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3 Mistakes Art Galleries Make in Their First Year in Business and How to Avoid Them

Opening the doors to your very own art gallery is an exciting moment. It validates hours of studying, internship after internship and all your networking efforts over the years. Nobody can choose what hangs on the walls of your gallery except you. You’re responsible for hiring a winning staff, putting together a successful inventory and handling the financial intricacies that come with owning your own business.

The first year is a make-or-break time for small businesses, as only about two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years. What can you do? Start by avoiding these three mistakes that could threaten your livelihood and getting business insurance for an art gallery.



Under-training Gallery Staff

Art galleries used to be elite establishments for only the wealthiest of collectors. But that’s simply not the case anymore. As Arts Business Institute writes, “The old definition of an art gallery is gone—most galleries today are very unique and welcoming shopping experiences.”

This means that your gallery staffers should be knowledgeable in the subject matter, but also able to provide a world-class customer service experience to anyone who walks in the door. Taking the time to train every new hire in the technical and interpersonal aspects of the job will take your gallery far; people will be eager to come back for repeat purchases and recommend your gallery to their art-loving friends.

Selling Forgeries

You may have a keen and well-trained eye for art, but can you spot a fake beyond a shadow of a doubt? According to Columbia Law School, worldwide art sales exceed $50 billion, but forgery estimates are as high as 40 percent. Buyers have certainly sued art galleries after finding out their recently acquired art is not an original. It’s also a blow to any gallery’s reputation, which is a precious thing in the art world.

Before accepting a single piece into your fledgling gallery, it’s important to establish provenance (documented history of ownership) that instills peace of mind and confidence in shoppers. One way you can do this is to work with the artist to establish written or visual proof via photograph or video that you can then relay to interested buyers. You can also work with an esteemed third-party expert. Provenance goes a long way in boosting the value of artwork and ensuring that your customers get exactly the merchandise for which they paid.

Operating without Commercial Insurance

An art gallery might seem to be a low-risk environment at first glance. But unforeseen disasters like theft, fire and human-inflicted damage are always looming in the background. Plus, customers may turn around and dispute contracts at a moment’s notice. This could land you in court, jeopardizing your finances and taking attention away from your company’s day-to-day operations. It’s a huge mistake to operate without business insurance for your art gallery, even if it’s just “until you get on your feet.”

Protect your commercial art operation from day one. Compare quotes with CoverHound and find a plan that helps your new gallery thrive in its first year.

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