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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey members!

I like to make furniture as a hobby. I really get a lot of positive compliments and people tell me that I should sell it too, so I decided to do that ;) .And now I want to make some furniture and then sell it. Now I see that many people offer their self-made furniture on Marktplaces with old stuff aswell. I find this a bit weird. Why would you sell your own products that are (new) on a second-try platform? a bit unprofessional, right? I can't seem to find a good alternative at the moment in terms of a marketplace where I can put my furniture that is (new and homemade) with a bit of volume on it. And now I know a lot of people are going to say make a website yourself. But someone like me is not waiting for this, I just want to sell a piece of furniture every now and then and build a whole site then of course don't hurry for maybe a sale per month. Of course it would be nice later on, but of course I have to start somewhere. Do you also experience this problem as furniture makers? (Not a good platform where you can sell custom-made / homemade furniture?) And if you have a solution for this, I'd love to hear it!
 

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Often the reason people sell new homemade goods in the same spot as other people sell used items is because it is free and they don't want to make a website. It sounds like you don't want to make a website either, so a marketplace like that is just about perfect for you I would guess.

If you are pretty opposed to those marketplaces, you might try selling at a craft fair or festival. But I believe those places usually charge a fee to rent a booth, so you lose profit that way. So back to the idea that a marketplace might be a good place to start...
 

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You have to start somewhere? You've already started... the making of furniture.

Does the positive comments come with purchases from those folks, also?

If I were to make furniture to sell, I would test the market, first, by asking an established outlet if they would take furniture on consignment. Not all places even consider consignment pieces, but you have to shop around and ask. Furniture store folks will better know if your product has potential for sales.

Essentially a business (your business) needs to be proficient in 3 categories: Manufacture, sales and paperwork. It's hard for one person to do all 3 successfully. If your products are that good, try consigning your pieces, first. It is highly recommended to NOT advertise a piece on Marketplace, Craigslist or the like, for selling it yourself, if the piece is in the show room of a consignee. It may be okay if you post an ad, that the piece is available at the consignee's establishment. Ask the consignee, first, about posting ads, that way. The consignee may elect to post any ads. * Consignment contracts vary.... part of learning the selling business and such (re: the 3 categories mentioned above).

You better have a good product. What's your opinion of your work and products?

Sonny
 

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Maybe you ought to rent a shop space and have a gallery up front. That is more or less how I started.

Other alternatives would be to build the furniture and check out local art galleries and see if they will take some of it in on consignment. Typical consignment fees are 40% to 50% commission. That is one way to find out if there is a market for your stuff. In addition to furniture, you can make mirror frames (Including the mirrors) and put that in with your furniture on consignment. Mirror frames are fast, inexpensive to build including the price of the mirror.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Where are you located? What's the market environment like where you are? Are you building high-end custom pieces with originality or something you can buy anywhere? What are you doing that sets you apart from other builders?
 

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Had the same thought and there is no easy answer.

First off, lets say you did do a web site, then people have to find it. There are millions of web sites and being found is not easy. I went through this starting my business and it takes a lot of time to get found. So that is not a good idea. Especially if you just have say a piece a month or something like that.

For an occasional piece of furniture nothing is going to beat places like FB Market place. There are LOTS of people on there looking. Probably not many looking for higher end furniture, most are looking for a bargains. But by sheer volume you probably do better there than anywhere else and it is FREE!

I have not looked into it but Etsy might be a place to consider. I have been lead there a couple of times looking for something. Never checked in on what it takes to sell on there.

Ebay is another possibility. You can set a price and not run it as an auction. Have to take into consideration the fees of course.

Those of the first places that have come to my mind. There are probably places that you offer to sell for you (for a fee). But I have not done any real research since I have way to much to do at this point.

Oh, one thing I did think about was trying to get in contact with Interior Designers. Not sure how you do that but I figure they are good people to be in touch with if they like you work. They probably tend to deal with clients with money, not looking for Ikea grade furniture.
 

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Selling is about exposure to the market. Who is your market audience? How can you best reach them?
Furniture has many different styles that appeal to different markets, traditional, youth, outdoor, rustic...etc.
What is the style of furniture you are making?
Square Space is a DIY website builder that is very popular on You Tube.
You Tube will get you a lot of exposure IF you show the builds in progress.
Look up Blacktail Studios on You Tube who started out a few years back as a hobby and now is selling epoxy river tables for as much as $20 K.
You will need a reliable source of raw materials.
Make certain of that before you get slammed with orders that you can't fill because you can't get the materials.
There's a lot of interesting stuff for sale on ETSY.
 

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Often the reason people sell new homemade goods in the same spot as other people sell used items is because it is free and they don't want to make a website. It sounds like you don't want to make a website either, so a marketplace like that is just about perfect for you I would guess.

If you are pretty opposed to those marketplaces, you might try selling at a craft fair or festival. But I believe those places usually charge a fee to rent a booth, so you lose profit that way. So back to the idea that a marketplace might be a good place to start...
There is a website called Etsy that is used by a lot of people. Mostly home made merchandise from crafts to furniture. What I always found difficult about making furniture for sale is finding the person who wants just what you made. I did pretty well working with individual clients and interior designers. With the cost of materials, and my time, and my skill, I found people comparing the price of my product to what they see on the internet. As an example my fireplace surrounds started at around $1,200. I would get people showing me similar looking products from the internet for $200. In reality, there was no comparison, but I would simply tell them if that is what you want, I suggest you buy it. When you work for individual clients and designers you are making a specific one off piece, nothing else like it, just what the client wants, and is willing to pay the price for. It can take me 2 weeks to make a dresser, not counting finishing. To put that kind of work into something hoping there is a buyer out there can be expensive and risky. But if you are making simple pieces, or stuff that is hot right now like barn doors or live edge, then Etsy would probably be a good place to start.
 

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Have you checked out your local farmers markets, many of them allow vendors selling handmade items. When I had my shop I connected with a toy store and a garden shop as fill ins for the slow times between projects with a builder I had contracted to build fireplace mantles etc..
Selling online through Etsy or Ebay will involve shipping which can be complicated with larger items and there is always the risk of damage to the product.
It also seems that a lot of times when you list something unique on Etsy it gives others the idea to copy you and undercut your price.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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It also seems that a lot of times when you list something unique on Etsy it gives others the idea to copy you and undercut your price.
A few years ago on Etsy someone copied one of my original designs and made virtually the same item, even used my photo as a placeholder until they finished theirs and could use their own photo. I saw it and notified Etsy and the seller, with my sketches and timestamps proved it was my idea, and Etsy pulled their listing. Etsy has a good reputation for protecting your designs and shop from posers looking for an easy ride.
 

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..............It also seems that a lot of times when you list something unique on Etsy it gives others the idea to copy you and undercut your price.
This is not an Etsy phenomenon. It happens all over. Etsy handled it well for David. Not much anyone can do about it
The best you can do is what David did.
People will copy your designs at galleries, craft shows and anywhere else they happen to see something they like, If you have a Copyright, Copyright laws are fairly vague. Doesn't give the holder any real protection.
Thoughts are universal. If you have a unique design, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of others that had the same idea/thought at the same time.
When I had my gallery, many artists had their work copyrighted. When I looked further into it, it was only their signature that was copyrighted.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Behind every garage door in suburbia is a "woodworker" .... kinda. They are looking for an easy project to sell..... at least some are.
That's your "competition" unless you make "high end" stuff.
To prevent the theft of your ideas, make them harder to copy by design OR use the methods available like on ETSY.
It will be a tough market to break into unless you have a "word of mouth" following from local sales.
Google birdhouses, jewelry boxes, hot plates and trivets, cutting boards etc. and you'll find zillions of them.
There are also a large number of tables and chairs made by DIYers.
You may be reluctant to post your work here to protect it from exposure? We get that, but the advice remains much the same no matter the exact design.
Here's a jewelry box, one of two that I made for a contest here on WWT. It is a very complex design and there few woodworkers willing to copy it:

Wood Wooden block Automotive design Hardwood Toy
 

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The bottom line is that if you want to sell your work, you have to expose it to as many people as possible. You will finally reach a point that you just wont care about copying your stuff. Actually, it's quite flattering.

The other alternative is to never let anyone ever see your work.
 

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Many people go to open air flea markets. Some people sell their hand made furniture there. Set up a canopy and have at it. See if people are really checking out your stuff or just glancing and walking on by. If they are checking out your stuff, study their reaction and facial expressions when looking at the price tag. You probably wont sell anything but at least you will know peoples reaction and attitude toward your stuff.
Not everyone goes to flea markets for bargains. Many just go to kill a Saturday afternoon. Those are the prospective customers. Those are the peoples facial expressions that you want to study.
 

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One more thought........... I find that most people today are not impressed with "hand crafted". It's the end product that they see in front of them that counts. They either like it or they dont. Many people have had problems with hand crafted stuff they bought in the past. If they seem interested in something, then you can talk and explain joinery.
 

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Unfortunately if you are a small business there is little you can do legally to protect yourself on a small budget.
Anyone looking for unique items to sell at a local craft fair or farmers market can browse Etsy for ideas if they don't use their service what can Etsy do to stop them?
If you are successful and hire staff there is always the chance some of them will take your product and venture of on their own. I was involved in a company making leather goods, my partner went into the shop one Saturday afternoon and found one of the employees using our tools, design and supplies to make items to take to the local swap meet the next day.
As has been suggested, make the item difficult to copy and make a quality product so you build a stellar reputation.
 

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A few years ago on Etsy someone copied one of my original designs and made virtually the same item, even used my photo as a placeholder until they finished theirs and could use their own photo. I saw it and notified Etsy and the seller, with my sketches and timestamps proved it was my idea, and Etsy pulled their listing. Etsy has a good reputation for protecting your designs and shop from posers looking for an easy ride.
There is the flip side...I have seen absolute crap on Etsy being sold for ridiculous amounts...so I have no trouble with someone doing it better, cheaper. I also have a similar experience but where the vendor used a picture of my kitchen with something they sold me in their ad (without asking) and was now selling it with that picture at 4x the price I paid. Didn't bother me though, flattered even...although his pricing did cause me to build a second one also for myself. I have thought about building more and selling them...but I would not do so unless I could positively differentiate it from the original in areas other than price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Often the reason people sell new homemade goods in the same spot as other people sell used items is because it is free and they don't want to make a website. It sounds like you don't want to make a website either, so a marketplace like that is just about perfect for you I would guess.

If you are pretty opposed to those marketplaces, you might try selling at a craft fair or festival. But I believe those places usually charge a fee to rent a booth, so you lose profit that way. So back to the idea that a marketplace might be a good place to start...
Do you think we need a new markplace specialy for only new and handmade furniture only? With no mess on it or second hand stuff just all new.
 
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