08.26.06

Door-to-door Vendors and craftspeople

Posted in business-a-go-go, Main at 3:49 pm by carrie

Okay… I have to start out by apologizing… this is going to be a little bit “ranty” but I just have to…

I’ve posted something similar to this but I must do it again… if only to vent and put it out into the universe. What has really inspired me is Alicia’s post from her experiences. Alicia has a wonderful way with words… if you are getting ready to sell your items, please read her post first :)

If you are “crafty” or know someone who is crafty or selling anything… even if it’s the next “pet rock”, please please please make an appointment to see me and do the following:

1. Have pictures of your stuff to leave with me. I’ll explain why…
I have done my purchasing for the year. I am on a budget when it comes to purchasing more items, even just a few low-priced items… and I have a “wish folder”. I put items in the “wish folder” and make a list of what I’m going to be buying next. Retail is a strange animal and the funds that are available to me month-to-month change dramatically and are completely unpredictable. Also, trends change. I may start a new display and think to myself… “didn’t I see a pink who-see-what a few weeks/months ago?” That’s a great A-HA moment… to know you have a great item on file. I get daily postcards, catalogs, pictures and letters from companies, individuals and artists. I WISH I could look through everything with a fine tooth comb , but alas, I cannot. But I can keep these things on file and I will remember the person who sent the nice pictures with a little note. Small and simple. I do appreciate one or two samples if you come up, but pictures are the best by far.

2. If I say no…
Please do not insult me. Please do not try to go around me and somehow talk to my partner. I usually make the final decision when it comes to bringing things in here to sell. I agonize about the look of the shop (see my umpteen hundred layout sketches for displays) and I’m super particular about what comes in here. I’ve made exceptions and I have accepted things I wasn’t jumping up and down about and sometimes the items sell, sometimes they don’t… but I HAVE to go with my gut. I may have not taken your item because I just don’t think my customers will like it and sometimes I have actually turned things down because the person on the other end was insulting to me. I’m also a craftsperson and I will do my BEST to make you feel comfortable and appreciate your hand work, but if you insult me or my choices, I’m done. Please do not take it personally, but if you are not nice on our first meeting, I can assume and expect that you will not be nice the next 5 times I see you. It’s self-preserving and instinctual, really.

3. Realize there are other fish in the sea…
Just because my little shop won’t be carrying your items doesn’t mean other stores will say no. Keep trying and I can guarantee that if you send pictures and respect their time, someone will accept your items. I’ve done some pavement pounding in my day and it’s hard… rejection is hard. It’s hard to dish it out and take it. But each shop owner knows what they can sell. Please respect that. It has nothing at all to do with you or the quality of your work, it has everything to do with what we are trying to accomplish, and that is a very particular thing. I don’t know how exactly, but we know what we want to sell, almost instantly.

I’ve been told “no” on MANY occassions. I’ve had people say:
“THIS is your WHOLESALE price?!?”
“This is just way too common (and/or plain)”
“We’d take it if you had more than one”
“We’d take it if it came in red”
I’ve also gotten blank stares, a store owner who didn’t even put down her magazine as she talked to me and I’ve been walked to the door and told “Honey, you need to make an appointment”.

Because I have had experience pushing my wares I do my best to be empathetic. But, after almost 4 years of doing this, it’s getting quite tough.

I respect that you are excited about your item. I understand you take pride in your work. But I’m still asking that you please respect my time, my shop and adhere to the above guidelines. I can honestly say I don’t think it’s that unreasonable.

Another huge thing to point out… I do the buying and decorating mostly by myself. It takes one person that much longer to get this all done, and this all takes me a VERY long time to do. I love it, but it is still “work”. I do get help on occassion, but I don’t think there is one person in the world who keeps the odd schedule I do and is inpired at 2am like I am. I like it this way. Sure, displays will take longer to put together, I let my paperwork pile up, if I get sick then the store is closed… but it’s okay. This is an extension of me… I love it here. I’m not walmart… I like to inspire people, awe people, give people a relaxed place to come visit… and because of this, I am picky. I am the one that has to stare at whatever it is that is on the shelves the upteen hundred hours I am here. Can you see why I would be SO particular about something coming in here? I live here… this is my home… my heart and soul dwells here. If I do not want 6 dozen of whatever it is you are selling… it’s not you, it’s me. I wish I could get that across in a kind way. It sounds so selfish and close minded. It’s coming from a good place and I hope that everyone that is reading this can understand that.

I feel like I am constantly defending my position when it comes to consignment and buying items from people who walk in. It’s not like I walk into the gap and the salesperson says “Why don’t you want to buy these flip-flops? Are they not blue enough? Why must you hurt me by not buying my flip-flops?” In this case, if I do not purchase your item, it has nothing to do with you as a person. I like people… we all have different tastes, I like that we all have different tastes… it makes the world more interesting. There I go again… trying to explain and defend :) Perhaps I just need to grow a thicker skin but it’s been super hard to deal with this. I’m very sensitive and the second I feel someone getting pushy or emotional about me not wanting to purchase something or take something on consignment… I shut down. So, do me a favor and please be light, fluffy and bring pictures. Help me help you :) I want to build a relationship with my vendors and craftspeople… and I feel like I’ve been building a wall lately. I don’t like walls.

Finally, I’ll close with this… (cheers from the people in the back…) I wanted to create at atmosphere like (don’t laugh) Disneyland. A place where people could come in and escape from the everyday… a happy space that is welcoming, pretty, exciting, constantly changing and most of all, friendly (and if only I could sell mint juleps, mickey head balloons and “fantasia” ice cream). I pride myself on good customer service, being personable and do my best to have a smile on my face. But if that door opens and a *woosh* of negativity blows in… if I sense it, I may sort of run and hide if not just clam up immediately. Life is a series of ups and downs… I’m here to help you feel happy and to surround you with pretty things… please do not step on that.

I am now stepping off my soapbox and returning to the wonderful world of pricing chinese lanterns with scary cats on them.

Thanks for listening :)

2 Comments »

  1. Nathan said,

    August 26, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Well said!

  2. Heidi said,

    March 8, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Thank you! I was thinking about bringing some of my work into a cute little shop nearby. You’ve given me some valuable information! Especially the pictures part!

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