Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Inventory: You Gotta See It To Believe It

by Jill J. Burns of Early Bird Designs

I struggle with keeping track of my inventory.  I have work in galleries on consignment, pieces that are listed in my etsy shop, and work in the studio reserved for shows throughout the year.  Work is stacked, shifted and moved around, so keeping track of what is available at any given point in time is hard for me to get my head around.

I found that creating a list of everything simply doesn’t work.  Although there are general categories of pieces, bowls, cups, platters, etc; each piece is unique and takes quite a bit of description for me to remember/locate it when the time comes. Some are similar but not exactly. They are handmade after all.

The solution for me is to create a visual inventory.   I group things in general categories and take quick informal pictures. No elaborate set up or lighting, just point and shoot.  For example one photo could be four bowls, with enough visual information that I could distinguish each individual piece.  Although not absolutely necessary I print out the pictures – 2 or 3 per page.  I am old school; I like to flip through pages instead of digital files.  Each sheet has enough space around the photos for me to make notations – if it is out on consignment, Etsy etc.   I cross out a piece when it is sold and note where and when.

Inventory is one of those chores that is easy to procrastinate. I try and do a new inventory in February – a traditional time for retail.  The whole project takes about a day.  I just finished.


  1. That comes with perfect timing! I had a hard time figuring out my inventory for tax purposes and was looking for a good method. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for sharing. It's one of those "so simple I overlooked it" solutions!

  3. I hate doing inventory, but this is such a good system! Plus I'm such a visual person. I will have to try this system out!

  4. Such a great idea! I read this post when you initially wrote it, but I just used this method last weekend. I dropped off a ton of stuff at a new shop and took the photos as I was packing up. I think I'll just put them in folders to organize which pieces are where, but it will be so helpful!


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