That is the question. And it's one I've struggled with for a while. For some, the decision is easy. They hate doing shows and love the ease of filling orders, shipping them off and checking off the to-do list. Conversely, there's the artist who thrives on shows and much prefers selling face to face.
I'm a show groupie, no question about it. As long as I can schlepp my stuff, carry 40lb weights and deal with the elements, I'll keep doing them. For me, the wholesale dilemma is strictly a price point issue. If you wholesale, your retail prices have to be consistent with those charged by the shops carrying your wares. Which means doubling your artisan direct price. But will increased prices put off show buyers? For me, the answer is yes. I do mostly juried indie shows where it's important to keep the average price points around $30 to $75, so raising all my prices is out of the question.
After much deliberation, I've decided to test the wholesale waters again. This time, I've created a limited wholesale line consisting of items that are cost/time efficient and where my retail price equals the suggested retail price for wholesale buyers. I'll leave the more complicated pieces and one of a kinds for my show customers.
Once the decision is made and your line designed, you have to put it out there. For starters, I've created a linesheet at trunkt.com, a beautiful site for handmade that aims to connect buyers and sellers.