October’s meetup was hosted by DIY Bar in North Portland, established by brothers Jason and Adam Gorske about a year and a half ago. With dual passions for crafting and craft beverages, the brothers opted to combine the two to create an intimate space where the crafty “and not so crafty” can sip and tackle projects including simple wallets, koozies, and jewelry.

small business events

With the holiday (read: gifting) season nearly upon us, it seemed appropriate to focus on how makers can get their products in front of consumers as they search for the perfect little something for friends and family members. Portland’s reputation as a maker haven is already well-established, and savvy retailers in the metro have developed systems to support niche, exclusive products made locally. On October 22, representatives from four of these retailers graciously offered their insights on how to stand out in a competitive market and make it onto their shelves. 

The panel included John Connor (CEO & Owner, MadeHere PDX), Karen McClelland (Owner, Mantel), Lauren McCune (Gift Buyer, Powell’s Books), and Chris Tjersland (Director of Brand Development, New Seasons Market), and they offered thoughtful answers to questions posed by Portland Made’s Jim Hassert:

wholesale events

Is it bothersome to get a cold call?

In general, the panel thought this was not the best way to reach them. Connor of MadeHerePDX did note that he appreciates the perspective of brands trying to make contact: Specifically, what made them reach out?

However, larger retailers like Powell’s and New Seasons actually have programs in place to help local makers make it into their stores (New Seasons, for example, has a Local Finds program just for small, regional producers).

For McClelland, being a small operation limits her availability for unscheduled meetings and phone calls: A lot of the time, she’s on the retail floor, and she simply doesn’t have the time to take cold calls. She would much prefer an email with images, line sheets, and/or links to a product website for her to look at when her schedule allows.

wholesale buyers, portland

How can makers stand out at trade shows?

The panelists had a lot of ideas on how to get their attention. McCune stated one of her favorite parts of going to trade shows is meeting the people behind the products. A booth that tells a brand’s story is going to make an impact, too.

Connor offered some more unorthodox advice, telling the audience to get “asymmetrical” and “guerilla”—try to get an ad in the trade show’s publication, or ask another booth if you can merchandise your product alongside theirs if they are complementary. And if your approach breaks the rules? At least you’ve made a splash: People won’t forget the maker who got thrown out of the craft fair.

Mantel

How can buyers help with sell-through?

Connor advocated for makers seeking out POP (point of purchase) merchandising options. If you can get your product closer to a cash register, you’re guaranteeing it will be seen and giving clerks the ability to talk to you up without having to leave their station.

Tjersland encouraged makers to check out how their category as a whole is merchandised in retail outlets. For example, if every local tea is in a vertical package, don’t make yours horizontal—items in an unconventional package won’t fit on eye-level shelves, and when your product is on the top or the bottom shelf, it’s more likely to be overlooked.

Finally, McCune noted how important sturdy packaging is, especially in highly trafficked retail outlets like Powell’s in downtown Portland. Any package has to be able to take a beating when thousands of people are frequenting a store every day. If your product is perishable, offering switch-outs for fresher product can also help you sustain your spot on a shelf.

wholesale buyers, portland

While it might be too late to get your product into these outlets this holiday season (most retail plans for the holidays are set by August or September), it’s not too early to start thinking ahead about how to impress retail buyers for the next holiday season. Build out your booth for Crafty Wonderland, get a line sheet or some professional photographs of your product, and reach out—by email—to show them what you’ve got.

Written by: Katey Trnka  //  Photography: Sarah Toor

 

Keep an eye out for more Portland Made events.

SPECIAL THANKS


♥️

HOST: DIY Bar

PANELISTS: John Connor (MadeHere PDX), Karen McClelland (Mantel),
Lauren McCune (Powell’s Books), and Chris Tjersland (New Seasons Market)

SPONSOR: MadeHere PDX

 

Portland Made Branding

More and more consumers are valuing independently made, locally sourced goods. Let customers know you are Portland Made by branding your website and product packaging.

 

Portland brands

GROWTH MEMBERSHIP

Designed for more established businesses who want their products seen and their story told, our Growth Membership offers the greatest online exposure, including products, related content, and links directing consumers back to your website. Showcase your products in our online Shop, include your photo in our Featured Maker Gallery, and add your logo to our Brand Gallery. Your Featured Bio tells your story, has a slider of your brand images, and highlights any related blog posts and products you may have on PortlandMade.com. Share your news, events, and product releases in our blog, newsletter and social media channels.

STARTUP MEMBERSHIP

Our Startup Membership includes a one on one session to check in about your business and get some free feedback to remove obstacles and/or develop your business. It includes your logo in our Brand Gallery, as well as your brand’s Bio Page, where others can see a brief overview of your business, and a link to your website, Etsy shop or Instagram account. Looking to show off your products or for added services? See our Growth Membership, and/or optional add-on services.

IDEA MEMBERSHIP

It all starts with an idea. This stage of membership is designed for those who have an inkling for what they want to do, but may be hazy on the details. Maybe you want to connect with other makers, or you need product photos or a business consultation to help get you to the next level.

Brand Bio

When visitors click on your logo in the Brand Gallery they are taken to your Brand Bio page. This page includes your logo, a product photo, brand story, and link back to your website or shop page.

Portland maker Membership

Maker Meetup

This monthly, one-of-a kind networking event is FREE for members; $15 for non-members. Crafted to be the most useful hour and half a maker can spend on their business each month, this event aims to: expose makers to new workshops, connect makers with each other, and learn from experts.

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Access to Vetted Resources

Connect with talented professional service providers and subcontractors, offering the range of services small businesses need to thrive. Our online Resources page highlights those we recommend and trust.

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Inclusion in Brand Gallery

Add your logo to the collective’s Brand Gallery. Visitors can peruse brands by category, and click to see your Brand Bio page (for Startup tier), or Featured Bio page (Growth tier).

Portland Brands

Featured Brand Bio

For makers looking for greater exposure, your Featured Brand Bio includes your logo, a slider of images, your brand story, and link back to your website or online shop. As well, this featured page showcases products you have in Portland Made’s online Shop and any related Journal posts you may have on our site.

Visitors can navigate to your Featured Bio from the Brand Gallery and, for those with a professional photo included in Featured Makers, from this gallery as well.

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Your News & Events shared in our Blog,
Newsletter, and Social Media

Broadcast your news, product releases, upcoming events, job openings and more, across Portland Made’s website and social media outlets. Share news content with Portland Made’s consumer audience and maker communities.

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Your Products in our online Shop

Showcase your goods in Portland Made’s online Shop. Visitors can see your product/s and description on the Shop page, and are directed to your personal website. Your product detail page is great for added SEO and as well directs visitors to your personal site.

Inclusion in Featured Makers

Add your maker photo to our Featured Makers gallery. The most prominent page in the Discovery menu, this gallery highlights you as a Portland maker, shows your business name when hovering on your photo, and clicks through to your Featured Bio page where visitors can get an in depth look at your business and visit your personal website.

Portland Made membership perks

Complimentary Business Consultation

Meet for a one on one business consultation to assess the health of your business and identify areas for improvement. 

Jim Hassert, Portland

Preferred Creator Market Vendor

We’ve teamed up with WeWork to produce Creator Market, a semi-annual event hosted in their beautiful westside location. All Growth members can apply first (no application fee), and if you get accepted you vend for free as well.

Portland Made market

 

Product Detail page

Show off your goods! This page is where consumers can see your goods in more detail. It includes a photo, description, and prominent link to your site where they can buy directly from you.

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