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Thursday, March 18, 2010

From Craft Addiction to Craft Business: Part 3 0f 3

- Note: This is part 2 in a 3-part series on the business of craft with 
special emphasis on the local Juneau market.  Find part 1 here and find part 2 here

*** Please check out the resources section after the jump!!***

How many First Fridays have you spent thumbing through earrings at Annie Kaills or donning knit hats at the Juneau Artist's Gallery and thought to yourself, "Could I be selling here someday?" If you're like me it may take months or even years to work up the courage to sell your crafty products directly to local storefronts. Often the most nerve-racking part comes from lack of knowledge of the industry and the "rules." To help you out I've gathered tips from local stores and several resources to give you an edge on the local craft market.

When you walk into any store you're facing what is known as the "cold call." This means you don't know the owner/seller and they don't know you. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with research - about the store, the products they carry, their targeted buyers, and so on. If you're approaching a store like Annie Kaills, a year-round store that carries unique items targeted to both tourists and locals, think of how your craft will fit into the rest of their items. Curtis Christensen, a sales clerk at Annie Kaills notes, "We are always looking for something unique, that the other stores won't carry."

While researching each storefront consider the pricing and selling of your crafts. There are two options for working with storefronts on sales; consignment and wholesale. Consignment means the store will put your product on the shelf and as it sells they will give you a percentage of the profit from those sales. Homespun Mercantile at the Airport Shopping Center is a perfect example of this process. They only sell on consignment at 65/35 (that's 65 percent of sales to you, 35 percent to the store). In return they are providing the space, display and set-up of your items as well as some marketing.

Many other shops, like Annie Kaills, will request wholesale prices for your items. Wholesalers create a large stock of product and sell it outright to the store. Expect most stores to mark up the items 100 percent (this is known as a keystone markup). Make sure your pricing to local stores is consistent with pricing at fairs and your online shops, otherwise those inconsistencies may make both customers and sellers frustrated.

Prepare products for sale by thinking through the display options and advertising opportunities that accompany your crafts. An informational card with your business name, blog, or Web site and logo might be all that is required to create professional-looking merchandise. In some cases, though, a photo of the product in action can do wonders for sales. Borrow ideas from the advertising world by flipping through magazines and browsing through similar items in stores.

Christensen at Annie Kaills says the most important part of the local sellers pitch is the presentation. "When you come into a shop you want to make sure it looks professional. If it's artwork, put it in a folio. If it's a product make sure you have samples with you. Bring the entire package."

But don't get too intimated either. Carol Schriver of Homespun Mercantile suggests, "If you're not sure if it's sellable then come in and we'll give you suggestions. We encourage artists to get out there."

However you decide to sell your crafty creations - whether online, in stores, or at fairs -be prepared to work hard, craft hard and research, research, research.

Excellent Resources:

Excellent Resources:

Alaska Small Business Development Center: Starting a Small Business Workshop
Juneau, Alaska - Tuesday, March 23rd, 12pm to 1pm
Register online at http://aksbdc.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action or call AKSBDC, Southeast at 463-3789, as space is limited.

UA Center for Human Development
Anchorage, Alaska – February 19, 2010 - Training in marketing techniques
offered statewide to Alaskan artists and crafters beginning March 4th and continuing through May.  For more information contact Karen Heath at 907-264-6273, anklh8@uaa.alaska.edu or Danielle Miller at 907-264-6230, andlm1@uaa.alaska.edu.

Crafting an MBA on wholesale vs. consignment for crafters and artists
Crafty Business resources from One Pretty Thing
Design Sponge’s Biz Ladies section covering all topics about creating a crafty business

Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco

The Craft Business Answers Book by Barbara Brabec

Originally published by The Juneau Empire here . . .


  1. Another resource!

  2. And Another fantastic shop in town that sells crafted wares:
    "Another place local craftspeople might contact is our Gallery Store at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. The JAHC Gallery Store is located in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center at the corner of Egan Drive and Whittier Street, and it gets a lot of pedestrian traffic during the tourist season and on First Fridays. Susan Sloss manages the store and would be happy to speak with potential suppliers."

  3. SO helpful! I'm currently trying to get up the nerve to cold call a few stores so this is very timely for me. THANK YOU!

  4. More resources:
    Become a member of BuyAlaska.com- weekly updates and resources as well as a FREE web presence!

    And from their weekly newsletter this week:
    "I received this Facebook invite from Alisa Sherman, who is a nationally recognized authority when it comes to Internet Marketing (and Social Media Marketing). She now lives in Tok and will teach a course on the subject at the UAF Tok Center.

    CIOS F146 IT2 Universify of Alaska Fairbanks course

    Friday, March 26, 2010 at 9:00am to Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 4:00pm

    Learn how to leverage free Internet tools to enhance your local, regional, national and global marketing efforts including social media tools such as blogs, microblogs (like Twitter), social networks (like Facebook) as well as audio and video podcasts.

    Please contact Tok University Center to register: 883-5613 or 800-478-2773 or drop off a registration form at UAF Tok Center if you have one."

  5. AND . . .
    take your wares to a gift show and sell all to businesses all over the state!

    Fall Alaska Wholesale Gift & Food Show 2010

    Sept. 30 - Oct. 2

    Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage

    Fall/Holiday/Christmas Wholesale Show

    Call Mike Anderson at (907)929-2822, or visit www.alaskagiftshow.com for more information and to register

    Wholesale Alaskan Gift Show

    January 21 & 22

    Dena'ina Convention Center in Anchorage

    Summer/Tourist Season. Wholesale Show. Contact Dee Carpenter 907-452-SHOW (7469), or visit http://newimpressions.com for more information or to register

    Winter Alaska Gift & Food Show 2011

    January 28, 29 & 30, 2011

    Venue TBA in Anchorage, AK

    Summer/Tourist Season. Wholesale Show. Call Mike Anderson at (907)929-2822, or visit www.alaskagiftshow.com for more information or to register.

  6. This is such a fabulous series and a great resource. I'll be linking.


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