What happens when my client wants a product that I cannot purchase wholesale? What do I do about a markup?
There are a lot of products that you will not be able to negotiate a wholesale price on. This is one of the reasons it is extremely important to charge enough design fees to be paid well for your services only… with out relying on selling product.
Having said that…
I charge a purchasing fee on everything that my studio purchases for a client. It doesn’t matter if we purchased it at stocking dealer wholesale, or purchased retail from Pottery Barn – it is the same amount of work. Furniture just doesn’t fly out of the sky into the client’s living room. Someone has to source the product, write the purchase orders, and expedite delivery to make it all show up. The purchasing fee you charge covers your administrative work and the product liability that you hold as the result of you selling the furniture.
Of course, when you have specified retail items, your client may want to purchase on their own, and my advice is to let them. I have made a couple of lifelong clients by telling them a certain piece was on sale at the furniture store, it is the best deal and they should go and buy it now. That little favor has resulted in many more jobs and referrals.