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Selling Your Jewelry to Shops

Some Dos and Don’ts

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While my jewelry-writing career has begun to overtake my jewelry-selling career, on occasion I still find time to hit the streets and sell to boutiques and galleries. Even from my earliest days in the jewelry business, I was fairly successful when selling my work wholesale. It is not for everyone and there isn’t necessarily a one size fits all formula, but with some preparation and organization, selling hand-crafted jewelry to small shops, boutiques, and galleries can help you earn some good-sized sales. I’ve considered what has and has not worked for me in the past and have come up with a list of Dos and Don’ts when approaching retail outlets with your jewelry.

Do some reconnaissance work before contacting anyone. If possible, make a trip to the store first and examine the merchandise to ensure your jewelry will fit in with the current inventory. Some shops also have web sites these days, so if you can’t go in person, you can sometimes take a virtual tour on line.

Don’t show up unannounced. Contact the owner or manager for an appointment. Most stores schedule specific times on specific days to meet with vendors. If you happen to be in the shop one day and it’s slow, it’s alright to introduce yourself and leave a card, but don’t expect to do more than that. (Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to have your jewelry in your car just in case either!)

Do look professional and wear your jewelry whenever you make contact with a shop owner. If possible, you may want to try to reflect the image of the store by how you dress as well.

Don’t mention the word “consignment” unless the shop owner brings it up first. Even then, unless the place you approach primarily consigns its merchandise, I never recommend consigning. If a shop owner can buy from other businesses, then she can buy from you. Another reason to avoid this is the fact that consigning requires the merchant to keep careful records. If the shop doesn’t do this already, then too many mistakes can be made, resulting in lost merchandise and income for you.

Do provide a wholesale price list, sometimes referred to as a data sheet. You may also want to have brochures or other promotional materials available. These are helpful when making initial contact. You can either mail them or drop them off in person.

Don’t be surprised if you are interrupted a lot during your meeting. It will almost be impossible to get undivided attention. Be prepared to wait as the owner has to take care of other issues such as phone calls, employees, customers, etc.

Do practice your spiel. Know what you plan to say, and while you want to be friendly, be careful about straying off topic or wasting the buyer’s time with too much unrelated chit chat.

Don’t forget to bring a receipt book, pen, and calculator along with your jewelry. Double check that you have everything you need before you pack everything up and head off to your appointment.

Do invest in a jewelry case to transport and show your work. A few places that carry these cases along with trays and liners include Rio Grande and JewelrySupply.com.

Don’t overlook the importance of the “follow-up.” If a merchant says she can’t buy now but might be interested in a few months, mark your calendar and contact her again. Also, if you do make a sale, continue to occasionally make contact with the buyer. Send a thank you note and/or promotional material about new designs you have available. Your goal is to build a relationship with a buyer which will lead to more sales.

No matter what type of jewelry you making from beading to wire wrapping to metal work, there are lots of little shops and galleries around that you could approach to about buying your own hand-crafted jewelry. You just need some confidence and a plan!

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