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September 2014

The Creative Edge

Leverage handmade merchandise to your advantage

Are you looking for unique and interesting merchandise that won't be found at the competition? Consider the creative advantage of adding handmade goods. Handcrafted merchandise helps differentiate your store from competitors, is affordable, and easier to find than you might expect.

Now is the perfect time to ride the current wave of interest in handmade, locally made, and Made in USA products. Unlike branded gift items, craft items can be so unique that direct comparison on price is less likely. This merchandise is actually "art" and the added perceived value can lead to extra margin.

Getting started

  • As with any new type of merchandise under consideration, begin by educating yourself on the category. To quickly familiarize yourself with what's available, begin by browsing the newly launched wholesale craft site, Take special note of any local makers.
  • For Made in USA products, a good source is
  • From your findings, determine what type of handmade merchandise would complement your store assortment, brand, target customer and price points.
  • A wide variety crafts are available in ceramics, textiles, wood, metal, glass, and a multitude of other materials. In addition, you may also see craft items made from recycled and up-cycled components which offer the added selling point of being environmental.

Locating handmade merchandise

  • Besides Etsy and USMadeWholesale.Com, try and seek other wholesale craft marketplaces online.
  • Visit the made in USA sections and/or dedicated handmade product sections at the major gift shows.
  • Items to consider might be pottery, fashion accessories like scarves and jewelry, handpainrted items, kitchen, pet, toy and decorative merchandise.
  • Local craft shows can also be productive. Even if a maker doesn't usually wholesale, it doesn't hurt to ask. You may both be pleasantly surprised to strike a deal at a wholesale that works for you. If they are local, you may be able to even arrange a "meet the artist" event.

Selling handcrafted

  • Crafts span a wide variety of prices, from high end art glass to stitched felt cat toys; there are likely to be products in your price range.
  • For optimum sales, look for the story behind your craft items. Use descriptive signage and encourage the maker to affix a hangtag with any interesting information. You aren't just selling an item, you are selling the unique experience of owing a handmade, one of a kind item.
  • Educate your staff on handmade merchandise so they understand that variations are a hallmark of handmade goods and they can explain to customers what makes it so unique.
  • Tourists are good customers for handmade, locally made goods. Handcrafted items are a popular memento of a trip and more meaningful to many than the mass produced kind.
  • To keep current and educated on the category, subscribe to trade publications like The Craft's Report Magazine.

Gail Markert helps giftware manufacturers and retailers identify opportunities for growth through product development, marketing and branding. Learn more at or reach her at

Gail Markert, Markert Group Consulting, 2014

Quick Industry News

The Rise of the Hacker

"Unless you've been living under a rock", as they say, you have heard report after report of data breaches afflicting major retailers from Target to Neimann Marcus to Home Depot. Tens of Millions of Americans' credit cards have been compromised and had to be cancelled and new cards issued. Point-of-purchase (POS) systems for restaurants, hotels and grocery stores have also been targets. Forty million credit cards were compromised in the Target breach alone.

These retailers already had elaborate security measures in place, but persistent hackers managed to exploit split-second exposures of data that had never been an issue before.

"We've seen a dramatic shift in the cyber crime landscape from solo hackers motivated by intellectual property to organized criminal groups and state-sponsored actors motivated by financial fraud and cyber espionage," says Kimberly Kiefer Peretti, a former senior litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section who assisted in the prosecution of the largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. That case involved 170 million credit and debit cards compromised by a group of hackers from 2005 to 2007. In March 2010 the leader was sentenced to 20 years in prison. (source)

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has organized the Information Technology Security Council to be an information sharing platform providing timely notification and actionable data on critical threats.

More information about the problem and new technologies to fight this crime is available from the NRF in this article.

New (or New Look) Wholesale Websites

Invenio EasyLight LED Reading GlassesInvenio EasyLight LED Reading Glasses opened its new OmegaNet B2B website this month. The company offers reading glasses with built-in lights to illuminate reading material. When turned off, the lights are not visible. The glasses come in a variety of colors, designs, and strengths. Display units are also available.

Unforgettaballs has a new CAMEO EZ wholesale websiteUnforgettaballs has a new CAMEO EZ© wholesale website. "The finest collection of artwork printed on baseballs in the world" is the company's tagline. The products are baseballs with a variety of designs printed on them. Some are images of famous stadiums, and other baseball themes, but others are messages for special occasions or just "Cool Design Baseballs".

CAMEO EZ© is the B2B e-commerce system developed by OmegaNet Inc., publisher of this newsletter, for use by retailers in ordering inventory for their stores. A partial list of CAMEO EZ sites can be found at the company's portals such as,,,,, and A complete list of sites is available in the "Directory" on