I respect artisans. They work for years perfecting skills. They build wonder items.
Folks with artistry and crafting skills have existed since before organized communities. When people gathered around a place that provided for survival, artisans followed to provide a need. Before the advent of currency, artisans bartered in exchange for their useful items. Eventually, the rich and well-to-do became buyers. In a sense, artists and craft people are small business owners. Many joined guilds to learn their craft, working from apprentice to master craftsman. Some went to to work for larger business concerns, such as Tiffany, Roseville, and Cartier. Others decided to make and sell their products from shops.
Which brings me to the present.
In the modern day, there are still many kinds of artists; new ones appear all the time. The problem? They can’t earn a decent living and support families. There are several reasons. I’ll provide a few.
1) Selling venues: Unless you have an established customer base, flea markets are the worst place to sell crafts. Lowballers, welfare people looking to buy low and sell high, pickers, and dealers take advantage of crafters and artisans.
2) Supplies: This is good and bad. If you live in a large city, you may be able to find supplies at a wholesale operation. If you live in a rural area, you probably need to shop online. Shipping costs add the retail cost. Yes, you read that right. Some online wholesalers require a customer to buy in bulk. Sometimes an artisan hasn’t a place to store supplies or the money to buy in bulk.
3) Transport: This applies to folks who want to, or plan to attend shows. You need a reliable and adequate vehicle to haul items for sale and packing supplies. Farmer’s markets are okay, but you will run into lowballers trying to pressure you into selling at a price low enough where you lose money. Unless you want to waste money on tables (indoor venue), bring your own. Better yet, if you plan to travel to shows several times a year, build your own booth, complete with tables and display cases. I’ve built several. I’ll consult on your project. Comment below.
Here are my selling tips:
1) Arrange to sell on consignment in a store. Many times, the small business owner will charge the customer your asking price and the 10 – 30% commission. Ask around. Local art shops and galleries are a great place to get started.
2) Sell online: Building an ecommerce website appears a monumental task for the inexperienced. Don’t worry. There are decent resources. Perhaps you live in a college community. Hire a graphic design student. In smaller communities, a local hosting service sometimes provides web design services. Better yet, folks who hate the city rat race sometimes relocate to small communities. They often possess web design skills. Stay away from the “build your own website” companies that advertise on television and the Interweb. They tend to hide costs through slick marketing. Buyer beware! One more thing. Selling through an online store establishes legitimacy. Folks won’t offer $5.00 for an item marked $40.00. You work hard, you deserve compensation.
3) Shipping: Consider packing supplies as part of the shipping cost. You need styrofoam for breakable items. Place fragile stickers on the outside. You can also use peanuts (yea, a pain and messy, but ask your neighbors to give you theirs. They’ll be glad to give you peanuts and you save money). Another option is plastic shopping bags, but in my opinion, they’re tacky if your item is expensive.
4) Shipping costs: If you live in a small community, use the United States Postal Service. If your items are small enough to fit in a post office box (provided for free through the “If it fits, it ships” campaign, use those). For large boxes, download shipping costs. Here are handy links:
NOTE: Learn how postal zones work. Some Ebay sellers lose money on shipping costs. They enter an amount that’s always low.
4) Ebay: Do not use the site to sell. Aside from listing fees (not free as advertised), if your item sells, Ebay steals 10% of the selling cost. Customers pay through PayPal. Guess what? Paypal steals fees upwards of 2% and more from the TOTAL PRICE INCLUDING SALES TAX AND SHIPPING. For example, if you need to sell an Item for $50 to earn decent profit and cover costs, you won’t receive $50 in your business account. Less listing fees of $1.20 (estimated), Ebay 10% pirate fee, and a 2% Paypal pirate fee, you’ll receive only $42.90. Try etsy.com or bonanza.com. yardsellr.com went out of business. A similar sites popped up in recent months. Thoroughly analyze http://www.vflea.com/. Google to find other sites before making a decision to sell.
I apologize to those who read the nasty comments on the salvage project pages. I do not take crap from pickers, ebay dealers, and lowballers. Offers of $10 for items listed at $80 and above were unacceptable. I had every right to argue my case (my replies were a bit vulgar, hence the apology). The comments demonstrate how bad the economy is in California. No one wants to work anymore. They’d rather steal or buy low/sell high to supplement the government paycheck…and not pay income taxes.
I invite questions and discussion on this topic. I spent years selling at flea markets and shows. I’m happy to provide tips to help prevent you from getting ripped off. My life goal is to expose the bad side of collectibles, one article at a time.
Copyright 2013, all rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without permission from site owner StarStone Media and blogger Tannera Kane.