Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Does anyone have experience and knowledge of getting involved in the online and wholesale markets??
If so...what companies do you use for finding wholesale buyers?
I have thought about wholesaling for a while but really have no experience in these markets. Now, with so many shows being cancelled, it sure seems like a GREAT time to start.
I have pieces in several galleries and paying gallery commissions could equate to wholesale pricing?
What are your thoughts, experiences and suggestions?
I consigned and sold equine leather goods (tack) to local saddle shops when I lived in AZ, NV and CO from 1970-1990. I consigned at 20% and wholesale at 30%. I was able to supplement their inventory with higher quality and more diverse products. An aggressive, but most rewarding dealer in CO marked my stuff up 100% over wholesale. This made her pricing high than mine and I reciprocated so as to not undercut her as we had some of the same clients. I usually had 2-3 shops supplied but kept them about 30-60 minutes apart, thus serving different client bases. For awhile, I had sales reps placing saddles on consignment in western CO, WY, VA, and SD. I had to sue two dealers, collected on one, got judgment on second and chased her to the grave but with no $$$$. I got out of all of it when I started doing arts shows. My best dealer also decided she wanted a line of cheaper manufactured saddles and tack, and their minimum start up purchase was $10K so my sales to her tanked. I t can produce income but it was time consuming to inventory shops every 30 days. Otherwise, dealers would "forget" to pay you for items sold. Almost forgot, my neighbor had a roping arena and bar out near the Tohono O'odam (old Papago) Rez. west of Tucson. I placed a bunch of stuff ropers used there, but when I got it back it really smelled of cig smoke and had nicotine spots all over it. Booze and roping don't mix and old Fred had a thumb taken off dallying (wrapping rope around saddle horn with steer on other end). They found it and put it back on. He was a welder too and said it hurt like the devil if he hit the pin going thru his thumb while working. That's Dick's yarn for the day.
Basically, wholesaling is just two things-
1. Finding and getting accounts with places that will partner with you to sell your work.
2. Keeping up your end by having good bus procedure and being an asset to the shop ( your partner.)
I have done wholesaling, always along with selling at shows, and the wholesaling has always been way on the back burner.
I have never had any trouble with #1. Most places have approached me, primarily at art shows.
#2 has been more work as far as follow up. There is a lot that an artist can do to work along with a shop/gallery to keep a good selling relationship.
If there is something specific you would like more info, please say. Otherwise I could write way more than someone may want to read (smile).
Thank you for the input Richard and Judy..!
The places I have my work in have been consistent and reliable. Two are Guild galleries, one is an artist co-op and one is a local shop. Never any problem getting paid and all are staffed with awesome people.
I do want to expand in addition to these locations. Upon searching online I have just earlier seen sites such as American Wholesale crafts and American Handmade Crafts. I am not familiar with these and wonder if anyone has any experience dealing with them.???
Like everyone else, I was very much looking forward to doing the upcoming shows that have been cancelled. This is such an eye-opener as to how one thing can affect so much of our lives in so many different ways
Well then, you are off to a good start. If you have a website or etsy shop you may be able to get accounts through that. Just put up a little info welcoming inquiries and the right keywords for a search. I have had some wholesale orders through my etsy shop without making any attempt to get business.
Also, you can research your own geographical area as to where you could hand deliver. Prepare your website for visits, then email potential customers.
Look for more than just galleries. Gift shops within larger organizations, such as museums, are a good possibility. I have sold to gift shops like that. The paperwork and protocol are different, and it can be more difficult because you must deal with different people and departments. Setup for shipping/delivery can be different, too, and most expect you to go along with their procedures.
I do wholesale quite extensively but my designs are on apparel and not fine art. Hopefully I can provide some helpful information anyway.
"what companies do you use for finding wholesale buyers?": for fine art, i would say there really arent any unless you'd consider artist agents. in commercial products, we call them 'mfr. reps'. just another step that would take a bite out of your profits. retail/ gallery owners want to find their own artists anyway, that's part of the reward of having a retail location.
so how do you find retail locations to buy your art? marketing. get your art in front of as many people as you can. i would highly recommend social media. the best one for the last few years is instagram for 2D images. i would include pinterest. obviously facebook, reddit and etsy too. i exhibit at trade shows to attract retail buyers for my products. but that's always a $5-7K investment per show. trade shows are attracting less buyers recently because buyers can find products online now on those social media platforms.
'are gallery commissions equivalent to wholesale pricing?' no. if someone buys your art outright, they are looking to at least double their money now that they are financially invested. and hopefully they are buying multiple pieces. with commission, the gallery has less $ risk so their percentage should be less on the sale. in commercial side, i try to x2 or x3 to get to wholesale.... x5 to retail. so my suggestion would be, try to determine what your 'cost' for each piece is. that way, you can figure proper wholesale and retail prices. ex. my time is worth $50/hr. if it takes me 2 hrs to complete a painting and cost for supplies is $30. so my cost on that piece is $130. i would retail that for $260-$300... retails for $500-600. i recently sold 2 paintings and i used that approximate formula.
my last suggestion for this question, 'would you offer wholesale to an end user buying multiple pieces and how do you find those buyers?'. my answer would be yes and i would market to local hotels, restaurants, office buildings, doctors offices as that would be my best chance to sell multiple pieces. i would work closely with interior designers that have affluent customers. so the challenge would be using all the marketing tools mentioned above to find those buyers. good luck!
you may want to look at IndieMe.com. I was the VP there when it was still called Wholesalecrafts.com back in the early 2000's. You will pay a fee plus it is helpful if you buy their advertising packages to be seen. I don't know the pricing any longer. The Buyer's Guide was always a worthwhile investment.
Remember that many of the galleries and shops (if you're looking to wholesale through smaller places for fine art and craft and not, like, commercial stuff) right now are probably going to be closed and/or uncertain of their future. Not sure about ones who are opening up online, but they might not be looking for more inventory right now.
We split our business between wholesaling with galleries (no consignment) and doing shows and we had two large orders already in the works when all this hit. Both galleries are closed right now. They both plan on reopening and one assured us that no matter what they'll take the order. The other is asking us to wait at least a month before they'll know what to do, and a few of our other long time galleries are holding off on orders entirely until they figure out how it's going to pan out for them.
You can try indieme.com like Mary said. We used it for quite a few years. Buyers for galleries and shops do look on there (it's only for owners, there's no public buying like etsy). For us, there was too much advertising needed to get in front of the buyer, and our product line was fairly set and we weren't constantly adding new things, so we bailed, but we did get a few accounts out of it.