Kelly Shaeffer finds that most people have something to sell, but often they don't want to go through the process of doing it themselves.
That's where her business Kelly's Collectibles and Online Art Gallery comes in. She has spent the last 10 years selling art and collectibles through her business.
“People always have something they want to sell,” she said. “Whether there's a death in the family or the kids don't want their parents items, or people are looking to downsize. I help people move on.”
Shaeffer spent 15 years working as a landscape designer in California when a downturn in the economy forced her to look for another opportunity. She took a class on selling items on eBay, and what first started as a hobby turned into a business as she saw an opportunity to provide a service in what at the time was an emerging area of commerce.
Two years ago she relocated to Whitefish bringing her online consignment business with her. She also works a few days per week at Dick Idol Signature Gallery downtown.
Much of her business focuses on selling artwork — be it paintings or sculptures or photographs or prints — of upcoming artists and established veterans. Montana artists on her site include James Corwin, Lynn Haste, Nicholas Oberling, Robert Krogle and Tom Curry. Work of other notable artists for sale on her site include Howard Terpning, Don Oelze and Earl W. Bascom.
Selling a painting for one of her clients early on made her realize that there was an opportunity to cater to artists looking to sell their work as part of her business.
“Most artists don't market themselves very well,” she said. “They are creators, not business people. Many of them don't like social media or they're tired of going to shows and spending the day talking with people all day rain or shine.”
A more unique client is Pigcasso, a painting pig from the Farm Sanctuary in South Africa. Sales from the paintings and prints by Pigcasso go to benefit the sanctuary.
Shaeffer sees a mix of buyers in the art world while working in the gallery and through her online business.
“Some people still want to see and feel and experience the art in person,” she said. “But there's also an online trend that is still going strong. Many galleries are holding online auctions and art is selling in record amounts.”
She noted that a steady trend in building in Whitefish has also created a market for those looking to purchase art.
“There is a lot of empty walls that need to be filled,” she said. “People are putting a lot of value in owning original art, and really thinking about what they want to put in their house.”
While much of her business focuses on art, Shaeffer also lists many collectibles for sale. She notes that by listing items on eBay, the online marketplace, clients get the greatest visibility because the website has 180 million users.
The most expensive item on her eBay site currently is a $45,000 limited edition large bronze eagle sculpture by Pati Stajcar. The least expensive item is a Johnson Bros. blue creamer teapot listed for $1.95.
One of the most unique items she has sold through her store, was a $4,300 hand-painted Japanese pen, she noted. She's also sold classic cars and once sold a seat from a Spanish fighter jet.
She often works with clients going through their home as they prepare to sell items. Many are happy to let her do the work of photographing the objects, writing up the descriptions and then shipping them when they sell.
“I like helping people — many of my clients are overwhelmed,” she said. “I do the work and send them a check as the item sells and they don't have to think about it.”
“The best part is calling the artist and saying I sold their work,” she adds.