Monday, September 24, 2007

Wholesale Shows, Why?

This continues the series of posts about wholesale craft shows....or the sale of craft to the trade.

Why would someone want to do a wholesale show? There are several good reasons. Primary among them is efficiency. Set up a booth with your samples, and you can get exposure to hundreds of buyers from shops and galleries. The larger shows will draw people from across the country, and perhaps beyond.

These buyers will get a chance to see and touch your work. They will be able to discuss issues like your terms, perhaps learn a bit about your story. By going to a wholesale show, the buyers will be able to make a big chunk of their purchasing for year, or at least the next season, in one shot. They may be able to find new artists. Artists who they have not seen and heard about before. There is more comfort in taking on a new artists that you meet in person, than one that you have only seen pictures of their work.
As an artist, you can get anywhere from several weeks to a full year's worth of business at a show. These days, the sold out artist is a rarer phenomenon, but it can happen. Other retailers may take your literature back with them, and place an order with you at a later date. It may take a few years of seeing your work for some retailers to place an order. But each exposure, builds your base of customers, and builds your credibility. The cost of doing a wholesale show may be a bit higher than doing a retail show, especially if you have to travel a long distance, and perhaps ship your work. But, you are likely to sell more work at a wholesale show, and since you are taking orders, every item you produce, is already sold. You are not making inventory that you hope to sell. You make it, you ship it, and you are paid for it. What's not to like about that??

Let's assume the first year you get five new accounts. A few order your minimum, but a few more order significantly more than your minimum. During the course of the year, several of those accounts are likely to place re-orders for your work. And perhaps a few more orders come in from people who did not place an order at the show. The first year, you may only break even, or not even that. But you are building your base.

The next year, several of those accounts from the previous year may place new orders with you at the show. You may get five to ten more new accounts. And ten or twenty new leads, if not more. This is how a wholesale business will typically grow. Slowly and surely. Building off a base. Adding new accounts. Getting re-orders from old accounts. Over the course of several years, you can build a nice foundation of wholesale business.

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