One of the great things about living in Grand Rapids is the movement toward “localism”. A large part of the culture here is focused on buying and selling goods that were produced locally. As a result the city has some AMAZING, unique eateries, some cool shops and an abundance of great farmers markets.
This culture of localism gave me the drive to try to sell my cards in a local store. There is an art market at the largest farmers market every Sunday, however, it is closed this time of the year. That was fine by me anyway because I’m not too keen on the idea of standing outside in the cold just to sell a few card here and there. Therefore, I felt as though consigning was my best option.
Last Thursday I made it my mission to swallow my pride and head out to a shop to talk to the owner about my cards. I arrived at a boho little shop near my house and asked the owner if she had a minute to talk to me. I was surprised by my own confidence when I approached her and the ease with which I spoke to her. Ordinarily I get pretty anxious when talking to new people, especially if I am trying to sell them something.
The owner was very nice, but said that she really doesn’t take handmade things and only has a small allotment for things like stationary. She also said she will think about it (code for no?) She did give me some really good advice, though; she told me about the nature of consigning and that usually a place will offer a 60-40 split, the artisan getting the 40% and that if there is anyway I can sell it myself, that would probably be the best option for me. As I mentioned previously in this post, the artist market was now closed so that meant limited arenas to sell my goods.
After evaluating everything this woman told me, I decided that my best option at this point was Etsy. It provided the least amount of uncontrollable variables and with them only taking a $0.20 listing fee, and a 3.5% cut off my profits, I found it to be a pretty good deal for me. Although I was bummed not to have it displayed locally at this point, I am happy with my decision so far and I am happy that I at least explored other options before settling on this one.
This is also a good lesson to learn and perhaps teach to other women (particularly in the global South) who are starting their own small business. One of the issues with a lot of these countries economies on a macro level is that they do not own the businesses or the resources that they are producing. This means that the company that employs them can determine how much or how little to pay the workers no matter the amount of work these people are doing. Just like in my situation, the best option for these workers is to be their own boss or at least have as much control over their product and consequent wage as possible.