So you’ve decided to make the leap towards consigning your handmade products– fantastic! You might be feeling overwhelmed and wondering where exactly to begin. If you do it right, selling on consignment can be really lucrative (and fun!) for your creative business. Here are some tips to get you going.
It’s always best to begin selling on consignment close to home. You’ll have a hometown advantage because many small boutiques focus exclusively on local artists! Starting nearby allows you to easily check out the shop, drop off sample items, refresh inventory, and pick up your checks. Remember, you won’t get paid until your product sells, so it’s a good idea to swap out items after they’ve been sitting unsold for a long time.
Once you’ve picked a few stores to contact, start by checking their website. Many boutiques will post submission guidelines online- some will request that you email them, some prefer a phone call, and others might not be taking new artists at the time. Most shops do not like random pop-ins or phone calls, but if you are attempting this method, make sure it’s not during a busy time, like the weekend or around lunch.
Do Your Research
If you’re approached by a shop-either online or in-person at an event-be sure to check the store out online or by asking friends who live nearby. Always go with your instincts- if a store owner is hard to reach, evasive, or gives you an uncomfortable feeling, I would move on and focus on another shop. If it’s that hard to communicate with them, then it might be hard to collect payment for goods sold in the future. This is a rare situation, but being smart from the beginning can save you a lot of stress.
Get a Contract
A consignment contract is a must when entering into a business relationship. The contract doesn’t need to be made by a lawyer or be super-complicated, but it does need to be read carefully and signed by both parties. Important information that should be included:
– Price split (how much you earn varies from store to store and can be anywhere from 50/50 to 60/40).
– Length of consignment (typically at least 3 months; can be for a specific time period).
– Item labeling, inventory, and tagging instructions (varies by store).
– What will happen in case of theft or damage of your goods.
– Any exclusivity requests (when a store doesn’t want your goods in another nearby shop).
Don’t forget to always keep a copy of this contract for your records!
Have an Online Presence
Another way to get your handmade products into more stores is by having an online shop and a website. Many stores have contacted me through my Etsy page- some of which have become long-term business relationships. Treat your web shop as a gallery for potential consignment arrangements, directing store owners there to see your inventory of items for sale.
Keep in mind that your online prices should be equal to your retail prices- meaning the products in my Etsy shop are listed for the same amount as items I put in shops on consignment. This way stores will not feel any competition from your online sales and customers will never feel taken advantage of by paying more at a boutique.
What other ways did you get your products into shops on a consignment basis?
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