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David Squires

Buying Not Quite Enough From Too Many People

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THE ARRIVAL of the Las Vegas shows marks many retailers’ annual opportunity to shrink and simplify their list of suppliers.

Of course, most retailers don’t look at it that way, and continue to spread themselves and their inventory ever more thinly over a wider range of suppliers.

What’s the downside of buying not-quite-enough-from-too-many-people? Well, if you’ve ever needed a customized item in a hurry, or tried to return unsold merchandise for credit, or asked for a free item to contribute to a local charity drawing, you’ll know. Those perks tend to go to the retailers who buy the highest volume, or at least with the highest frequency. If you’re someone who makes a middling-sized order every year or two (or three), you’re just not going to get the same kind of service.

So how can you simplify your vendor list this year? Before you leave for Vegas (or at this point, probably while you’re on the flight there), go over your full list of vendors and ask yourself the following questions of each:

  • Why is this company on my vendor list?
  • Can I get what they offer from another vendor further up my list? Or do I need to look elsewhere?
  • Is what I have sold from them profitable? How profitable? Should I be doing more?
  • How much inventory do I have on-hand from this company?
  • Is this company active in helping to improve my business with them?
  • What do I like about them? What is lacking?

You will begin to see an image of whether or not this company is important to keep as is; grow with as a partner; or eliminate altogether. You will also more clearly see what you need and expect from a vendor partner.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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