This is a re-up of a previous blog post. I decided to do this not because I can't do it again with fresh pictures, but because the comments in this original post were also very informative.
OK this is for any handmade product e-commerce shop owners. I've been asked to do a blog post on how to approach a shop to have them carry your line. Having run a retail shop (my mom's) for over 5 years, and successfully gotten my items in several local stores is the ONLY expertise I have. I don't really know any other way to do this except step by step, so that's what I'm going to do.
1) SCOPE IT OUT - Visit said shop, see if they carry similar items, whats the price range, are they already full of the items you want to sell there?
2) PLANT A SEED - If the shop looks like something that would be a good place to sell your items, briefly mention to the person at the counter about your items, leave a business card.
3) BUY SOMETHING - Make a purchase in that shop, if you won't buy something why would they sell your items?
5) SHOW YOUR PRODUCT - Bring something you make as a gift for the owner. If you deal with children's products OR if the owner has kids (many times they kids would be at the shop with them) be sure to bring a little something for the kids and don't forget to have one for each kid to prevent sibling arguments.
6) BE POLITE - Ask the owner if NOW is a good time to discuss the possibility of them carrying your line. If they say they are covered up -Southern term for really busy, they ask WHEN is a good time. Don't leave without a time scheduled to come back.
7) BE PROFESSIONAL - If scheduled, be sure to call one day ahead to confirm - its good business, they'll know you're serious AND you'll know they'll be there and not blow you off.
8) BE READY - Come back with items in hand ready to leave there for a trial basis.
-Most consignments in my area are on a 70/30 basis so be prepared for that and don't expect them to sell your items for you at 90/10. They have overhead, rent, advertising, etc. to pay and are doing all that for you if your items are in their shop.
-If they ask you to keep up with your inventory be sure to have all items recorded before you bring them in. Most shops have computerized inventory, but not all so be ready for that as well.
- Be prepared to rotate inventory, if items sit too long people will over look them. If the shop keep allows it, ask if you can come in at least once a month and move your items around. Some prefer to do it themselves, others will appreciate the help and outside perspective that you'll offer.
-Promote the shops you work with, you'll all make money if you work together and promote each other. Word of mouth is still the strongest advertising I know of. People go places that others recommend.
-NEVER offer to sell straight off your site or circumvent the shop to any of their customers. If someone wants a special order it should still go through the shop and they should still get their cut. WHY would they continue to carry your items if you're going to cut them out? I've seen this happen and I personally find it sad and very unprofessional. If I meet a customer as a result of a particular shop, then the sale goes to that shop REGARDLESS, its just good business.
-Take care of your brick and mortar stores and they'll promote your items more, direct customers to your product and in short take care of you.
*** Please be sure to read the comments section of this post. There is a bit of dialog in there that is important as well to the topic ***