Here's a really good question from one of our readers.
All this "crafting a pitch email" stuff seems like a lot of hassle. Can’t I just drop into a shop with some samples and ask to speak to the owner?
First off, if this seems like the easier option I salute you, my friend. You are fearless!
Pitching in person appears to be a good idea:
* You get to meet the retailer face to face, they see your work up close and if they agree to make an order you can work out the details immediately.
* It also has a kind of old-school, if-you-want-things-to-happen-you-have-to-MAKE-them-happen romance about it. You’re slinging your wares on your back and heading out to make your fortune.
But there are some very big drawbacks. Let's take a look.
1. It brings office stuff onto the shop floor.
When an owner is in their shop, they are concentrating on their customers. The proprietor wans their shopper to feel relaxed and maybe a little dreamy, and see that they have the staff's undivided attention whenever they want it.
Discussing behind-the-scenes stuff with you - wholesale prices, minimum orders, lead times - etc. The boutique customer doesn't need to hear any of that and it could kill their buying buzz.
The buyer / owner might not be able to talk to you in their office right now, either. Unless there’s another member of staff available to look after the shop floor, they can’t invite you into the back of shop.
Plus, they probably have things to do (spoiler alert - they were not sitting there with nothing to do and just waiting for you to come in) and you’re getting in the way.
2. You're putting them on the spot.
This is a big one.
If your work isn’t right for the shop they probably don’t want to have to tell you that to your face.
You might be perfectly okay about hearing “no,” but they don't know that. Being trapped in a situation where they might have to hurt your feelings is ridiculously stressful for some people.
Even if your merchandise is a good fit, they will want to think about it properly before they make an order, without you in their space.
3. It's not professional.
Most retailers prefer to receive submissions by email or post. Many tell you how to pitch to them on their website, or they'll happily let you know when you give them a quick ring.
Turning up at their shop with a basket of samples and expecting them to make a decision suggests that you either don’t know the proper way to go about things, or that you don't care about their preferences.
That makes owners wary of working with you because they are not certain that they are in safe hands.
You might think “Well in that case, can I drop in and leave a sample of my work with them? Is that okay?”
Unsolicited samples cause retailers nothing but trouble. It’s like barging into their shop and forcing them baby-sit your poodle.
When you leave your unsolicited samples with a shop you are burdening them with having to find somewhere to store them, make sure they don't get squashed, lost or broken, then find time to get back in touch with you to arrange its safe return.
Shop Owners are busy.
They have bills to pay, customers to serve, floors to sweep, and window displays to create.
Being the unpaid guardian of an assortment of unsolicited items is just one job too many.
So I think dropping in unannounced to pitch your work to a retailer is a bad idea. I can't speak for every single shopkeeper, of course, but I know many who feel this way.
Finding out how each individual store likes to be approached is likely to give you much better results.
That’s not to say pitching in person can’t ever work for you, though.
If you have a connection to a particular store owner – perhaps you know them slightly, or you’ve been recommended to them by a mutual friend – then it can be a good way to make contact.
But ring up and ask the retailer if you can make an appointment first. That's respectful of their time and it shows you know something about wholesale.
With every warm wish for your success,
PS - If you would like more tips on how to sell to buyers check out our jam-packed ebook "How To Pitch To Buyers"
or all of our other resource ebooks, lists, and templates.