Offer More Than Apparel!
If you own a retail business and are intrigued by the possibility of offering more than apparel and athletic bags to your customers, you may want to check out the Markets beyond the trade shows like NNEP's Embroidery Marts and the other industry shows. There is an entirely different world of wholesale sources out there - gift markets!
In decorated apparel, we often order inventory once we know what the customer needs - then we buy it from a wholesale supplier. That supplier goes into their warehouse which is full of rows upon rows of inventory. They pull the 3 red medium cotton t's, the 2 S, 3 M, 5 L, 12 XL and 2 XXL of the performance golf shirt in navy, the 14 six panel hats and the 3 natural/red tote bags. It all goes in a box and arrives on your doorstep within a few days. You get exactly what you need exactly when you need it. This is known as a "just in time" inventory model.
The inventory model of the wholesale gift market is completely different than the one you are used to. In this instance, you go to a gift market and you see samples of thousands of products. At the market, or very soon after it, you place your order for the products that you want to bring into your store. The suppliers sell in predefined sets, packs or quantities. You do not get to order 1 of product X, 2 of product Y and maybe 6 of product Z. You place an order for 12, 24, 36 or more of that product, and you get them in the colors that come in that package. Period.
You have to pay a deposit or for the entire order in advance. After the market, the suppliers then go manufacture the ordered goods. They make enough to fill the orders received, and there is very little overage in most cases. Before they ship your order, you will have paid for the inventory in full. They ship their products to you and all the other businesses that placed orders at that market. There is no warehouse anywhere filled with more of these products, ready to be reordered. They knew how many they needed to make based on the orders that were placed at the market, they made the products in the correct quantities, and then they shipped them. This is the "manufactured on demand" inventory model.
It is up to you as the buyer for your business to guestimate what will sell well in your business. You need to order so that you get enough products to satisfy your customers yet not be left large quantities of unsold inventory. Typically, there are no returns or exchanges with the manufacturers, unless there is a defect in the product. It is very different than ordering the apparel you need, on demand in the exact style, size, color and the exact quantity that you need.
If you have a retail business, and you want to add "cash and carry" products to sell, you will find the sources for these kinds of products at these wholesale gift markets. They are held several times throughout the year in many major metropolitan locations, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Dallas. These markets are only open to invited and qualified business owners. You often have to be able to prove that you have a retail storefront, not just bring a copy of your vendor's license. They are only open certain days of the year or by appointment. Markets run at least a season or two ahead, meaning that when you go to market in the spring or summer, you are selecting from at all the products that will be available for the upcoming holiday season, in another 4-6 months.
If you would like to explore adding these kinds of products to your business, check out the gift markets that are coming up, including the AmericasMartAtlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, July 9-15, 2019, and the Las Vegas Market's gift and home furnishings market, July 28-August 1, 2019. They are even giving away free hotel stays, gift cards and swag bags! Explore and enter to win online here:
At these markets, you will be blown away at all the different kinds of products available! And by the scope of the event. There will be 1,400 permanent showrooms plus another 3,000 temporary exhibits to see in Atlanta. In Vegas, you will see 4,300 exhibitors plus 600 temporary exhibitors. You definitely need to pace yourself, and wear very comfortable shoes! These markets are HUGE, overwhelming, mind blowing, fun and expensive if you let yourself go wild and order everything that catches your attention.
If you have gone to a market, what kinds of products did you add to your business? I would love to hear about it, and how well it sold for you.