Have you thought about selling some of your pieces at local stores, but maybe you are not sure as to how to approach the store owner?
Have you ever thought when you go to a local shop: "Oh, my pieces would look lovely in here?" Maybe you have been very close to talk to the manager or the store owner but then get too nervous thinking that they might not like what you make, that maybe your neighbors will probably not like them either and now you just walk away thinking of all the "What if..."
I understand the feeling. I have been selling my handmade products since I am a little girl... at my school, to my friends and I attended craft shows internationally. A couple of years ago I decided that in addition to selling my products online, I wanted to stay local, meaning that I just participate at local craft shows and that I would work with local shops.
You are not alone feeling this and I would like to share with you 4 tips that I hope will help you get your pieces into those Local Stores that you admire:
1. MAKE SURE THAT THE STYLE OF YOUR WORK FITS THE STYLE OF THE LOCAL SHOP
To make sure of this, you would have to go to the local store and take a close look at their items. Also, try to go a few times a week and see who is shopping there. This will help you have a better idea as to what are most people looking for. Do your research and also pay close attention as to how customers are being treated, the condition of the store (is it clean, do items look organized?). If going there in person is not an option now, reach them through Social Media. Scheduling a Zoom meeting is a great option. I cannot stress this enough: SCHEDULE a meeting. Don't just show up assuming they have time to sit down with you and discuss all the details you have in mind. Scheduling a meeting shows respect and ensures that they will also do their research about you and have some questions ready to ask when you meet again.
2. HAVE AN ELEVATOR PITCH READY WHERE YOU SHARE WITH THEM WHAT VALUE WOULD YOUR WORK ADD TO THEIR STORE
To answer this question you would have to know very clearly what is behind your brand, all that involves making your pieces and also, for example, how is your social media presence and how the local store would benefit from being featured there. Please, before you decide to approach any local store, take a close look at the reviews in your shop. Local stores will make sure that the ones that have bought from you, are satisfied with the pieces they have received. This is also the time to take a look and tackle at all that needs attention in your online presence or your tags and business cards. Try to have everything fixed before you decide to approach them.
3. SHOW THEM YOUR PRODUCTS
Show the store owner a sample of the pieces you would like to have in there so they can choose what they would like. If, again, showing them in person is not an option, send them pictures (good quality pictures), arrange a zoom meeting or send them a sample in the mail. The presentation of your pieces say a lot, so make sure you package them with care. Along with the pieces, send them a pricing sheet where you show them how much you would ask them to pay for the piece and how much you would sell it for. It is up to them to decide how much to ask, but it is good to let them know how much you would sell it for so they can have a reference. Remember that they will be promoting your work as well and they would not like that they are selling the same piece you have in your online shop for a much higher price.
4. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
The way you speak, the way your pieces look, the way they are packaged, the way you show your brand, that is the way others will see you and your work. Remember why you do what you do, remember the feeling of working on each piece, remember why you sell them and let them know why you decided to go to them so they could carry the art you have worked so hard on. This will leave the Store owner with such a good impression. Now, answer all of their questions in a clear and respectful way and take their comments with a grain of salt. Not everyone likes what we make. The worst they can say is No. With that, if you see now that maybe you need to work a little more on an aspect of your business, do so and then move on to another Local Shop that you admire.
The pieces you see in the picture are Magnolia Headbands. Quite a few of them will be sold this Fall at one of the Local Online stores I work with. The Roxbury Local is owned by Lael Gibbs. I have met her a few times and she is such a lovely girl. Lael supports local artists and I am so thankful that she likes my work to have it in her store. Knowing that Lael has purchased and admired the work of so many local artists in Connecticut for years, and this is what inspired her to launch her website, to support them, I asked her what she feels after she sells piece after piece. Knowing exactly where that specific piece came from and how much love the Maker has put in it, she told me this is what she feels after selling them:
Lael: "Since I moved to this area I have been so impressed with the quality and talent of the local artists. When something sells from my site it's an overall good feeling for me. I'm glad that the customer was able to see what I could see in the artist's work and I am also confident that they will be equally impressed when they receive the product. I love being able to support local artists however I can when items sell from my shop, it allows me to be able to continue to do that".
I hope that after reading this Blog Post you feel encouraged to reach out to your Local Shops that at this time need so much support as well.