I began in the wholesale business in 1991. After a long 10 years of minimal profits and many setbacks I feel I have earned my PhD in Hardknocks.
It wasn’t until 2001 that I began a 9 year profitable stretch which I am still going strong.
But, I would recommend against anyone jumping into this business totally blind (unless you have 10 years and a lot of money to waste).
Today, information is both more accessible and complete. Do your homework, and you increase your odds 99% toward success.
First and foremost- Consider your source when being “recommended” a supplier.
Advice is just that, ‘advice’ nothing more, nothing less. Following that advice is a decision only you can make and only you are responsible for.
In 1991, my best friend introduced me to a business called Amway. ( 3 months later she was an ex-friend) enough said about that route.
Then another friend talked me into the SMC program. (my list of ex-friends began growing)
I am not saying these are bad directions to go (lawyer advises against that), it just wasn’t a direction right for me.
Next, I found a local wholesaler and tried supplying small mom and pop businesses. But quickly noticed MY supplier already had those businesses wrapped up but failed to mention that while I was buying his products! So I tried selling/supplying at the flea markets. Made some money, but it was seasonal and hardly enough to support myself.
After 2 more years of the flea market route, yet another friend made a suggestion (at this point I wasn’t sure if I could afford to lose anymore friends, but I listened anyways.) She has a small shop and offered me about 20% of the shelf space if I wanted to sell in her store on consignment. This proved more profitable than the flea market as I was paying her only 25% of the sale price. I began talking with other consignment shops and in 1 year I had my items in 7 shops in the county.
I began think how much I was buying every month and thought about my supplier. ‘If he had 50 buyers like me, he must be rich’ I thought. I knew he bought directly from the factories, so I decided to see how difficult that would be. To my surprise, factories were very eager to sell directly to me, although their minimal order was much higher than I expected. This is where the nightmare begins.
My first overseas order was for some childrens shoes. I really thought $1.25 a pair seemed too cheap, but after they explained how they produce millions every month, they can sell at that price easily. I sent the money by (not permitted to post name of this most common money transferring company) as they requested. I waited the 90 days, as they had told me shipment to the East coast requires much more time. (made sense to me). 90 days past and I had not received anything. I waited another week and called them again. They said the records show it will arrive at my home in 3 days. 3 days later nothing. I called again. The number was no longer in service.
In the end, I lost $2,500.00 and almost 4 months. No one could help me here, and I didn’t know how to get help from their country. This was the first of several ‘issues’ trying to import.
In part 2 I will explain how I have learned to over come the risk involved in importing from abroad and finding a reliable supplier.