Yesterday Graham and I packed up our gear and hit the road, hoping to convince area retailers to buy our T-shirts. That might sound simple (and ultimately, it was). But prior to this big event, we spent two months preparing. Here’s what we did:
1. We identified which stores to target. We asked ourselves, “Where would members of our demographic shop?” Based on that (and with our particular designs in mind), we chose art boutiques, bicycle shops, coffee shops, and art-related gift shops.
2. We calculated our wholesale pricing. Graham’s previous entrepreneurial experience was of great help here. We considered our material and labor costs to reach a reasonable wholesale price that retailers seemed pleased to accept.
3. We designed a wholesale marketing package. We bought yellow folders and filled each with the following: A line sheet identifying our products, full-color trifold T-shirt-shaped brochures, a full-color oversized postcard detailing our company, our business cards, and our order forms.
4. We re-researched our products and services. We wanted to be prepared to answer questions about our T-shirt composition, weight, country of production, and sizing, along with information on the screen printing process, shipping methods, and payment terms.
5. We developed a loose script and rehearsed it. Since we chose not to make formal appointments with prospective buyers, we wanted to keep our visits brief but fruitful. Our first question (after a cheerful greeting and an expression of sincere interest in their store) was, “Do you buy merchandise from independent vendors?” The conversations took off naturally from there.
6. We packed samples of our products. Depending on what type of store we entered, we brought in the samples of our merchandise that would most appeal to its customer base.
7. We made a follow-up spread sheet to fill in afterward. We listed the name and location of each store, contact information, date of contact, spaces for dates of future contacts, and notes on the visit and other particulars.
So far we’ve tackled our home city and its surrounding county. (Imagine our delight when the very first buyer said, “Yes!”). Next, we’ll hit the shops we’ve identified in nearby Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay. After that, who knows? Maybe you’ll spot an “odd guy art” shirt in YOUR city. In fact, if you have an artsy/clever/eclectic store in mind, please let us know! We’d be truly grateful.
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