If you love making crafts, saving money on craft supplies can make your hobby even more enjoyable. This article explores several ways to save money by using the Internet when shopping for craft supplies, materials and tools
The first place to look for bargains is eBay. Depending on your craft, you can either search by keywords like “quilt supplies” or browse through the eBay categories until you find the one that matches your needs. Personally, I would try both searches when seeking the best deals. The reason to search both ways is that not every eBay seller knows to include the keywords you use in their listings, while they may at least place the item in the correct category.
eBay also has a category called “wholesale lots.” Check out the listings there for buying supplies in bulk. Be sure you can either use all the items in these big lots or turn around and sell them yourself.
Craigslist is another place online to shop for crafting materials and tools. I have found many listings for equipment I needed there.
Locate online craft supplies by doing a Google search based on your hobby. For example, if you are a woodworker, search for “woodworking supplies.” This is a great way to identify niche craft supply sites. Sometimes searching for “craft supplies” alone isn’t specific enough. Try including words that describe your craft like “jewelry findings,” “stained glass supplies,” “weaving yarns,” or “doll making supplies” depending on what you make. Many suppliers offer mail order catalogs in addition to their online stores.
Sites that sell finished handmade goods also offer craft supplies. For instance, both Etsy and Artfire allow vendors to list and sell craft materials on their online store fronts.
Other places to shop for bargains online include the websites of major retail craft supply stores like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Joann’s. Sometimes these sites will run “Internet only” bargains where you can really save some money if you buy online.
If you are a professional crafts person who sell crafts you make, consider bypassing retailers and middlemen by buying supplies direct from the manufacturers. Most manufacturers will require a state sales tax identification number to sell wholesale to you, but those are easy to get. The Thomas Register online lists most of the major manufacturers in the United States by product and by category. When shopping for yarns, I found several mills that would sell to me directly at very low prices. But I had to buy $500 worth at a time. Still, for a production crafts person, this can work out in the long run.
Though the Thomas Register lists U.S. manufacturers, you may be able to find even lower prices by going online to shop overseas. Alibaba is an Internet based clearing house for networking between buyers and sellers internationally. There are however drawbacks in buying craft supplies from other countries. You will probably have to buy in very large quantities. Handling imports may require you to have a trade agent who takes care of the shipment when it arrives. And you won’t have legal recourse if you aren’t happy with what you get.
In summary, start simple by searching online with words specific to your craft. Check out eBay, Etsy and Artfire for supplies listed by vendors there. When you move into production crafting, look towards buying craft supplies wholesale from manufacturers and maybe even from overseas. You can always turn your excess craft supplies into it’s own business.