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7 Steps To Selling Your Handmade Items In Stores | 3 Months 'til Success
Many crafters decide to sell their homemade wares at craft shows, but since there are only a few of those each year, they are not a profitable long term strategy for selling your crafts.
If you want to make real money with your homemade crafts, you need to sell them in a retail store.
That might sound like a difficult task, but it is actually completely possible, even for someone without business experience.
It just takes a little bit of preparation and a whole lot of confidence.
(PS – If you feel you don’t have the confidence just yet, remember, you can always fake it ‘til you make it.)
To help you on your way, we’ve created this list of 7 steps to selling your homemade items in store.
With this guide, you can go from DIY hobbyist to professional artisan in the next three months.
Step 1: Research Local Stores Where You Can Sell Your Crafts
The first step is to figure out which stores are most likely to accept your offer.
That means….it’s time for research!
If you were applying for a job at one of these stores, what would you need to know about them? What kinds of products do they sell? Do they already sell products from local artisans?
Make a list of possible stores and the characteristics of the items they sell. You will need this list in the next step.
In the beginning, you should only focus on stores that already sell work from other crafters. They already have a system in place for purchasing these types of items, so they are less likely be confused about how to handle the situation.
Once you have a few stores selling your items, you can use them as references when you expand to other stores that do not already sell local crafts.
Also, consignment stores and retail stores are two different animals. If you follow the rest of these steps, you will definitely be allowed to sell your crafts in a consignment shop. There aren’t too many of them though, so you will want to reach out to retail stores as well.
Step 2: Create a Mini “Resume” to Look Professional
Once you know which stores you want to target first, you need to create a proposal for each one. It shouldn’t be overly fancy.
At the top of the page, put your business name and tagline. Next, write a brief description of the types of products you make and why you sell them. Use your research from step one to make the mini-resume tailored to each shop. If you have sold your items in other places like craft shows or Etsy, explain how well the items sell.
Once again, your document needs to be brief and easy to read. Use headings and bullet points.
Business owners are busy. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for them to understand who you are and what you want to do.
At the bottom of your document, include a table with 3 columns: 1-7 word description of each item, its wholesale price, and a suggested retail price.
This shows the owner how much money they can make from selling your items. Resist the urge to over inflate your prices. Not only could you look clueless to the owner but you could hurt your chances of getting more items in the store if your products won’t sell at such high prices.
Step 3: Shoot & Print Awesome Photos of Your Work
If you have sold any of your crafts on Etsy, you already know what a huge difference good photos can make.
Pick 5-8 samples of your work and take excellent photos.
If you only want to sell cards, for example, then take pictures of several different kinds of cards – thank you, birthday, father’s day, etc.
But if you want to sell different types of items, take an example photo of each.
The reasoning for this step is that you do not want to bombard the store owner with too much information. If you come into a meeting carrying heaps of handmade crafts, the store owner will immediately feel too overwhelmed to work with you.
5-8 photos, on the other hand, show your work in a way that is manageable to process in a short time. Do still bring 1 physical sample, though.
Step 4: Summon Your Confidence & Head to the Store
Your goal is to look professional, unburdened, and like you will not take up too much time.
When you get to the store, ask if the manager or owner is available for a few minutes. Tell the manager that you would like 10 minutes to discuss selling your crafts in his or her store.
Sometimes the manager is also the owner of the store, but you might have to give your presentation to both people on separate occasions. Either way, you should act as if the manager has the discretion to approve your products. If the manager is on your side, he or she will definitely advocate on your behalf to the owner.
You may find that the manager is not there. If so, take the opportunity to speak with an employee about how the process of selling local crafts works at that store.
Do not be discouraged if the employee isn’t especially helpful or doesn’t know much. Simply get a time that the manager will be there and come back another time during the same week.
Step 5: During Your Meeting, Get Straight to the Point
Say that you would like to take your business up a level and that you noticed they offer handmade items from local artisans. Then, ask how you can get involved with that too.
Finally, you need to wait patiently while they look at your materials and think about their answer. Hand them your physical samples if they ask.
Do not ramble or make pointless chit-chat that distracts them. It is so easy to get nervous and try to seek some type of feedback about how the situation is going, but you will fare so much better if you act like you have done this a million times.
Even if you have no business experience, give off the impression that you already know your products will be a positive addition to the store’s inventory.
However, you should not be arrogant! Simply be friendly yet professional.
Step 6: Most Important: How to Handle the Meeting
If the manager or owner says they are not interested or are not taking any more items at this time, use the opportunity to ask for feedback. This is a sneaky way of negotiating because it means they have to re-evaluate your items.
Say something like, “Well that is unfortunate, but I’m thankful for your time. By the way, do you mind to give me your feedback about the items and how I can improve my chances of success in the future?”
As long as you don’t look like you are about to cry (we’ve all been there), you will get an honest answer. If they are looking for other types of items that you happen to make, ask for a follow-up to show those items. If not, ask for recommendations of other stores that might want to sell your crafts.
Hearing a “no” is painful, but it is not a reflection of who you are or your skill as an artist. If it helps, remind yourself that J.K. Rowling got 12 rejection letters before she sold Harry Potter. Rejections will happen regardless of the quality of the work.
What Happens if They Say Yes?
But your meeting isn’t over just yet. You need to work out payment details. As a newbie, you unfortunately do not have much room to negotiate.
You’ve already made the first offer by putting your wholesale price on your mini-resume. They will either offer a consignment percentage or buy a small quantity of items to try out.
Listen to their offer. Pause a minute while nodding your head. Then accept it.
Seriously, now is not the time for negotiation.
As long as their offer gives you some amount of profit, you should accept it graciously. After your items sell, you can slowly raise up the price.
The most important thing right now is to get your foot in the door.
With that said, you should not sell your crafts at a loss. If their offer is too low, tell them the minimum price you need to make a profit.
But if the owner cannot meet that price then you have to move on to the next store. Thank them again and politely leave. Try again after you have sold your items to a few other stores.
Step 7: Rinse & Repeat
Your next step is to do it all again. Then, travel to other cities and contact more stores. You are only limited by how much inventory you can make.
Some stores will reject your offer and that can be disheartening. But the only way to fail in life is to quit trying. When you get rejected, just adjust your approach and try again.
You will be able to sell your handmade items in local stores. No doubts. Unless you give up, you will succeed by following this guide.
One Last Thing:
And be sure to let us know your thoughts, successes, and revisions in the comments below!