When you first start wholesaling your products, I recommend you make your first sales calls with independent retailers. Too many producers wanted me, as their sales rep, to place their products in Costco or WalMart. Not only did I not deal with these types of accounts, I told them this was the wrong place to start wholesaling.
I work with lots of handcrafters, artisans and small producers. Their best option when wholesaling is to sell through independent retailers. Here is a list of some of the independent retailers I work with now or in the past (I’ll bet there are lots of stores listed that you would not have considered before!):
- Souvenir shops
- Independent gift stores
- Museum gift shops
- Convenience stores
- Restaurant gift shops
- Franchise or small ‘chain’ gift stores
- Gourmet food stores
- Kitchen stores
- Food co-ops
- Independent grocery stores
- Gift basket companies
- Fresh fruit stands
- Produce shops
- Hotel/Motel gift shops
- Book stores
- Tourist attraction gift shops
- Remote of backwoods vacation destinations
- RV parts and campgrounds
- Chamber of Commerce gift shops
- College bookstores
- Pharmacy and Drug sroes
- Home decor stores
- Furniture stores
- Antique shops
- Sporting goods outlets
- Florist shops and urseries
- Variety stores
- Jewelry stores
- Airport gift shops
- Beauty shops
- Liquor stores
- Coin shops
- Ice cream shops
- ‘Pack and Ship’ stores
Of course, this list reflects the type of products I sold (a large amount of gourmet foods) and the tourist based state I live in (Idaho)! Hopefully, this will give you some ideas what an independent retail store is vs. a large chain or big box store.
Now, why work with independent retailers? Listed below are some of the best reasons why this will be a better fit for a new producer:
- Buyer is usually on site and you can sell directly while in the store.
- These stores tend to be more flexible with their “open to buy” time and products selection.
- Specialty shops have a narrow focus than big box stores making it an easier sell for small producers.
- Independent shops are often looking for new and unique products that are NOT featured in the larger stores
- You can sell your products in smaller case lots allowing for more flexibility with your line and with the shop.
- Often, you can sell at higher margins
- You can easily develop a relationship with the owner/buyer quicker and easier (which leads to more sales) than when working with a corporate office.
As you can see, independent retailers are your best choice when first wholesaling your products. And, if you continue to give good service and maintain your relationship with these accounts, you will find your business with a good base of loyal customer/buyers.