Wholesale Made Easier

Mckenna Lei thumbnailGuest blogger and ABI faculty member Mckenna Hallett shares a case study of an artist who needed a crash course in how to wholesale, and the sage advice given.


I recently received a frantic phone call from an artist who had just gotten juried into a show that would have wholesale buyers attend for one day before the retail show begins. She currently has her art in two places, but both are artist coops and so far she is only consigning. Her pricing was out of whack for wholesaling, which had me worried about her outcome at this show.

Plus, she had a million questions. Here were just a few:

My overall advice to this particular person was pretty conservative: don’t open more than two accounts until you have a better grasp. Anyone trying to place an order after those first two slots is important, but you need to be careful about growing a wholesale business in a frantic, scrambled, disorderly manner.

Take everyone’s information, and let them know you are “booked through the rest of the year.” Tell them you will be in touch if any studio time opens up any sooner. Let them know what to expect, and then follow-up with them and get more accounts after the first of the year, at which time you will be ready to wholesale.

SO…my new friend got a free consultation from me that day. I suspect we will be in more talks after her show experience.

I couldn’t help but try to assist her with this situation over the phone. But she also got a follow-up email that directed her to an immensely important source that anyone contemplating wholesale in their future needs to know about. And that was the Arts Business Institute website of course! Tons of articles are published here to answer those burning questions about selling wholesale, how to price profitably, develop business relationships and earn repeat sales.

Nothing sells, retail or wholesale, without Marketing Skills. No matter how many years you have been a creative, there is always room to learn more.

And from my vantage point, there is always time to share a little more, too.



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  1. suzanne balestri says

    Great info here! I have been approached by a company that handles airport concessions that wants to carry some of my merchandise. Do you have any information on doing wholesale in that arena? I don’t see a SEARCH area on ABI to look for related articles. Thank you!

    • Dear Suzanne, There isn’t a difference between selling to retailers in different industries, because your line of wholesaled merchandise will have the same prices, terms, etc. Check out this category for lots of articles http://artsbusinessinstitute.org/category/selling-wholesale/

      • The only slight difference is if a LARGE corporation is ordering there can be some rules they work by that a small one-owner shop might not care about. When I was with Neiman Marcus, there were conditions they set in place that were tricky to comply with and I managed to beat their system on only a few things.

        When you get more details, Suzanne, you should contact the Arts Business Institute and Wendy Rosen or Executive Director Carolyn Edlund might be able to point you to more detail answers.

        But for the most part it is true that all wholesale is pretty similar and the basics are very standardized – globally.

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