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Bead Artist needs advice about wholesale

Q: I am an artist who has recently begun to work in beads. Two shops carry my work and a third is interested. My question is, is it worth my time and money to get a wholesaler's license? I have noticed that many wonderful bead ads in Ornament and Lapidary have "Wholesale Only" catalogues.

A: Hi, I design jewellery using glass beads and I have a tax # so that I can buy wholesale and it does make a large difference in my material costs. Also being able to slowly start buying various beads in 1/4 or /12 kilo lots makes a big difference. It drops the individual cost of beads but for people like you (and me also) a large color palette is a must. I have just started buying magatama beads by the 1/4 and 1/2 kilo in some of the colors that I use alot of. Who are you currently buying from? I am buying czech glass in 4mm and up sizes in various shapes/colors and also japanese seeds, magatamas and cubes. Buying at retail prices certainly would push my material costs way up. It is definitely cheaper to buy wholesale. Wholesale- priced items at a gem show, for instance, are usually MUCH cheaper (there is a separate wholesale section). I usually buy stone donuts and hanks of stones and pearls in strands. Last time I went to this show I bought some NICE river pearls, 15" for $3. Donuts range from $1 to $4 (big ones). Some stores give discounts and most don't charge you tax (I stop patronizing those, like the Bead Shop from Palo Alto to San Jose, who charge tax). Most craftspeople fall into the binary trap of looking at the buying function as either wholesale or retail -- and restrict their purchases accordingly. A lot of places claim wholesale prices to fool the unaware, who then pay a high price because they did not compare prices or want their ego massaged by thinking they are buying wholesale. Some retailers have extremely low prices or unique items, and get overlooked by those who will only buy from a company that says it is selling wholesale. Craftspeople tend to obsess on the buying side of the equation instead of focussing on the selling side, which involves what their customers will pay, and how much much of a markup is both fair and possible. I guess they still cling to the security of their role as a consumer, or shopper, rather than their role as a marketer or entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur takes a systems approach, balancing buying and selling, and considers, when buying, factors such as quality, overall relationship with the supplier (important), and price breaks on larger quantities, multiple purchases, or cash transactions.