Hi, folks... I'm just starting to look into wholesaling my work, and there's not much activity in this part of the site.  Anybody have any new information/shows/reviews/advice on wholesaling your work?  Thanks!

Carol B

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  • Hi Carol, I managed several major wholesale craft shows during my career.  Expect to spend $5-6,000 to do a trade show, which would include hotel, meals, booth fee, etc.  Make sure you have an advertising budget.  Pick a show that caters to handmade objects -American Craft Council in Baltimore, ACRE Philadelphia.  Gift Shows can also be viable if your price point is competitive, but you will be mixed in with importers.  2 Gift shows to research are Handmade at New York Now or the handmade section in Atlanta.  Keep in mind there are buying seasons.  Winter shows are for spring/summer goods.  Summer shows for fall/winter goods.  Learn how to set up your display in a union facility.  There are specific things you may not do.  Like using a step ladder with more than 3 steps, connecting your own lighting.  You may have to hire a union person to do it for you which means $$$$.  Know the rules before applying and consider all the costs. Look for a trade show that has emerging artist booths as the space cost will be less, but your travel costs will be the same no matter what size booth you buy.  Good luck!

  • Hi, Carol B. I just looked at your website for a longer period than I do most and must say you come across as an open book. So many of us have difficulty integrating personality and charm through our websites, and you've done it very well. Dabbling at RISD might be one reason your website design is so striking, but then again maybe that's something you delivered to them when you walked into their classes.

    I was immediately drawn to the hedgehog since my wife and I are immersed in an Alice in Wonderland series. Then the first artwork I selected after playing with the price-range-toggler on your site features the poem by John Gould Fletcher. Now I didn't go there with Fletch on the brain, and probably not even with him in my subconscious. I can't even remember the last time I thought about or read JGF. But I'm originally from Little Rock, AR and the JGF branch library was a few blocks from my home. So Hail to JGF.

    Regarding wholesaling, I've never done it big scale. I've had the good fortune to stock store shelves a few dozen times, several of which resulted in excellent sales. The best successes were in museum shops during the months of our solo museum shows and in one store near our home/studio wherein the proprietor really did well by us.

    We've entertained the idea of showing in the Denver Merchandise Mart during one or more of the wholesale market shows there. One show is geared to shops at resort destinations and another is for city street stores. There's the gift market and others as well. The reason we haven't pursued it further is because we haven't developed a true product line with a lower price point. We've stayed in fine art mostly. But we've sussed the market trade shows in Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago as well.

    Wholesaling might mean mass-producing things, and we've really never mass-produced anything. I make all our reproductions and shrinkwrap or frame them, too. And I design and make all of our frames from board lumber, some of which I carve and gild with karat gold leaf. I don't usually frame repros since originals are more important to do, plus I might repeat an idea or style, but the art is never a standard size and usually doesn't fit a theme that warrants similar framing.

    There's a wholesale opportunity for our new series. But we will most likely get bored with that mundane idea if we try to do too many. It would be a labor of love, mind you, but we've got more art in us and will want to move on to a different art making project rather than mass-producing something.

    Good luck with wholesaling. And keep up the great art. WOOHOO!

    Warm regards,

    Barrie Lynn Bryant

    • Hi Carol,

      Could you be more specific? How do you currently sell your work? Are you looking for galleries, gift shops, museum shops? 

      I have wholesaled to all of those, usually one or two shops going at a time. 

      You can get started without doing a wholesale show. Most of my contacts have come from newer shops/galleries contacting me by attending an art show, seeing my work in my booth.

      • I mostly sell through art shows but I have a couple of lines of work that would I'd be able to produce in quantity and would be perfect for museum shops and gift shops, but I'm not sure how to approach them other than by walking in.

        The booth fees at wholesale shows are truly scary... my work is highly detailed and requires a close-up look, so I'm afraid of laying out over a thousand dollars and not getting orders... are there strategies or smaller shows that folks can suggest where attendees aren't so overwhelmed by so many booths that they can't slow down to look closely?


        • I have been more successful guerrilla marketing. That's approaching one shop or customer at a time. Just walk in and git er done. Or call and make an appointment to show something. Or send a note and a sample, and in that mention you are going to call later this week. Then work to set up an appointment. Get the appointment and show up on time. Don't try too many ideas at once. One marketing step leads to the next step and so forth. Don't project into the future in other words. Good luck.

          • Thanks!  I live in the middle of nowhere... or at least on the outskirts of nowhere, so it seemed like wholesale shows would give me better exposure, but perhaps I should start smaller.

            • I live in the middle of the Wyoming open range. Population 92 here. And I'm a long way from everything metropolitan since I'm 130 miles northwest of Casper and 8 hours from both Denver and Salt Lake City.

              I've not much time tonight, but I'll come back when I can and relate a recent good wholesaling experience.

              One thing I want to add tonight is that the people you sell to will want to know you're in it for the long haul and that you won't run out on them. You're not a fly by night kinda seller. Here today, gone tomorrow. I learned this from a very successful friend who is now a GM of an international company.

              Judy mentioned calling them in 3 months. That's what I'm talking about. Stay in touch.

              Once you make a connection and a sale, you go back home and read about the process over and over again so you can improve. MORE LATER.

            •  I suggest finding 3 shops that you think would be able to sell your work, contact them and make an appt. When you go, take what you think would sell in their shop, and arrange in a rounded out grouping so that they can see a range of your work that fits nicely together. 

              Shops will purchase a group, even with a few more expensive items to make a nice display; it is all about you helping them to sell your items. Don't back off from a small first order. I have always sold 60-40 (60 for me) rather than 50-50. No problem with that. I have had small orders from some shops tun into regular small order to where I have had a nice stack of receipts from them. Some will want to pay within 30 days, that is up to you, but I have never been stung.

              If you work with larger places such as museums shops, you will go by their guidelines although I have still done the 60-40. 

              I worked with one large place where I had to ship UPS freight, and follow the museum paperwork.

              When you ship, they should pay for the shipping.

              It is good to leave info about yourself and your work so that any help in the store can learn about you and your work to be able to better sell.

              After you receive an order, call back in about 3 months to find out if they need to reorder. Also,some places purchase at only certain times of the year.

              Anything else, ask. 

              Best wishes.

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