Vendor, PLEASE

So you want to sell some stuff to us? Please read the following very carefully. Also, please check out this post I wrote on Metaphysical Merchants about how to approach an independent retailer about selling your goods.

Please phone ahead and make an appointment. Better yet, email us and give us a head’s up as to what you have and when you are thinking of being in town. The more advance notice we have, the more likely it is for us to be able to meet with you. Hotel shows (or alternately, a private meeting room such as at IHOP) would allow you to meet with several of us storekeepers after hours, where we can actually have dinner instead of being distracted by thoughts of food during your sales pitch.

Most of the time we are not poised to purchase at the time of your phone call, because as soon as I get enough money after paying the rent and doing payroll, the next thing is to restock and buy things I’ve had sitting waiting for money to come in.

I never, ever, buy on the spot. I just don’t like to do that. I tend to get all excited about what I want and sometimes that is not what is good for my shop. But mostly, what goes on in the world of retail is that the buyer (that’s me in this case) has been to trade shows and has a bunch of catalogues sitting in the “To Do” box, waiting for the time when a purchase can be budgeted in.

We make plans, you see. Store keepers actually have a calendar where we keep track of the orders we’ve already placed, months ago. We can write an order at a trade show and have it shipped out later (to be paid for at that time). This lets us take advantage of trade show specials such as free shipping. And then we carefully work around those already-planned committments (as well as payroll, advertising contracts, rent, and utilities) to fit in extra buying as we can.

Giving me a head’s up of a couple weeks allows me to reserve a little money for you, and to peruse your website and get some ideas of what I would maybe like to buy and also figure out where I’d like to put it, how to display it, all that silly retail nonsense that goes into getting an item out of your warehouse (or kitchen) and onto my showroom floor.

So what I need from you, my potential sellers, is at the very least a call, but preferably an email with your website. I can then look over your stuff at my leisure – which is likely to be days if not weeks down the line. Monthly emails with your new items, specials, etc are acceptable. Plus it’s free for you, so keep trying.

I’d like to be able to download your catalogue as a .pdf, with price list and contact information separate. If I’m borderline interested in your wares, I will print it out and show it to my customers (which is why the price list needs to be separate), to judge how well your line will be received. I’ve made some great purchasing decisions in the past but I’ve also made some bad ones, and getting rid of unsaleable merchandise is such a pain in the arse that I’ll spend a few weeks getting opinions about stuff sometimes if I can’t decide whether or not it would be a good choice.

My customers are really diverse. We don’t have as many pagan customers as you would think a metaphysical store would attract. Partly this is demographics and our location, but also, pagans tend to shop online. So if you are a pagan artist or crafter of pagan goods, do not automatically assume that our store is going to be a good fit for your wares.

Yes, I like to support local art, but Once Upon A Silver Moon is my gallery, and if your wares do not fit into the vision I have of my own project, I am not going to be interested in carrying them. No amount of pouting or whining is going to make that happen, so please understand that just because you think we are like-minded* that does not mean I am going to buy your wares. On the other hand, we might want to switch it around and pick up your items sometime down the line, so please have some way we can get in touch with you later on.

With extremely few exceptions we no longer carry consignment wares. It’s just too much trouble. Other stores might be more willing to do this, but it just doesn’t work out well for us. There are many reasons, from consignees not keeping their displays full, people not collecting their money on time, things just not selling, to drama with consignees over this or that. But mostly, it’s very inconvenient when an item sells, because it interrupts the planned spending in our budget to have to stop and pay out to that consignee if and when they show up to get their money. If it’s on the wrong side of rent, they have to wait, and that makes us look bad.

If you are a small crafter with a good product, please consider that the stores who will be buying from you may not have a way to display your wares. Offer display ideas and even packages with displays included. Small cards and “shelf talkers” to give more information about who you are or what the product is for is excellent for our shop – our customers love knowing who made the stuff they are buying. If there is lore about your items, or a story behind them, this helps sell your item even more. Look at my friend Chymiera’s Etsy shop to get some idea of what you might consider, how much more appealing the item is now that you have some backstory!

Think about how your item is going to be perceived once the customer buys it. If you make jewelry, do you have gift bags or boxes to go along with it, with your brand on it? Or are you leaving me to figure out how to package your thingie?

Having a distinct look and feel to your product line not only feels more professional, it gives the customers something to look for next time they shop.

Having a distinct look and feel to your product line not only feels more professional, it gives the customers something to look for next time they shop.

A “line sheet” is okay if you don’t have a full pdf. Line sheets are COLOR pages of your items, maybe not all of them, but enough to give a taste of what you have to offer. You can also include a supplimental sheet with options (such as different stones, etc), or a list of the other kinds of things a retailer might find available on your website.

Thanks for your interest in my boutique – and thank you, very much, for reading this.


*The only people I know who are “like-minded” are my own family. And even then, we often butt heads. My mind is unlike anyone else’s, although I am capable, at times, of being a decent conversationalist. Trust me, you would not like me as much if you truly knew what was going on inside my head. There’s some scary shit in there.

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