Selling Crafts Through Stores

Flea markets and craft fairs can be fun and profitable places to hawk your wares, but selling crafts thourghs stores can be even more lucrative.

| November/December 1980

  • 066 crafts into stores - wreath and crockery
    A Christmas wreath and assorted crockery for the kitchen.
  • 066 selling crafts - driftwood and stained glass
    LEFT: Craft items made of driftwood. RIGHT: Small crafts made of stained glass.
  • 066 selling crafts - christmas tree
    The holiday season is a prime time for selling crafts, and an attractive display may be all you need to get you business booming!
  • 066 selling crafts - pottery
    A collection of handcrafted pottery.

  • 066 crafts into stores - wreath and crockery
  • 066 selling crafts - driftwood and stained glass
  • 066 selling crafts - christmas tree
  • 066 selling crafts - pottery

Show me a successful craftsperson, and I'll show you a good peddler. Or — to put it a bit more grandly — behind every creative talent there's a marketing genius.

After all, when you make a "thing of beauty," you're only half done. Before you can turn your artwork into income, you'll have to know how to make people want to buy it! Most of us weren't born salesfolk. As children, it was usually with dread and gloom that we trudged door to door to sell Girl Scout cookies, greeting cards, or raffle tickets. However, if you still suffer from that same old gnawing shyness, maybe l can offer a few marketing tricks that'll help relieve the pain.

Are You Ready?

Unless your product is so unusual and in demand that the public will trample the woods to reach your door, you'll have to cart your wares to the potential buyers. Of course, you can sell direct (at flea markets, for example), but if you want the success and security that come with multiple outlets and repeat orders, selling crafts through stores is the way to go. Which means you must deal with a more difficult problem: how to convince retail stores to buy your goods.

In order to sell to such market-wise customers, you'll usually have to make what's referred to in the lingo of the trade as a "mobile presentation". And if that phrase makes you think of the stereotyped dapper salesman who whips open an attaché case with a slick exhibit of samples, charts, color photographs, and the like ... well, you're almost right! Because, although the "slick and dapper" aren't absolutely necessary, a modicum of professionalism is required if you're to be truly successful.

If you're dealing with small items, a relatively neat display of samples on a board or card will suffice. Should your goods be bulky or heavy though, it's best to make a scrapbook of good clear photographs of your products ... plus a few shots of yourself at work. (It's often easy to find a photographer who'll barter with you.)

For medium-sized crafts, you might consider setting up a small suitcase in which to display your wares to curious shopkeepers. For a long time, I pulled ceramic beads and jewelry wrapped in recycled bags out of pockets and purses until my father-in-law gave me a worn-out (to him) briefcase. That darn thing is handy! Now I have a place to display samples of all my finished goods, and the interior pockets can hold invoices, receipts, catalogs, business cards, notepads, and pens as well.

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