Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Approaching Consignment Shops- Guest Post

Sally here from NightOwlCraftworks!  I hope you find this post helpful, inspiring, and motivating!

Etsy is a wonderful venue (amazing really), but what if you want to expand your horizons?

How do you approach a consignment shop & what should you expect…

The scariest part of consignment for the crafter is integrity.  You are putting your livelihood in the hands of another, trusting them to represent your brand and protect your investment.  It’s a good idea to start with places that are established, have a good reputation, and have a contract. 

Representing your brand is very important.  If you find a shop that you love to go into, that is clean & professional, and fits your items you’ve hit the jackpot!  A good sign of a great shop is that they keep things fresh and moving.  You don’t want your items to sit in a back corner hidden from view from the world.  You need a “spotlight”.  You may have to share the “spotlight” and rotate around the shop, but a good shopkeeper wants to keep all their creative’s happy!  Know more than one shop that fits the bill?  Even better!  The more people see your work, the more you’ll sell!  Try to keep at LEAST a 30 minute drive (an hour is even better) between shops.  It’s just polite.

Good reputation you say?  Yes I do!  What do you mean? I’m talking mostly about their reputation with the other creative’s they work with and their relationships.  Do they stay in contact?  Do they make sure they “ante up” come “payday”?  And how do you find out about their rep?  Ask them if you are that bold, if they have a good reputation they will understand where you are coming from and be proud of their status.  Or you can find other creative’s that sell at that shop and ask around.  Do your homework!

Once you’ve found the perfect shop, you want to present yourself professionally.  The first thing you need to do is CALL first!  Do not go into a shop and expect that you will get the attention of a shop owner just because you have the coolest items since knitting needles.  They have customers to tend to and bills to pay.  Make an appointment so you can present yourself and your wonderful wares without added stressors.  If you have it display ready and can be easily priced all the better!  Bring enough that day just so when they stop drooling over your things you can help them shelve it ;)  Some shops frown on websites on the label.  The shop owner would really like to make the sale if they’ve done the work to present you.  People sometimes see a website and think they’ll go home and find it cheaper from the maker.  This brings me to…

Your reputation counts too!  To be fair, keep the prices the same or close to the same as the prices in your shop.  This is sometimes hard for us “little guys” to understand.  Why does a shop want so much when we’re doing all the work?  They get to do the “easy” and “fun” work.  Not so my pretties.  There is a ton of overhead in running a shop.  They may not be creating, but they are supporting creative’s.  They still have to make rent, utilities, packaging, insurance, etc.  There is a lot of behind the scenes that isn’t present at the forefront.  They don’t have to be there, they want to be there.  You have to respect them for that!

Protect your investment.  Really this is probably the most important element.  There needs to be a contract that you are completely comfortable with.  They are the “boss” so if there are parts of the contract you’re uncomfortable with ask about it, most times they’ll change it.  Each contract can be different and unique.  The main points are that you agree upon a rate and how and when you’ll be getting compensated.  Most shops will take 25-50%... The Storque has a great post they put out recently for Reevaluating your Pricing.  If you haven’t considered building in your wholesale & retail cost and you want to branch out, now’s the time to tweak those items!  Another good thing to talk about at this point is when & how you would get your items if you or the shop owner decided it wasn’t working out.  These are all hard things to talk about, but things you need to be prepared to deal with.

Last but definitely not least, be committed to the consignment gig if you’re putting yourself out there.  Make sure you always have stock in case the shop you’re working with runs low!  Maybe you can spend a day every month checking with your shops to make sure they have everything they need (& it’s a great reason to check up on them).  A shop front isn’t too much different than an Etsy shop… the more there is the more you’ll sell! 

The Checklist:
      *            Find a shop that has a stellar reputation.
      *            Make sure it fits your brand & style.
      *            Call ahead, make that appointment (don’t be late!)
      *            Package it to sell, bring enough to stock!
      *            Discuss contract, rates & payment schedule.
      *            Check back to restock and awe over the beauty that is your talent!


  1. Great article, Sally. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. This is so helpful, Sally! Thanks so much for this great post!

  3. Lots of good info here Sally! I didn't know about the 30 min. drive between shops being good manners. Thanks for posting!

  4. I could've explained that "rule" a bit more... it's really more of a kindness to the business owners. They want to say they have this great item and it is at least semi-exclusive. Some shops may even build in an exclusivity clause into the contract saying you can only sell at their shop.

    I'm glad you're all enjoying the post! Thanks for all the nice words :D

  5. Thanks for the infor.

    Let us know what you think if you get a chance. We are considering consignment.