Submitted by: Susan Robertson, Ceramic Artist
People often ask me about the why/how I ended up focusing on wholesale. Early in my career I followed the traditional methods of flogging my wares, weekend after weekend at craft sales. At the time, my three children were very young and I arrived home after the ninth weekend in a row away from home, to find my kids clinging to their father's pant leg in fear, not knowing who I was. It broke my heart. I decided then and there to find another way to continue practicing my craft and selling my work that would not require me to travel so much.
I started looking at wholesale as a viable alternative. Firstly and most importantly, it would allow me to stay at home more. It also had the added benefit of decreased speculation. I didn't have to make dozens of items and hope they would sell. I just had to make samples and produce them if and when they were ordered. The down side was that I had to sell my work to stores at half of my normal selling price.
I was fortunate in my timing to be able to take part in a program, the name of which escapes me at the moment, which was designed to help new wholesalers attend the Alberta Gift Show, for a minimal cash investment. It also provided me with guidance on promotional material. It was a great success and my venture into wholesaling was launched.
Over the years I have acquired and lost agents, ventured into the US market, survived the downturn in the economy and now find myself no longer needing to do retail craft markets, for which I am eternally grateful. I'm getting too old to haul, pack and unpack pots.
Looking back, it was the right choice for me. Looking forward, with the diminishing returns of today's craft sales, I believe that this may be a good choice for others. Crunch the numbers, you may be as surprised as
I was to discover that your wholesale net income, when you include all of the costs, is not so different from retail.
The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Saskatchewan Craft Council.