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#1 Brian Reed

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:02 PM

So I finally decided to bite the bullet and jump into wholesale and try and work through wholesalecrafts.com  and just got confirmation that I was accepted into their ACRE show in Las vegas as well as their catalog.  This seems to be on a larger scale than simple consignments and local wholesale accounts.  I know I have a ton to learn, and have a mentor help guide me along this path.  How many have done this sort of thing before?  I am sure there are several large whole sale crafter distributors that hold shows like this.  What should I expect at my first trade show?


Brian Reed

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#2 GEP

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:58 PM

Congrats Brian!

 

ACRE is one of the newest organizations producing these types of shows, but I believe their Las Vegas show is now the best craft trade show on the west coast. Having said that, ALL of the craft trade shows are still struggling to recover from the recession. ACRE shows are doing "ok" just like all the others. Every artist I know who has worked with ACRE says nothing but positive things about the organization.

 

I'm glad they have provided you with a mentor. There is a learning curve dealing with wholesale galleries. The good news is, the culture of wholesale is very favorable for artists. Especially in the post-recession world ... the only galleries still standing are the highly-enlightened ones, i.e. the ones who treat their artists with much respect.

 

If I had to give you one tip ... bring a printed pricelist to the show. Preferably with color photos of your items. About 100 qty. This makes a huge difference to buyers! They have to look at hundreds of booths, they can't possibly remember what they saw in your booth unless you give them a printed version. When I was doing trade shows I was shocked to see how many artists did not understand this. One year ... the potter across from me noticed my nicely printed pricelist. For the first three days of the show, she had a very slow show. For the last day of the show, she brought her own pricelists, and had her best day of the show by far.

 

One more small tip ... sometimes buyers will ask you "What is your best selling item?" Make sure you know the answer to that. It means a lot to the buyer.


Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
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#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 06:45 PM

I was a founding member on wholesale crafts dot com and stayed with them for ten years, but never did the physical show.

I can tell you about what you need to succeed ....
IMAGES ... No if, ands, or buts ... On the site you need excellent images ...
INFORMATION .... Pricing, turn around time, order and re-order policies, minimums, credit terms, guarantees.
BOOTH ... Pre-printed, ready to go order sheets that list all of your wares, their prices ... so the buyers can just SIT ... Have a cold bottle of water ( your treat ) and tell you what they want and when.
KNOW your production capabilities so you are not promising work you cannot possibly deliver.
YOUR best sellers ... And do not b s them ... These are the same people you want to see year after year
Good luck!

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

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#4 Brian Reed

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 08:32 PM

Those are some great tips, I am going to start working on a pricelist with thumbnails right away.  I also will have order sheets ready....and water. 

 

as for my best seller that is easy, small porcelain bowls with copper red interior and geladon exterior.  I sell other colors, but this seems to be the best seller.

 

IMG_5628.JPG


Brian Reed

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#5 bciskepottery

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:10 PM

In situations like this, will the buyer ask about glaze/materials safety . . . what is in the glaze and have you had it tested? Also, liability insurance? And I would think you'd have to set up your terms for shipping costs/responsibility.

#6 Chris Campbell

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:36 PM

There are lots of sites on the internet with all kinds of wholesale info for artists ... Contracts, templates of product sheets ... Right down to lists of things to bring with you.

I never had a gallery ask about glaze safety but I have been out of the big wholesale markets for ten years.

Before you sign onto the show I would definitely ask for a list of other potters who have done it to get their input on what works. WSC needs to rent booths to make money and you are the one who needs to clear those fees and expenses to make money. So ask a lot of questions before you sign on.

Large wholesale markets can be a minefield of hidden charges so make sure you get ALL the info like are there charges for hauling, electrical hook up, etc.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

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#7 GEP

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 10:09 PM

I have never been specifically asked if I've had my glazes tested. I've often had the "food-safe or not" conversation. I don't think the buyers are just taking my word for it. Galleries that carry handmade pottery have some expertise, they know what factors make pots food-safe or not, and can judge it with their own eyes too.
Mea Rhee
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#8 Mark C.

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 10:12 PM

I know of no one in my circle of ceramic studio potters who do this show. So I have no direct hands on but can add to others points which is a more general wholesale advice from myself and others I know.

Know what you can realistically produce in any given month-do not take orders beyond that as it will bite you.

I as Chris have never had any galleries ask about glaze safety or my liability insurance but have had the show/venue ask about my insurance.

You will know what they want long before your boots are on the ground in L.V.

Chris has it right about the fees so be carefull like she said they may add fees for more than two lights that sort of stuff.

Mea's suggestion are spot on for wholesale in general-have some great color hand outs with excelent photos and price lists

I wholesaled ceramics pins and magnets to zoos and Aquariums around the USA and Canada in another ceramic life long ago and our color cibachrome brochure was key in all sales. The images popped and it made all the difference. We choose a more direct marking approach than a wholesale show back then with really good sucess.

Now for the obvoius get rested beforehand and do not appear burn out from whatever . Pace yourself.

Good luck with the show

congrats

Mark


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#9 DirtRoads

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 12:34 AM

 Pricing, turn around time, order and re-order policies, minimums, credit terms, guarantees.
BOOTH ... Pre-printed, ready to go order sheets that list all of your wares, their prices ... so the buyers can just SIT ... Have a cold bottle of water ( your treat ) and tell you what they want and when.
KNOW your production capabilities so you are not promising work you cannot possibly deliver.
YOUR best sellers ... And do not b s them ... These are the same people you want to see year after year
Good luck!

All of this ^.  Used to do Atlanta market on the wholesale side and have worked the Mississippi Trade Show for a potter for the last 3 years.

 

Line sheet is an absolute must.    Take a calendar and schedule your work as you take the orders.  Pad delivery dates to allow for any problem that might arise.    1  week padding should be sufficient.  Also streamline your display.    Might consider limiting your colors and styles (nice looking bowls btw).  In your display make sure you can show line quickly.    Example:  I have these 4 colors (have examples all together, preferably in some sort of linear mount).  Name your colors.    Which color or colors do you like?  Then point out that you can get any piece seen in the booth.  Once I get customers to select color(s),  I then show them every piece in booth.  Most of the pottery customers at MS Market pick 2 colors.   They usually get the selected pieces in both colors.  A line sheet listed by piece, with colors across the top.   Then you can quickly check off ordered pieces.     Better to limit the number of SKU's in booth so the line is not overwhelming.  The potter I've worked for the last 3 years has decreased SKU's every show.   Since you are only taking singles, you can really highlight your items.  You can create a more visually appealing display in wholesale than is sometimes possible with retail.  I would think about a minimalistic  scheme in light neutral colors, with pottery pieces highlighted, not cramped.

 

Put booth number on business cards or any materials you hand out so customers can return easily.    We hand out line sheets that specify minimum order and terms (that has booth number written on it) to interested customers and catalogs (just color copies of key items) to really interested customers that I know have good sales potential (don't leave these for grabs).    A small sample (something you can make quickly) is good, but don't put these out for grabs.  The potter I worked for made these little wearable pins.  She used to set out a basket on the aisle perimeter but I moved them where only people that came in the booth would be "handed" one.

 

Customers will want a carbon of the order.  Many customers want you to total the order too.  So an organized form is key for this.  (list items in the grouping order that you will use in display and use simple names or a very short numerical code for identity .. I like names better than numbers)   You want to check items, not write. 

 

I would do credit card only for first order.  But that's up to you.

 

Also, don't let a non ordering customer tie up your time at the show.    Many customers will make a walk through  the show and then come back and order so expect that. 

 

Many potters in my area distribute their product through wholesaling and it seems to work for them.  Last year I heard repeated complaints about potters "not delivering on time" and "not getting all the order".



#10 Chris Campbell

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 10:52 AM

Excellent advice above.

 

In addition to your booth number I would also have your web page link/address at wsc prominently displayed. Let them get directly to YOUR page at re-order time ... not the main address where they could get distracted from your work.


Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#11 DirtRoads

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 12:58 PM

Shipping.  Almost all the customers asked about shipping cost.   The potter I worked for charges 10% of order.  She delivers personally.  IMO 10% is not enough.   Another potter I know adds 15% to order for shipping.  She mostly hand delivers as well.

 

When I had retail stores (2010 last date), shipping on ceramics ran about 25%.  I automatically added 25% to cost for all ceramics.  I remember it going up and I was contemplating 30%. 

 

How close are these customers?  Will you hand deliver or ship?  Figure all this out before show.  Make sure you spell out WHO pays shipping and how much.  I think it should be the buyer paying shipping on ceramics.  Free freight was mostly on imports as i remember, with something like a $2500-$5000 order.

 

I do recall a few suppliers charging exact amounts for shipping as opposed to a percentage.  I would at least give them a range, saying something like "shipping runs between 20-25% of order".

 

Like Chris said .. you will deal with these people for years.  I could name 5 or 6 potters in my state that have "unreliable" reputations for order fill and consistency.   Another complaint I heard at the MS trade show was that  "X potter didn't ship what the store ordered".  I worked this show for 3 years

 

http://www.mississip...t.org/index.php

 

Last show had about 15 potters there.   The range of orders (from what I heard) ranged from $1500 to $50K plus.  The potter I worked for had huge sales increases from the beginning (10X more).  They are not doing the show this year because they are at full capacity now with wholesale accounts.



#12 DirtRoads

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:41 PM

Territory Protection.  Are you going to do it or not?  Most potters in my state protect by town or zip code.  No idea how important it is for your area.  For some stores, territory protection is a BIG deal.    If a store has more than 1 location, you really can't place restrictions on where they sell your product.   We keep a zip code list and look it up before adding new customers.  And add to this list during show. 

 

The trend for national vendors is to NOT offer territory protection.   I think pottery businesses should probably consider using it.  If you do it, consider adding a yearly reorder, something like $500 or $1000 minimum to maintain territory protection.



#13 Chris Campbell

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:59 PM

I had a slightly different take on territory protection because I got burned a couple times by giving this power to the first gallery rather than the best.
So, My policy changed to considering exclusivity after one year of orders and re-orders. It's not fun to find out you're in the wrong store in a great selling town.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#14 GEP

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:12 PM

My approach to shipping ... buyer always pays for shipping. I charge the actual UPS amount. That means when the order is finished, I pack and box it, weigh it, then generate the shipping labels (I use UPS) and get the exact cost. Then I write the invoice, including the exact shipping cost. There's no question, from either side, whether the amount is fair.

 

I have a few accounts that are close enough to deliver orders in person. Those customers get free shipping. I like locals. And besides, packing pots for a car ride is much easier, and takes a lot less packing materials, than packing pots for a UPS trip.


Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
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#15 DirtRoads

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 11:37 AM

I  My policy changed to considering exclusivity after one year of orders and re-orders. It's not fun to find out you're in the wrong store in a great selling town.

I've never seen anyone with this policy ... but this is really good.






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