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?!