Why Choose Wholesaling as a Business Model?

Why do artists choose to wholesale their work? Here are seven reasons why you might want to consider it.


Wholesaling is a sustainable business model. Learn more about it at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org.


Artists who wholesale their handmade work to retailers are entering a marketplace that helps sustain their businesses in the long term. Why?

Wholesaling is efficient. You only need to make one sample of each piece in your collection, and take it to a trade show to meet buyers. Orders are taken from those samples, which do not leave the artist’s possession. If certain styles sell well, great! If others are slow or just don’t make the cut, not a problem. You haven’t stocked an inventory of slow sellers – you only have one of each. Sell those samples off later at retail if you like.

It’s easier to reach your potential. With those samples in your booth being ordered over and over, you don’t “sell out” of any products. If you sell out of an item at a retail show, you will never know what your potential sales could have been, because they’re gone. That doesn’t happen at wholesale.

Work is sold before you make it. This is a huge benefit of wholesaling. You aren’t investing time, money and labor in building an inventory of pieces you hope to sell. Having those orders up front means they are already sold, and cash flow is coming in. You can predict your monthly income with orders that are in-house. And often, you charge the customer’s credit card before you ship, so that payment is made before the product goes out the door.

Repeat business grows your business. Quite often, wholesale accounts remain loyal customers for years. Artists develop good business relationships with their galleries and shops, and receive regular ongoing orders. Each year, they can count on retaining most of their existing accounts and picking up new ones. This increases your sales volume and your income.

Wholesaling helps you stay off the road. Burned out from endless traveling to the next retail fair or festival? Being out of the studio is a cost in and of itself, because you are missing out on time in the studio. If you want to revise your schedule with more time off the road, wholesaling is a great option.

It’s compatible with other methods of selling. Multiple streams of income are appropriate for many artists. Wholesaling can work beautifully in tandem with other methods, such as retailing, taking commissions, or selling online. In fact, having more than one way to sell helps smooth out the “highs and lows” that your income can go through if you are only selling your handmade work through one channel.

You can have a life. Want to schedule vacation time with your family? Want to set regular hours? By taking wholesale orders, and creating a production calendar, you have power over the amount of time you spend in the studio each day, and how much you are obligated to ship each week. This helps you decrease your stress level and maintain more balance in your work and life.


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  1. Great article! What are ways artists can find wholesale opportunities? How does an artist go about finding shops that purchase wholesale? Is there a (free) list of wholesale buyers available to artists? Wholesale shows are extremely expensive and time intensive. How do you choose an online wholesale company – the upfront fee can be quite expensive. What are other wholesale options that can work for artists? Thank you!

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