Wholesaling as a Business Model

Why do artists choose to wholesale their work? Here are seven reasons why you might want to consider it.


shoppers at a wholesale trade show

Buyers shop at a wholesale trade show.


Artists who wholesale their handmade work to retailers are entering a marketplace that helps sustain their businesses in the long term. This model has benefits that can make a creative business both profitable and sustainable.

Wholesaling is efficient.

You only need to make one sample of each piece in your collection, then take it to a trade show to meet buyers, or place a photo on an online wholesale portal. Orders are taken from those samples, which do not leave the artist’s possession. If certain styles sell well, great! If others are slow or just don’t make the cut, not a problem. You haven’t stocked an inventory of slow sellers; you only have one of each. Sell those samples off later at retail if you like.

It’s easier to reach your potential.

With those samples in your booth (or online page) being ordered over and over, you don’t “sell out” of any products. If you sell out of an item at a retail show, you will never know what your potential sales could have been, because they’re gone. That doesn’t happen at wholesale.

Work is sold before you make it.

This is a huge benefit of wholesaling. You aren’t investing time, money and labor in building an inventory of pieces you hope to sell. Having those orders up front means they are already sold, and cash flow is coming in. You can predict your monthly income with orders that are in-house. And often, you charge the customer’s credit card before you ship, so payment is made before the product goes out the door.

Repeat business grows your business.

Quite often, wholesale buyers remain loyal customers for years. Artists develop good business relationships with their wholesale accounts, and receive regular ongoing orders. Each year they can count on retaining most of their existing accounts and picking up new ones. This increases sales volume and income.

Wholesaling helps you stay off the road.

Burned out from endless traveling to the next retail fair or festival? Being out of the studio is a cost in and of itself, because you are missing out on time in the studio. If you want to revise your schedule with more time off the road, wholesaling is a great option.

It’s compatible with other methods of selling.

Multiple streams of income are appropriate for many artists. Wholesaling can work beautifully in tandem with other methods, such as retailing, taking commissions, or selling online. In fact, having more than one way to sell helps smooth out the “highs and lows” that your income can go through if you are only selling your handmade work through one channel.

You can have a life.

Want to schedule vacation time with your family? Want to set regular hours? By taking wholesale orders, and creating a production calendar, you have power over the amount of time you spend in the studio each day, and how much you are obligated to ship each week. This helps you decrease your stress level and maintain more balance in your work and life.



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