Everyone knows that you can sell handmade products on Etsy or Amazon. But if you sell large items that are hard to ship — or if you just prefer to sell items to customers in your own community — it can help to have some local options.
Where to Sell Handmade Items Locally
There are plenty of options for growing your customer base in your own backyard. Here are some of them to consider.
Craft fairs are events that are normally held in halls, schools, churches, or other community venues. They usually feature mainly handmade products, so you can be fairly certain that the shoppers will be interested in that type of purchase. It’s one of the most popular ways for artisans to branch out from online selling and get their name out there in other ways. It can even have benefits beyond just the sales you make that day.
Ashlea Konecny, crocheter and blogger behind Heart Hook Home, wrote in a post, “The obvious goal, when paying the entry fee to a craft fair, is to sell your wares and recoup your cost (and then some). But, you also want people to remember you and your name so that they can find you later on your Facebook page, your website or find you on Etsy etc.”
Flea markets usually feature a wider array of products, though some are more focused on handmade goods. So it’s important for you to choose the market and the mix of products you offer carefully.
Steve Gillman, author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money, recently spent a summer as a flea market vendor. He said of the experience on the Penny Hoarder blog, “Consider whether you plan to specialize or sell a variety of things. Vendors can make good arguments for both strategies, but we were experimenting and didn’t want to invest much in this business, so selling lots of different items made more sense for us.”
If you want to branch out and sell your products at multiple locations around town, you might consider setting up wholesale accounts with retail boutiques through the area. Think about where your target customers like to shop and then contact the owners to see what their process is. This also gives you an opportunity to build relationships with other local business owners.
Similarly, some shops offer to sell products for makers on consignment. Basically, you let them display your products in their store and then you get a percentage of the sale.
Pop-up stores are usually temporary retail setups. They tend to be especially popular around the holidays. This strategy might be a plus for those who are interested in learning more about selling in a retail setting but aren’t ready to commit to any long term agreements.
You can still go online to sell products locally. Craigslist is an especially popular outlet for people looking to sell various items to neighbors. This could be especially relevant for those who make furniture or other large handmade products that would be difficult to ship if you were to sell elsewhere online.
Facebook marketplace is another online option for local sellers. It is gaining popularity because it’s free and already has a huge built-in user base. Plus, it’s extra convenient if you’re already on Facebook.
Jenny Keefe shares on MoneySavingExpert.com, “Facebook selling’s major, erm, selling point is its sheer convenience. Facebook is free to join and there are no fees for selling either, so it’s very low-risk – and because so many of us use the social network anyway for keeping up with friends and family, it’s easy to get to grips with. What’s not to ‘like’? (Sorry…).”
Not specific to local sellers, but Instagram can help you facilitate sales nearby. Simply post a photo or video of the item you’re looking to sell and then ask people to bid in the comments. You can even tag your location on the platform to make it really easy for people to find you and facilitate the logistics.
Similar to flea markets, farmers markets tend to include vendors selling a variety of goods. But many do offer non-food sellers in addition to those who might make packaged cookies, canned jams, or other edible products with a handmade touch.
If you’re looking to make connections within your industry, especially with retail outlets that you might want to sell products to, consider setting up a trade show booth. There are tons of these events throughout the country, some geared specifically toward handmade sellers and others geared toward specific niches.
You can even sell handmade products from the comfort of your own home — or a friend’s home. Shopping parties are popular with direct selling companies, but they can also work for handmade businesses.
Deb Bixler or CashFlowShow wrote in a post on the Work at Home Woman blog, “Though it takes discipline, effort, perseverance and a dedication to marketing, the home party plan business is an enjoyable way to earn money. The ability to be your own boss, set your own pace, and work in a fun and casual environment, makes this the perfect business model for many entrepreneurs.”
Art galleries often offer space for artisans to display their work and offer it for sale. This is especially relevant for those that work with traditional art techniques like painters or sculptors, but may apply to others as well on occasion.
Some cafes or coffee shops even offer space for artwork or handmade products. They might have a small cabinet near the register or just hang artwork throughout the location with small prices attached in case one of the patrons wants to make a purchase.
Local events that aren’t specifically for shopping can also be useful for handmade sellers. Music festivals, family fun events, or local carnivals might offer some small spaces for vendors nearby. Just see if there are any events in your area that might be popular with your target customers.
Charity races or other fundraisers also offer space for vendors on occasion. This could be relevant for businesses that offer products related to a particular cause or those that are willing to donate a portion of their profits to the host organization.