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First wholesale show


#1

I’m on the waiting list for the ACC Baltomore wholesale show, and am
pretty sure my number will hit. I havn’t sent in the envelope yet.
I’ve kind of got cold feet after doing retail shows forever. I’m
worried that I’ll spend my 1500$ and will just get a bunch of
galleries wanting to carry my work on consignment at 50% and not
hard orders. Right now my work is still one-of-a-kind, but I’m
working on designs I can do limited editions to. Can anyone with
experience at this or other wholesale shows tell me how the
$200-$600 retail price points are doing with galleries? All I’ve
been hearing from my consignment galleries lately is that they want
work under $150, which I don’t do. I’ll be waiting for your
feedback before I send back my thingy.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Wendy Newman


#2
I'm on the waiting list for the ACC Baltomore wholesale show, and
am pretty sure my number will hit.  I havn't sent in the envelope
yet. I've kind of got cold feet after doing retail shows forever. 
I'm worried that I'll spend my 1500$ and will just get a bunch of
galleries wanting to carry my work on consignment at 50% and not
hard orders.  

Wendy,

I started making a lower end line in February last year after being
frustrated with sales of my higher end line. Prior to that I had
very little in the $200 to $750 range. Now I have lots of work in
the $100 to $500 range. Granted, I haven’t had this work at a
wholesale show, but the stores that I have had the time to get
consignment out to have done very well with it. On the other hand,
I have a friend who also has work in this range and has been really
frustrated. I think more than the price, it’s the style,
desirability and where you have your work as much as anything.

Right now my work is still one-of-a-kind, but I'm working on
designs I can do limited editions to.  Can anyone with experience
at this or other wholesale shows tell me how the $200-$600 retail
price points are doing with galleries? 

You just can’t know if something will be successful until you get
out there and try. I don’t know how well you’ll do, no one else
will either. If you can’t afford to lose the booth fee and the
travel expenses, you should wait until you can. This is where
consignment does help. You get some cash flow going and learn what
does and doesn’t work for you. That’s if you have good galleries
and stores working with you.

All I've been hearing from my consignment galleries lately is that
they want work under $150, which I don't do.

How many galleries are you in? Can you really make such a blanket
statement that everyone wants under $150 retail if you only have 2
galleries? How about 5 or 6? If you really do mostly retail shows
perhaps you need to reevaluate the stores you are in. Are you there
because it’s convenient or are they really great galleries that
you’ve researched and developed?

I'll be waiting for your feedback before I send back my thingy. 

In my experience, doing wholesale can’t be an afterthought. You
have to be committed, with a plan and long term goals to really
attract top galleries. Doing wholesale shows has to be part of that
committment and planning. The competition is fierce out there right
now. Plus, it takes the right economic climate. Having the best
work in the world won’t do any good if the stores are not selling
and therefore not buying to replace stock. If stores feel long term
growth in sales isn’t there they aren’t going to take risk on new
artists and new work. The last couple of years have not been good
for a lot of stores. Even if this year is good, I don’t see stores
taking a huge risk on new work unless it’s priced right and
dependable. If this season goes well then some buying will occur
(Yea!), but it will take a couple of good selling cycles for the
wholesale situation to take off again.

Larry


#3

Wendy,

If you have not done so look up the article "Can You Afford to
Wholesale Your Work? " in The Crafts Report online at
http://craftsreport.com/november03/sb.html . Then ask yourself if
you are ready or even interested in wholesale. If you are only doing
one of a kind you probably will lose money in the wholesale
marketplace. The wholesale craft shows like ACC Baltimore and Buyers
Market of American Crafts are really oriented to the production
craftsperson. The majority of buyers want to buy an item that they
can rapidly sell and re-order the same thing to sell it again. They
do not want to take a chance on a new design every time. There are
galleries that do represent the one of a kind craftsperson but they
are a small group. – Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#4

Hi, Folks,

I’m embarking upon my first wholesale show, and am looking for tips.
I read an article in the Crafts Report some time ago, and can’t find
it now! So if you know which article I’m referring to, that would
help, as would any other written resources!

But I’m also looking for just common sense stuff. I plan to have two
product lines…one that’s a lower price point (etched) and another
higher (cloisonne), and to make up forms for ordering. Display will
be simple. I guess I’m looking for anything that will ease the
process… display tips (I’ll have a 4 X 6 foot table), policies for
buying (e.g. should I have a minimum order? Require a percentage of
the cost up front?), other?

Somehow I always find myself on the steep part of the learning
curve! Any suggestions are Most Appreciated!

Barbara Louise
Barbara Louise Bowling
www.LouisesLeap.com


#5
display tips (I'll have a 4 X 6 foot table), policies for buying
(e.g. should I have a minimum order? 

I’m no authority on wholesale, but I think I’m on solid ground
saying yes, have a minimum order. The few wholesale shows I tried, I
tended to have small stores order one each of nearly everything, so
be prepared for that (I had imagines orders would be multiples).
Your prices have to make it worthwhile.

Not sure what others will say, but to me, a normal table-height is
hard on the back and looks amateurish. Find a way to raise your
tanle to counter height.

My favorite way to deal with display props, though I buy necklace
busts, is to wrap cardboard boxes with a layer of quilt batting
(thinnest) then a layer of fabric (black velour, in my case) and
hot-glue it on the back. No limit to sizes and shapes. Neat, no
draped wrinkles all over from covering everything with one piece of
fabric.

I would also say, resist the impulse to overload cases. A somewhat
spare display draws attention to the individual objects, avoids what
another artist described as the "showing everything you ever made"
look.

Personally, I never put extraneous decorative objects in my cases–
people always want to buy them. Unless they clarify something about
your work, I think they’re just distracting. Keep it simple.

Last, six feet of length isn’t much-- four feet is too much. Again,
it can look like a church sale. You can buy narrow tables from
places like Sam’s Club and raise them with PVC pipe, make a nice Z
shape, draped to the ground for hidden storage space.

Good luck!
Noel


#6
You can buy narrow tables from places like Sam's Club and raise
them with PVC pipe, make a nice Z shape, draped to the ground for
hidden storage space. 

Sam’s club sells 4 foot folding tables that are adjustable in height.
They adjust from 24 inches to 36 inches. I love them. I use them for
all my shows plus use them when I need to set up extra work space
like today when I constructed bases for my light poles in my
driveway.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#7
Find a way to raise your table to counter height 

I saw this on a TV show doing a buffet (cooking). He cut 4 pieces of
PVC pipe of a size that fit over each leg, and a length that made a
tall table, and then just slid one over each leg…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#8

Dear Barbara,

I did wholesale shows for 6 years in SF, Baltimore, NY and Philly.
Here are some things I learned.

-I think minimums are important. If people are getting your work at
1/2 price than you need to figure out how many pieces you need to
sell at that level to make it worth your while. At the moment I have
a 10 piece or $500 minimum for most wholesale orders.

-I recommend for first orders that you either take a credit card
number or get a check in advance of shipping. You can extend a 30 day
pay schedule after you have developed a relationship with them and
have checked credit.

-Less is more. Keep your line concise, don’t overwhelm with too many
choices. Be sure you can really afford to sell the pieces you are
offering at half price, and that you can fill them easily-- i.e.: the
stones aren’t going to go out of stock.

-Display style number and most prices clearly.

-Be ready to “write” clip board and pen in hand.

-Keep talking to people when they come into your booth-- good topics
are the “features and benefits” of your product, why it is unique,
and if you happen to particularly like something the buyer is
wearing, it is nice to inquire about it…

-Don’t sit or read at a show–stamp invoices, straighten jewelry,
look busy, not board.

Be ready to answer questions such as:

1.) What is your best seller(s)?
2.) How long is your turn around for first time and re-orders?
3.) In what zip codes are you currently selling?
4.) What do you have that is new?
5.) If I get an order online, do you “drop ship” or ship directly to
the customer and bill separately?
6.) Is there a minimum on re-orders?
7.) What is your return policy? (I only accept returns for defects.
If it is within 7 days I take it back or exchange it for free,
otherwise there is a 20% re-stocking fee.)

I hope this helps-- good luck!

Aimee
http://www.aimeegolant.com


#9
Find a way to raise your table to counter height 

I did this recently, to the Sam’s club folding tables. I measured
the diameter of the table legs and went to Home Depot, finding PVC
pipe of the same diameter, and also straight connector fittings that
fit the PVC pipe. I now have PVC risers, with the fittings on one
end, that just slip over the legs when I’m setting it up. I had to
wrap a turn of duct tape around the legs for them to fit snugly.

I lifted them about 7 inches, to the same height as the narrow 4
foot Sam’s club table at its highest adjustment. It seems to be a
good height; not so much back strain among the customers, and less
accessible to little hands.

Janet Kofoed
http://users.rcn.com/kkofoed


#10
Find a way to raise your table to counter height I saw this on a TV
show doing a buffet (cooking). He cut 4 pieces of PVC pipe of a size
that fit over each leg, and a length that made a tall table, and
then just slid one over each leg... 

I have done this too- for my own tables. If you precut, you have to
know exactly how the legs are configured. Are they in a “U” shape at
the bottom- or do they go straight up to the table without any other
table parts blocking them? Or- is there a hinge halfway up the leg?
Also, you need to make sure you get the right PVC pipe- 1"? 1/2"? how
thick are the legs?

If you’re driving, I’d grab some different size PVC as well as a
hacksaw and try it out at the show- we did that one year where
counter heights were not available. But, they usually have counter
height tables available- you can always ask.

There are also those “thingys” that college kids use to raise their
beds some. They look like little plastic pots. The “pots” go upside
down and the table or bed legs go on top of them so it’s perched on
them. It gives some height- not too much. I think the most I saw was
1 foot.

You can also build a platform to go on top of the table to raise
your display. Close the front and sides, and leave it open in the
back and you can store your order forms, extra inventory under it.
This will probably take the most planning, but I’ve seen it done
really well and it can look very custom and professional.

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge
www.amerycarriere.com


#11

Bed Risers…they have them at Linen and THings, Bed bath Beyond and
Walmart. Works great!


#12
They look like little plastic pots. The "pots" go upside down and
the table or bed legs go on top of them so it's perched on them. 

I’m not any kind of table expert - not a show expert for that matter.
A caution, though, is that putting any table on flowerpots or similar
is risky - I would assume the ones in the quote are "special"
somehow. Knock one leg off or kick a pot and down goes the whole
table. I liked the idea of the pipe because it’s an actual extension
of the leg itself. Something I’m going to keep in mind - I thought it
was a cool idea when I heard it…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#13
putting any table on flowerpots or similar is risky - [snip] Knock
one leg off or kick a pot and down goes the whole table. 

This is an important point. A lot of people regard your display as
a substitute for a cane. I’ve had elderly patrons cruise along my
display like a kid at the side of a pool, waiting til the last
moment before letting go and launching into the “deep water” where
there’s no support. Everything you set up has to be able to
withstand this, along with the mom who plunks her infant, baby seat
and all, on top of your counter while she looks for that single
earring in her purse.

Seriously, no matter how unwarranted the abuse someone gives your
display, it’s your butt if junior manages to pull your case down
on his head.

Noel


#14
This is an important point. A *lot* of people regard your display
as a substitute for a cane.....Everything you set up has to be able
to withstand this, along with the mom who plunks her infant, baby
seat and all, on top of your counter while she looks for that
single earring in her purse. 

Oh my! I have a lot to learn before I try a retail show… they
don’t usually let babies and kids into the wholesale shows so I
haven’t experienced that. I used to use cardboard boxes (36" tall and
skinny) as pedestals with a 1/4" square plywood top. Not sturdy at
all, but never had a problem at a wholesale show. I’m thinking of
doing some retail this year, I’ll have to search the archives for
does and don’ts.


#15
Oh my! I have a lot to learn before I try a retail show.... they
don't usually let babies and kids into the wholesale shows so I
haven't experienced that. 

You are quite right-- the experiences I described are from retail
shows. It is likely that the extremes of age and infirmity are much
less at a true wholesale show. Still, in planning a display, one
should take potential liability into account.

Noel


#16

Search the archives for Beth Rosengard. She is a seasoned
professional for shows.

Also email Deb Karash from her website

Another person is Joan Dulla and Linda Kaye Moses who both are on
this list. They are all seasoned veterans.

Subscribe to The Craft Reports magazine. Good stuff in there.

No matter what show you do keep these few ideas in mind.

  1. People don’t bend. Try to keep some of your work at eye level.

  2. Competition for jewelry is fierce. What makes your work standout?

  3. No sitting at a show. I know you are tired, I know you have
    answered thousands of the same questions, smile, and smile some more.

  4. If somebody compliments you on your work, don’t say “thank you”.
    This sounds silly, but in saying “thank you” you have finished the
    deal. Keep them talking and what you should be saying is “you’re
    welcome” because now you have made a sale.

  5. A huge picture at a show that you can see across the room will
    drag a person into your booth.

  6. Never, never, never apologize for your work. It’s your work. What
    are you sorry about?

  7. Sturdy stands. People LEAN on things. So tippy cardboard won’t
    cut it.

  8. Learn basic business. You are in business, you just happen to
    make what you are selling, but business is what you are in. It is not
    glamorous, and this is very hard work. Find out what parts of the
    business you like and focus on those, leave the other stuff to
    somebody else.

  9. Diversify through marketing. Have you entered the Saul Bell
    Award, submitted your work to Lark Books, found a show where your
    work would fit? Wear your work. As soon as somebody finds out you
    make jewelry, there you are, a walking display and you didn’t’ even
    have to worry about being juried.

  10. Good images, the best images you can get speak volumes about
    your work. Remember if you are having postcards made, make sure your
    NAME is on the front and not in the back. I want to instantly connect
    your work to your name and this is one time it’s all about you.

  11. Branding. Branding is a look, a hook and it connects you with
    your image. I founded Metalwerx and even though I am no longer
    connected with the school, I’m selling high end tools and used
    Cleverwerx as the name. There is an obvious reason for this,
    Metalwerx has been branded and recognized for nearly 10 years.
    Choosing Cleverwerx was no accident. I’m creating a spin-off,
    something new and different or an evolution, or revolution. Only my
    customers will decide on the latter!

I realize this is more that you asked for, but here it
is.

And the answer to your question, plywood is heavy. I found a very
strong and durable composite of high density foam sandwiched between
a hard resin material. It was meant for the structural component of
mosaics. It seemed to me a perfect material, strong, yet light
weight. I hunted around a few mosaic sites and nothing came up of
what I was seeing, but sometimes you need to go outside of our media
for answers.

Good luck!

-k
Karen Christians
Waltham, MA
http:www.cleverwerx.com


#17
Oh my! I have a lot to learn before I try a retail show.... they
don't usually let babies and kids into the wholesale shows I used
to use cardboard boxes (36" tall and skinny) as pedestals with a
1/4" square plywood top. Not sturdy at all, but never had a problem
at a wholesale show. 

I’m happy to say I’ve never had anyone place a baby in a carrier on
my display (I would quickly ask them to kindly use the floor
instead), but I have often cringed as people lean fully onto my
plexiglass cases, watching as the plexi bends under pressure. I have
my setup such that it’s not easy to just use is as a resting place
for stuff - no open counterspace other than the little area where I
do the sales, and my cases sit on counter-height stands & are 12"
tall, so they tops are realtively high - but I do often have people
put their hands or arms on them & lean on them as they look into the
fronts of the cases. One guy was doing that for an extended period of
time, just leaning with both arms crossed on my case while he chatted
with my helper, and he finally noticed me watching him nervously. He
made a joke about it, but he still took his sweet time moving off my
bending plastic! I have also had a few elderly people holding onto
the cases at the front of my booth as they walked past, and I
certainly wish they didn’t do that. My stands are pretty stable (I
made sure of that when I built them!), but they’re still only meant
to handle so much. They aren’t permanent, after all!

In creating a booth display, it’s good to have something that’s
pretty stable, you never know what you’ll encounter. Although I’ve
never done a wholesale shows, I’m sure with the “general public” you
get a lot more folks who don’t understand as well how to relate to
these temporary setups. Also, if you ever expect to do an outdoor
show (I’m assuming the wholesale ones are never outdoors) you have to
have something that can be sturdy on all sorts of ground, usually
uneven ground, as well as in a “breeze”, which can often turn into
some downright nasty wind. It seems it doesn’t take much breeze to
get a tent into action, especially if it can’t be staked. A show can
be stressful enough, you don’t need to worry about your display
falling over! My stands may be a bit heavy to schlep around, but once
in place I feel confident they’ll stay there. I’ve had to lash tent
legs to my stands a few times because even with 40lb weights at each
corner, my tent legs weren’t resistant to the “breeze”, but those
case stands were good and strong to hold the tent legs in place.

By the way, if you do use something tall & skinny as you mentioned,
you might try getting a stone landscape paver (or 2…) to place in
the bottom to add some weight to it, that’d add at least a bit of
stability.

Lisa
Designs by Lisa Gallagher
www.lisagallagher.com