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order taking at wholesale shows

updated wed 12 sep 07


Dean Poole on thu 6 sep 07

Any info about how to take orders at wholesale shows would be outstanding.
I am interested in how to set delivery dates and how to budget my production
time during the year. Also I need to know how much time to leave in my
production schedule for reorders. I have been selling at art festivals for
15 years but have not done any order taking shows yet. This is a big gamble
for me and I want to be prepared.

pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on thu 6 sep 07

Hi Dean,

While it was not for Pottery, what I used to do was take down the name,
address, phone number and whatever else, along with a description of what
they wanted and how many, and whatever indications they had mentioned about
when they would need them by. This on a clip Board with plain Paper or my
simple Letterhead, and Carbon Paper under it, and they got their copy right
then and there.

I would always do my best to leave myself a sensible schedule, so when
inquirys or orders were being discussed, I would mentally keep track so I
could say, and reflect in my notes about it "So far I am booked solid till
May - or whatever - with Orders to do, so your things can be June if that is
fine with you..."

And almost always, it would be. If not, then I'd just figure out a way to
accomidate, so long as their reason seemed earnest to me. Making sure TO
leave myself some room, I could usually accomidtae fill-ins for earlier

I never asked for any deposit, but, instead, my terms were pay in full when
I call and say "I am about to start your Order, so if we are still good to
go, send the dough now, and I will get on it..."

Seemed to work fine, and saved me any troubles about having to collect on
money's owed me for Work I already did or shipped.

Pay up front is clean...and easiest on one's Book Keeping abd beats the
living hell out of chasing them for it or eating it, later, if they do not
pay once the Work is in their hands.

Anyway, just those thoughts...

l v

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dean Poole"

> Any info about how to take orders at wholesale shows would be outstanding.
> I am interested in how to set delivery dates and how to budget my
> production
> time during the year. Also I need to know how much time to leave in my
> production schedule for reorders. I have been selling at art festivals for
> 15 years but have not done any order taking shows yet. This is a big
> gamble
> for me and I want to be prepared.

Chris Campbell on fri 7 sep 07

Dean -

I am going to recommend that you also ask
this question on the American Craft Forum
since they are mostly wholesale artists
and are very generous with their advice.

For the basics I would always advise
keeping the J Iverson site on your favorites ...
look under FAQ for tons of good solid info.

At wholesale shows the buyers tend to
tell you when they need it and sometimes
they buy months in advance or tell you to
stagger the shipments over the year. They
do not always want it right away. You
are correct to realize that knowing your
production capabilities are vital.

You are the only one who knows how many
items you can produce from start to finish
in one week or one month.

Sit down and do the math for one year.
It's the only way.

Underestimate so you can avoid being late
and impress by delivering early.
Give yourself days off for appointments and
Put in leeway for failed kiln loads, breakage
and general havoc.

I would not worry too much about re-orders
as long as you plan your schedule conservatively.
The wholesale customer understands production
schedules so they know they might have to wait
a bit for you to fit them in.

Good Luck with your show!!
Which one are you doing?

Chris Campbell - in North Carolina

Chris Campbell Pottery LLC
9417 Koupela Drive
Raleigh NC 27615-2233

Designs in Colored Porcelain

Fax : 919-676-2062
wholesale :

Tom at on fri 7 sep 07

Hi Dean,

There was a whole lot of discussion on this back between 1997 and 2000.
Type in wholesale in the search term and jan 1997 until dec 2000 in the
search terms. Then scroll down the results and pick up the threads that
seem beneficial.

For us, we have our own gallery, sell on the internet, take orders, do some
retail shows and some wholesale. When we did 50% wholesale our method of
planning was as follows.

1. You must know what you're capable of producing and when. You can set up
a physical calendar or simple spreadsheet (best). We can do 150-175
finished pots per week (2 of us working) on an ongoing basis. Be sure to
lower estimates for weeks when you'll have retail shows, open houses,
holidays etc.

2. Lay in known pot needs. How many for a retail show? (Projected sales
divided by average pot price. Don't forget the basic booth stocking
quantity...we always have used that you need at least double your expected
sales for stock. How many for an open house? Estimated orders...whatever
your sources of business are.

3. What's left, is what you have available for wholesale on a week by week
or month by month basis.

4. Now you can go to the Rosen Show knowing that you can deliver the orders
when promised. NEVER take an order you don't think you can fill. You must
deliver your wholesale orders on time or risk losing that account you went
to such expense to get. Shops can't wait for you to get work to them. They
budget their inventory dollars, and if the inventory doesn't get there,
they'll buy something else and cancel your order.

When our wholesale was at a peak, we would stand at the Philly show and
cancel retail shows as we ran out of production availability. Trouble is,
your average pot price at wholesale is less than retail.

The shops will/should tell you when they expect reorders. It's called
"booking studio time". It's not a firm order, but it reserves your time for
them. As you get a month ahead of a studio reserve, call the account and
see if they're going to need the reserve. If not, you can call another
account and see if they want to slip forward. Often the first account will
say, no I don't need it in September, but will order if I can slip that to

A couple of suggestions...Set a high enough minimum (say $300 to 500....
vary this to your price level) to make sure that any shop carrying your work
has enough inventory to look like they're really carrying your work. Stick
to that minimum.

Take names and contact for those you can't fill orders for.

Follow up with your accounts. A week after shipment, call and check that
everything was received and ok. Call as reserves come up. You will spend a
lot of money to develop an account. The profits come from reorders. I've
never understood the people that are at Rosen year after year. Either
they're not taking care of and keeping their customers, or their work isn't
selling, in which case they need to ask why...most accounts won't volunteer.
And often the account won't know why your work didn't sell. We've carried a
number of people's work we figured would be hot, only to end up putting it
on the discount shelf.

Oh yes, set your policies ahead and have them written out. Here's ours:

. All pots are highfire (cone 10), handthrown, fully trimmed and glazed.
Please see Terms and conditions in Wholesale Catalog. First order check,
credit card or C.O.D. Sales after first order are Net 30, 1-1/2% per month
over 30 days.
. Pottery is guaranteed to be oven, dishwasher, microwave and food safe.
. Shipping: F.O.B. Hutchinson, MN
. Minimum Order $450 first order, no minimum for repeat orders.
. Prices effective January 1, 2006 - Prices and specifications subject to
change without notice but we will mail all current accounts regarding
. Orders should not be considered accepted until you have received a written
confirmation from us.

There's probably more, but Chris Campbell will chime in.

Tom Wirt
Hutchinson, MN

William & Susan Schran User on fri 7 sep 07

On 9/7/07 12:35 AM, "Dean Poole" wrote:

> Any info about how to take orders at wholesale shows would be outstanding.
> I am interested in how to set delivery dates and how to budget my production
> time during the year. Also I need to know how much time to leave in my
> production schedule for reorders.

I don't do wholesale shows, but I was involved with buying at wholesale
shows (Buyer's Market & ACC shows) when we had a gallery. Most
artists/businesses will require a minimum first order and request it be
prepaid or COD before establishing a credit line with a buyer. They also
require proof of the business and credit references. All of the folks we
ordered from had a calendar, would ask when we wanted to order shipped and
would write that in their calendar. We would often place orders many months
in advance. You are the only one who knows how long it takes to produce your
work. You will need to carefully plan your schedule and don't take on more
than you know you can do. Above all be honest with your clients. If there's
a problem getting their order out on time, TELL THEM ASAP! You will need to
offer to cancel the order, make partial shipment or ask if they will accept
late shipment. We used to hate it when we would carefully plan displays for
certain times of the year and the order would not show up on time, or at
all, and we would never hear from the artist. Sometimes we would call them,
but most of the time we would simply never do business with them again. And
don't you believe that word doesn't get around. Word gets around the art
community about dead beat businesses, but it also gets around about dead
beat artists!

You could probably find examples of wholesale contracts online for free or
at minimum expense.

William "Bill" Schran

Tom at on fri 7 sep 07

Oh yes, a couple of other things.

Include packing in your item price. Do not charge extra for it. Shops hate
this. Shipping is billed separately.

Tom Wirt

Lois Ruben Aronow on sat 8 sep 07

There has been some really good advice here. I'd like to add just a couple

1. My terms require that all new business is Pro forma, which means paid up
front. I will put a gallery on net 30 after a reorder or two. This puts
you on equal footing: they know you won't take their money and run, and you
know you will get paid.

2. Get as much information as you can about the store or gallery. Ask them
how long they have been in business, what sells best at their store, etc.
Part of this is because your ultimate goal is to establish a good, long-term
relationship with your galleries, as they are your customers. Make sure to
get a tax ID # from your galleries.

3. The other reason to get to know your galleries is to determine that they
are REAL galleries. As time goes by, you will be able to spot them, but
it's not unusual for people to crash wholesale shows and place personal
orders. I have not done Rosen, only Baltimore. It is not unusual for
people to claim to be a decorator buying samples. They may even have
business cards. Beware of gaggles of ladies - I have seen gallery owners
bring groups of friends, who in turn try to place orders. Likewise, I know
friends who have gone to wholesale shows with gallery owning friends and
placed orders. Buyers are allowed to bring in guests. I prefer they get
their "discounts" elsewhere.

I mention this last one because this recently happened to me. I didn't find
out she was placing a personal order until she turned into the customer from
hell. I'm still dealing with it.

4. Every response has mentioned it, but it is so worth mentioning again:
GOOD COMMUNICATION. If you're going to be late with an order, give the
customer as much lead time as you can. You risk losing the sale, but you
can still gain a good customer. If you lose the sale, don't take it
personally. It's common for a buyer to want the merchandise to a sale, an
event, a season..... You might gain a good customer by communicating
with them, being professional, and following up later if you lose the sale.
If they were interested in your work once, they will likely be interested in
it again.

5. Ask each customer which is their preferred form of communication: phone,
email, fax..... That way, you will always be able to reach them. Not
everyone does email.

6. And since there is a related thread going: TELL the customer which
shipper YOU use. If they ask for someone else, use who they request.

7. Goofy thing I do: send a handwritten Thank You card with the order -
and the invoice.

Good luck!!

Dean Poole on mon 10 sep 07

I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you all for your input.