Running Multiple shops

It’s not uncommon to hear from new sellers on Etsy that running a shop and their own business takes much more work and time than they ever anticipated.  “I work more than I ever have in my life,” is a sentiment often mentioned in the forums or heard from fellow sellers.

So one might concur that it’s double the work to run more than one shop, right?  Well, yes and no.

Running multiple shops will definitely add to your plate and require lots of organization and diligence to manage but also has the potential to multiply your profits.  I’ll give you some tips and thing to consider while providing tidbits of my own personal experience with running 4 shops.

Supplies and Destash

The most oft cited reason people open secondary shops is to help manage their inventory and are thus opened up as supply and/or destash (aka your new or used leftover/unwanted craft supplies or goods) shops.  Since ordering in bulk is the way to maximize profit, selling off the excess at a profit is just another way to make money.

I started my supplies shop with this notion in mind.  To get the best price on eco-friendly envelopes for my note cards, I had to buy in bulk – hundreds, even thousands.  This requires up-front capital to make the purchase, so I reasoned that by selling off some of it at the going rate of smaller batches (say 25, 50 or 100) would allow me to keep my inventory in check, make back my money invested in the initial purchase and then some.

Buyers often don’t have the money (or need) to make a large purchase to get the lower bulk pricing and large companies often don’t have the time/staffing to sell smaller or custom order quantities.  For example, I recently had a request from a bride for 130 envelopes.  She would have been hard pressed to find a company that would sell that quantity to her and would have likely had to purchase in excess of her needs.  Buyers know that they can get special requests handled by a real person when they shop Etsy.

Having a supplies shop to sell destash (or leftover/unwanted goods and supplies) is also a great way to sell crafting supplies that one no longer needs or utilizes.  I have sold half-used containers of glitter/embossing powder and used rubber stamps this way.  I was happy see the items reused and my buyers were happy to get these goods at a good price.

Certainly some supplies and destash can be sold in your primary shop, but if your quantities expand and start to dilute the look or brand image of your handmade goods, then it might be time to consider opening up a secondary shop.

Unrelated Passions

As crafters, artisans and creative folk, we often have more than one thing we enjoy creating.  Sometimes they work together – such as knitted scarves and knitted cozies.  But when you have more than one passion that varies dramatically from one another, say photography and jewel-crafting, then it probably makes sense to split into two shops so as not to confuse your buyers and once again, dilute your brand image.

From HerbanLifestyle

Regardless of your decision to open more than one shop, here are some tips to consider:

  • You will need to have separate emails to register and receive notifications from your respective shops, but most sellers recommend having them forwarded to one central email address
  • Since flipping back and forth between multiple shops requires signing in/out of your various accounts, some recommend keeping two web browsers open so you can switch back and forth without the signing in/out
  • Take advantage of your customer base and cross promote your shops with each order; include a business postcard listing all your shops, a coupon code for another shop or even a freebie from another shop with your orders to make your buyers aware of all that you offer
  • Try to keep similar branding, unless, of course, you want a totally different feel (for example, my primary shop is Green Earth Goodies, my supplies is Green Earth Supplies and my photography is Green Earth Images, all with similar banners and feel to the shops for consistency; my last shop has a totally different name/feel to it so the name is completely different, though the banner is similar)
  • You can use the same Paypal account for your different shops but recognize that your original account will show up on their CC statement,  which they may refute the charge if they are unaware of the connection (I inform my customers when they purchase)
  • Keep in mind that you will need a new set of promotional materials – new logos/banners, new business cards, new packaging labels, etc.; this all requires more time and money
  • Your inventory will expand and is another up-front investment to consider
  • Know the Etsy rules; from the Etsy Terms of Use (TOUs):

Multiple accounts held by one person
DOs and DON’Ts > Membership > Multiple accounts held by one person

Having more than one account (“multiple accounts” or “alternate accounts”) is not something Etsy encourages, as it has the potential to cause confusion. Keep in mind that information and accounts cannot be merged in any way, so if you change your mind later, you will not be able to transfer information (for example: listings, feedback, Favorites or purchase history) from one account to another.
* All of your usernames must be clearly disclosed in the Public Profile for each account. A statement such as, “I am also on Etsy under these usernames…” would be acceptable. This includes all buying and selling accounts, as well as any collective accounts in which you are involved.
* You may not use an alternate account to purchase items from yourself. This is called “shilling.”
* You may not list the same unique item in more than one shop on Etsy.

I started selling from my primary eco-friendly stationery/goods shop in March 2010 and opened up my supplies shop a month later in April.  Within a couple months, my supplies shop had well exceeded the sales of my primary shop.  In September I attempted to open two more shops – a whimsical art shop and a photography shop.  One has flourished, the other one I frankly haven’t given the time and attention to it that it needs because I only have so many hours in a day.  If I were to do it all over again, I would have waited until my 3rd shop was good and established before opening my fourth and even then, it’s hard having enough time in the day to manage and keep all of them stocked and refreshed as much as I’d like.

Finding time to balance it all is challenging and some areas may suffer if you spread yourself too thin, as I have learned.  Mary of HerbanLifestyle echoes a similar sentiment.

From HerbanLifestyle

“I have a small supply shop, HerbanSupply, in addition to my main store. It’s a nice way to sell my unused supplies, but I tend to forget about it, and as a result, I don’t tend to it, so it doesn’t get much traffic.”

Of most importance, stay organized and on top of your business.  Confusing your orders or customers can damage your reputation and your overall business so be sure to think this through before considering this move for your business.

But, if done right, the profits and growth of your business can be substantial.  I’ve had many customers of one shop become customers of another shop or multiple shops.  And though my primary shop has yielded a little over 200 sales in its first year, I’ve added an additional 450+ sales by adding my other shops.

Do you run multiple shops and have any additional recommendations for those considering the idea?  Please share!

Comments

  1. i so enjoy the information here.. while I do not have a second shop, I use them on ETSY for my stationary and while I can probably find them in retail shops in my city for less money .. I like to support my fellow etsy shops, and I can order online ..door to door delivery, no fighting traffic …..a win win situation!

  2. I also have two active shops on etsy. My first shop, NorthwestBridal, is a bridal accessories shop, so it is pretty slow from Nov-Jan and I needed to do something else to bring money in during that slow period. I decided to sell my eco-friendly holiday ornaments in my second shop, RecycledParts, and it has worked out beautifully. I am now busy in the spring/summer with weddings, and then in the fall/winter with ornaments. It would be very difficult though if both shops were busy at the same time, as I have a hard time going from bridal mode to ornament mode in the same day.

    • good point I should have mentioned in the article – that it can get tricky to switch hats in the same day, especially if you’re filling your orders as they come in and don’t have ready made!

  3. Myra of HerbanLuxe says:

    Great article. I never thought of opening a shop to sell off supplies. I have a huge stash of extra supplies and bulk materials I create. Thanks for the lightbulb moment, I may have to consider a supply shop as well.

  4. Great article. Thanks! I have two shop on etsy and it does take lots of organization and time, but once you find that balance it’s not so bad :)