Small Business Help: Finding And Buying From Legal Wholesalers

Whether you're buying wholesaler lists or weeding through search engine results, you can find legitimate wholesale merchants.

When looking for legitimate wholesalers over the Internet, most sites make it seem too hard or too easy. The truth is, your job falls right in the middle. You can pay for access to a reliable wholesaler's list or you can spend your time and energy weeding through the markets. Your skills and resources will determine which option is best for you.

Wholesaler Lists

At auction sites like eBay you'll find a dozen or more lists that are supposed give you the contacts for a variety of legitimate wholesalers. The problem with these is the information is often outdated or incomplete or the companies sell shoddy products, and because they are informational purchases you have a hard time getting a refund if you're not satisfied.

A second kind of list offers you legitimate companies, but working with them may not be realistic. Customers won't buy the trinkets and shoddy products sold by some wholesalers. Others have hefty minimum purchases the average seller can't afford. All legitimate wholesalers require businesses to have a sales tax number. Some work only with businesses that have a physical storefront, and others put restrictions on your other merchandise. For instance, a known luxury candle company restricts contracts to retailers dealing in luxury gift items.



If you are just starting out and want to work off a wholesaler list, you need to make sure the minimum purchase amounts fall within your budget. You'll want companies that can provide merchandise your customers will want to buy, and who will work with independent retailers. You'll also want to make sure they operate within the confines of the law - requiring business licenses (where applicable) and Tax IDs. Most importantly, you'll want to make sure your list is up to date, and have a refund agreement in place if that isn't the case.

Searching Them Out

To find wholesalers on the web, you need to know about wholesale and retail. The manufacturer makes the goods, a distributor buys large amounts and sells them at wholesale prices to stores across the land. Many Internet searchers will look for "wholesalers" but a smart searcher knows she's really looking for "distributors." Your first route to finding the product of your choice is by going to Google, AltaVista or another search engine and typing in "your product distributors".

Chances are you won't come across many distributor websites. You will find some, but not all; and definitely not always the best choice for your needs. Why is searching for a distributor's site so difficult? They don't generally set out to sell their products across the web. Because their pages are not designed to attract visitors, they end up on the last page of your search results - or none at all.

What might surprise you though is that a number of manufacturers' sites do show up, and by following their links you'll find yourself on pages listing their distributors. Many of these have only addresses and phone numbers because the distributors don't have websites. So, when searching for a distributor, if what you're looking for can't be found, head straight to the manufacturer.

You've Found A Distributor, but They're Asking Too Much

You wanted to sell Tyko RC products. You have the $1500 for the minimum order, but they won't even take your application if you don't have a physical storefront. What's a new seller to do? There are two ways of buying at "wholesale" prices that don't require a license or a business bank account. However, they do come with their own level of risk: lot purchases, and retail discounts.

Lot purchases can be found through Internet stores and both online and real world auctions. You might see them advertised as warehouse cleanout sales, or as wholesale lots or bundles. One site on the web deals in close-out camera parts, $1000 worth for $300. The catch is that you usually don't see what's in the shipment until you've already purchased it. Still, if you talk with previous buyers, and check auction feedback, buying in lots is one way to legally buy at below-wholesale prices.

If blind purchases are too risky for you, check out local discount specials. Sales happen for all kinds of reasons - drawing in more business, moving additional stock, and getting rid of items that just won't sell. You have to research your given market, but buying during specials can also line your pocket.

In the world there are all kinds of salespeople. The most profitable source merchandise at bulk purchase prices. You can too, but have to look at your talents and knowledge, likes and dislikes and available resources to find out which method will work best for you.

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