Last week, I posted a video of my market prep on my YouTube channel. You can view it here:
In the fall of 2020, I gathered some confidence and reached out to a local boutique, asking if they would consider selling some of my finished products. Before then, I had gone to several markets, selling items such as my finished products, vinyl decals, signs, T-shirts, and custom work. Think farmer’s markets, craft fairs, etc.
Those experiences were usually very stressful for me, due to packing, unloading, and usually losing something along the way. As my business name states, I am a mess and often did not come across as well put together at these events.
Prior to last fall, I had also tried selling online. The most success that I had in posting my finished crochet products was friends and family seeing them online and buying them in person. Admittedly I didn’t do much online marketing, but posting online didn’t help me make many sales either.
After making a consignment arrangement with the owners, my finished products hit the shelf at The Village Life, here in Berea, KY.
I told the shop owner, that I hoped I made $100 after this picture was taken. I almost doubled that by the time the weekend was over.
I have had such a good experience selling at their store, that I thought I would share with my reader’s tips in selling their products consignment. I plan on making this a mini-series including how to get started, what kind of items might sell well, and how I am the most productive selling consignment.
I’ll leave the marketing, pricing, and other business advice to Pam from The Crochetpreneur.
In this blog post, I’ll be talking about getting started with how to pick the shop you want to sell at, considering the business owner, how to reach out, understanding expectations, and what to keep on your radar as you proceed.
How to Pick Your Shop
There is a lot to consider when you make the decision to try to sell your crochet items at a consignment store. The first step? Picking what store you think will better suit your business. My first tip would be to consider the type of business you want to be affiliated with. An antique store? A book shop? A boutique? A coffee shop? All of these are great places where your crochet may be appreciated!
Next, consider the success of the business. Does the business get a lot of traffic?
Lastly consider the type of customer that might regularly visit the store. Are they the type that appreciates handmade products? My town, Berea, is known for its local artisans. I really lucked out in that my first choice, The Village Life, agreed to sell my products. They also carry other local art such as soaps, tumblers, and candles. My crochet items fit right into their inventory!
Imagine trying to sell your items in a more corporate setting. Would the average customer be willing to pay an extra dollar for top-quality handmade items? Perhaps, but I’m more inclined to say no. (In fact, haven’t we all had someone tell you, “Well I can get a hat like that for $5 at Walmart.”)
Accordingly, if your first pick doesn’t work out, then brainstorm some backup similar places that you would consider selling consignment at.
Consider: Business Relationship with Owner
My second piece of advice is to also choose your shop with the owners in mind. Just as my experience has been nothing but good, I’ve read stories posted on Facebook about store owners not being so friendly. As the name implies, the boutique I chose really has a “what’s best for the village” mentality.
If possible, listen to what others have to say when referring to the owners of the business. Are they kind? Are they demanding?
A perk of being an owner of a creative small business owner is that you get to choose who you work with. I personally, did not want to be in a situation that stressed me out. The Village Life was a perfect fit. The owners are so sweet, really try to promote local artists, and have been understanding in times I did was too pressed to get inventory in.
If you are anything like me, the crocheting part of owning a small business is the fun part. The business side, eehh not so much. However, do not let that inner voice of doubt talk you into waiting to reach out to a shop. I spent months convincing myself that I wasn’t ready to sell my finished products locally because I “didn’t have enough inventory.” Bologna. I was just being scared of rejection.
Think about it like this: What is the worst thing that could happen? The business owner says, “No thank you.”
Is that really even that bad? I don’t think so.
My advice in getting started selling consignment is to reach out to the business. Introduce yourself, your business, and what your business’s vision is. Take pictures of your pieces you would like to sell, and include them in your initial message.
It may also be a good idea to include why you think your product would be the perfect addition to their shop.
Use your best judgment on how to contact the owner in charge of making vendor suggestions, whether that be through email, Facebook, etc.
Here is an example of a picture I shared with the boutique to show what products I had to offer.
Congratulations! A small business has agreed to sell your crochet product! In my experience, I signed a contract with the business. Here are some of the highlights of my contract with The Village Life:
- The shop would make a 30% commission off of my products OR I could opt to pay a monthly vendor’s fee and make 100% of the profit. I chose the commission route, just because I was not confident I’d make more than the flat fee.
- Product drop-offs are on a certain day, to help monitor inventory.
- A list of the products being brought in should be included with the drop-off.
- The profit of sales would be delivered once a month.
- I could not discount my products by selling other methods.
- I could not sell consignment with another store within the same zip code.
These are all expectations that I happily agreed to.
If you do not sign a contract you may want to establish the following conditions with selling consignment:
- How much commission will the shop make?
- How often will you receive your slice of the profit?
- Are you expected to make your own price tags and packaging?
- How much product is expected to remain in the shop at once?
- When is the best time for your to make drop-offs?
- Will the store determine any discounts, or can that be left up to you?
Setting these expectations are good for you and the business owner, so that there are no misunderstandings down the road.
What to Keep On the Radar
Once expectations have been set and you’re free to start bringing in your crochet product, there are several things to keep on the radar.
1. It might be good to go into this arrangement with a knowledge of your state’s tax laws. This is my main weakness as a business owner. After I realized I made enough money at the boutique to claim taxes, I hired a local CPA that was recommended to me by the boutique. He was a lifesaver!
2. Another aspect to keep on your radar is the season. For example, winter weather accessories such as hats and mittens might not sell as well as during the summer season. If you live in an area that does get cold, there might be an uptick in demand for your product. The same goes for holiday-themed items.
3. Remember, when you sell consignment, there will be a commission the store makes, so price your items accordingly. I’ll be talking more about this in my next blog post of this series: Selling Your Crochet Consignment.