Do you run a craft business and you want store owners to carry your products? If YES, here is a detailed 5-step guide on how to sell crafts to local stores.
To become a successful artist, you must not overlook your local market. The place you live in can be an unimaginable treasure trove of opportunities for two big reasons; first, you know the area so you won’t be starting from the scratch in terms of networking contacts, and secondly, you will only compete with other local and regional artists and not the tens of thousands of other artists vying for buyers in the online realm.
Why Push your Crafts into Local Stores?
If your crafts business involves creating unique handmade items, or even raw craft materials, you may want to investigate the possibility of selling your products in shops and outlets around your area. To comfortably sell your crafts, you should already have a shop or retail outlet of your own.
Expanding into selling at other shops and outlets can help you increase your customer base and try out selling in other areas without massively increasing your overhead. Again, selling your crafts in other shops can help you sell products without necessarily having your own shop.
If costs are tight in the early days of starting your crafts business, then it may be out of budget to have a shop of your own. Also, it helps to test out the market, see what sells and what doesn’t, and build up a customer base.
In America today, there are many shops, craft centers and other retail outlets that focus on stocking products from a variety of craftspeople, so customers get to see works from a wide variety of people. Some are locally based, showcasing work from crafters in a particular area or region, whereas others are nationally based. The actual process of selling through other shops and outlets can vary.
Sometimes a shop or retailer will ask to have your stock for free, and then take a commission from any sale made. Others may prefer to purchase your items outright and then sell them. Or, they may charge you a small fee for selling your products through their shop.
A Detailed Guide on How to Sell Crafts to Local Stores
If you want to find a shop or outlet to sell your work, then you may need to do some homework. Below is a detailed guide to follow;
- Find Out More About Shops and Outlets Around
The first thing to do is to find out which stores are most likely to accept your offer. Make a list of possible stores and the items they sell. It’s advisable that you first focus on stores that already sell works from other crafters. They already have a system in place for purchasing these types of items, so they are less likely to be confused about how to handle the situation.
Immediately you have a few stores selling your items, you can use them as references when you expand to other stores that do not already sell local crafts. Meanwhile, have it in mind that consignment stores and retail stores are two different concepts.
Go inside the shops as a shopper. Take note of the condition of the store, the products they offer, the pricing, and how their employees respond to you. When you return home, dig around on the internet for more information about the shops you liked. Do they have an online presence? Do they have good buyer reviews?
- Create an Attractive “Resume”
After you must have decided on the stores you want to target first, you then have to create a proposal for each one. It shouldn’t be overly fancy. For instance, at the top of the page, put your business name and tagline. Next, write a brief description of the types of products you make and why you sell them.
Use your research from step one to make the resume tailored to each shop. If you have sold your items in places like craft shows or Etsy, explain how well the items sell. Note that this document needs to be brief and easy to read. Use headings and bullet points.
Business owners are busy. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for them to understand who you are and what you want to do. At the bottom of your document, include a table with 3 columns: 1-7 word description of each item, its wholesale price, and a suggested retail price.
This shows the owner how much money they can make from selling your items. Try not to over inflate your prices. Not only would you look clueless to the owner, but you could hurt your chances of getting more items in the store if your products won’t sell at such high prices.
- Make Samples & Print Awesome Photos of Your Work
If you have sold any of your crafts on Etsy, you already know what a huge difference good photos can make. Make different products and be sure to package them as you would if the store were selling them today. Pick 5-8 samples of your work and take excellent photos.
The purpose of this step is so you don’t bombard the store owner with too much information. If you come into a meeting carrying heaps of handmade crafts, the store owner will immediately feel too overwhelmed to work with you. 5-8 photos, on the other hand, show your work in a way that is manageable to process in a short time.
- Reach Out to The Store Officially
Carefully arrange your sample photos, mini-resume, and business card in a folder. Pick 1-2 physical samples and head to your first shop during business hours. Note that your goal is to look professional, unburdened, and like you will not take up too much time. When you get to the store, ask if the manager or owner is available for a few minutes.
Tell the manager that you would like 10 minutes to discuss selling your crafts in his or her store. Have it in mind that in most scenarios the manager is also the owner of the store, but you may have to give your presentation to both people on separate occasions. Either way, you should act as if the manager has the discretion to approve your products.
If the manager is on your side, he or she will definitely advocate on your behalf to the owner. You may find that the manager is not there. If so, take the opportunity to speak with an employee on how selling local crafts works at that store. Try not to be discouraged if the employee isn’t especially helpful or doesn’t know much. Simply find the time the manager will be there and come back.
- Get Straight to the Point and Be Confident
When you finally meet the manager, thank him or her for their time and then hand them your mini-resume and photos. While they look them over, explain that you have making these items for a long time and they sell well. Convince him/her that you would like to take your business up a level and that you noticed they offer handmade items from local artisans.
Then, ask how you can get involved with that too. Note that you will need to wait patiently while they look at your materials and think about their answer. Hand them your physical samples if they ask. Do not ramble or make pointless chit-chat that distracts them.
It is so easy to get nervous and try to seek some type of feedback about how the situation is going, but you will fare so much better if you act like you have done this a million times. Even if you have no business experience, give the impression that you already know your products will be a positive addition to the store’s inventory. However, you should not be arrogant! Simply be friendly yet professional.
One of two things will happen in the meeting. Let’s start first with the “no” scenario. If the manager or owner says they are not interested or are not taking any more items at this time, use the opportunity to ask for a feedback. This is a sneaky way of negotiating because it means they have to re-evaluate your items.
But if they say yes, then you need to work out payment details. As a newbie, you unfortunately do not have much room to negotiate. You’ve already made the first offer by putting your wholesale price on your mini-resume. They will either offer a consignment percentage or buy a small quantity of items to try out. Listen to their offer. Pause a minute while nodding your head.
Then accept it. Remember, now is not the time for negotiation. As long as their offer gives you some amount of profit, you should accept it graciously. After your items sell, you can slowly raise the price. The most important thing right now is to get your foot in the door.
With that said, you should not sell your crafts at a loss. If their offer is too low, then tell them the minimum price you need to make a profit. But if the owner cannot meet that price then you have to move on to the next store. Thank them again and politely leave.
Try again after you have sold your items to a few other stores. After your first meeting is over, irrespective of the outcome, you have moved yourself further towards your goal. Your next step is to do it all again.
Then, travel to other cities and contact more stores. You are only limited by how much inventory you can make. Some stores will reject your offer and that can be disheartening. But the only way to fail in life is to quit trying. When you get rejected, just adjust your approach and try again.