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Possum Living - is consignment practical?


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Just read this bit in a book called "Possum Living". I think it's meant as practical humor, and I'm wanted to ask here if you agree that consignment is a dead-end. It may be putting cart before horse to worry about filling orders, but given that this is a hobby right now and I produce stuff in very small batches, it would be nice to make some money off what I enjoy producing rather than what a shop specifically orders. The one consignment shop I talked to here in Raleigh, NC wants a 60% cut, though. Unless they're in a position to charge Whole-Foods type prices on candles, that wouldn't leave much. $5 ea to me (for say a 3x6") would barely be worth the time and gasoline.

Anyway, the quote is kinda funny and though you'd enjoy finding out about the book (and website possumliving.net). Reading it I felt sheepish about thoroughly getting into it as a hobby. Had to agree that matching factory quality really is easier than it should be (tho some of the boutique candles have much better scents than I can find). And, disheartened, since I'm too introverted to have a "sales personality". Fortunately, my real profession is electronics engineering, but I like to dream about being able to make a living without kowtowing to a corporate boss. Now that there are LED candles, I could combine my crafting and engineering skills, too :). I've seen LED candles with wax parts, but know I could make better. I'd also love to put wireless temperature sensing in my pour pot to control the hot plate, but that'd be another order of complexity.

"Much as I hate to admit it, you can really earn good moneyby making candles in your kitchen and selling them. Daddy and lwould rather mug old ladies in the park for money than sell candles, but that’s only because of our overdose experience. There’sno reason you couldn't do it.

If you’re interested, go to any craftor specialty store and tell them what you want to do. Since they‘llwant to sell you the equipment and supplies, they’ll be most helpful and cooperative. If you do try it, I hope you have enough senseto regard it as a business venture and don’t get hung up on it as ahobby.

Unfortunately if you don’t happen to have a sales personality you won’t do well with candles or any other craft item. Trite,but true, though, quality candles practically sell themselves, andit’s not really hard to make a candle of higher quality than theordinary factory-made item.

Consignment placing in gift shops doesn’t pay The shopkeeper wants too big a bite, and also isn’t going to push youritem when he has a store full of things he has money tied up in. Fleamarkets are also bummers. You pay for your spot, thennickel-and-dime it all day."

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I agree with that quote. As a store owner, i had over $50,000 tied up in MY money! As much as you want every item to sell, you really push your stuff you have that make you the most of $ and what you have the most invested in. While some can make it, it will take some time to find you niche. I think you are better off trying to find a small independant store. I took very little in my store consignment and charged 20%. They set the prices and I paid them once a month.

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I guess what I'm not clear on is how selling wholesale to a small retailer is any better. Isn't charging the store 50% of selling price pretty normal? Only difference is you get the money up front, but if your goods don't sell, I imagine that's the last you'll see from that store.

That said, there are a couple of shops here I have approached. The fun one is a... tobacco goods store near the university. Peak sells a Mary Jane scent, which you can mix with Fudge Brownie, and which I think would go over well with their customers.

I've yet to talk to the owner, but the employee said that "times were pretty tight around here". So, I was thinking of offering like 3 pillars on consignment so the store would be more willing to try them... bad idea?

The other two shops I have talked to and sorta struck out. One wants more than a warning label, and the other wants (if they can be pleased at all) a kind of jar without threads and with a lid. Well, I ordered some labels. Dreading/excited about coming up with stuff to print on them. Also, I got some of the special jars, since I was having to pay shipping on something else from that supplier. But I don't want to get my hopes up.

How much packaging is it reasonable to ask for on a home-crafted candle? Sorry if I don't have custom printed boxes with cutouts and gilt labels. It's a candle... wouldn't think it really needs more than a price and a warning label to be sellable.

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I see the problem is, as with consignment. The business can close its doors and you will never see your product again and you never get paid. I've known this happen to many people, so just a gamble you will have to take in this economy.

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I guess what I'm not clear on is how selling wholesale to a small retailer is any better. Isn't charging the store 50% of selling price pretty normal? Only difference is you get the money up front...

Selling wholesale and consignment is not the same. With consignment there is no money invested by the shop owner in your products. If they buy from you wholesale you can bet that they will push those products and sell harder because they are invested in them. When I switched from consignment to wholesaling I noticed a big jump in my sales.

Also, as Barncat mentioned, if your products are stolen, damaged, or the shop closes you are out of luck. You can try to get the shop owner to sign a consignment agreement to protect your products but many won't as they can always get others to consign with them with no strings attached.

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OK, gotcha. At this point it's certainly worth risking the worth of a couple of candles each to try to get in the door at any of the three shops I'm looking at.

The way they're laid out the only pushing or not they could do is choose which shelves to put them on. The gallery, hardware store, and tobacco shop are all browsing stores. If they shove them on a back shelf I'll just call it a lesson learned and try somewhere else


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