To the Trade is an industry word that seems to scare potential clients and consumers away. Exclusivity in the internet-age is getting harder and harder to maintain. So what is to the trade only?
Here’s the deal, in the olden-days housewives would hire a decorator and they would shop at specialty stores and the designer would be given a discount. For the showroom, vendor, or manufacturer that sells to the trade this represents an ease of business, less work and overhead for them as well as multiple sales opportunities and they can pass that discount to the designer.
Selling to a non-professional requires additional sales team, logistics, tax collecting, and more potential for problems and therefore more costly.
But it is not the olden-days any longer and the design industry has been changed radically due to the explosion of the internet, diy, blogs, HGTV, and shelter magazines. So clients are not so keen on to the trade only anymore.
Why should certain people be able to purchase furniture or fabric at a discounted rate and not others? I feel you. More and more vendors are opening this up to the public or making their goods available through a third-party. Many designers don’t like this, but it’s a new world and they’ve got to get used to it.
So what now? As a consumer, there is not much you can do about not being able to shop to the trade short of hiring a designer.
But if you hire the right designer, they will be your conduit with which you can own these exclusive items. You might be thinking this will cost you more than the item in the first place. But wait, while I can’t speak for all designers, the way we price items at Capella Kincheloe Interior Design is a benefit to you. We’re open and honest. I want you to feel good about your purchases and feel like you received the best price possible. We pass our to the trade only designer discount onto you.
When purchasing through us, you will know exactly how much we paid for it and you’ll often end up paying less than retail.
As a designer, I am going to tell you that “trade protected” or “to the trade” items are set up that way to protect the consumer from costly mistakes, protect the designer by maintaining exclusivity and necessity, and to protect the vendor from client issues. As the client you probably think this sucks. But it is kind of like wholesale salon supplies, you must produce credentials to buy that super-strength hair bleach. Sure, you may be able to do it yourself, but it is more risky to the vendor, the stylist, and to you. Maybe you will get a beautiful platinum blond shade or maybe you'll get orange hair. In design, there are so many components to decide on when buying, say, a sofa - fabric, fabric direction, fabric yardage, trim detail, welt, fill, leg color, arm design, dimensions, nailheads, that the vendor will need to hold a consumer's hand through the process that they wouldn't with an experienced designer.
So you may get a beautiful custom sofa or maybe you’ll get a sofa that won’t fit through the door.
The problem with to the trade only is that it lacks transparency. It’s a murky lake of design business. It's not always clear for the designers either, because each vendor has different pricing structures and rules for purchasing. I personally feel that some design centers are unfriendly and confusing spaces, even though they claim to be open to the public.
Don't be afraid to ask questions and to seek out friendly vendors and experienced designers who can clarify the process.
How do you feel about to-the-trade pricing? Let me know in the comments below.