Although we were stationed in a declining Mall with not the ideal demographics for art sales, I took up the challenge because I really wanted to learn how retail galleries work, and I had a genuine interest in helping other artists. Overall, I've accomplished my goal and the project neither exceeded or fell short of my expectations.
The positive is that I have advanced my art career somewhat through CIAC membership and the negative is all the work that was invested into it, and was not worth it financially speaking.
The other positive for me is that I have learned what artists go through and how they work with galleries. Artists are generally excited when they think you'll successfully sell their product, but they cool down considerably and rapidly when you don't sell their items.
One disappointment that I have experienced is that general consumer is really not that knowledgeable about art and the art doesn't have to be exceptional to sell. This explains why artists have to compete with all kinds of manufactured decor: the consumer doesn't care who/how was the item made. The entire concept of supporting local is a ridiculous utopistic idea supported by a few.
As somebody who worked really hard to advance the artistic community I have also learned that there is no teamwork possible with artists. A typical artist wants to leave their stuff and you pretty much never hear back unless you have a check. Artists not picking up and exchanging their artwork is a really big problem for a gallery owner. Some artists do make a faint attempt at promoting the venue where they are exhibiting but the thinking is this: you take the commission, you do the promoting!
In all reality no business can succeed if artists receives a lion share of each sale. The volume of sales would have to be so big in order for a gallery to survive, or the items must be exceptionally selected and priced very high. This is a primary reason why original artworks belong to the world of elite who have some fine art exposure and means to pay for it. This will continue to be the case. CIAC gallery was a naive idea that was just so self-indulgent for me because I love art, and the gallery was my baby.
The things are now much more clear: I understand better all the people and friends who came through the gallery buying nothing from me; I understand why art is generally not a good business; and lastly, I understand why art shows are the most prevalent and most successful method for artists to sell their works.
I would like to develop another store in the future, but it would have to be different.
Unfortunately, I fully understand all the retailers who once had original art but have fully transition to buying and reselling posters and fake paintings manufactured in Asian factories.