Approaching local stores to sell my product? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 12-12-2007, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A couple of weeks ago I got an idea for a children's product that I could make and sell. It's really pretty basic but I ran it by a few friends and everyone thought it was great!

So...I ordered supplies and got to work. Now I'm almost done and ready to shop it around locally. I've made a list of stores that I think are the right demographic and I think I have a really nice, well-priced product to offer them so I'm excited. But I've never done anything like this before.

Do I just walk in with my stuff and see if they are interested? Do I call and make an appointment? Send a sample?

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

~Erin
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#2 of 15 Old 12-12-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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Before you do anything, I would get a poor man's copyright on it...then, I just go into stores and send out e-mails with pics.

Victim of Birth Rape & Coerced ribboncesarean.gifUnnecesareanribboncesarean.gif What makes people think they can cut up someone else's genitals? nocirc.gif
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#3 of 15 Old 12-12-2007, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. Off to google "poor man's copyright"
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#4 of 15 Old 12-12-2007, 06:19 PM
 
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sorry...just put one in a box or envelope and seal it. Mail it to yourself. Do not open it. This gives you a date (postmark) and proves when ypu 'invented it in case anyone tries to copy it.

Victim of Birth Rape & Coerced ribboncesarean.gifUnnecesareanribboncesarean.gif What makes people think they can cut up someone else's genitals? nocirc.gif
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#5 of 15 Old 12-12-2007, 06:24 PM
 
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One thing I found when doing this exact thing is that many stores require you to have insurance on the product. Depending on what it is, this may or may not apply, but the main reason is that should your product fail in some way and the customer were to sue, the store wants to be sure it's not held liable and if it is, there is insurance to cover it.

Just a heads up, like I said, maybe it doesn't apply here. Good luck!
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#6 of 15 Old 12-13-2007, 04:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrestorm View Post
sorry...just put one in a box or envelope and seal it. Mail it to yourself. Do not open it. This gives you a date (postmark) and proves when ypu 'invented it in case anyone tries to copy it.


Thanks!

Quote:
One thing I found when doing this exact thing is that many stores require you to have insurance on the product. Depending on what it is, this may or may not apply, but the main reason is that should your product fail in some way and the customer were to sue, the store wants to be sure it's not held liable and if it is, there is insurance to cover it.

Just a heads up, like I said, maybe it doesn't apply here. Good luck!
Hadn't thought of that. Thanks.

I think the kinds of stores that I'm hoping to sell to would probably not require this (artsy, local craftmen, WAHM-friendly) kinds of places but I imagine that if I tried to get it into a bigger store, or a chain store, I'd have to have something in place to protect them, and me. Good to look into just the same. Thanks.
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#7 of 15 Old 12-13-2007, 10:26 AM
 
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Working for a locally owned retailer in a small town we get bombarded with people showing us products they hope we will carry. That said, we are always happy to have locally made products in the store.

Here are a few tips to help you stand out:

1) Don't go this time of year. Most buying is already done way ahead of time for the holiday season. It is incredibly distracting and annoying to have someone trying to get you to look at a product during retail's busiest time of year.

2) The trade shows begin at the end of January/ beginning of February. This is when most store owners/buyers are in the mindset for buying new products for their stores. Inventory is over and they are ready to think about upcoming the spring/summer season ( yay, fresh fun stuff!)
All of the tradeshows have some kid's product but the big tradeshow for kid's stuff isn't until Sept.

3) If you are just getting started with retailing your product think about consigning with the store. There's no risk to the store and you get your product out there. We start new vendors w/ consigning. If something has kind of a high price point we do a 60/40 split (you would get 60% of the selling price). This way we can keep the retail price a little lower and give the new product a chance to get out there. Usually we do 50/50 for smaller price point items.

4) Know the store. We get TONS of people who come in and have never set foot in the store before. Is the store appropriate for your product? And developing a relationship with owner/manager goes a looooong way. Just browsing and saying "hi" a few times BEFORE you even show your product is a good thing. This helps when you come back with you product- they already know you! Don't call on the phone- it's too easy to brush you off. Pick a time of day that is not very busy and just stop by. Lunch time 12-2 pm and evenings are usually the busiest times at my store. Tuesdays at 11 am are the slowest.

5) Have professional and visually appealing business cards and packaging. Make your product desirable. The store should feel like they are going to miss out on a hot, new, cool thing if they don't jump on it! You can get cards printed through http://gotprint.net/g/welcome.do.
I use them for the store I manage and a crafter rep business I run on the side. Good quality and cheap! Also, sell the idea and story of your product not just "it". What makes it special? Think about your story before you go in to sell your product. Have a friend help you put a spin on it.

6) Store owners like exclusivity. Start with the best store you hope will carry it and let them know if they take it you won't offer it to every other store in town. 3 miles apart is a good rule of thumb.


7) Check out http://www.etsy.com/ and other craft oriented websites for selling your product also. This is a good way to get your stuff on the internet w/out spending the $$$ on a website. Here is another:http://mymy.us/store/. Also, any local craft shows you can do right before Christmas? Check out this for craft show schedules http://indiecraftshows.com/

Hope I helped. Good luck!

ps: i'm curious -what's your product?!
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#8 of 15 Old 12-13-2007, 12:52 PM
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i totally agree with sticky wicket. she said what i was going to say!
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#9 of 15 Old 12-14-2007, 06:13 PM
 
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Subbing in case anymore great tips or questions get posted!
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#10 of 15 Old 12-14-2007, 10:52 PM
 
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Yes please don't just show up.

Especially in small businesses, the owner has so much to do everyday. I always resented people just showing up--other than customers

I always appreciated a call, or a letter with a photo and a website or blog I could check.
I didn't mind if someone asked while they were in shopping if they could set up a time with me. You can do that without dragging in everything and imposing on their time.
Then if they are interested you can set up an appt.

Don't take it personal either if they don't want to sell your item. I had a very good feel for what would sell at my store and people would bring in nice things that would never fly with my customers, so I didn't try to sell their items.
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#11 of 15 Old 12-14-2007, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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sticywicket ~ Thank you!! That was SO helpful!

Quote:
sorry...just put one in a box or envelope and seal it. Mail it to yourself. Do not open it. This gives you a date (postmark) and proves when ypu 'invented it in case anyone tries to copy it.


Thanks. I put all my notes that show the evolution of my idea (kind of cool to look back at) in an envelope and will be going to the PO tomorrow to mail to myself!!

I dropped off a small order on consignment at our natural foods co-op today. I ran it by the manager earlier in the week while I was there shopping (a casual friend of mine) and she really liked the idea and thought it would sell well.

Wish me luck....

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#12 of 15 Old 12-15-2007, 12:07 AM
 
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As a designer (for almost 7 years now) I will note that the "poor man's copyright" people refer to would not hold up in court. The government has a copyright department that you can register your materials with. It's not too expensive. If it is an object, you will want to look into patents ($$$) or an idea look into trademarks ($$$). Even then, you still have to realize that people will steal your ideas. It really sucks and is dishonest but that's how it is. Do you know FOR CERTAIN that there isn't another mom or company out there with a nearly identical toy to yours? Have they registered their toy already?

Some examples - Boppy pillow patented their pillow shape and cover, now wrights is making a nearly identical pillow that is sold in chain stores and infringing on their patent. Boppy could elect to sue the company and I don't know if they are pursuing it.

Fuzzi Bunz and their patent on the pocket diaper - licensing they've set up with other companies like Happy Heinies, other companies like Evolution Diapers that are sketchy as to whether they are paying licensing.


I could give loads more examples. Your best bet is to read up on REAL government sites that end in .gov as opposed to companies that want to make money off you by "patenting your ideas". Alternatively contact an attorney who specializes in this area and realize that they charge by the hour.

I'm glad someone else pointed out the fact that you probably will need insurance. There is NO WAY I would start a business selling children's products without being a corporation. One lawsuit from an angry parent whose child choked on part of my product and my house would be gone.
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#13 of 15 Old 12-15-2007, 01:42 AM
 
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In regard to patents, if you can't afford to sue people who steal your idea they are a waste of time IMHO, also, in Canada they are only good for ten years.


 
 

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#14 of 15 Old 12-19-2007, 03:20 AM
 
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Here's what I've found running my own business (designing and making jewelry - including nursing necklaces, etc.) -

*GET product liability insurance. SHOP AROUND!!!
*Look into forming a company like an LLC.
*Get a separate bank a/c for your business.
*Check out different stores and form relationships with them first - don't just show up with your wares.
*It will be MORE EXPENSIVE and TIME CONSUMING than you think!
*Think carefully about your markets - will you sell directly to the public? To shops? Wholesale? Retail? Coops? Online? Have your own website?

GOOD LUCK AND I HOPE THIS HELPS!
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#15 of 15 Old 12-21-2007, 12:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrestorm View Post
sorry...just put one in a box or envelope and seal it. Mail it to yourself. Do not open it. This gives you a date (postmark) and proves when ypu 'invented it in case anyone tries to copy it.
There is no way to prove that you didn't just mail yourself an either empty envelope or an envelope with something else in it then decide to steam it open and insert the design years later.

Timmy's Mommy WARNINGyslexic typing with help of preschooler, beware of typos
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