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millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

Those of you who sell your bears in shops, I have a few questions.  I have meant to ask this before, but have been so busy working outside.   Now I am laid up for a few days.  I was thrown from a horse and sprained my ankle so I am told to stay off of it awhile.  That's much easier said than done.  I still have animals to feed and things to do.  But I am spending more time on the computer and making bears.  Fortunately, it's rainy today so I'm not so tempted to be outside.  Well, never mind my rambling, on with the questions.

1.  Do you sell on commission?
2.  How do you go about finding these shops?
3.  Is it appropriate to send them a flyer or something with pictures of your bears?

Laura Lynn Teddies by Laura Lynn
Lexington, KY
Posts: 3,647
Website

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Millie I don't sell to shops... but so sorry about your ankel!!  bear_cry

millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

Laura,

Thank you so much.  I thank God that it was not worse.  I actually went under the electric fence instead of on it.  I do think that I am getting too old to consider the rodeo as a career.  I better stick to bear making.

nettie scotland
Posts: 2,160
Website

I used to sell to shops many years ago.I letters in those days with pictures and prices.Not many sell on commision.Most shops need a large discount so they are not seeling your bears way over your sale price.You could send e-mails with a link to some bear pictures.Many businesses don't open mail with attachments thses days because of all the virus.
You need to set out your prices and terms in advance.Good luck.
Diane xxx

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568
Website

I sell my bears on commission to 4 shops... none of them buy wholesale. That was just how it worked out, I didn't go after commission only shops.

I simply stopped by (but calling first to see if the owner/manager/buyer would like an appt. is always a respectable thing to do!) and brought a few bears with me along with a price sheet, bio and fact sheet and photo sheet of bears I've made. This way I had 3-5 bears with me that I was prepared to leave for consignment on the spot but if they weren't interested right away or needed to think on it then I had all the info they'd need to keep and look over.

If you are not within driving distance to the shops you'd like to sell your bears in then I'd certainly send a marketing packet (like all the sheets I bring with me described above) and plan to follow up with a phone call a week after you mail it.

Be sure that once a shop agrees to take your bears that you get a WRITTEN contact or agreement with them stating what the commission % will be, or what the wholesale rate will be, what price they'll be selling each bear at, WHEN you'll get paid for each sale if selling on commission. And how often you will rotate stock... nothing worse than the same bear sitting on a shelf for more than 6 months.... for tons of reasons which I won't get into here... that's another whole topic... but it's important to keep your shop offerings fresh and new. Be sure this is a WRITTEN and SIGNED contract BEFORE you give them ANY bears!!! I can't stress this enough! I have never had a problem personally but there have been many artists, right here on TT even, that have and it can be awful.

You do need to give careful consideration to whether you want to sell on commission (usually the shops take up to 40%... anything more and you might as well sell wholesale!) or wholesale. If you want money right away and never have to be concerned with rotating stock or getting a commission check, etc. then wholesale is the way to go. I simply find that I make less money this way unless I jack my price way up before I quote wholesale pricing (shops normally pay 40-50% of the retail price when buying from an artist outright.) and then the shop will be selling my bears for more than I do.

If you are selling to shops that already sell artist bears they'll have their contract all worked out. If you are selling to smaller shops that haven't dealt with artist bears you may have to spend some time working out the details.

Selling in shops is a great way to get exposure and custom orders (that's where my Great Dane order came from!) and build your business. You just won't make as much money on the sale of a bear. Like anything, their are pros and cons.

Hope I've made this clear as mud now!  :crackup:

Daphne

psichick78 Flying Fur Studios
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,073

Great stuff Daphne!

I don't think selling my bears in shops appeals to me. I can just picture many, many hands picking it up, playing with it, getting it dirty..........Can't handle that thought at all!

Good advice though, you have to cover your butt when you're doing these things

Aleta - The Silly Bear The Silly Bear
Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,119
Website

I've been approached by shops on occasion.  Just recently too.  Quite honestly, I really hadn't a clue as to how to go about doing business with them.  Timing and supply have always been a factor.  I asked a wonderful artist friend of mine the same question about selling on commission.  I guess what it boils down to is deciding how much you want to sell your work for as related to getting more of your bears out into the public and how much business from shops you can truly handle.  This is what I'm struggling with anyway. 

Warmest bear hugs,  :hug:
Aleta

Estelle Estelles canal bears and Tod Teddies
Todmorden West Yorkshire
Posts: 370

I sell at a craft gallery which takes my bears sale or return, I tell them my price and they put on their mark up. I also sell through two art galleries and one shop who take my bears sale or return but they don't mark the price up they take twenty percent of the sale, so I have to make sure and take that into account when pricing. I make two copies of paper work listing the bears and prices the shop or gallery owner keeps one and sings the other which I keep. and once a month I get a cheque for sold bears. I have never cold called so I cant advise you on that. I have always been approached by the gallery owners asking for stock. I guess i have been lucky as I am not in the top class of bear artists. I hope your injury gets better quickly and you will soon be out selling bears  bear_thumb

Jane Perala Jane Perala Designs Ltd.
Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada
Posts: 819

I have previously sold both on consignment and wholesale, and I will never sell on consignment again.  When the store hasn't had to actually purchase the bear, they do not take care of it in the same way.  I have had bears on consignment and they have come back to me because they haven't sold, and I found that they had torn clothes, dirt marks on paws and faces, and in one case a big ball point pen mark down the paw.  If anybody here has a store, please don't be offended - this is just my personal experience.  I would much prefer to sell on a wholesale basis to a store - yes, you get less money, but you get it now, or on a net 30 basis.  The bear then belongs to the store, and you can move on to your next project.  I also made it a requirement that the store had to purchase at least 4 bears at one time.  You also have to set a percentage that you are willing to sell your bears for (to the store).  I don't know what other artists do, but I do it on a 60/40 basis, and of course the store pays all the shipping costs.  I get the 60% from the store.  I must be honest though, and say that I find it very hard to keep up with the demand from the stores, and also the monetary gain is very small. 
Last year I did a lot of wholesaling, and when the accountant did up my income tax I was definately "in the hole".  I have decided this year to try to limit my wholesaling to just two stores that I have dealt with for many years, and then the rest for individual orders, and some bears for ebay (which is a new venture for me).  I'm a very slow bear maker, so perhaps if I was faster I might think differently.

I would certainly do up a presentation of photos and prices, along with a bit about yourself, and send it out to stores that you are interested in selling to. 

Good luck,
Jane P.

Estelle Estelles canal bears and Tod Teddies
Todmorden West Yorkshire
Posts: 370

I have been very lucky with my shop people they are bear lovers and have been very careful ( SO FAR) I hope I haven't tempted fate, I should much rather sell wholesale but have never had the opportunity. I dont know if I could make enough bears

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Kent
Posts: 5,160
Website

I only ever sold wholesale to shops, for the same reasons Jane mentions.  However, pricing was always an issue because the shops had to mark up the bears to cover their overheads and VAT and yet usually still hoped to meet my retail pricing when reselling my work ... the only way that could be achieved was for me to offer a significant discount on my pricing, which I have always tried to keep fair for private collectors.  So without jacking up my retail pricing which would have been unfair to my regulars, it meant I was working flat out for not enough return!

There came a point when I wondered why I was putting myself in such a position.  There were only one or two shops I actually believed were offering great promotion for me, which made the financial side of things worthwhile.  I was also fed-up with juggling shop orders at low return, against the time I needed to fulfil orders from private customers at my full retail price; shops tended to place orders and expect a pretty quick turnaround on them.  Eventually I made the decision to stop supplying shops and instead to work as hard as I could to sell my work direct.  I now only supply to a couple of good supportive overseas shops from time to time and I'm much happier!

Village Bears Village Bears
Sarasota Florida
Posts: 1
Website

Not sure about other shops,  but we have generally found artists, by word of mouth or various shows we visit.   We are always open to new lines and new artists to include in our shop,  As we have a fairly large base of customers which like artist bears exclusively.   How to put your bears into a shop,  I'd say place a phone call,  and explain, that you'd like the chance to show them your bears.   If your within distance to visit, you can visit,  or if too far,   this phone call will allow you to tell the owners to expect an email with an attachment,  or mail them a letter afterwards.   As to pricing, again,  we'd be open to just about anything.  Consignment, wholesale, commission, etc.....with the understanding that sometimes the artist bears sometimes take a little longer to move out of the store,  but they are among friends while there....

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