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Ten Reasons Why Gift Stores Reject Handmade Items

Updated on December 1, 2014
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Sandy Dell is a semi-retired independent sales rep sharing info about wholesaling, working with producers, buyers and sales reps.

Reasons Why Gift Store Buyers Might Reject Handcrafted Products

So you are looking to jump into the wholesale arena with your hand made products! Congratulations on your move into a new sales arena with your business! But before you rush into to the first gift shop clutching your beautiful handcrafted creation, there are several points you need to consider before presenting your products to gift store buyers. Selling gift products to gift stores is not as difficult as it seems, but you need to measure your products with the following reasons why handcrafted items may be rejected by gift store buyers.

Rejecting Handmade Items
Rejecting Handmade Items

First Five Reasons ....

.... Why Gift Stores Reject Handmade Items

1. Product(s) are not unique enough. Gift stores are always looking for new and unique products. If they can find other crafters who make the same or similar products selling at consignment or craft fairs, they are not likely to sell well in their stores.

2. Not a good product for wholesaling. Although gift stores are interested in unique products, they want to be able to buy 6 or 12 of an item and have them look reasonably similar. If your craft is so unique that you cannot make several of the same item, it probably is not a good product for wholesaling. Galleries may be a better option for you.

3. Pricing is not appropriate for gift shops. Most gift store buyers 'keystone' or double the wholesale price of a product they retail in their stores. If you are selling your items on your website to the public for $10, don't expect the gift stores to buy them for any more than $5 to $6. Retail shops need to make money too! (If you are struggling with this, you might want to look at my Lens on Pricing Your Products)

4. Product(s) look too homemade. If you are making a simple sewn type craft item, for example, that is a copy of a gift your grandma made for you, it is not likely to be a good bet for a gift shop. It may be cute, but if it looks like your grandma made it, a store is not likely to buy it. Same principles apply to packaging: if it is too 'homespun', it probably will not interest a gift store buyer. Appearance is everything to a gift shop!

5. Sales material lacks professionalism. Sales materials need to be clean and crisp with pricing, pictures, terms and information pertinent to the buyers. Unfortunately, gift store buyers don't have time to read all about the history of your business or how great your product is. They want quick and precise information that is clear and easy to understand.

Rejecting Handmade Items
Rejecting Handmade Items

Last Five Reasons ....

... Why Gift Stores Reject Handmade Items

6. Sales presentation is ineffective. Remember that you need to look and act as a professional. Wear a nice pair of dress slacks or work-style dress and make sure to arrive on time and prepared to sell your product. No need to give a convincing sales pitch! Just be yourself, and be considerate of the needs of the gift buyer and the store they are representing.

7. Unable to deliver products in a timely basis. Most gift store buyers expect products to arrive in around two weeks or less. If your beautiful crafted item takes two weeks to make and the buyer orders six of each, they will not be willing to wait three month to receive your products!

8. Product doesn't fit stores motif. Most gift shops have a theme of niche line of products. Make sure your product will compliment products already of the shelves. For example, intricately made jewelry would probably not sell well in a candle gift shop.

9. Store is not Open-to-Buy. Many stores have a budget and/or a particular time that they buy for their stores. Should you arrive during a time where they are not buying or are not "Open-to-Buy", it may be difficult to sell your products. In this case, it is best to ask when they plan to be Open-to-Buy and ask to return at that time.

10. Store buyer personality may not mesh with your own. No mater how wonderful your product may be or how hard to try to sell it, some buyers may just not want to deal with you. Personalities can conflict in any form of business - unfair as it is - but you are best off just to walk away and spend your energies with a store buyer that is interested in you and your products.

Rejecting Handmade Items
Rejecting Handmade Items

What To Do ...

... When the Buyer Rejects Your Handcrafted Item

If, after reading through these points, you find your handcrafted item does not seem to measure up, don't give up. You have several options:

* Ask for feedback from the gift store buyers as to what would make your product work in their store. You might be surprised at the advice you may receive.

* Ask the gift store buyer if there is another shop in the area that she could recommend for placing your product. Just because it did not work for one shop does not mean it would not work in another shop.

* And last, by not least, there are several types of craft shops, craft co-ops, or craft markets on the internet that would LOVE to feature your products!

I just want to encourage you to NOT GIVE UP after a rejection! Personally, I would hate to tell you how many "NOs" I received before selling my first product! Each time I was rejected, I was able to find out a bit more on how to improve my line, my presentation or my approach to the different gift shops.

Interested in learn more on how to sell to retail stores? Check out our E-Guide below!!


The Complete Guide to Selling to Gift Shops

Will Help You Grow from Crafter to Business Person!

Complete Guide for Selling to Gift ShopsDiscover the WHOLESALING SECRETS of a highly successful 9+ year gift industry sales rep (& specialty food entrepreneur) with 459 wholesale customers in 23 states!

Finally, HIDDEN TRUTHS about How to Sell Wholesale!

"Whether you make or distribute (or import) specialty foods, candles, jewelry, soap, crafts, confections, dolls, post cards, greeting cards, knick knacks, pottery, t-shirts, souvenirs, housewares, or even publish regional or "gift appropriate" book titles, I will take the mystery out of marketing to gift retailers! (And help grow your business to an ENTIRELY new level!)"

In this value-packed resource, you will find HUNDREDS of practical tips, techniques, stories, and how-to tactics that REMOVE the fear and anxiety from walking into (or contacting) a gift shop and asking a buyer or manager to carry your line.

For example, you will discover all you need to know about:










But wait, you also receive the following Bonuses:

*Websites for Wholesaling E-Guide

* Sample Invoice (matched to packing slip)

* Sample Packing Slip (matched to invoice)

* Sample Trade Credit Application

* 2 Sample Sales Flyers


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    • SandyDell profile image

      Sandy Dell 4 years ago from Lenore, Idaho

      @Gypzeerose: Thanks!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Very interesting, insider's guide to the business. This will really help crafters who want to make their joy their business.

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I think the "homespun" comment goes along with simply knowing your own target market and approaching boutiques that have the same demographic. I have sold other artist's handmade goods and also work in retail where we sometimes work with handmade artists. But neither my shop nor the shop I work at specialize in a country or primitive aesthetic. I had bath & body artists, for example, approach me, and one of the reasons their products wouldn't have worked for me was because of poor packaging design. For bath & body goods, packaging is half the reason people buy, especially if it's sold online and people can't smell & touch before they buy!

      I'd also say the pricing one is important. That's also an issue I ran into again and again from artists who approached me. If I can't market it up appropriately, or if you're undercutting my retail cost on your own website / Etsy shop, I'm not going to be able to sell your work.

    • SandyDell profile image

      Sandy Dell 5 years ago from Lenore, Idaho

      @anonymous: Great! Congratulation on your success!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have sold wholesale off and on since 1994. Started with sharing a booth at Heritage Market in PA where I wrote 6K in orders with 19 inches of snow on the ground, the airports closed due to the blizzard, etc. I also picked up two sales reps there, including one who had (and still has) a showroom at the L.A. Gift Mart); she wrote me about 7K in orders in less than a week! After that, I showed my line at various Valley Forge shows off and on for the next few years, once with another rep (lousy experience) and a couple times with a friend "repping" me by including a handful of my things in her booth (she did MUCH better for me than the rep!). I currently wholesale on Facebook and on a wholesale-only web site; the orders from these two sites keep me VERY busy!

      Now to the reason for my leaving a comment here. I beg to differ with your comments about "if products look too 'homespun' ..." and about gift shops expecting delivery within 2 weeks. On the contrary, the type of store which is likely to be interested in my product WANTS a homespun (aka "primitive") product AND they understand that an order for handmade items might take a few weeks or a month or so to complete, depending on the size of the order ... and also how many other orders the artist may have to complete before getting to *their* order. Usually, they are able to plan ahead and thus write dated orders, so it's not all "ASAP" at all.