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Finding Inventory at Wholesale Prices

You need inventory, for your swap meet business, retail store, or seasonal sales business, but when you troll the internet for terms like “wholesale” and “warehouse” you end up with what amounts to retail outlets for people who want to save money.   These stores have figured out that by using these terms, they will get a lot of customers.

Wholesale Prices for everyone: nobody pays Retail

Off Topic A good sales promotion will frame the sale such that you are buying at a discount to the regular retail price.  Customers feel like dummies if they pay the regular retail price.  It’s a big game.  You have noticed that many stores have perpetual stores, and sometimes the sales clerks will be so nice as to tell you to come back on the weekend for the sale.  In other words, the only reason the shirt you want costs $45 is so that it can have a sale price of $29.99; and people will feel like they have saved money be buying it on sale.   The terms wholesale and warehouse are just like the term sale.   If you were being honest, “sale price” usually means “regular price,” wholesale means “you have to buy it in large quantity, but if you calculate the cost that you actually use, it might more than the grocery store,” and the term warehouse means “really big store–we have a cement floor not very good lighting.”

When you talk to suppliers, it’s the same game.  They will let you know the retail price that your customers will pay.  If you are selling at a flea market, you are dealing with the most thrifty people around.  There is no way they will pay the retail price marked on the box.

Hot Products The point is that you need to have some clue what stuff is selling for before you invest in inventory.  Know your competition’s actual sales price.  These places will tell you that these are hot items that all the kids are buying, and that your are buying it for x% of retail and in some cases x% less than wholesale.  But once you have paid too much, that’s your problem.  And a lot of these guys may just try to dump stuff on you today because they figure you are new and will not come back anyway. You don’t want to be the guy with the garage full of knock-off Hanna Montana you bought believing all the kids will really want these things. 

Another problem with finding these places is that they long term relationships with there customers, and people get to know them because they are in the know.  Hence, they do not waste money on advertising or paying web designers to put up a site.

Be prepared for your trip to the Wholesale District

You may need to drive to the wholesale district and walk around.  Talk to the merchants.  … But the wholesale district and the toy district is not conveniently located for OC residents, and it is not located in the part of town highlighted by the visitor’s bureau.  It’s near the freeways, railways from the Port of La where rent is cheep.  This is near the area known as skid row.  You can expect to see a lot of people who are down on their luck.

  • So don’t overdress, and don’t bring a fancy car.    
  • Don’t where open towed shoes some of the people who are for lack of a better term, down on their luck, relieve themselves on the street.  
  • A good place for your jewelry and designer handbag is at home.  
  • Don’t give Change–You’re not Helping.  If you give change to one person, other people will request change from you.  You could be mobbed.  And if you give change once, they will demand it the next time they see you.  The best thing you can do is say “I cannot help you.  Even though you feel sorry for these folks, giving them money is the worst thing you can do for them.  They need to stay off drugs and keep on their treatment program.
  • And although this might sound sexist, some women may feel uncomfortable going to this are by themselves.

But we have read reviews from people saved the trip and just got the stuff shipped to them.  What looked like a good in the internet photo turned out to be too cheep to sell when it arrived.  So you need to actually see the products before you buy.

Los Angeles Wholesale District.

 

apparel candy 3022 S. Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA 90007.  (not on map) They offer a wide variety of clothing, jewelry, perfume accessories…  They have prices on their website, but you don’t want to buy blind.

AllIltronics 1281 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021  They have a lot of small electronic items, i pod stuff pens…  No prices given on their website unless you log in.

Clothing Showroom 585 Mateo St. Los Angeles, CA 90013.  You need to buy at least 6 of each item to get the wholesale price.  If you are buying a lot, you might get bigger discounts.  They do clothing jewelry and perfumes.

Close Out Store net 1111 E, 16 St., Los Angeles, CA 90021  This place has a 70,000 sq ft building and sells stuff by the pallet.  They have monthly auctions.

MJ Toys (not on map)  They sell nicer quality model cars, trains and toys for boys of every  age.  Basically, they serve the hobby store industry.  Might not be ideal if you are selling to ultra-thrifty swapmeet customers.  They don’t want to deal with retail customers; and they have a minimum order.

Nina Rossi Jeans 1044 Wall Street Los Angeles CA 90015 You need to buy 12 jeans in each style.  If you see the styles you want, you can e-mail them from their website to find out the wholesale price.  It’s implied that you get better pricing if you buy more.  Or you can head down to their store.

Prime Time Clothing 581 Mateo St. Los Angeles, CA 90013  They have everything you need to start a clothing store.  They even have a Made in USA section!

Wholesale Fashion Sq 2707 S Alameda st.  Los Angeles, CA 90058.  They have a wide variety of popular import fashions.

1 Fashion Clothing 1330 East 16th St.Los Angeles, CA 90021  This is in the Garment scene of LA.  Seems to be for younger women and girls–they buy a lot of clothes after all.

4 Seasons Wholesale 2801 E. Vernon. Los Angeles, CA 90058 USA They have a huge showroom just south of the wholesale district.   They basically have everything for a store or swap meet vendor.  We are not sure of the pricing.

Wholesale Mall 807 E. 12th St., Los Angeles, CA 90021  http://www.itrevshop.com/VTI_sitemap.asp do more research

The Counterfeit Police only go after the BIG Guys, Right?

Well that’s wrong.  Local police departments team up with Federal Agents from Homeland Security and ICE to go after small time sellers.  It’s a crime to knowingly sell counterfeit goods, and if you are caught you have to prove that you did not know they were counterfeit   Unless you are buying direct from the manufacturer, that’s hard to prove.  Every so often there will be a massive raid on many locations so that merchants will not be tipped off.  And even if you are a “Mom and Pop small time vendor” don’t your status is a good defense    (OC Register Vido of Raids–Note a kiosk on HB Main Street being raided along with several homes.)   As a street vendor points out in this OC Register article “You guys [Federal Police Agents] should be going after the big guys.”  It seem like he has a good point in that it would be better for the Feds to go after the importers and suppliers.  The stuff looks so real it’s easy for a vendor to be fooled by a whole seller.  But be careful police are going after the small vendors and retailers.  First time offenders might end up with probation, but this will hurt your chances of getting a job, joining the military, or getting into college.  Even though you don’t do jail time, it’s a big deal, and the next time you are convicted for anything a criminal record could result in time in the slammer.

 

Warning: Be careful when shopping in LA.

If you are buying a name brand product, it might be a fake.  And you might be supporting street gangs.

Other Wholesale Outlets

These consist of large warehouses near transportation hubs.   You may need a resale license just to get access, and you need to buy in volume.

VIA Trading company that outreached to the small guy is

Wholesale Closeouts & Overstock Products
Via Trading offers wholesale closeouts, clearance, surplus overstocks, liquidations and customer returns to Wholesalers, Retailers & all vendors large and small from the nation’s leading department stores and retailers.  The 3rd Thursday of every month they have a “pallet event” where they blow out their inventory.

520 Industry Way, Lynwood, CA 90262.  (Off the 105 between the 110 and 710.)  They sell stuff that has been returned to major retailers.  A lot of which is returned because people decide they just don’t like it when they get it home, and the big stores have liberal return policies.  They even made a commercial:

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Bargain Wholesale in the City of Commerce.  Mostly grocery story stuff.  But they also carry tools, candy, toys … You need to have a business to get access, they will have someone contact you.  They don’t seem to like to deal with the small guys.  Min initial order $5,000 and subsequent order min $500.  They ship to your store.  Maybe not ideal source for swapmeeters.

California Bazar  They are located in Vernon.  They sell a wide variety of stuff.  It is hard to figure out there theme–maybe just good deals.

LA Wholesale Distributors they have tons of sunglasses and reading glasses.  You need to purchase by the doz.  They only do internet sales.  Despite their name, the seem to be located in La Habra.

Dollaritem 6250 Boyle Ave Vernon, California 90058 U.S.A.  As the name implies, this is were they sell stuff to those dollar stores.  The quality might not be the highest, but what the heck, it retails for about a buck.

Kole Imports 24600 Main Street, Carson, CA 90745.  They specialize in closeouts and imported goods.  (They say they are in Los Angeles, but they are actually located in Carson.)

Q perfumes  They have a lot of perfume products.  They can even make private label perfumes.

 

Massive Whole Seller Trade show — Vegas Baby

ASD or Associated Surplus Dealers http://www.asdonline.com/ a show every year in Vegas.  It’s like the CES, but for general retailers.  The name is a bit misleading.  It’s aimed at retailers, and has all the hip products not necessarily left over products as the word “surplus” suggests.  Check out this unofficial video  and their official Commercial .  This is a great place to make connections with suppliers; and if you bring cash you might score a bargain on what they don’t want to truck back to home.  If you register on-line the show is free, and if you save your receipts it’s a legit business expense.  But the catch is you need to be a qualified retailer According to their website, all attendees are required to show business identification … you must be able to prove you are a retailer and be prepared to present a Retail Business License and Invoices showing purchases of finished goods in the last 6 months.  So the way we read this, your California Resale Permit and receipts from existing whole sellers should make the cut–be sure to register on-line to make sure you can get in.

Buying Below Wholesale — Import Directly

The site Alibaba http://www.alibaba.com/ allows you to connect directly with factories all over the world–China, India and even the US.  This is the biggest and most well known site–it’s the Amazon.com of import direct sites.  When you log onto this site, it feels like your first trip to a Wall Mart.  You cannot believe there is so much stuff, and you can’t believe prices are so low.  This is where wholesellers and major retail stores get their inventory. You will be amazed at how low the prices are. You can even customize the items with your logo.  Many factories have reps who quote prices so you can ask for multiple quotes. And if you cannot find what you are looking for on this massive site, they have a post a request feature which will allow factory reps to get back to you in a couple days with bids.

Another interesting site is Made in India  made-from-india.com (Slow Website) IndiaExport.com and IndiaMart.com  These are huge sites.  They cover just about everything from  made in India–including stuff made by small suppliers.  They allow small manufacturers and crafters to get the word out about their products.   This site allows you to see photos of the products and gives you contact information for the suppliers.  Many suppliers have links to their websites; and if you are looking for hand crafted items many of these suppliers are small shops so you might not have to order a ton of inventory.  Although English is not the official language of India, English is the official language of people doing business in India  And India’s currency tends to go up and down more than the Chinese currency so when the Rupee is down you might find some amazing values.

Global Sources globalsources.com  As the name implies, this site brings together people from all over the globe but there is a lot of focus on China.  The main strength of Global Sources is that they vet the suppliers.  They sell Reports in which they do reports on companies selling a category of good.  It tells you what they are all about.  These cost $350 to download in pdf form; which seems like a lot.  That is until your realize your biggest challenge is to find suppliers you can trust.  They visit each company three times a year and look into their financial health.  They also make sure they have the intellectual property rights for the stuff they are selling.  They rate each company on a scale of 1-6.  They do offer free e-magazines and e-mail alerts which provide information about new products and what the suppliers are pushing.  And they offer product fairs in India, China and the US.  This site seems to be geared toward larger retail buyers, but you can use it to make contact with suppliers who may be willing to sell smaller quantities on a one-to-one basis.

imexbb.com  Import Export Bulletin Board  This site allows exporters to post photos and a description of their products they have for sale on line.  Similar types of things to Alibaba.  Be careful, we did see some obvious counterfeit stuff being offered.  And we noticed some gray market goods–stuff that companies sell in lower prices in lower income countries being exported to higher income countries.

tradepoint.org/index.action World Trade Point Federation (This site was not working when we checked)  This is one of the oldest international trade sites.  Their goal of this non-profit organization is/was to help smaller companies in less developed countries find exports opportunities.  Before the internet, these small firms could not contact their end customer directly, so the “middle men” made huge markups.  This site was formed to give the little guy a bigger piece of the pie.  These companies may now just be using Alibababa.com, so we are not sure how relevant this site is now days.  But it’s worth a look when it’s working.

But you have to pay for shipping to the port of LA, picking up from the port, and minimum quantities.    The minimum order was at least 1,000 items for a lot of the stuff with good prices. And if you don’t get what you think you bargained for, that’s too bad.

Imported Soap and Household Cleaning Products from Mexico.  We have a contact who can provide you with wholesale quantities/prices for the products your customers know from back home.  He represents a company that manufactures the number one brand of bleach, detergents and softeners in Mexico.  The company is AlEn USA and its brands are Cloralex, Pinol, Pinalen, and Ensueño, should you have readers requesting this information. (Their Corporate website for North America: www.alenusa.com)  Contact Al Martinez at almartinez76@aol.com Deals are not available on their website, contact Al Directly to buy wholesale.   

 

Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market Area

This is where many most of the produce markets get there inventory.  If you are selling at a swap meet, they may let you in to sell produce, and you can sell produce from the market at Farmers Markets as long as there are not CFM’s (Certified Farmers Markets).  But because of government incentives and regulations, virtually all farmers markets are certified farmers markets.  Se our section on Farmers market for more info.

You need to get there early if you want to buy.  That’s before 5:00am.  And remember this is the real LA not what you see on TV so the cautions above apply.

The farmers market consists of several large distribution buildings near Downtown LA.  They are near the rail yards and they are in the not so nice area of LA.

Most of these businesses do not have any info on the internet because (1) their inventory changes so fast, they cannot keep up with it and (2) they sell to customers that buy tons of stuff.  You have to inspect it, know how much to pay, and take it.  These merchants are more comfortable doing deals person to person, than over the internet.  The internet cannot help much with that (3) they are not a substitute for your local grocery store.  They don’t want people milling about shopping for dinner.  Stuff is sold by the box.  Most of the independent grocery stores and produce stores have professional buyer.  But money talks.  You might not get a price as low as the big guys, but you can still get a decent wholesale price.

One of the bigger wholesalers is

Bing Produce

 

LA Nut House  As the name implies they sell large quantities of nuts, they also have dried fruits and some fresh products.

Let us know if you know of any good wholesalers!

Making your own Custom Skin Car and Hair Products You could be the next Vidal Sassoon.  

These products have a great mark-up.  Ever wonder how you could cash in?  Well the high priced brands don’t want to see their product at places like swap meets to preserve the brand’s image, but you can develop your own brand of shampoo, conditioner, or skin care stuff.

GAR Labs of Riverside www.garlabs.com will manufacture what you want and you can put your label on it.  Another company in the same line is Powerline Packaging of Pennsylvania.  powerlinepackaging.com/personal_manufacturing.php  They have many formulas on hand.  The minimum order size is 10,000 units.  Both companies are FDA Registered.  A third manufacturing or private label company is Sarati International out of South TX.  Their website is a little bit weird see: www.saratiprivatelabel.com/index.php?id=38&pid=30&page=Your_Brand_Skin_Care_Line or their brochure http://www.saratiprivatelabel.com/brochure.pdf  They have a full line of personal care products, anti-aging products…  And they say no minimum runs.  They have a line of products waiting for your brand.  Prices are not available on line for any of these companies, you have to call.

Licensed Sporting Good Products

Okay, if you go to Downtown LA you might have noticed knock-off sporting good products.  So where do you get the real stuff?  Well, a lot of teams just do not want to have their stuff sold at swapmeets, and after you account for the licence fee, products are not at a price point where your price sensitive customers would come close to buying.  You can just hear them saying, “$50 for a shirt–You Crazy”  We tried to find a local place to buy legit licensed NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA … products, but we couldn’t find one.  We ran across Merling Wholesale merlingwholesale.com  They seem to have licensed towels, blankets, toys, flags and the like.

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