Getting Retail Ready For Your Favorite Indie Store

Vendor Tips: SKUE

“We’ve been described as Martha Stewart meets David Lynch” says Michael Levy creative director of Paxton Gate, a curiosities store and San Francisco institution with a predilection for the bizarre side of nature. For Andrea and Oscar of Biological Jewels, it was the store of their dreams.

Michael first found their exquisite bug sculptures online at wholesale marketplace SKUE before closing an order in person at the RCF Wholesale Market. We explore how they found the right fit in this latest episode of Made to Last, a film series where we pair emerging designers with top indie retailers.

In the film, the duo pick Michael’s brains on getting retail ready and ways to expand their line. Michael explains that part of it is having pieces in the mix that are less labor intensive and suited for wholesale. It’s also about getting your pricing right and prepping products for the retail floor.

Indie retailers like Michael have a unique perspective on retail readiness which emerging designers can learn from and increase their chances of earning coveted shelf space.

As a part of the series, we introduce makers to stores on SKUE in what we call monthly “Buying Rounds” where makers get rich insights directly from store owners.

Take this candle holder for example, by Sarah Phillips of Loop De Loup. Sarah creates her entire line with from discarded metals, literally turning them into objects of beauty. However, the display could use some help.

loupblog

“I like the shape of this candle holder. Might be good to photograph with a candle on it to see size in relation and also what type of candle is best suited for it,” says Lindsay Parton of Alchemy Works a home decor store in LA’s Arts District. “It also helps to sell as a pair, ” adds Lindsay. 

Sarah now sells her candle holders in multiples and is exploring other finishes in a steel/ raw brass combo.

Blog loup dark

At times, makers may not be aware of merchandising issues a store could potentially experience.

SSCY of Brooklyn, creates a line of bags that serve a multi-purpose, like the Tack Sling that converts to a back pack. Brilliant! But may raise a few questions.

SSCY

I like the idea of having a tote that converts to a backpack, and also has a sling, which is pretty handy for yoga mats,” says Lily Chau of Mission store Acacia, “I’m curious how easy or hard it is to convert from one to another.”

Seldon Yuan founder of SSCY has an answer. He’s designed a tag that explains exactly how it works. A great step for retail readiness.

tack tag

And finally, we look at Jen of Jen Cogliantry who introduced a new line early this year that includes jewelry made with lambskin. The thrill of indie retail is to get out of your comfort zone and experiment. Often, it’s exactly what retailers are looking for.

jencog

“ I like the idea of lambskin. Very different than a metal,” says Zoel Fages of Perch SF in Glen Park.

And with a few more merchandising insights can create new selling options.

“These could easily sell both as a set and individually,” says Katie Gaertner of Whistle, a home goods store in the Inner Richmond. “Offering some neutral tones would allow for customers to choose from a dressier version or everyday bangle.”

Or it could get address the simplest of peeves.

“Love that these won’t make noise and clatter around,” says Angela Tsay, founder of Oakland’s two landmark stores, Oaklandish and Oakland Supply Co.

Good points when customers when are looking at your products at store.

If you’d like to get your products reviewed and sourced by retailers check us out here. We’ll also be at the Wholesale Market Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco on April 29 where many of the retailers mentioned here will join to build new relationships and buy from you. Just make sure you’re retail ready!

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Vinit Patil is the co-founder of wholesale marketplace SKUE, where designers do wholesale with the universe’s best indie retailers.

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