Faire has made a huge difference in the way many small retailers buy, sometimes leading them to bypass the sales reps servicing their stores. This is obviously a threat to the future of sales agencies, trade shows, and the reps themselves. I’m especially unhappy to see vendors with sales reps out working their territory also selling on Faire, but this is unfortunately becoming more common. Our shop tries to only use Faire’s online platform for companies and individual craftspeople not large enough to have representation.

Ten years ago I wrote a blog post about a new wholesale division of Etsy, the huge retail e-commerce company founded in 2005 to provide a global online marketplace for handmade and other wares. Etsy Wholesale closed in 2018, four years after it was launched – perhaps not coincidentally, a year after Faire came on the scene. Many of the small vendors who had been on Etsy Wholesale moved to this new platform.

But not all Etsy makers are on Faire, so it is worth looking at the retail offerings on Etsy to discover new vendors. If you are, for instance, looking for stickers featuring your local geography, put these words into Etsy’s powerful search engine.  The algorithm will show you many different products – not just stickers – because of the often frustrating way that keywords and SEO work. But that’s a different conversation!

Hopefully it is worth the effort to spend some time scrolling through countless images in order to see if there is something you think would sell well in your store. The goal is to find something different than what is already available in other shops in your area.  When you find a vendor you’re interested in, first check to see if they have a Faire listing.  But if they’re not using that platform, you can click on “contact” on Etsy to send a note asking if they sell wholesale. You may also find that they have a stand alone website for their work that is a more direct way to find out about buying their products. We have found that a number of Etsy vendors do sell wholesale directly to stores.

If the maker responds that they are not already selling wholesale, but are interested in doing so, you’ll need to discuss whether they can offer special pricing and still make a profit. You would not want to buy their goods for an amount that would make your retail significantly higher that what the public sees on Etsy. 

Exclusivity may be an issue in your area, and it is reasonable to ask the small vendor that you’ve discovered on Etsy not to sell to nearby stores.  You want to be rewarded for your efforts to discover unique products to delight your customers.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder