Maker Guide : How-To Guide For Selling Your Work
Building your business? Unsure about the difference between wholesale & consignment? Trying to determine pricing? Wondering how wholesale decisions are made?
We've complied resources and answers to common questions based on our experiences and learning over the past five years, having worked with Makers and businesses of various sizes. Please note: This is intended to act as a broad guide, take your time, and do your own research before reaching out to retailers.
Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions, we're happy to help when we can: hello (at) trainyardstore.com
Kimberley (Owner), Rachel (Manager) & The Trainyard Team
Wholesale vs. Consignment Simplified
Wholesale: Retailers purchase goods outright from Makers or suppliers (payment for goods is made upfront) and retailers are then responsible for sale, care and display of items.
Consignment: Payment is made only once goods have sold (payment monthly, quarterly, seasonally). Makers may or may not be responsible for the display, restocking or signage for their goods. In some instances Makers may rent shelf space in a business on consignment terms.
Wholesale tends to be straightforward and requires less organization and reporting from both businesses. Consignment can be a a great option for trying out a new product or price, and for getting a start in retail. Due to the time involved, The Trainyard is not currently offering consignment opportunities
Consignment Things To Note
Payment Terms: Find out if payment for work sold is done monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. How is payment made? Will a sales report or receipt accompany the payment?
Selling Term: How long will your work be on display - what is the consignment period? Display: Are you or the retailer responsible for the display of goods?
Pricing: What is the consignment breakdown? Typically consignment breakdowns are 60-70% of the sale price for the Maker, and 30-40% for the retailer but this varies based on the division of work and support provided.
Responsibilities: Be clear on whose responsible for pricing the items, recording sales and managing inventory, packaging, etc. Consignment arrangements can be casual, keep record of what is dropped off, what display items you provide, etc.
Offering Goods For Wholesale
*always check retailer websites for specific requests and process information!
- What is your wholesale rate? Typical wholesale discounts range between 40-50% off the retail price. This can vary slightly depending on the complexity of goods or volume ordered.
- Do you want to offer your entire inventory or select goods only?
- How will you tell retailers what products you have available? Consider creating a line sheet or catalog or direct retailers to your website for available designs.
- What would be your minimum initial order value? This can be a total order value or number of units.
- What would be the reorder minimum? This is typically less than the initial order minimum.
- Do you want to offer an additional discount for larger orders? For example a 45% discount for 20 units and 50% for greater than 20 units.
- How will you invoice retailers? Handwritten, emailed, or automatically via your website or Square?
- What will be the payment terms for the retailer (prepayment, on delivery, 30 days)?
- How do you want orders placed? Email, password protected website portal, other?
Learn About The Retailer & How They Take On New Makers
Mentioning this again because it's an important part of the process!
- Head to their website: Typically information on working with a store can be found under headers like "Makers" "Wholesale" and "Consignment" or "Work With Us." This information is on almost every retailers website!
- Can't find the information anywhere? Send them an email or message asking where to find it, or for information on the process. Avoid sending your whole application on Facebook at all costs.
- FOLLOW THE PROCESS!
Often there's just a few hours a month to review applications - so the more easily available the information the better! Must have details are: pricing, minimums, products available (or where to find them).
These tips are also helpful when preparing an application for Craft Shows and Markets.
What Are Businesses Looking For: How Wholesale Decisions Are Made
- Does the application follow the instructions set out on the retailers website? Is the requested information included? If the information isn't included retailers may not ask or follow up.
- Are the products a good fit with the style of the shop? Does the applicant understand the business they're applying to? It's obvious if you haven't done the research!
- How would the goods work with current inventory? Are other similar lines or products carried? Would they compliment or overlap with one another?
- Past success of similar goods, or customer requests for items?
- Are the goods of retail quality?
- Will the packaging hold up? Is there enough information about care & use of the product? What is it made of? Where it's made?
- Is the wholesale pricing workable?
- Are goods being sold elsewhere in Downtown Dartmouth or HRM (or in your city)? Everyone benefits when the goods found in a business neighbourhood are varied and unique!
Seasonal Goods: Typically are put on display 1-1.5 months before the holiday/occasion. Less than 4 weeks is not long enough in retail for seasonal items. The Trainyard does not place orders for the Holiday Season after October 31.
Applying For Craft Shows & Markets?
Do your research and find markets where your style is a good fit - that's where your customers will be. Sometimes you have to try a few different markets to find what works for you! HRM is home to lots of markets from small scale shows run by community centres to larger professional shows.
Deadlines: Application deadlines for the larger markets are typically 2-3 months before the actual event. Join maker groups on Facebook, follow along with shows on social media or sign up for their mailing lists to keep up to date on deadlines and find resources. For larger markets typical Fall/Holiday Market deadlines are in July-Sept; Spring/Summer Market deadlines are in February/March.
Display: Do a few test runs! Layout your table display at home, try different heights and table covers until you find something that feels like the right fit! Do you need power for your booth?
Payment Processing: Will you take card payments via Square or another payment app? E-transfer? Cash only? How will you provide receipts? Where are you keeping cash? How are you keeping record of sales? Have a plan, and signage for customers.
Branding, Packaging & Signage: Have your contact information available for customers, either on business cards or a sign they can photograph, etc - folks want to look you up, but don't want to ask for the information. Make sure your business name is visible somewhere in your display! Have tissue paper or bubble wrap on hand to wrap fragile items, and a few paper shopping bags available.
Tips for Making Your Application Stand Out
- Share Your Process: Explain where you source materials, how you plan designs, create the product, packaging and branding - EXPLAIN IT ALL! The more you share, the better selection committees understand the complexity of your process.
- Share Your Business Story: What makes you unique, why you started, how you've grown or adapted and what makes your brand unique. Make sure your business name is included!
- Photos: Send bright photos, or photos of your work in action (when applicable). Your photos really tell the story of your work and can help clarify details or questions for decision makers. If you've done markets before, a photo of your set up or branding is also helpful!
- Include Details: Pricing, size, quality, packaging & care details. Whatever is relevant to the committee understanding how your goods work/how they should be used.
- Quality: Are your goods made to last? Have they been tested? What types of materials do you use?
- Take Your Time: On an application form, never leave any relevant field empty. The more detailed information included the better. This is your chance to make an impression!
Some Local Markets To Follow: Dartmouth Makers, Halifax Crafters, Etsy Halifax, Christmas At The Forum, Alderney Landing Farmers Market, Halifax Forum, Halifax Seaport, Windfall Handmade Market