Selling in Smaller Markets - Think Outside of the Box

Many small business furniture painters face obstacles because they live in rural and less populated areas. I totally understand this struggle. We raised our family in a small, rural community called Mud Lake, Idaho. There were only 150 kids in our high school! It was an hour drive to a town of any size and running a small business took innovation and creativity. Less population truly does mean having less customers to purchase your pieces and this typically means lower pricing. Don't let this discourage you. It's time to think "outside of the box" and find a way to keep your small business alive and growing.

Finding a new source for customers can be a challenge but there are other options. Here are a few ways that might help you:

FIND A CONSIGNMENT STORE IN A LARGER CITY - Many boutiques and resale shops welcome consignment vendors. You will have to pay commissions or booth space rental but these shops typically get higher prices for their vendors. They might demand higher quality pieces to sell in the shops, but that's good for your business reputation. Visit the shop with a portfolio of your work and negotiate commissions and consignment fees. You are bringing more value to their shop! Make sure all pieces are clearly labeled with your business name and contact information so purchasers can order more from you. BOOST LOCAL CUSTOM ORDERS - All of your friends and family have furniture that could use an update! Plant little seeds by mentioning "how pretty that table would look in blue" or "oh don't throw that out, it could look like new with a few repairs and a new color." Post flyers with "custom work specials this month" through out your community. Help your circle of contacts realize it's much cheaper to up-cycle over buying something new. Give little referral gifts to friends who recommend you to others.

CHECK OUT ONLINE SELLING SITES - There are many sites online you can list your pieces on that actually encourage higher pricing. Packaging and shipping smaller pieces such as end tables or nightstands isn't that hard and customers are willing to pay shipping for a piece they love! I sold a lot of smaller pieces through an Etsy shop when I started out. Be sure to build your packaging costs into the price of the piece.

CONSIDER VENDOR MARKETS - Consider painting up a storm, build a good sized inventory, and then buying space in an upscale vendor market once or twice a year. I attended the huge Round Top Texas market (held twice a year) and met many vendors that came far away and other states. They were getting top dollar for their pieces and had a huge attendance of customers.

Don't let living in a less populated or rural area discourage you from getting the best prices you deserve for your quality work. You are in business to make a profit. Build your reputation and "they will come!"

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