I have just started a consignment relationship with a local boutique that I am very excited about. As if to prove my instincts right, my first item sold early the day after I brought my things in, before I could even begin this article. I’ve decided that retailing my own items online is not going to be the best way for my business to make money; I’ll probably always do it as a supplement, but I’ve been exploring other options for some time now. Here are my thoughts on the subject of consigning, wholesaling, or paying a booth fee to a brick and mortar shop:
By Booth Fee I mean paying to place my items in a storefront
In my first attempt to get my items into a brick and mortar shop, I rented booth space for 6 months. I paid a pretty reasonable fee–$40 per month—the shop was in a good location for traffic, and was a well-established business. However, I didn’t make one sale, so this was a pretty big hit to the ole’ wallet. I definitely did a few things wrong: I didn’t chose the shop because I loved it and thought it was a good fit. I chose it because I realized businesses of about my size sold there, and I was timid. Being in a shop was a big deal to me, and I thought it would be good fortune indeed to find someone willing to have me. I’m bolder and more businesslike now. If a shop owner isn’t interested, it’s just business. It doesn’t mean I can’t go somewhere else. Perhaps I would go this route again, but only if I felt very sure my items were right for the shop.
Wholesale is selling items in bulk at a discount to retailers who will resell them in their own shops.
I’ve been dreaming of wholesale for awhile now, and I’ve begun to attract some interest. In fact, I believe I will land an account within the next few days. I started thinking this way because small retail sales were getting me nowhere. They were inefficient. I had a few repeat customers, but not many because I don’t sell things that you need to keep buying. Once you have a nursing cover, you have one. You don’t really need more. In fact, the whole point of some of my products—nursing pads and coffee cozies—is that you can reuse them. I figured wholesale accounts would be a good way to build a more solid customer base as well as make more sizeable sales. I’m still excited about it; we’ll see what happens.
Consignment is splitting the proceeds of a sale with the shop owner at a pre-set percentage.
Another reason I started selling at the store where I paid a booth fee is that it was not consignment. Many stores that sell handmade items do sell on a consignment basis, and at the time I found this unappealing. I think “consignment” had a connotation to me of cheap thrift store goods that made very little cash for the consignor. I’d sold some of my old baby things this way, and my cut seemed meager compared to what I could get by selling it myself. It’s confusing to me now, but at the time, I preferred a booth fee because I knew up front how much it was going to cost me, rather it being based on my sales. I think that’s really because my items weren’t priced properly. Now that they are priced to allow for wholesale, the shop’s 30% cut is not painful at all. Consignment now seems like the best of both worlds to me: there is very little risk to me or the shop owner. If I don’t sell, I don’t have to pay. What’s not to love about that arrangement? I will say that the shop I am consigning at is very nearby, shares an aesthetic with me personally and my brand, and is just all around a better fit.
Do you rent space, sell [or buy] wholesale or on consignment? What insight do you have to share?