Stuart Wilensky of Wilensky Fine Minerals (www.wilenskyminerals.com) recently spoke with The Curator's Eye (www.curatorseye.com) about the history of his gallery and his advanced marketing philosophy.
A Lifetime of Selling Art & Antiques Leads to A Career Selling Rare Mineral Specimens
Stuart grew up in a family of art and antiques dealers, traveling around the world, visiting museums and studying every period of art from Ancient to 20th-century. This cultured upbringing gave him the initial desire to follow in his family's footsteps. But after studying and selling art and antiques for much of his young life, Stuart was drawn to the natural beauty of rare mineral specimens, and what started as a passionate hobby quickly became the focus of his career. “If I am being truly honest with myself, [my business] was simply a way to fund my own mineral collecting habit. To continue collecting I had to find a way increase my purchasing ability and, as is common among collectors, you sell what you know.”
Wilensky Fine Minerals Continues To Leverage Traditional Marketing Means – A Gallery Space, Print Advertising, And Shows
After its founding by Stuart and his wife, Wilensky Fine Minerals operated out of a small gallery for the first its first ten years. After which the gallery moved away from its storefront. Now in 2015, after two decades without a traditional gallery space, Stuart and his eldest son, Troy, decided to join a multi-dealer mineral gallery, Terra Luminarium Gallery of Fine Minerals in Beacon, NY (www.terraluminarium.com) which operates as an appointment-only space. Wilensky Fine Minerals currently relies on a multitude of marketing efforts to help find new clients and sales, including advertising in all the major mineral magazines.“We also exhibit at three large mineral shows per year: Tucson, Denver, and Springfield, Massachusetts,” Stuart notes. “At these shows I spend time with clients privately as well as interact with new potential collectors. I enjoy meeting with enthusiastic collectors and there is nothing I'd rather do then spend time talking about minerals with mineral lovers.”
A Pioneer In Modern Marketing – From VHS Tapes 20 Years Ago to Pay-Per-Click, and More Today
After ten years of operating out of a gallery, Stuart came up with an extremely novel way to reach more collectors. “I came up with the idea of doing video catalogs and direct mailing them to collectors all over the world,” he explains. “These were VHS tapes, which is hard to believe! It was an overnight success. Collectors enjoyed the video presentation and sales were very strong.”
Quite understandably, Wilensky Fine Minerals was ahead of the curve when the Internet began to catch on. Stuart was quick to put up a sales website, “This was a natural transition for me as I had already had success and experience selling minerals through visual media,” he explains. But now Stuart does not passively rely on collectors finding his website through Internet searches. He also actively drives collector traffic back to his website by advertising on several mineral websites and utilizing Google Adwords.
The Challenge Of Finding World-Class Collectors Guided Him To The Curator's Eye
Stuart notes, “I am advertising on the Curator's Eye to promote interest in collecting minerals outside of the already-established sphere which we all know. Simply, having our minerals on the same site as so many other forms of art and antiques places them in the grand pantheon of all things we consider art. Finding world-class collectors is one of his gallery's greatest challenges. “I have been in business a very long time, and my experience has shown that often from your initial contact with a potential client to the day you actually make a sale can be a year or more.” And making a connection through the Internet follows the same “slow but sure” path as meeting clients through traditional means. High-end mineral and art sales require time for the relationship between gallery and client to develop, whereas an e-commerce model does not afford that opportunity.
Because Stuart's business philosophy is to make high-end sales on an individual basis, rather than sell in bulk at the low end, his gallery approaches online technologies from a different angle. “ …(M)y goal is to attract new collectors who will stick with me for decades...I see my job as helping them build world-class collections.”
The Curator's Eye Expands Wilensky Fine Minerals' Reach Across the Globe
Mineral collectors are spread out around the globe. This makes it difficult for a gallery or dealer to connect with potential clients. To meet this challenge, dealers have traditionally relied on shows, but this can be an expensive and time-consuming avenue for galleries, especially if they travel to attend a large number. For many, the more time-efficient and cost-effective answer has been the internet.
Stuart has supplemented his own online advertising efforts by leveraging The Curator's Eye's marketing platform, which gives individual pieces of his inventory massive Internet exposure. He explains, “The Curator's Eye has exposed us to a much larger audience and to many collectors who never before considered owning mineral specimens. I have made contact with several interested individuals, and I believe they have great potential to become serious collectors.”
The Curator's Eye Introduces Collectors To Stuart In A Way That Simple E-commerce Approaches Do Not.
At the high-end, developing and deepening relationships with clients is critical. “I have helped build several of the world’s greatest mineral collections and that is truly the most satisfying part of my career,” Stuart says. He values the way the Curator's Eye acts almost as an introduction agency, putting him in touch with interested potential clients whom he can then nurture and educate. “My role is as much adviser as supplier. I sell high value collectibles and most collectors take their time before making the leap into buying. I even suggest to them they do research and learn before buying the first piece.”
But an introduction is not a relationship and relationships are where the best opportunities lie. Stuart also discusses how he nurtures those budding contacts into longer-term relationships. “I keep in touch with my regular clients by emailing them photos, information and even just ongoing conversations. I also use it to introduce new or potential clients to mineral collecting and what I can do for them. Having the ability to exchange photos, videos and ideas instantly has greatly increased my ability to grow my business and to enhance my clients experience.” Traditional e-commerce and auction-based models simply cannot provide the same opportunity to create the kind of trust that sets a long-term relationship in motion. It is unique to The Curator’s Eye and one of the aspects Stuart values the most.
Wilensky Fine Minerals has been selling rare mineral specimens for thirty years, their goal is one of consistent quality and beautiful aesthetics. They buy, sell and collect only those mineral specimens which they would like to have in their own collection. They have always valued the artistic aspect of minerals, but also believe that with depth of knowledge collectors can appreciate a piece for its rarity, locality or crystal size. For More information please visit www.wilenskyminerals.com.
The Curator’s Eye offers specialized, targeted online advertising and marketing services that help private dealers compete in a global art market. To view exceptional items for the distinguished private collector available from the top dealers across the globe, visit www.CuratorsEye.com.