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 the 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.