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Selling to Gift Shops and Galleries

In my travels last week, I went into a number of gift shops, ranging from those with a tourist bent to those filled with fine crafts to the one-woman stand with hand-crafted birdhouses. What they all had in common was the work was locally made. If you sell quilts, quilted or mixed-media pieces, have you considered marketing your work through a local gift shop? Here are some tips:

1. Your work will be priced at wholesale, which generally is 50% discount from your retail price, so be sure you’ve covered your costs and allowed for a profit.

2. Identify shops by searching for gift shops geographically on the Internet. I found some good possibilities with a search for directory of craft stores and galleries. The Crafts Report often has listings by region of shops and galleries to consider. Don’t forget about some less obvious options, like the small organic grocery; we went in several that had local crafts. And your public library should have access to Gale Directory Library and its Directories in Print, which would include gift shops.

3. Once you’ve identified shops in your local area, make an appointment to meet with the owner or buyer. You can do this via email or mail and include professional brochures and price lists. You might even find that someone buys your products from your initial contact.

4. Show up to the appointment on time. Have clean samples of your product, brochures, photos, price lists, order forms and business cards. You may be asked to consider consigning if your work is unknown, so be prepared for that option. After the appointment, follow up with the owner and/or buyer and thank them for their time. If they did not purchase your work, keep the shop on your list to contact at a later time.

5. Another option is to consider exhibiting in a wholesale craft show, such as those sponsored by the American Craft Council or the Buyers Market of American Crafts.

Good luck if you step into this arena. It’s a lot of fun to see your work for sale at a local shop, and it can lead to bigger sales down the road.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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