Why Selling Wholesale is a Solid Working Model for Artists

gallery with potteryStabilize your small business with lower risk and strong gallery relationships.




How would you like to sell out of an item, say your newly designed ceramic mugs, at a retail craft fair? Sounds great, doesn’t it? Although we wouldn’t argue for slower sales, there is something that selling out won’t tell you, and that you must know:

What is your potential with this item?

Let’s say you brought 15 of your new mugs to a craft fair. If you sell all but one of them, then you know that you have reached your potential of 14 mug sales at the show. But if you sell out, how many could you have sold? Twenty?  Thirty?  How many sales have you lost?

Approximately 20% of your product line will produce about 80% of your sales volume (this is a general rule of thumb.)  To maximize sales of those bestsellers, you must know what they are, and your potential with each. This can dramatically affect your sales volume, and your bottom line.


Handmade Cups

Courtesy Adriana Christianson


Staying Lean

Switch scenes to selling at a wholesale trade show. You will never fail to know the potential of every one of your designs, because buyers don’t walk out with the merchandise. Rather than make 15 of your newly designed mugs (not knowing if anybody will buy any of them) you will make one of them to bring as a sample to the show. That sample will sell over and over again, and you only had to make one.

And if that sample doesn’t sell at all? No problem. You only had to make one.

Artists who wholesale get to stay lean on their sample inventory until they have the results of trade shows, online sales or personal sales calls, and know the potential of every single new design they make. They don’t waste time and money stocking up on new designs, hoping they will sell, as they would for retail shows. If those new designs are a bust, you don’t want to end up with lots of poor sellers to get rid of.


Pre-Sold Orders

What other benefits do wholesale sellers have? Think about it – every item they ship is already sold before it’s made! And with many retailers using credit cards for orders, the card can be charged at the time of shipping, putting money in the bank for your order. It’s a great model of efficiency that helps wholesaling artists plan, bring in consistent income, and build a strong, stable business.



Building Repeat Business

The beauty of wholesaling isn’t only that you get to acquire new customers – it’s that you get to keep many of the old ones too. The bread and butter for an artist with a production studio is the income from repeat orders that come in on a regular basis from galleries with whom they have built solid relationships.

It’s not unusual for professionals who have long-term wholesale businesses to have accounts they have been selling to for ten to twenty years. Imagine the win/win that the makers and the retailers have created to be partners in presenting art, delighting their customers and profiting from the sales.


See more of Adriana Christianson’s work here.

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