Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thinking Out Loud about a Taboo Topic

I’ve been putting it out there. On Facebook. Linkedin. Twitter. Trade group networks. Discussing wholesalers that also retail seems to be a taboo topic for wholesalers that do it. And it appears that a good majority do. This seems to be a taboo topic that wholesalers that also retail do not want to discuss. They won’t pipe into the conversation. I seem to only get responses from retailers that don’t want their suppliers retailing --- and other wholesalers that have chosen NOT to retail.

Dunitz & Company doesn’t currently sell retail. We exclusively wholesale. However, we have considered and are considering having an on-line retail presence. Up until now, we haven’t done it because we thought it annoyed many retailers. We are regularly asked by retailers (at wholesale trade shows) if we retail. These stores have made it clear that they do not want to purchase from wholesalers that also retail. It seems almost impossible to get feedback from other wholesalers that retail. Why is this? They must know something I don’t – because so many are doing it.

I understand that most wholesalers that retail sell to the public at prices comparable to what retailers charge – so as not to compete with the stores that carry their line. I have heard the argument that most people like to touch and feel (in our case jewelry) the accessories they buy and prefer to shop at brick & mortar outlets. However, if a wholesaler doesn’t sell to stores in NE or SC, customers from these states would have options for buying.

I’m wondering how wholesalers that retail balance this without alienating the retail stores that carry their line. How many retail under their ‘wholesale company’ name with one website? How many have a retail site that goes by a different name? I’ve notice that many wholesalers known to me have websites that are clearly “retail” with their wholesale sections playing second fiddle. Hmmmmmmm.

I look forward to comments, suggestions and observations. ND