Another blast from the past. I wish I had found more insights to offer, but all I can suggest are personal websites and exhibiting your work. I want to note this post focuses on selling already made quilts, not commissioned pieces. Please let me know of any other paths to selling your work.
Many folks in the quilting world sell quilting services – hand and machine quilting, fabric, patterns – but fewer have set out to sell their quilts. I know only one or two quilters who actively market their quilts and they are art quilters.
So, where would you go to sell your quilts? There aren’t many places that sell just quilts. New York City has a quilt gallery and towns in and around Amish communities often have quilt/fabric stores. Of course, those stores feature Amish quilts. Luckily, the internet has opened up a vast marketplace, unfettered by your geographic location (unless FedEx, UPS and the like don’t serve your area.) Unluckily, that vastness makes it hard to reach a likely audience for your quilts.
Since business people are quick to spot opportunity, websites that specialize in crafts markets have popped up. They serve as go-betweens, offering a “store” to display merchandise, web links for purchasing items, and other accoutrements of trade. This can be a great boon to individual craftspeople who don’t have the expertise, time, and/or resources to do all that from scratch. Of course, there are fees involved when you list your items, even if they don’t sell; and more fees and/or a percent of the sale price when you sell an item.
I’ve been learning about crafts e-tailing through Selling Your Crafts Online, by Michael Miller. Since I don’t plan to start selling my quilts I skipped much of the fees information and the step by step instructions for setting up accounts, and concentrated on the online marketplaces. If you’re considering online selling this book seems like a good place to start, especially if you don’t want to create your own website. Some of the business and pricing strategy seems like business 101, but it never hurts to restate the obvious.
Like most crafters I knew about eBay, the behemoth of the business that sells any and everything, and Etsy, which is handmade crafts oriented. However, Mr. Miller introduced me to Artbreak, Artfire, Artful Home, Artist Rising, Artspan, Bonanza, Craft Is Art, Crobbies, Funky Finds, Handmade Artists Shop, Handmade Catalog, Hyena Cart, Made It Myself, ShopHandmade, Yessy, and Zibbet. Talk about A to Z!
eBay has page after page of quilt listings, but the offerings range from old quilts to ones made yesterday, with quilt tops and supplies thrown into the mix. Unless I were cranking out lots of similar baby quilts I wouldn’t use eBay to sell my quilts. Etsy lists many quilts in all styles and price ranges, though you’re more likely to find modern style quilts there. I think Etsy is a better fit for many quilt makers, unless they create high end art quilts.
Only a few of the other sites listed quilts for sale at the time I checked them out. Artful Home displays gallery quality art and contemporary quilts. Craft Is Art has a few quilts for sale, mostly wall hangings and table runners. Handmade Artists Shop offers quilts that are craft, not art, oriented; as does Handmade Catalog. Yessy had a strange mix of quilts, many from one maker. There sure are a lot of people trying to sell their crafts.
Time for me to have a cup of tea. I’m exhausted from that shopping trip, and I didn’t even take off my slippers.
A reader of this blog has suggested that folks may want to check out the web services offered by Shopify, an e-commerce service, to sell their quilts. I have no experience with this outfit, so I can’t give any opinion. I do see that the basic charge for this service is $29 a month, plus a per credit card transaction charge. You can try it out for free, according to the website. My personal take is you’d want to compare costs with other online sales services to see what might work best for you. You’d need to have enough inventory to justify a recurring monthly charge for a “shop.”