is every barman s secret, the take home pay could be larger than the tips.

“If I drank every drink that was offered I will be drunk every day”

The system worked, the money was paid back, the barman kept his job and future family lunches were financed from his tips and money for drinks offered.

Soon Come


Courtney on the potter's wheel

It is hard to be the artist, sales manager and CEO of an art gallery at the same time. As my work became known, there was a shift from stock purchases and consignment of art and crafts to an increase in the production of my personal work; and hiring of staff.

The demand for the Ckalky Mount pottery and my success at local art competitions inspired a new expansion. The local government had developed a mini development for artists and craftsmen, the Pelican craft village was designed specially for small craft producers offering both production and retail spaces.

Pelican village was within walking distance from the cruise ships terminal, l and also close to the capital, Bridgetown. This created some obstacles for the location; most tourist would take a taxi from the cruise chip terminal to Bridgetown, the Taxi drivers did not promote Pelican village, because of the proximity; as a result the village was discovered mainly by the tourist who opted to take the 10-minute walk to Bridgetown rather than take a taxi.

The rents were attractive and the idea of a craft community offered a bonus. My decision to rent one of the spaces was as a result of an unfortunate ceramic workshop accident involving one of my main suppliers.

My supplier was persuaded to join forces with an expat investor, who built a very attractive studio and retail operation in the country. I was not aware of the financial arrangements; but I was assured that my orders would not be interrupted. The partnership meant the chalky mount potter will have access to an electric wheel and a large Kiln fueled by natural gas.

The investor was a painter, and the glazing and decorations would be out of the hands of the potter; his role was just to throw pots.

It took just under two months to produce enough pottery to fill the kiln for the first firing. I was following the progress of my order, when I found out that all the finished production would be fired in a new gas kiln that that was not tested; not even to get rid of any dampness from the construction.

I begged the potter not to risk his production in an untested kiln, since he was not being paid upfront but would be sharing in the success of the firing. No one listened to my caution, and the first firing was a disaster, the entire production was lost. The potter was a sad, disappointed and beaten man; he went back to his push wheel and wood kiln at chalky mount.

I was in a state of shock and disappointment and panic. I immediately ordered 2 electric pottery wheels and 2 Electric kilns from Stoke On Trent; along with and my first shipment of clay, tools glaze materials and the ceramics bible at the time-Clay and glazes for the potter by Daniel Rhodes.

My special interest as an artist was sculpture, my college course taught me a little about ceramics, but I was no production potter. I knew that my potter of first choice would be too scared and downhearted to consider another arrangement.

A careful approach was made to the potter I considered to be the most artistic of the potters, and also possibly the oldest. I had spent many of my child hood hours sitting in his workshop, and even pushing the handle that powered the wheel; We had a very cordial relationship and respect for each other. A proposal was made for him to become the production potter for my new venture. He was asked to calculate his average annual earnings and to alert me as soon as he had arrived at a figure.

It took about a week before he gave me the figure, which I calculated as a weekly sum. I guaranteed him an additional ten percent on his figure and offered him a guaranteed weekly salary working 9 am to 4 pm with one hour for lunch, five days a week.

There was a catch, he had to find two young helpers and teach both of them how to prepare the clay to his satisfaction and spend at least one hour per day teaching them how to throw pots. I might not be a production potter but I am a good teacher and I will pitch in to assist with the training.

My strong words were to him were – “you will sit on the wheel all day, if you need a glass of water one of the helpers will get it for you.your job will simply to throw all day” I knew he was capable of throwing an average of 100 pieces a day, depending on size. He lit one of his cigarettes; “You sure you can pay me that figure, if so I am with you”.

As soon as the shipment arrived from England, COD Pottery and Ceramics was launched, with The potter and two trainees to supply the now 3 existing outlets and various hotel orders.

My personal focus was still on wood carving, with one laborer for the sanding of my creations.

The opening attracted much media attention.

Soon come.

I

Business was progressing satisfactorily, The Beer House was building up a reputation for its food and good after work relaxing atmosphere with great Reggae music.

The art gallery and gift shop was looking more and more promising. The restaurant business was indirectly promoting the gallery and gift shop,

The music and variety of beers was becoming a popular attraction for the crew from the cruise ships, and sailors from the navy ships that sailed the Caribbean seas.

Tourists were also becoming acquainted with the gallery through the pop-up shops and displays at the various hotels.

Our first successes were with the local market, the reggae music was a hit, as the D j’s played our music at the various Island wide weekend parties; and so was the shirt-jacks and matching trousers that was becoming a popular wear for civil servant and office workers.

The Theft

I was alone one in the gallery one day when a group of about 5 youths entered the gallery/gift shop. A couple of them were carrying handbags and looked very suspicious; I decided to keep a close watch as much as possible.

Two of the youths tried to engage my attention when I spotted one of them trying to steal a couple of pants-suits while the other one were attempting to steal some records.

As I sounded the alarm with a loud scream “please put them back and get out” the one with the records dropped his hand bag and ran, while the others fled with me close behind him.

MY sprinting ability proved a valuable asset at this time, as I was able quickly able to overpower the one with the clothing, and handed him over to a nearby policeman who was walking the beat.

The police completed the arrest, and marched the youngster off to Bridgetown police station, which was only about 6 blocks away.

The clothes had to be left with the police station as evidence for the court hearing.

Some four months later, there was no word from the police station, so I paid a visit to find out whether there was a date set for the hearing; and how soon will the clothes will be returned.

Sadly I was informed by the police officer in charge that they were unable to pursue the case, as the evidence was missing.

The long and the short of the story, the youth was given a warning and set free; he delivered the names of his other companions, and they too were given warnings.

The chief of police apologized for the unfortunate circumstances of the missing evidence; but I was never compensated; I thought of it as an advert for the clothing, so much so that even the police could not resist the temptation to steal one of my designs.

I was soon to learn about the troubling experiences businessmen face every day. A faithful friend volunteered some information about something I should be aware of going on in the everyday business of the Beer House.

Soon Come.

Best work environment for a Student or Creative Artist

Boost your well-being and mental health.

2018 is 49 years I have been creating both sculpture and ceramic art, while ceramics is confined to an exposed work area; wood carving offers other alternatives.

I have experimented with several options, over the years, and undoubted working outdoors, surrounded by greenery is the best option

The creative juices seem to flow more freely and the work mood is elevated, the nature environment offers an addition stimulus, the sight of a ground lizard, a wasp, a honey bee, a butterfly or ground dove does wonders for your mood.

Green and Blue Spaces

My current wood carving studio is an outfitted 40-foot container, painted green with 3 doors and 3 windows, situated on half an acre of undeveloped land, with plenty greenery- shrubs, small trees and vines,

The sea can be seen from the studio with the hills of the neighboring Island in the background. A visit to the beach for a dip in the blue and turquoise waters recharges the batteries, and offers time to reflect on the days’ creations.

There were no surprises when I viewed to a recent report of an ongoing research by scientists from Exeter, Cardiff and Swansea Universities and the Barcelona Institute of Global Health on the impact of spending time in parks, woodlands and beaches on our long-term well-being and mental health. ( green and blue spaces)

Trees and beaches featured strongly in my studies as a high school student, long before I even entertained the thought of being an artist.

Many hours were spent hiding in trees that surrounded the house, with a book and writing pad in hand, or at the beach under a large rock that decorated the Picturesque East Coast in Barbados.

During my student days at Teachers Training College my favorite areas for studying were under trees on the college grounds or to one of the nearby national parks.

There are statistics that suggest that one in four people experience some mental health issues such as anxiety and depression some time in their lives. The economic factor is finally a growing Public concern. The bill for mental health problems in the UK is estimated at 100 billion pounds a year.

There are some previous studies that suggest that people who live near coastal areas benefit from better mental health. Maybe that is why Hawaiians are singled out as some of the happiest people in the world.

I await the results of this research, but can predict the results based on my life long experiences as a student and artist

What are your checks and balances when you have employees managing your business?

The Cheaters

A rigid stock control is very important when you have employees; today we have cameras where you can stay at home and monitor what goes on in your business. You have cash registers and as in my case as a small business, we always used duplicate or triplicate receipt books.

The second location was doing well, sales were not huge but we were able to cover overheads and make some profit.

I thought security, except for the occasional theft was very sound, until a customer approached me one day and asked me a very puzzling question. “Why are your prices at your second location higher than those in your Bridgetown location? I apologized if there was an error, but I assured her that the prices were the same.

She continued to argue with me and insisted she was correct. To satisfy the customer, I gave her the money to purchase a candle shade and verified the price in the Bridgetown location. She was asked to visit the second location and bring me the receipt.

The customer did as she was asked, and returned with the item and receipt a few days later, Low and behold she was correct; there was a different price on the receipt. I spent a sleepless night trying to solve the puzzle of the receipt.

The following day, I visited the second location without notifying the sales manager of my intended visit., picked up the waste paper basket and the receipt book and left without an explanation.; I thought if there was any cheating the answer had to be in the waste paper basket.

About five minutes before closing time I received a telephone call from the nervous sounding manager-“I guess I am fired, but I was not stealing from you” I did not respond to the firing but informed her that I will see her on the weekend

What my very clever sales manager was doing, was, taking my prices off the products and when a customer bought an item, she would insert a piece of light card under original receipt and write the receipt for her price. After the customer leave the premises she would tear an original receipt from her own receipt book, place it over the carbon paper and write my receipt for the correct price, I will see that my receipt was a duplicate for the correct price.she would pocket the balance.

During the interviewing process, I would always inform the successful applicant that there was a zero tolerance for theft of any kind; I did not have to terminate her employment, she did not show up for work the next day or any day after.

Naturally I took all the past receipt books and inspected them carefully to see how much cheating she had done. I t was obvious that it was a daily routine. When you hold the duplicate receipts up to the light, you can see the imprint of the two different prices.

It would appear that cheating was a regular occupational hazard, The Bridgetown location did not escape.

Soon Come.

Accidents

I am a sculptor and a full time ceramic artist for the past 50 years, and have my scars to prove it. my Doctor friend is always warning me that the more experience the craftsman, the more likely he or she is to make mistakes.

This article was prompted by two recent incidents, a personal experience and a discussion this morning with a skilled and experienced carpenter.

Tools and equipment in this modern day has become more powerful, efficient, time saving and dangerous. Gone are the days of the mallet and chisel for the wood carver; There are now many powerful electric tools on the market and they are getting better and more dangerous.

My most recent experience was with a carving tool powered by a high speed angle grinder, which slid off the wood and nicked the top of my big thumb; the accident could have been worse, but the treatment from my wife was enough to avoid a visit to a doctor or hospital.

Don’t work with dangerous tools when you are tired.

I was working every day for 6 hours a day without a break, on this day I was felling tired and did remark to the wife that I was feeling tired and should take a day off; But I did not listen to my body and went into the studio and was carving with a dangerous high-speed tool which nicked the thumb after two earlier warnings, two slight nicks on the leg.

On a previous occasion; I had just returned to working in the studio after a stroke, My doctor warned me about using my tools so early in recovery; but I did go back to work, and would normally stop when my right hand got tired and weak. On one particular day I ignored the signs until the spinning grinder fell out of my tired and weak hand and caused 11 stitches on the inside of my leg, missing you know what by two inches.

The moral of the story is, do not use dangerous electrical tools when you are feeling tired.,

My friend was driving me to a building site when I noticed the top of his left thumb was missing. Incidentally it was my left thumb also that was nicked.

His story is he was working on a roof sawing wood with an electrical circular saw, when he heard an unusual revving noise, then felt a slight nick and heard the screaming of his fellow workmen before he collapsed. Someone had to disconnect the saw from the electrical power as the saw was still spinning.

The confession then followed, he was out drinking the night before and his fellow workmen warned him about working on the roof with such a dangerous piece of equipment.

I then related a story of a friend I had to rush to the hospital, when the nearly cut his wrist when using the band say while under the influence of alcohol.


Do not use dangerous tools when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Loose clothing

Over 20 years I was using a high speed angle grinder while wearing a shirt, which was hanging outside of my trousers; The spinning grinder got caught in my shirt and continued spinning. I had to try to stop the spinning by holding the grinder close to my stomach while there was still cloth for protection; Unfortunately I t was a grinder with an off and on switch and my assistant had to rush and disconnect the grinder from the electrical power,

The scar is still there today, luckily I did not require stitches or medical attention.

Do not wear loose clothing when using high speed electrical tools

For More protection, wear ear muffs for noise, goggles for dust and eye protection; gloves if possible and any up to date protection devices or apparel available.

Finally, do not encourage uninvited or invited guests to your work space when using dangerous tools, lock your door if possible. Nothing worse than a surprise visitor when you are using a band saw or circular saw.

Practice safety and exercise caution in the work space. Use safety guards as much as possible; I know from experience they can sometimes interfere with the creative process.


sunburst-wood carving

Expansion

The decision was made, the rent was reasonable, as the owner saw the gallery/gift shop as an additional attraction for the hotel.

The hotel was a small and expensive with limited rooms; but what sealed the decision was the fact that the beach near the hotel was a popular excursion location for locals; who also visited the hotel for their Sunday brunch and a day out with friends and family. Secondly the hotel had a history, plus the view from the restaurant was spectacular with violent white foamy waves lashing against the rocks; the area for swimming was very limited but with dangerous undercurrents.

There were warnings on the beach and a life guard was always on duty, there were some drownings of locals and unsuspecting tourists, who did not heed the warnings; The temptation for surfers offered an exciting challenge.

Advertising

My choice of advertising was through the Taxi drivers, at that early stage in the life of the gallery, locals did not feature heavily in the sales; but that changed at an unfortunate time for me, and that is when I was moving to Anguilla after 18 years in operation.

The taxi drivers were given fliers and offered a 10 percent commission on any sales generated as a result of they bringing tourists to the gallery/gift shop. A large percentage of tourists visiting the Island would take a round the island tour by taxi, The hotel was one of the most popular stops on the island tour; so it made sense to engage the Taxi drivers. The scheme turned out to be very successful, for both the business and the taxi drivers.

The challenge was adequately stocking two locations and continuing the displays at the west coast hotels. New craft suppliers were sought; which meant one day a week had to be earmarked for collection and purchases.

I had my first unfortunate experience with one of my consigned artists, which was the beginning of a challenge of how to manage your relationships with artists, who on a whole can exhibit very selfish tendencies.

A customer admired a painting that was hanging in the gallery, but wanted a discount. He was informed that I would have to consult the artist, which was done and a discount was offered. The customer was not satisfied with the discount, and approached the artist, without my knowledge; apparently he inquired of the artist what was the gallery commission and offered the artist a slightly better price, if he would take the painting from the gallery and sell it to him personally.

A few days after I informed the customer what was the best discount the artist had offered; the artist came to the gallery and asked if he could borrow the painting for a few days, and he will return it,

The artist did come back, but with a different painting; what he did not know was that the customer came back to the gallery and remarked ” I told you I can get it for a better price”

My comment to the artist was to bring back the painting he took away; if he couldn’t he will have to take the other three paintings on the wall and don’t ever come back. That was the end of the gallery relationship with that artist.

Staffing

Only one sales manager was needed, the space was small and manageable; The successful applicant was informed that I might only be able to visit the location on Sundays, which was a busy day at the hotel; we closed on Mondays.

The operation was going well, sales were satisfactory and I was full of praise for the young lady; until a customer came to see me at the Bridgetown location, and asked a very pertinent question-“why are your prices higher at your second location”

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Soon come—