by Lisa McGrimmon
It is important to your business' bottom line to find reliable sources of discount craft supplies. Of course, circumstances vary depending on your business model, but for many people it will be difficult to charge what customers are willing to pay, and make a fair profit on your work if you are paying standard retail prices for many of your supplies.
You'd be wise to avoid paying retail craft store prices, so you can price your work in a way that is both competitive and will allow you to make a good profit. Taking the time to find good low-cost suppliers can really help your bottom line.
Two sources of discount craft supplies you may want to consider are craft wholesalers and online retail craft suppliers.
Craft supply wholesalers typically sell raw materials at about 50 percent less than you'd pay at your local craft store, and they usually have a much larger selection. In exchange for the great prices and large selection, you must provide a business number and place a minimum order.
Online craft suppliers, on the other hand, have more flexible terms. They don't normally require a minimum order, (although they may offer a discount on larger orders) and they don't require a business number. They probably won't have the same selection as the major wholesalers in your niche, but they often offer prices that are very close to what the major wholesalers can offer. If you know your prices, you can get some good deals at online craft retailers without needing to make a large minimum purchase.
I have used both wholesale suppliers and online retailers. I like wholesale suppliers when I know I need to make a large purchase. I have found that it's important to watch out for shipping fees from wholesale suppliers if you aren't making the purchase in person. Shipping (and duty fees if you are importing from another country) can get quite pricey to the point where it mightnegate a lot of the savings you get by purchasing through a wholesaler.
I really love buying supplies through online retail suppliers, particularly when I'm looking for fairly common raw materials that aren't hard to find online. The prices are often quite close to wholesalers, and they offer the flexibility I need if I want to order smaller amounts for a custom project, or just to avoid having a lot of money tied up in raw materials that I may or may not use.
Wholesale craft supply stores normally offer fantastic prices and an extensive selection that you would not normally find at most retail craft supply stores. Normally, to shop at wholesale craft supply stores you will first need to register your business (a very simple process - check with your local Chamber of Commerce for guidance on how to do this) because wholesalers will ask you to provide them with your business number when you first establish an account with them.
Craft wholesalers will usually have minimum purchase requirements; the minimum amounts will vary among wholesalers. Before you buy, check out their minimum purchase requirements to ensure that those minimums are in line with your current business needs. If their minimums are a bit too high for your needs, don't worry, there are other ways to get the discount craft supplies that you need for your business.
Consider partnering with another professional craft artist and make a group purchase if the craft wholesaler you are dealing with has minimum purchase requirements that are too high for your needs. Find another craft artist who would also like to shop with this wholesaler and make a group order, that way your combined order will reach the minimum requirement, but you will not have to purchase more supplies than you really need.
Some members of craft forums organize group purchases with other members of the forums. If you don't know another local craft artist who you can partner with on bulk purchases, you may want to search your favorite craft forum to see if anyone is organizing a group purchase, or if you're comfortable with the idea and the people on the forum, consider organizing one on your own.
To find craft wholesalers, ask for recommendations on craft forums where other professional crafters meet, or try using a search engine to search terms like:
Or be more specific with your particular medium such as:
You can often find far better prices and selections at online retail craft supply stores than you could at your local bricks and mortar craft shop. Online stores have fewer business expenses, and they can often pass that savings along to their customers through lower prices. Carefully check the policies for online craft stores. While these stores may sell to traditional retail customers, they may also offer special wholesale pricing for customers who buy larger volumes of items.
One of the best sources for discount craft supplies I've found is eBay. eBay sellers offer a huge variety of products, and since selling on eBay is highly competitive, you often get fantastic prices.
Depending upon your needs, you may even find eBay sellers who are better sources for craft supplies than craft wholesalers. I have established wholesale accounts with a few major jewelry supply wholesale companies, and while they are great resources, and they offer some items that I have not found anywhere else, I have also found eBay sellers who sell the same items for the same price as the major jewelry supply wholesalers.
The benefits of using online retail suppliers over wholesalers for your craft supplies are:
Craft wholesalers and online craft supply stores can both be fantastic sources for discount craft supplies. It is well worth researching each of these sources to find suppliers who meet the needs of your craft business.
Finding Discount Craft Supplies