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December 07, 2015


So you've started a handmade business and now you need to get out there and sell them goods! Here's a list of potential venues to sell them through:


Obviously this would be our first choice for you ;) Made Urban is 100% free so you can list your items at no risk.

The important aspect to selling online is to take professional looking photos. Shoppers can't pick the item up to get a closer look as they would if they were shopping at a store or market and there's no sales person standing by, so you need to make sure you photograph the product's good side and let the picture do the talking.

Clean background, adequate lighting and various angles are key. Think about your favorite online store you love to shop at; what attracts you to their products and what do you like to see when buying? Don't photograph your items in a messy craft room with your tools and supplies in the background. Take the time to create a lightbox or neutral background and give your customers the feeling they're shopping at your personal boutique.

2) Craft Shows

There are so amazing shows to be a part of and you could easily fill up your entire year. It's best to decide on which ones you would like to participate in at the beginning of the year so you can start planning and work them into your budget. Many craft shows are juried to be sure they don't get too many vendors selling the same items, so be prepared that you may not be accepted into all the ones you want.

If a craft show has been around for several seasons, chances are it's a good one to participate in. That's not to say you shouldn't try out the new markets on the block though, they have their perks too! If you're going for an annual craft show, try to get in touch with vendors who have participated in the past to find out what the vibe and traffic is like. If you're trying out a new one, build a relationship with the organizer so you can get a good idea on how they plan to market the show and who their demographic is.

Check out our Events page to find craft shows in your area.

3) Pop Up Shows

Another great option and usually on the smaller side. If you're looking for a more intimate feel and you don't have huge items to sell, these would be a perfect fit for you. Pop-ups are often up for a short time, in a high traffic area and a smaller space; either working with an existing shop, an empty retail space or they're in a mobile unit. A great way to get in, meet some new people, make some sales and be out.

There are also consignment pop-ups where the organizers allow you to drop off your handmade goods while they do the selling. These pop-ups are usually around for several days giving your products a longer time period to sell in. However you aren't able to meet the shoppers or sell your products to them.

4) Farmers' Markets

These can have some great foot traffic in the summer and you can even find some that go on all year. Outdoor farmers' markets are subject to the weather playing nice. Many will run whether it's rain or shine but extreme conditions can shut them down without warning, leaving you with a bunch of stock. But nothing beats being outside on a sunny summer day, chatting with customers and making sales.

Farmers' Markets are great for schedules that are a little less flexible as they usually only run 1 day a week and depending on your area, you can find ones that are in the evenings on weekdays. So if weekends are busy with the kids and family time, this is a great option.

5) Festivals

These are sort of like a craft show, pop-up show and farmers' market rolled into one. They're often geared around music, food, sports or arts & culture but will usually have space for handmade vendors. They are typically outdoors as well but will span over several days so you'll need to build up some stock for them.

When choosing a festival to sell your handmade goods at, be mindful of the theme to be sure your products are a fit. Shopping is not the main attraction so although they draw big crowds, the majority of those people are going to watch a performance or partake in the activities.

6) Trade Shows & Expos

These are generally much bigger events, more expensive than your typical craft show or market and can have a mix of big and small companies as well as products and services. You don't just get a table at these, you'll get an entire booth so you have to be sure you can create enough stock to fill it and that the amount of sales you can generate will cover your costs. 

There are usually themes to these types of shows and they can get very specific so it's great if you're trying to reach a target market. There are bridal, home & garden, ski & snowboard, gift and womans shows, as well as expos geared towards traveling, comic & entertainment, mom & baby, health & wellness or even pets.

Here's a great website for finding the bigger trade shows and expos in your city.

7) Consignment Shops

You may have a 2nd hand store in mind when you hear consignment shops but we're referring to retail stores that house handmade goods on a consignment basis. This basically means that you're lending your product to them; if it sells, you split the profits (usually 50/50 however each store is different) and if it doesn't sell, you take it back at the and of an agreed period. 

It can be a great way to get your foot in the door with retailers, enticing them to try your product with no risk and if all goes well, you can work out a wholesale agreement. There are pros and cons to selling on a consignment basis, which are outlined here, and you want to be sure you have all your ducks in a row to keep track of your stock (there's a downloadable template here) and have a solid agreement in place.

8) Boutiques

The unique shops in each city are usually big supporters of local artists. Drop by or check them out online to see if they would be a fit for your products. If they are, set up a time to meet or talk with the owner and bring in samples of your work, or email them some photos.

As mentioned above, you can start on a consignment agreement if they're unsure but the goal is to get wholesale orders so they're paying you upfront for your goods. This means that you'll need to have your wholesale prices set so you should think about that beforehand. Generally wholesale prices are 1/2 of your retail price (what you sell your items for at craft shows). If that sounds like a lot of money to take off, have a second look at your pricing structure, you may be under pricing your work. Here's a guide on how to calculate the price your handmade goods.

9) Shopping Parties

Why not throw your own party?! We've all been to Arbonne or Tupperware parties, how much more fun would one be, full of handmade goods? Plan a party with your friends and family where you get to sip wine, snack on good food and show off your latest creations.

Offer to have the wine and snacks at your house, set a time (i.e. 5pm -8pm) and ask your friends to invite their acquaintances who may not have had the chance to see your line yet. Set your products out at different stations; the counter, kitchen table, coffee table, etc, so guest can wander around and look at all your stuff without any pressure.

10) Open Houses

These have a similar vibe to shopping parties but are a little more open to the public, think garage sale meets shopping party. Where shopping parties may be more of a set time for everyone to arrive and leave by, open houses may run a little longer and be open to people in your neighbourhood walking by. 

These aren't for everyone, especially if you're not fond of strangers in your home but it can be a great way to get a small group of vendors together and offer a selection of handmade products. Keep your displays a little more grouped together since you won't have as tight of a connection with the shoppers and be close by to answer any questions. You can always keep the invite list a little more private and just ask friends and family to send it to their email lists, send it out to groups or clubs you're a part of or start a Facebook event. Be sure to check with your local government on the regulations for an open house, depending on the area, they may be treated as a garage sale.

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