The Art of Wholesaling

By Carolyn Edlund

Should you be wholesaling your work? What’s the advantage in doing it, anyway?


Selling wholesale is a proven, successful method available to artists and craftspeople who are trying to build their businesses and make a living. Building a collection of work that can be duplicated and sold wholesale again and again enables artists to establish relationships with galleries and shops that purchase directly from them – and to continue to earn money with repeat business.


trade show


When you wholesale your work, your line of products is sold into stores, galleries, museum shops, bookstores, or many other kinds of retailers – at about half the price of retail. The retailers buy your work outright and mark it up to retail prices, then help promote and sell it to their customers who appreciate creative art or craft work.

Wholesaling isn’t for everybody, but if you’re curious, it’s worth finding out whether you can use it as one stream of income for your art business, or even as your full-time business. When artists wholesale, they may attend trade shows, work with sales reps, sell online or sell directly to retailers themselves.

Selling wholesale is very stabilizing to a business. Imagine starting work on a Monday morning in your studio, knowing that everything you will make that week is already sold!

In the twenty years that I owned and ran a ceramic production studio, wholesale was a mainstay of my business. Each week my team and I had about a dozen orders to make and ship to waiting retailers. Our customer base averaged about 150 wholesale accounts at any one time, although on average there was a 20% turnover in accounts annually (this is typical). This made for a very diversified business, with dependable income.

Many artists are good candidates for selling wholesale. They have opportunities to sell into many different markets – home décor and furnishings, accessories, giftware, fashion, stationery, handmade and other categories, many of which have their own trade shows where retailers from all over the country come to find new merchandise to stock their stores.

Wholesaling gives you a chance to work with sales reps also, who are able to take your line into areas of the country where you would never get exposure. Some sell into large accounts where great opportunities may be waiting.

Although lines that are made in production are best for wholesaling, even one-of-a-kind work can be sold wholesale. Artists with production studios that sell wholesale also usually make higher incomes than artists who do not.



Would you like to find out more about the wholesale marketplace and whether it may be a good fit for your business? Please join me in a teleseminar titled How to Wholesale Your Art or Fine Craft, with by Alyson Stanfield, the Art Biz Coach, on Wednesday, May 16th. Participate on the live call, or listen later to the recording.

Speak Your Mind