There’s something about a handmade piece of jewelry, pottery, glassware or any item that is original to one artist or craftsman. It’s a piece of art that reflects something of the person who made it, and that can be very attractive to a buyer. Marketing such handmade items is a growing trend among savvy retailers, according to an article in Retail Minded, a trade magazine.
Buying from the maker and then retailing handcrafted items has given some retailers an opportunity to please discriminating customers who attach particular value to the idea of a unique piece. The notion feeds into the current strong trend for marketing made-in-the-USA and locally produced merchandise. It has the added benefit of supporting the arts and crafts experts in our midst. It is an ideal concept for the small businesses that are the backbone of the American economy.
Among the advantages of handcrafted goods are the uniqueness of individual pieces, above-average quality and support of crafts persons who use “repurposed” materials.
Wholesalecrafts.com makes buying easy. More than 1,300 juried artists feature their work through the online marketplace. Free registration is available to retailers. The products include price points from the best makers in the States and Canada. In addition American Craft Retail Expos are held three times each year – in Las Vegas in June, New Jersey in August and Philadelphia in February. Special emphasis is put on helping buyers choose merchandise that matches their demographic and price points.
Education is a large part of expanding into handcrafted goods and good information is available through the website and the shows. Building relationships, always a key component of marketing, is especially important in this niche and the associations built through these opportunities to meet and share are helpful.
When customers buy mass-produced items, they have little interest in who made them, but when they are buying the work of a particular artist, they want to know more about him or her as an individual. That becomes an important part of the sales strategy. In general, artists interest all of us and when you buy a handcrafted item, you are buying, in essence, a part of that artist. Knowing something about the particular person who made the piece you want to buy makes it a very personal transaction.
“Growing small businesses in our own backyards, living off our hard work and creativity,” is the perpetuation of a proud American tradition, said Roxann Chalfant of Bottle Benders, a line of glass chimes on Wholesalecrafts.com. As she watches her business grow (up by 30 percent this year over last year) she believes American buyers are becoming more tuned in to the value of buying locally produced goods, rather than concentrating on looking for “cheap.” Her company has been in business more than 40 years and she is convinced that “handcrafted” can be a unique and productive part of retail sales.