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View PyNCy's profile

Selling to stores

by PyNCy
posted 599 days ago


23 replies so far

View rrww's profile

rrww

238 posts in 708 days


#1 posted 599 days ago

I don’t know how much this will help you, but what the heck! We are a production shop that turns out wood products for a specific industry. So keep that in mind when reading this.

I have managed to get our products into a couple of smaller catalogs realated to the industry. Mostly this was done by going out and talking to people at shows (both public and trade shows), and getting your name out there. We work with one industry and have tried the hardest to become a trusted authority in this industry. It does take time, it look us about 4 years to get the first “big” deal.

1. Join your local chamber of commerce and meet other members
2. Stop by and talk to the small reastilers in person, don’t worry – everyone wants to make a buck. They love vendors that treat them good! A lot of these guys are smaller and they may feel that the big wholsalers don’t really “care” about them.
3. Always remeber that the small guys can lead to big things! This has happen many times to us. Another reason to treat everyone great!
4. Be laid back and clam with business owners, no need to be pushy! Be there for them- for any assistance they need- treat them like family!
5. Always be on time, if its for a meeting or a deadline! THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
6. Join any industry specific groups that apply to what your doing
7. Know all your pricing info for each product by heart and how much you want to make BEFORE talking to these guys, they sometimes they will throw a lot of info at you at once and you have to think quick. I have got myself a couple of late nights working for free by not fully thinking something through before saying “no problem”. You will learn fast when you don’t.
8. Sell them on the quality / features of your product! Its almost impossible to compete with China on price, but its real easy to beat them with quality and customer service.

I dropped a business card off one time after stopping in a retail store. Spent two minutes talking to the manger because the owner wasn’t around. I figured that the business card would just get “filed”. A couple weeks later a guy came knocking on the house door and introduced himself as the owner, and in 6 months 75% of our work comes from him and we are now leasing a 10,000 sq ft shop / retail location that we trade our goods for rent.

Stop by or call your retailers and ask how business is doing and if they need anything. This simple act leads to a lot of our sales and it takes care of any issues before they become problems.

Prior to our first wholesale deal – I didn’t know too much on how retailers want to buy and sell products. Read up on pricing and how wholesale deals work. You may be suprised how much they want. You will soon find you may have to make 10 / 20 / 50 of a single item to make it worth while. But be willing to help out the retailer if they might only need one or two small things, this helps the relationship and builds trust.

If your close in location to some of these shops, offer free delivery or free delivery with a reasonable min order. In some cases I can charge more for my product then other vendors. I do this by offering free shipping saving them a ton of money and problems with damaged freight. This will work great for any products you have that are larger or larger and light in weight.

It all boils down to building a good relationship and when these busines owners start doing business with you and like what you do it WILL lead to more sales, and it will create some good word-of-mouth business.

Good luck it’s not easy, but can be really rewarding!
-RRWW

View JesseTutt's profile

JesseTutt

793 posts in 705 days


#2 posted 599 days ago

I worked for a woodworking company that made a specific line of product. They way they got into that industry was that they designed a couple of samples and then went to the retailer’s annual trade show and had a booth. The various franchise owners wondered by and looked at the product. Several started ordering products and selling them. This is where I came into the picture as the sole woodworker.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

235 posts in 1012 days


#3 posted 599 days ago

Find a manufacturers rep firm selling to the type of stores that would carry your product. Sometimes they are called multiple line agents. But google and you can find ones in your area.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

840 posts in 1479 days


#4 posted 598 days ago

I have, and/or will be, in three consignment stores. One I have been in for a year and do OK but seasonal. Nov. and Dec. will be my big months there and others are small sales.

I was in a large consignment store where I signed a six month lease. Lots of traffic and looked really good. After three months of NO sales I got the to let me out of my lease. Bad call.

I have just signed up at a Senior Center store and again it will be like the first store I talked about, seasonal.

I, also, have a lady that I make one product for, on consignment but so far no sales.

As far as steady income I have not found a location that gives me that. To me it just has to remain a hobby and not an income stream. Hope this helps.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Bigdaddy3k's profile

Bigdaddy3k

3 posts in 598 days


#5 posted 598 days ago

Have you tried listing your stuff on eBay? I know that you would have to list it under a category (actually you can cross category your work). For example, one of your clocks could be listed as “Clock” “furniture” “Rustic Art” “Carving”... You would be surprised at how many hits you can get if you list it right and have good pictures and descriptions.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7222 posts in 2243 days


#6 posted 598 days ago

It’s a matter of whether you can make the stuff people
want to buy.

In furniture terms, get the catalogs like Restoration Hardware,
Pottery Barn and so forth.

If you can build in the various shabby chic styles or incorporate
reclaimed materials in your stuff, you’ll be working in a
market of stuff people want to buy.

I should mention that a lot of what makes people want
a piece of furniture is the finish, so if you can get good
at painting and distressing furniture you can salvage old
stuff and give it the look people want in their homes.

Of course tastes vary and some people don’t like
distressed furniture. Refined work is more trouble
to build, more time consuming to finish, and tricky
to move without it getting damaged. If a table that
is supposed to look beat-up gets even more beat-up
in a store or by you carting it around to craft markets
it can still be sold without dropping the price.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Knothead62's profile

Knothead62

2340 posts in 1556 days


#7 posted 598 days ago

I worked as a manufacturer’s rep calling on manufacturers. Commission rate varied from 5% to 10%, depending on the company.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

491 posts in 635 days


#8 posted 597 days ago

I haven’t yet, but I have talked to a few store owners about carrying some things I make and I do have interest from a couple of stores. However, I only got that interest because I offered to not do business in the conventional format. My offer to them was I would give them the items along with an invoice and the invoice would not be due until the item sold. And if the item didn’t sell to give me a call and I’d come get it. One guy thought I was crazy that I would actually offer to do that and I think he suspected I was somehow trying to pull off some type of fraud.

Obviously you’re taking a chance by doing this, but I think this is a good way to get your foot in the door. Small gift shop owners seem to love this idea. Basically they have nothing to lose unless your stuff is ugly and has no chance of selling, then they are losing shelf space, but I would expect they would say no if you wanted to put stuff on their shelves that they know won’t sell.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

840 posts in 1479 days


#9 posted 597 days ago

I have, and/or will be, in three consignment stores. One I have been in for a year and do OK but seasonal. Nov. and Dec. will be my big months there and others are small sales.

I was in a large consignment store where I signed a six month lease. Lots of traffic and looked really good. After three months of NO sales I got the to let me out of my lease. Bad call.

I have just signed up at a Senior Center store and again it will be like the first store I talked about, seasonal.

I, also, have a lady that I make one product for, on consignment but so far no sales.

As far as steady income I have not found a location that gives me that. To me it just has to remain a hobby and not an income stream. Hope this helps.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

840 posts in 1479 days


#10 posted 597 days ago

Mark Smith – Great idea – we call it consignment – The thing to clarify is “what if the item is stolen”. Generally you still take the loss not the store owner – however I advise that it be clear up front.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

491 posts in 635 days


#11 posted 597 days ago

Yes it is consignment like, but I’m not talking consignment stores. I’m talking regular retail stores. My plan is I will tell them what I want for the item and they can basically sell it for whatever they want. And if they agree then we do the deal. And I expect that I’d take the loss in the event the item was stolen. That’s part of the risk of doing business. But I’m not going to drop off $5k in product at one place either. We are just talking a few hundren bucks at a time.

And also when dealing with stores you don’t just have to focus on independant stores. Many managers at chain outfits are allowed to buy and sell locally produced merchandise. Even a Walmart Store manager is allowed to buy local merchandise and put it on the shelf, however, you probably won’t like the prices you would get from Walmart.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2094 posts in 783 days


#12 posted 596 days ago

Some places will want too big a cut and you will basically be working for nothing. I think you need to try and find places that are more reasonable on how much you will net. You also need to pay attention to what they say sells.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Vrtigo1's profile

Vrtigo1

430 posts in 1586 days


#13 posted 596 days ago

Have you considered online sites such as Etsy? Retail isn’t quite dead yet, but I get the feeling that many folks shopping in consignment stores / flea markets walk in with the preconceived notion that everything should be cheap. This is problematic when you are trying to sell stuff at a rate that will let you make a profit and pay to keep the lights on.

A lot of my friends do niche stuff and are selling on Etsy. If you have a few products then it is not hard at all to sign up and get your stuff online where people can find it. One of my friends cuts the tops off of wine and liquor bottles and turns them into hanging lamps which he sells on Etsy. He hasn’t quit his day job, but then again he has no overhead either so any sales he makes are all profit.

Not quite the same for you since you’re doing this as a full time job, but it couldn’t hurt to at least supplement physical retail with online and see where it goes.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2488 days


#14 posted 596 days ago

If you can make something no one else sells and everyone wants, bonus : ))

If you make what Wal mart sells…nightmare

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2488 days


#15 posted 596 days ago

Dont find reasons why you cant,

find reasons why you can : ))

never let what you can’t do get in the way of doing what you can.

people know value, the ones who don’t

dont buy your product

its a simple law of averages

make what the rich cant buy

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13193 posts in 933 days


#16 posted 596 days ago

I sell in a couple tourist shops. Just walked in and talked to the management. They were happy to work with me.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Jim Reeves's profile

Jim Reeves

201 posts in 1618 days


#17 posted 596 days ago

Would making a web site work, like www.homemade.com where people looking for something put it there and then people bid on the job to build it. Others put their craft there to sell l myself have sold what l make on kijiji in our area l see people make flyers up post them in variety stores, laundrey places etc food stores and as well business card with picture as back ground of their big seller product hope it helps

-- jim

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

327 posts in 1539 days


#18 posted 593 days ago

I sell to several hundred retail stores, catalogs and websites. I found the majority of my customers from doing industry trade shows. Expensive but I looked it as an investment in my future. I have also knocked on doors as described above and I have a section on my website concerning about buying wholesale. I have also listed myself with many online drop ship websites. It is free to sign up. Of course, you have to be able to drop ship your products. Lately I have been doing ads in trade publications. I have found it to be an low cost effective way to get out there. When cold calling stores, I mention that you can see my product in XXX magazine.

By being at the trade shows, I have met many people who do not own stores or websites but are bloggers, publications or evaluation websites. I have found that the more places that I can put my products out there, I tend to find more customers or at least when I talk to someone about it, they can say that they saw something like it in a magazine or publication or website or press release. This all leads to the credibility issue.

Concerning sales, even though I am in many locations, I still do the large bulk of my sales in just 3 months. By having all of these outlets, it makes the overall sales larger on an annual basis.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

615 posts in 1862 days


#19 posted 593 days ago

try etsy.com

if you have something someone wants it will sell. be sure to take really good pictures and write good descriptions. take some time looking at what other people are actually selling (by looking at the sales link under shop info) if you find something selling well that is similar to what you want to sell, you are golden

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

491 posts in 635 days


#20 posted 593 days ago

Jim, sounds like you do a huge amount of leg work toward sales. Is it safe to assume you are more than a one man operation? Looks like you need to have quite a few employees to keep up with what you’re doing.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

View Fishinbo's profile

Fishinbo

11216 posts in 770 days


#21 posted 593 days ago

Patience, patience … Believe in the quality of your work. Quality wins hands down every time.

http://www.sawblade.com

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

327 posts in 1539 days


#22 posted 592 days ago

Yes Mark, I do have a few employees to help out. They are all part time, normally working only 4 hour shifts 2-4 days per week. Obviously right now, everybody is working 5 days a week and some are working 6 – 7 hours daily.

Even with all of the help, I still have my hands on every item as I do all of the finishing and the shipping as well. This way I can ensure that our quality doesn’t slip.

What is nice about having help is that I have them do the work I don’t like to do.
Gives me more time to plan, organize and create.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

View PyNCy's profile

PyNCy

98 posts in 927 days


#23 posted 565 days ago

Thanks for all the great tips! I’ll take them all into consideration :)

-- The Sawdust Fairy ~ Making Magic with Wood

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