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 if you want to stick to selling your handmade crafts locally.
Why locally? Well, there are many benefits to local. Here are the pros and cons of selling handmade crafts locally:
- Low shipping fees
- Start small, prove your business model, then expand
- Great for selling hard to ship items
- You build an audience for a future brick and mortar store
- Easier to make connections
- Easier to get featured in the press
- Limits who you can sell to
Let’s look at the different ways you can sell handmade crafts locally.
And if you’re curious about which products are trending or are wondering what to sell locally, check out:
1) Craft Shows
There are so amazing shows to be a part of to sell your handmade crafts locally and you could easily fill up your entire year. It’s best to decide which ones you’d 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 to every event you apply to.
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, they have their perks too!
If you’re going for an annual craft show, 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.
Once you’ve been accepted to an event, the hard work begins! Your display must attract shoppers (and the right shoppers) and if you’re anything like me when it comes to promoting your work, your sales skills will need a little polishing.
Join the thousands of vendors who have taken my free email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY. It will walk you through the steps to set up an amazing craft show table so you can sell more. Find out more here or sign up below:
If you’re thinking about selling at craft shows, you may also be interested in:
- WHY I QUIT CRAFT SHOWS & WHAT I’D DO DIFFERENTLY
- HOW TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS CARDS OUT OF THE TRASH
- HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CRAFT SHOW PLUS CHECKLIST
2) Pop Up Shows
If you’re looking for a more intimate feel and 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 get 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.
Search “pop up” with your location to find pop-ups happening locally.
Although a website can attract shoppers from anywhere in the world, they won’t start flocking in as soon as you publish your website.
Gaining traffic to your website takes a lot of work. That work mostly falls under SEO (search engine optimization). You can focus your SEO work on building local traffic so that again, you’re more likely to sell locally than to someone in another country.
Focus your cross promoting and link building locally by reaching out to other local businesses. Write blog posts that include keywords related to your city or town. You may post about “Where to buy Valentine’s Day gift locally” or “Best places to shop in ____ city”. You can also use your location (e.g. “Edmonton, AB”) in your website’s titles, tags and descriptions.
For more tips for boosting sales, join my other free challenge: BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES
It’s 5 emails over 5 days and shares:
- 2 words that will completely change your business for the better
- A story about how one seller immediately lost my business and how you can avoid the same mistake
- An answer you MUST know the answer to if you want people to buy
- A marketing method that is 40x better than social media
- A super simple way to boost conversion rates by 60%
4) Online Marketplace
Although many online marketplaces such as Etsy are set up to get your handmade crafts in front of a large, global audience, there are people who use it to shop local by changing their location. And you can limit who you sell to. You may choose to only ship within your country. Although you may get some buyers who aren’t “local” (in the same city as you), you won’t sell to anyone living overseas.
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.
When selling online, through a website or marketplace like Etsy, your product descriptions must be well thought out to turn shoppers into customers. Check out:
- PRODUCT DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE (AND WORKSHEETS)
- PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL – WHY PEOPLE BUY
- PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL – 3 ANSWERS YOU MUST KNOW
5) Farmers’ Markets
These can have great foot traffic in the summer and you can even find some that go on all year. They’re a good option for selling handmade crafts locally because their schedule and booth fees usually allow you to sell in the same spot week after week so customers know where to find you.
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 also great for schedules that are a little less flexible as they usually only run 1 day a week. 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.
6) Consignment Shops
You may have a 2nd hand store in mind when you hear consignment shops but I’m referring to retail stores that house handmade goods on a consignment basis.
This basically means 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 local 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, 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.
You may be interested in these articles:
- THE PROS & CONS OF SELLING HANDMADE THROUGH RETAILERS
- 5 THINGS TO INCLUDE WHEN WRITING A CONSIGNMENT AGREEMENT
- HOW TO CREATE A LOOKBOOK FOR YOUR HANDMADE PRODUCTS
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 a lookbook and line sheet.
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 upfront for your handmade crafts.
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 underpricing your work. Here’s a guide on how to calculate the price your handmade goods.
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.
If you’re not quite ready to set up your own website and an online marketplace isn’t quite a fit, you can use Facebook to sell.
- You must first make sure you’ve set up a Facebook PAGE for your business. Do not use your personal Facebook profile for your marketing your business and selling your products. A page has many benefits including allowing people to “Like” your page to follow along, as opposed to requesting to be your friend (which seems a little less professional).
- Set up your Shop. You’ll find a “Shop” link on along the left side of your page. Click on that. You can then choose “message to buy” (where people can send you a message to set up a sale) or link an e-commerce platform to sell your products (such as Etsy). I’m assuming you do not want to set up a website or online marketplace so choose “message to buy”.
- Select your currency
- Now when you click on “Shop” in the menu along the left of your Facebook page, you’ll be brought to a page that has an “Add Products” button. Click on that button and begin filling in the fields with photos/videos, price, description, etc.
To try and stick to selling locally, promote your location on your Facebook page so visitors are aware you’re a local shop. If you pay for any Facebook advertising, be sure to target a local audience.
10) 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 may get shop owners who travel to these large events to find products to carry in their store but many will be local.
You don’t just get a table at these, you’ll get an entire booth so you must be sure you can create enough stock to fill it and that the number 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 women’s 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.
11) Shopping Parties
Why not throw your own party to sell your handmade crafts locally? 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 everyone can sip wine, snack on good food and you can 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 be aware of your business. Set your products out at different stations; kitchen table, coffee table, etc, so guests can wander and look at all your work without pressure.
12) 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.
Those are my suggestions for selling handmade crafts locally.
Are there any ways you sell your work locally I didn’t cover here? Which platforms are you going to try? Please share in the comments!