How We Choose the Stores We Send Our Makers

“How do you find stores that are a good fit for my brand?”

This is one of the questions we hear most often. We take it as a good sign when a customer asks this, because it’s an indicator that they are thinking about the right things.

Some of the makers we work with have years of experience and some are just starting out — but many are aware that their products will only sell to the extent that they get in front of the right stores.

What it means to be a ‘right store,’ though, varies from maker to maker and product to product. It’s our job to line up stores that we believe would be excited to see your email.

How we put together our stores:
These are the steps we use to find stores / stockists for our customers at Wholesale In a Box. We have the advantage of being able to gain insights across dozens of makers and hundreds of stores — all of which we can put to work for our customers. That said, you can absolutely do this yourself; we just take the busy work off your hands and lend some insight about what we’ve seen work for other makers.

Each week we sit down, (usually there is coffee and often pretzels) and look at everything we have from our makers, one at a time. We look at their:

• Website
 • Line sheet or catalog
 • Instagram, Facebook, Etsy profile and blog
 • Survey we sent them when they signed up with us.
 • Notes we have taken about their preferences and how they want to grow when speaking with them during their initial introduction to Wholesale In a Box and since then.

We are looking to see if anything has changed on their end, if they have any new products they are showing off, or new accounts they landed. For instance, if they just got 3 new accounts in the Bay Area in the past 2 months, that will tell us that similar stores with a similar aesthetic in other cities may be interested in that maker’s products. We ask what else is like that neighborhood and those stores. What do they have in common? Maybe there is a place in Austin or Baltimore or Lawrence Kansas that is similar.
On the other hand, if a certain kind of store has been turning them down more than others, it may be time to pivot away from that type of store.
Then with all of that information in mind, we get to researching!

We look for stores that fit where our customer wants to grow, the type of store that they want to be in, and the stores that will be thrilled to be introduced to their brand.

For each of the stores, we are assessing:
 • The vibe of the store. Is it boho chic, does it have a surfing theme, is it more of a gallery store.
 • Other brands. What other brands do they carry? And would a buyer who bought those things by more or less inclined to by interested by our customer’s x, y or z?
 • The store’s audience. Who is their target market and how does that fit in with the type of market our customer is trying to reach. 
 • Specific requirements. Do they have any specific requirements other than the usual linesheet? Do they only place orders during certain months of the year or ask that they are directed to someone other than the owner?

We do this by doing a very thorough review of the store’s online presence (website, blog, social media, reviews, and press) as well as the results that our other makers have had with the store, plus our offline interactions, experience, or relationship with the store.

Once all the research is done, it also comes down to “gut.”. The stores that Vanessa gets, with her minimal bohemian jewelry and edgy brand are dramatically different from the stores that Clara gets, with her pretty, elegant stationery. We find that we have a pretty good knack for feeling these things out — and no algorithm or checklist will really suffice.

In the end, it comes down to our passion for helping people do the work they love. With each store we select for a maker, we know we’re saving her time that can go to design or production. And with each store that places an order, we know that there is a growing community of people who are spending their time and money on what they love.

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