Q & A with the Buyers from Uncommon Goods: Part 2

We are back this week with the the rest of the answers to our questions for the buyers at Uncommon Goods! These are great tips for getting into retail. Be sure to check out last week’s post too!
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Do you prefer to work with the same handmade artists on a long term  basis?

[Heather Thompson] Of course! We believe passionately in supporting the “makers” of the world – working with artists on a long term basis is our goal.  Additionally, building lasting partnerships with artists and designers helps us, as well – it’s mutually beneficial.  As we strive to bring the freshest, most unique, creatively  designed goods to market, partnering with our artists to create exclusive goods is a big part of how we execute those additions to our assortment.

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Is there a set criteria that the sellers have to meet?

[Sharon Hitchcock] We love to look at what the wonderful design community creates!  I am constantly amazed by the creativity of designers and makers.  As buyers, we are always on the hunt for creatively and uniquely designed , well made products.  We look for pieces that have an interesting materials story – items in our assortment are often made from recycled or upcycled components.  We also like items that have great functionality.  One important criteria for UncommonGoods is that we sell no products that harm humans or animals,  so we are mindful of that as we source for new products.

We work with many different types of sellers – folks who are just starting out, as well as those who’ve been in business for a while.  It is very rewarding as a buyer to nurture those relationships and watch a business grow.  It’s my favorite part of what I do.

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Does the seller have to be a certain size to be considered?

[Candace Holloway Gregory] Absolutely not!  We have vendors of all sizes who’s products are in the UncommonGoods assortment, everyone from Jane Doe building pots in her basement with 1 kiln to vendors that work with huge factories with many employees.  However, things can  get intense for small vendors when being considered for the printed catalog.  The vendor will have to guarantee they can make a certain amount of product by a given time.  That being said, we have worked with very small vendors that have had big success in the catalog.  We (the buyers and entire UG team) help trouble shoot challenges so that everyone is set up for success in these circumstances.  I think the key is to be transparent about what can be accomplished and open to think out of the box to get things done.

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Is it a typical 50% wholesale arrangement that is usual with brick and mortar stores, or are they looking for something different?

[Candace Holloway Gregory]  I think that 50% is the lowest margin that most brick and mortars are looking for but it really depends on the business, type of product, etc.  Here at UG we are looking for more than 50% as there are many costs associated with bringing an item into the assortment as well as making sure our customers have an excellent experience when shopping and receiving their products.  Price should be something a vendor is always open to talking about even if at the end of the day they can’t lower the price.

Thanks again to Rocky Taft and a big thank you to the buyers who took the time to answer our questions!

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