Arts Business Institute The State of Wholesale Crafts

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Original Post

This morning I posted an article on the Arts Business Institute blog called

The State of Wholesale Crafts: A Show Director Speaks

This interview, with Rebecca Mercado of the Buyers Market of American Craft, and NICHE: The Show, gives a good overview of the industry today, and what exhibitors need to know about the gallery buyers who attend.

Is wholesaling something you have thought about?
Would you apply to a trade show?
What's the greatest attraction of wholesale for you?
What's your biggest concern?

Posted at 10:34 am Apr 16, 2012 EDT


My biggest concern, as I work to seriously expand on my wholesale business is product availability. I originally built my shop on having many unique stones that aren't readily seen all over the jewelry market. The upside of that is that it means there are times I have products that not a lot of other people have, which gets me noticed. The downside is, it means I don't always have the ability to make large quantities of said pieces, because I only get limited amounts of certain stones.

So, I am finding that I am actually having to work on designing an actual "wholesale collection" of pieces that would be far easier to reproduce, but still have that uniqueness to them in terms of stones used and overall design.

Some of my shop pieces will be right for wholesaling and some won't. But now, as I design collections, I have to think about pieces in those terms, and make sure I have some that are easier to produce in quantity.

Posted at 11:58 am Apr 16, 2012 EDT

I think my biggest concern is being able to keep up with demand and offer a product that is reasonably priced. My work is all hand painted, by me. The amount of time it takes for me to complete a single piece can be up three- four hours. Not only does that mean that I can only churn out a couple items a day, but it also means that what I do has to be somewhat substantial in price, in order to support myself off of it. Most people aren't willing to pay $15-20/hour as reflected in the price of a hand painted flower pot or wooden plate.

Posted at 6:08 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

I haven't given this topic much thought, however today I was talking with the purchaser of jewelry for the Tudor Guild gift shop, a part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She really liked my jewelry, and would love to have my rings and bracelets in there gift shop. Now I am faced with figuring out if I can set a wholesale price on my stuff. My concern would be the added pressure of a time constraint on my creativity, and working for peanuts!! Carolyn, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. A part of me is excited, but I don't see this as a possibility, HELP!!


Posted at 9:26 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

John, you should never work for peanuts - you should be pricing for profit
Overhead + Materials +Labor+Profit= Wholesale price. Notice the profit in there. It is in addition to what you have chosen to pay yourself for the time involved in each piece. Once you create a system to make items efficiently it should go more smoothly.

There really isn't anything to stress over with wholesale if you know your costs and profit margin. Wholesale is actually incredibly freeing and brings a great amount of stability to your business. Just think - when you retail (on Etsy for instance) you are spending time and money to make everything up front, hold inventory and hope to sell your items.

Wholesale gives you the order before you start the work - it is sold. Charge their credit card at the time of shipping, and you are paid. Not bad, right??

Posted at 10:00 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

Thanks Carolyn! I see your point. Well... I have some homework to do!! Just not sure how this will pan-out.


Posted at 10:25 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

I fully intend on moving towards the wholesale market and was wondering how much benefit I'd get out of a dedicated website for my business. Reason I'm asking is because I contacted a web design boutique and got a quote on branding, logo design and creating a web site. The cost is fairly substantial, but if it's going to help me break into retail and wholesale then it's worth the investment.

Carolyn, do you think this would be a good move?

Posted at 10:48 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

By the way, I read the article and was very encouraged by the year over year growth and the optimism of the sellers.

Posted at 10:50 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

Dedicated website for your business - I think yes. You do not have to spend a ton of money. There are many options.

Posted at 11:13 pm Apr 17, 2012 EDT

Carolyn Edlund says
Edited on Apr 18, 2012

Here is the follow-up article on wholesale which just posted to the ABI blog:

What Makes Wholesale Buyers Tick

Posted at 8:15 am Apr 18, 2012 EDT

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