From Craft Fair to Craft Shop – How to sell your work on the High Street

from craft fair to craft shop

So, your crafts are starting to gain popularity, or perhaps you’re already selling them online (for example, on Etsy).

What next?

Perhaps you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth trying to get your products onto the high street.

While you do need to weigh up the pros and cons, it’s not as difficult or as expensive as you might think.

Susie Wilson, who regularly organizes craft fairs off-line, gives us her top tips on getting your hand crafted products out onto the high street – without the expense and risk of renting your own shop.

 

Why should I want to sell my products in a real shop?

First of all, getting your products sold in someone else’s shop is a nice way of increasing your customer base without significantly increasing your overheads.

Secondly, if you’re thinking about opening your own physical bricks-and-mortar shop at some point in the future, it’s a good idea to test the idea first without committing too much expense to the project. If you can sell them in someone else’s premises, you get to discover whether a shop on the high street is appropriate or feasible for your crafting business.

 

How do I find a suitable outlet?

Nowadays, the Internet is as good a place to start,  so check out crafting websites that are out there, many – including Craftsforum – have forums where people advertise if they need suppliers.

Do also make good use of craft fairs, such as the Hobbycraft Shows.  It’s a small world – put the word out that you’re looking for suitable ‘shelf space’, and you might be surprised at what offers come your way.

Make sure that you’re not thinking too rigidly about your ideal shop space. There might be local museums, art galleries or even cafés and restaurants willing to host your craft products.

The next time you’re out and about, why not make a note of places you think could be a potential host for your products.  When you find one that looks promising, take leaflets and/or business cards in with you, as well as a portfolio of your products and make an appointment to come back in with examples of work if the owner is interested. There’s no point lugging your crafts around on the off-chance and making an appointment to see someone makes you look far more professional too!

 

The Finer Details.

As with all business arrangements, the devil is in the detail. When you find a suitable and willing venue, make sure that you are all happy with the arrangement that is put in place. You might, of course, make different arrangements with different establishments. Some shops might take commission, although be aware that this can be a significant percentage of the selling cost.

Others might rent ‘shelf space’ to you on which you can display your products. Some might take your products on a ‘sale or return’ basis. In this instance, you will loan your products to the shop, who will display and care for them for an agreed amount of time. If they are sold, the shop will reimburse you with a percentage of the sale, and, if they do not sell, they should be returned to you in the same condition.

You must ensure that you give the shop an accurate inventory of the stock that you hand over to them – with the price that you want it to be sold at clearly labelled. Furthermore, it is wise to have some kind of formal written contract with them that should, at the very least, cover the following points:

  • when you can expect payment from any sales that they make
  • the minimum number of days/weeks for which they will display your stock
  • details of what will happen if that stock is lost or damaged whilst in their care (you should not have to cover any such costs)
  • very importantly: a statement of ownership which names them as yours until the point of sale. This ensures that the shop cannot claim them as assets in the event of any financial difficulty on their part.

Try these top tips and you may just see your handiwork being sold in a high street.

Enjoy it – who knows where your business could go from here.

Do you have any top tips of your own?  Do share in the comments below, we’d love to hear them.

 

Susie Wilson

 

 

 

Article updated, originally published May 19, 2015

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