Working With Home Shopping Networks And Big Box Companies




By: Marcella Hayes Muhammad / Artist

You know, a recent conversation brought to mind an experience that I had a while ago. It can be amazing the things one experiences in life and the many adventures I have had. Here is one that made me laugh. You know, one of those…one day we’ll look back on this and laugh? At the time, it wasn’t funny.

Back in 1996, my partner and I had the brilliant idea to provide T-shirts, cards and prints for a large home shopping network. We would reach so many more people and make our business successful. This was so exciting and we were so jazzed! We actually reached the purchaser for this company and made negotiations about the pricing and got a load of information about their expectations on quality of product and got a contract to look over. The last thing the purchase manager asked was, “Do you have a nice sized docking bay for an 18 wheeler to pick up the merchandise?”

UHHHHHHH, WHAT? We are working from my basement…in a cull de sac… with no warehousing room for mass product. It was then that we really understood the numbers that they were expecting to sell and they wanted a guarantee that all of the products would be readily available, not to mention the fact that they may change their mind and not do this deal after all, depending on the market. (Today I’m laughing!)

So… we are supposed to invest our money into huge amounts of product to make the numbers, pay to warehouse the products, with the possibility that they don’t go through with the deal? OK, the risk is too great and we are not ready for the big time yet! Back to the drawing board!!!

After reaching out and talking with many other artists and designers, (which we should have done first) we discovered that this was a regular thing with shopping TV companies not to mention Big Box stores. We talked with several artists and designers that were left with a garage full of inventory, money tied up, and were faced with having to market themselves. A real nightmare!

I like to think that I am a quick study and can take advice very well. That’s one thing my mother always said…”Advice is something you can always take but you don’t necessarily have to use it.” In this case…I’ll use it and personally avoid this kind of business.

So now when I have a person ask me, “Why don’t you sell to those home shopping networks and big box stores and make a lot of money?” I just smile and say… been there, dodged that bullet…too much trouble.



Marcella is a visual artist that made a leap of faith in 1995 and took an early retirement from a successful elementary teaching career of 27 years. She and her husband moved from California to the Atlanta area to continue as a full time artist. She has a formal education in the arts, and has been a creative visual artist for over 40 years.

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