boutique boutique prep You want to sell?

So You Want to Sell? {Part 2} What to Sell

You’ve found a place to sell, so now what?  Well, you need something to sell!  Many vendors sell one or two things- stick with a niche and go for it.  But other vendors, like me, make a wide range of items to sell and narrowing down the inventory can be tricky.
If you sell one thing or many, chances are there is still some variety in what you make, fabric selection, color ways, sizes.  So one way or the other choices need to be made. 🙂
How do you decide what fabric to buy?  What size to make more of?  How many of each to make?
Well, truth be told, it’s always just a guess.  Even the big box stores guess- but theirs isn’t some draw a number out of a hat kind of guess- it’s an educated guess based on their customers, past history, etc.
When preparing inventory for an event you will need to think about the season, the purpose of the selling event, your previous sales, etc.

Let me give you an example.  My last boutique was held at the end of September.  I make seasonal items, so I made up some of my Halloween blocks and figurines, some throw pillows, Happy Birthday banners, seasonal banners and added in some inventory I had on hand from previous shows. 

My figurines are a higher end item, but I still sold 3 sets of them.  The blocks are a lower price point and they all sold out.  The decorative pillows, even though they were a higher priced item sold well.  Happy Birthday banners were a hit too.
Now, looking forward to my next boutique- what do I emphasize?  I only have 5 weeks (less now) to create a new inventory, so I need to be careful about where I put my time and energy.  The next show will be the first week of November.  It is a Holiday Gift Show.  People will be coming to buy gifts for the holiday season, not necessarily for themselves.  So, here is my thinking: 

 I will still have some decorative pillows but not a ton, I don’t anticipate them being a huge seller at this show.  I am making a lot of my small tote bags– they are great for scriptures, purses and totes for little girls- with a lower price point ($18) I think they will do well.  I am making my seasonal items, but focusing more on the blocks ($20) than the figurines ($36), but I will make sure I do have some of both.  And I will have both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays featured.  I am making Birthday banners, and showing how to present them as a gift by including a couple “Birthday boxes” which are a kit that includes a banner, cupcake liners, balloons, streamers and candles.  I don’t expect to sell many of the boxes, but I hope it will encourage people to pick up a banner and make their own box as a gift.  I am also introducing some smaller priced items, like my clipboards, fabric covered notebooks and small zipper pouches.  This will help fill the market for the under $15 price point (friend gifts, neighbors, teachers etc.)  I will still have some big totes available for the “I’m just going to buy my own gift from the hubby” shopper as well as some home dec items for the shopper who likes having unique decor but I won’t have too many of either- I’ll save that focus for a spring show when people are looking to splurge on themselves and their homes.
So, in a nutshell, my advice?  Think about what your shoppers are looking for and do your best to give it to them.  Think about what you’re looking for at the particular season/ event, look around local retailers and see what they’re focusing on.  Spend some time online and it’s easy to figure out what’s on trend at any given time.  It’s tempting to just go for it and make what you want and like most to make, but if you put in some thought and research before hand- you’ll end up with a much more successful show!
Let me know if you have any other questions about this topic or any other, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Good Luck Selling!

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  • Kristie
    October 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Love the birthday banner. And because I have a January birthday, I would totally get one. Oh, and a tote because the hubby won't buy anything! Great advice!

  • A.Vang
    October 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Thank You, Thank You, I am gearing up for my first boutique and I appreciate the time you have taken to give us some tips. You are fantastic.

  • Gwen @ Gwenny Penny
    October 12, 2011 at 2:25 am

    More great advice, Amy. I'm filing all of this away 🙂 You've obviously learned a lot and put a lot of thought into this. It's great that you're sharing this with everyone.

  • Kim @ Cheap Chic Home
    October 18, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Gosh, I'm a little worried, now. I am planning on selling pillows and table runners at a holiday show to promote my decorating business. I may have to rethink my plan. Did mention I'm worried?

  • Miss Charming
    October 19, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Thanks for the info! (Your birthday banner is adorable, by the way…)