Have you thought about selling your art or craft in the wholesale marketplace but you’re not quite sure if it’s for you? Read on.
Selling your work in the wholesale market gives you more bang for your buck. That’s because it is very efficient as a business model.
Consider this scenario: When you design something new to sell at retail shows, you make a few (or a lot) of them, hoping that they sell. If you sell them all? Then you may be missing out on sales because you ran out of stock. If you sell none? Well, maybe your design wasn’t quite what your customers wanted. And you are stuck with the inventory, which took time, energy and money to create.
If you are wholesaling that same design, you only need to create one as a sample. Take that to market at a trade show and sell it over and over, never missing a sale since the merchandise doesn’t leave your booth. If it does not sell, you have created only one. That means less time, energy and money wasted.
Wholesaling can be a beautiful thing on Monday mornings, when you wake up refreshed because you haven’t been driving home from a weekend show the night before. But, since you have taken wholesale orders from regular customers, you start off each week with orders to fill. This means those items are sold before they are even created. And that means that you can make only what you need to make to ship those orders, which is also more efficient.
When you sell wholesale, you have a production schedule that spaces out the work so you don’t get overwhelmed. And you have receivables which create income on a regular basis, evening out those months that may be slow at retail.
Wholesaling works because it is based on repeat business. This is the engine that builds your business, and that leverages your time. As your work sells in stores, it’s imperative that you stay in touch with customers, to get feedback, take reorders, and resolve issues. But all of this is a whole lot easier than gaining new customers all the time.
As you build a mature studio business selling in the wholesale marketplace, your repeat customers are a big part of it’s value. So if your exit strategy for your business is to sell it, the account base you have nurtured over the years and still maintain are one of the biggest assets you have to offer. That makes the selling price higher than a business that sells strictly retail.
Wholesaling works because those receivables you have count with your banker, making it easier to get a business loan. And if you really want to grow, hire employees for your studio business, which can make it even more efficient.
Wholesaling works well when combined with retailing at shows. It can help you stay off the road all the time, and avoid burnout. This combination works for many artists who find that personal contact with retail customers help them stay in touch with what’s popular and selling, but that they also love the benefits of having wholesale customers too.
Is wholesaling right for everyone? Actually, no. If you only make one-of-a-kind artwork, don’t want to make items in multiples or feel constricted by a production environment, you may be better off selling only retail, taking commissions, or doing business in other ways.
But if you are one of those artists considering the plunge into selling wholesale, this method of selling could be just the right approach to help you grow your business into a full-time production studio.