yellow glass necklace

Wholesale – Or Not?

by Lyn Foley on June 24, 2008

Our recent three day show in Dallas was very successful – even in the 100 degree plus heat! Our two fans at least kept the dense air circulating – and our cooler full of ice water kept us hydrated. WHEW!

Set up is awkward for us, since because of P.D. Jim can’t carry anything and walk at the same time – that means I do most of the lifting and hauling of gear. We get weird looks as Jim steps aside, and  I put on my gloves, my back brace, and wearing my work-out clothes, lug the tent poles around, and man-handle all the cases and bits of displays into position.

But even with difficult set-up and tear down, heat, bugs – or in other instances, rain, mud, wind and cold, we love doing shows. It’s great to see old customers again ( I love my fans!) and great to meet new admirers. Traveling to shows takes me out of my tiny Round Top comfort zone and throws me into a different big city zone.  Seeing who buys what  (- or seeing what doesn’t sell), is always informative and interesting. And I get big boosts to my ego, especially when I win a Jury Award, like I did in Dallas. (Thank you, jurors). I come home exhausted from the physical labor and all the talking and interaction, but energized, full of new ideas and sparks to my creativity. So what’s the problem?

None, really, except that it is getting more difficult for me to do this every month with Jim’s limited help – and it is also getting much more expensive – hotel rooms, meals out, gas prices, show booth fees – all are adding up to take their toll along with the physical wear and tear on my poor back aching 63 year old  body.

At just about every show, three or four customers who own shops or galleries ask “Do you do wholesale?” And therein lies the dilemma I am facing. Should I or shouldn’t I?

So far, I don’t really wholesale. I do furnish my jewelry to two galleries, The Gallery at Round Top, and Design|Works in Galveston. Both of these carry my work on consignment – they pay me after something sells. I keep my prices the same, and therefore, since the gallery takes a percentage, I end up with less income for what they sell, but don’t have to incur the expense of all of the above – or the expense of bodily wear and tear.  Its a trade-off.

But in true wholesale, I would make a “line”, take orders off of that line of jewelry, go home, make the beads and jewelry, and then be paid in full on delivery. Two companies that promote artists to galleries, with either wholesale web sites, or wholesale shows, or both, have approached me to be a vendor/participant. I’m looking at how I would do this. What part of what I make would be in my “Line” ? And what about pricing? Can I make enough at 50% off my retail prices – or do I need to raise my retail prices so that I can earn enough at wholesale? Will I have to give up doing retail shows – or just cut back on how many I do? And what about the fact that I mostly make everything as”One of a kind” – will I want to make the same or similar earrings or necklaces over and over? I’m tossing all these questions around as I fill my orders from the Dallas show, and make new beads and jewelry for the upcoming Rockport Art Festival. I’ll figure out an answer by August, when I have a one month show break. Meanwhile, a recent necklace I happily made for a new customer.

Thank you , Stephanie.

glass necklace

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