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Beads have been a commodity for thousands of years, used for body ornamentation and even as currency. Made of a virtually unlimited number of materials, beads are used worldwide by jewelers and craftsmen of all kinds. You can join this lucrative market as a wholesale bead supplier.
You can sell to other businesses, to individual customers or to both. You'll also have to choose what kind of beads you want to sell. There are hundreds of bead materials and sizes from which to choose: fine metal, precious and semi-precious stone, glass, ceramic, plastic, antique/vintage and the list goes on. Sizes range from tiny seed beads to large, museum-quality art beads. Many types of beads -- glass for example -- are niche industries unto themselves. Contact bead societies and craft organizations to speak with subject matter experts and conduct research on manufacturers and bead-buying trends to help you make wise inventory purchases.
You can sell from a brick-and-mortar shop, through an e-commerce store or at trade and craft shows. A physical store should have samples or complete inventory on hand for purchase. An online store could be operated entirely from a computer, ordering beads from one supplier to be shipped directly to your customer, avoiding the need for physical storage or handling of merchandise. An online store requires purchasing a domain name and hosting as well as an e-commerce-enabled website. At trade and craft shows, you set up a booth display to sell directly to businesses and individual consumers or take orders for fulfillment. You will also need a merchant account to accept standard methods of payment.
Obtain Tax and License Credentials
You will need a sales tax identification number from your state and a wholesaler’s license. You will need to present one or both when purchasing inventory and supplies for your business. You will be responsible for filing monthly or quarterly sales tax returns and submitting the sales taxes you collect to your state. Keep accurate records as you will also have to report inventory and supply purchases for which you did not pay sales tax.
Determine Your Pricing
Build quality relationships with good suppliers and you’ll likely benefit from quality deals such as bulk order discounts. As a wholesaler, you buy inventory at a discount and resell it with at a profit. In turn, your buyers will expect your wholesale prices to be below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. There are several formulas for determining wholesale pricing. Don’t simply double the price you paid for the beads. When computing your rates, you must always include the cost of materials and labor, and optionally add in other applicable expenses and a margin for profit. Then double that price to determine your retail price.
Build Your Customer Base
Build a web presence to lend credibility to your business. Quality content on your website will enhance your credibility in the bead market. Include a blog on your site with interesting facts about the history of beads, creative ways to use them, bead artists and manufacturer profiles, service testimonials, your trade show schedule and other information that will engage your prospects and draw them into your sales funnel.
Roz Swartz Williams is a feature writer for NVHG.org, with more than 20 years' experience in copywriting and design for private industry, defense contractors, non-profits and online education. In her spare time, she is a self-published novelist and mixed media jewelry artisan.