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How to Sell Products Locally
Craft fairs are a great way to get the word out about your products, but aren’t the most profitable way to earn a full time living. Those who make crafting or art their livelihood have to expand out beyond the local craft fair scene. Today, we’re going to look at how to get your product in local stores and beyond.
Before you can even consider pitching your products to local stores, you need to have the following in place. There is a lot of competition to get products into shops.
- Branding (consistent labeling/packaging with a company logo/design)
- Packaging Your product packaging will need to be top-notch and include your logo.
- Website (this needs to look professional and you need to have your own domain name and hosting – no free sites)
- A Following (This is where a couple of years on the craft fair circuit helps you)
- Marketing/Retail Knowledge You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need basic skills and understanding before you approach brick and mortar shops.
Research Your Market
A few years of experience selling products on your own will give insight into your best sellers. From here, you’ll need to consider the items you make, the type of shops where there would be demand, and how your products will benefit both you and the shop owner.
Things to Consider Before You Pitch to Shops
- Can you realistically sell wholesale and still earn a profit? Keep in mind retailers have 5 – 10 times the overhead you do since they pay rent, utilities, insurance, employee salaries etc.
- Are you willing to sell on consignment?
- Are you aware that selling in retail stores often means a much slimmer profit margin? The tradeoff is establishing brand awareness and popularity.
- You will need to keep your online sales prices at or near the same price points of your retail sellers. You can’t sell to retailers and then undercut them on your own website.
Other Ways to Sell Locally
You can market your products on local Facebook groups and meet buyers in a public location. I’d personally hesitate to let buyers I didn’t know come to my home, but that’s up to you and your discretion.
Look for local pop-up shops.
What is a pop-up shop you ask? These are temporary retail locations that are set up on a short term basis to take advantage of a particular season. If you’ve ever seen a mall kiosk? That’s one example, but many other retailers and businesses also partake.
For example, baseball is huge in our area, so a business might set up a small area or outdoor event that lasts a few days around this theme and they would feature various items in that genre. If you made baseball themed items, you could work out an arrangement to have the popup vendor carry your products.
I’d recommend looking up info by doing a search for “popup shops in my area”. See what comes up. If you have items that are a good match it can be a way to get your items in front of more people.
There are different versions of these. Some carry your items for a specific amount of time and split the profits with you. Often it’s a 50/50 or 60/40 split, but different locations will vary. They agree to carry so much of your product for a specific amount of time. At the end of the agreement, you retrieve any unsold items.
This is a good way to see if your products are a good fit and from there you can either continue a consignment arrangement or even a wholesale purchase agreement.
Other consignment shops charge you booth rent and a percentage of sales. You set up your area and place the products you want to sell and set the prices. You pay an agreed upon amount for your booth space and usually a small percentage of sales. Our local shops that do this rent spaces for $80 and up and charge 3 – 10% commission.
There are pros and cons to this arrangement. You have more control over product placement, pricing etc. but it’s often guesswork at first and booth spaces can be pricey and don’t always guarantee a good return on investment.
If you are going to do this, I recommend having a strong working knowledge of retail display design elements or have someone who does work with you to create an amazing display. You can’t just place some stuff on a shelf and hope it works.
Farmers Markets are very popular and bring a lot of people. If you have items that are handmade and consumable (food products, bath and body, etc.) and are natural or locally grown, you can often get into these markets. Most are juried and they will accept limited numbers of similar items. A great way to make some good money and get your products out there. Also a great selling point when you want to get your items into local stores or boutiques.
Tourist Traps & Gift Shops
If your handmade craft has a connection with local history or popular customs and you happen to live near a touristy area, you may be able to get your products into gift shops and tourist attractions. These types of venues sell items with local flare to visitors so it’s a great way to get your products known and sold in your area and beyond.
Consider Other Non-Retail Businesses
Do you sell items another business might enjoy? Consider marketing your items to them. A good example is handmade soaps at a local bed and breakfast inn or salon.
Hopefully these ideas have you thinking of other ways to grow and expand your local market. If you have other ideas I haven’t covered, please drop a comment below!