Each week our network of art business expert answer your questions about growing an art business. This week they speak about how to wholesale artwork in stores and grow lasting relationships with wholesale clients. Subscribe here to be notified every time a new Q&A is published. Have an art business question? Ask here and we’ll send it over to the people who have spent years growing their own art business and helping other artists do the same.

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ARTIST QUESTION

Laura from Salt Lake City asks: “I’ve had some success this past year getting my prints in some local shops wholesale, but I’m hoping to at least double this in the next 6 months. Do you have any practical things I can try or improve to get more bites from stores?”

ANSWERS FROM THE EXPERTS

Carolyn Edlund, founder of ArtsyShark

carolyn-edlund-artsy-shark-artist-advice“Hi Laura, I want to congratulate you on wholesaling your work. I love this topic because I ran a production studio for 20 years and sold extensively into the wholesale market; I also write and speak frequently on the subject.

Your question about increasing “the buy” and the number of your wholesale accounts is a good one. Ultimately, sales will determine the amount and frequency of reorders. 3-4 “turns” per year is ideal for maintaining and growing your relationships with these accounts. You can assist your retailers in making sales of your work by:

  1.  Giving them as much information to share with customers as possible, including your artist story, info about the subject matter, etc; this may be in the form of display cards or marketing collateral such as signage, care instructions, and so forth.
  2. Offering suggestions for merchandising effectively, and listing selling points for their staff to understand your work more fully and promote the benefits to shoppers.
  3. Following up with them on a regular basis to make sure that displays are stocked and that bestsellers have not sold through. As displays sell down, sales will slow. When only a few pieces are left, they will cease. It’s up to you to be proactive and make sure they have placed a reorder before merchandise has sold down to that point.
  4. If possible, offer to make an artist appearance, or have a “trunk show” at their store. This not only will help to sell your work, but an event that brings in customers will help sell their other goods, too.
  5. If sales are going well, there is no reason not to have a conversation with the buyer or store owner asking them to increase their buy-in and commitment to you as a vendor. Could you offer a larger display? Do they only sell part of your collection and could a bigger selection help sell more? As you show your worth as a “partner” to the store, they will be more likely to trust you and want to increase the “real estate” you have in the store – but that also depends on sales volume, too. If there are slow sellers, offer to trade them back for new merchandise that can jumpstart sales.
  6. Since retail stores often have repeat customers, they always want to know “What’s new?” It is up to the artist who is wholesaling to provide new designs and merchandise to keep displays fresh and selling. I suggest 30% new products each year. Have your new releases ready at key buying times for your wholesale customers.”

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