There are immeasurable challenges with the concept and creation of a representative organization that would serve a genuine purpose and function for decorative and fine arts dealers. Dialogue is one thing but a membership with an awareness of its needs has to have leadership and direction. A meaningful organization must have a membership that can coalesce around issues that need to be clear, identifiable, and attainable goals.
Simple to say, but membership in this industry is pretty hard to quantify and standardize. Perhaps a starting point would be to at least have a state issued resale certificate and or a designation as some sort of second hand dealer. I think that a minimum requirement be the active intent to trade the owned or consigned inventory of art, antiques, and collectibles. This might create an issue with so called consultants, but their issues are not as complex and differ substantially to a stocking dealer. Auctions, well, unless they clean up their act, they should be exposed.
Having a membership is one thing but creating an effective representative organization really requires much more, starting with money. Let’s face it, with a K Street government lobbyist you get what you pay for. To be perfectly frank, I have no idea how these successful lobbyists work or what their methods may entail. After reading David Stockman’s book The Great Deformation, I am certain that not having representation will get you nothing. But dealers in my industry have a big problem seeing beyond the survival of their own business. This is not a job or should it be a job of membership. It must have outside professionals guided by a Board.
Did I just say a Board? Who, how, why, what would a Board be charged with? Now we have the real issues of our future. A Board must have a vision and the back of its membership; it also needs the right paid professional to articulate and engage in a plan to improve the public standing of the industry. I wish I had a template as to how you go about creating such an organization, but there are certainly enough successful ones out there to study.
This blog may be an exercise in what ifs, but I know I can’t do it alone, nor should I. I’m running my own business alone, and that’s hard enough (a writing a blog is on overtime). I wish I had the time to divert to the creation of an independent representative industry organization, and be self funded for the benefit of all; what a noble task! But who knows, maybe there are others out there that are like minded, and want to pursue the aspiration. Ideas are cheap however goals should be attainable only with the right effort by those who want them bad enough.