One of the most interesting and time consuming things we’re doing for Oddyssea is finding, testing, and ordering product for our inventory. It can also be a little frustrating.
For those of you who are familiar with retailing, you’ll know all this so forgive me for chatting about it. For those of you unfamiliar, perhaps this will be interesting. There are 2 ways to interact with vendors when purchasing wholesale, the first way is straight-forward by establishing a “direct” relationship with that vendor, placing the order (via a person/representative, website, telephone, mail, fax, or carrier pigeon – only slightly joking about that.)
While there are no “middlemen” in the relationship (meaning you should be getting a lower price) it is time consuming to do this as typically the orders are relatively small from a relatively broad set of suppliers. It requires a fair amount of follow-up but you tend to interact with the principals and that helps with quality and timeliness of responses.
The second way to interact is through a distributor, a company that is in the business of representing some number of other companies – typically called “product lines” or “lines” where you place the order with the distributor and then the distributor passes the order along to the origin supplier for fulfillment. You pay the distributor a small markup over the wholesale price that you would be able to negotiate if you had the direct relationship with the vendor of origin.
What I’ve learned is that many of the direct relationships don’t provide the best price or service and that most of the distributors are convenient and helpful. That’s not 100% true, but it certainly seems to be the trend. There are several suppliers who have been wonderful, but mostly they seem a little overwhelmed to be able to do the simplest things like provide payment terms and instruments.
The conclusion I’ve drawn thus far into the experience is that dealing with a distributor is worth the small uplift in wholesale price when factoring in your time.
Meanwhile, we passed our fire inspection. We’re waiting for some plumbing work to happen. We’re waiting for “explore” room fixtures. I’ve built another display case for the create room to complement the apothecary counters. We’ve got a fair amount of inventory that has arrived and the lion’s share still in transit or under order. We had a presentation at the Half Moon Bay Chamber of Commerce Education Committee today. Helped a shop neighbor hang two signs 20′ high on the building yesterday evening too.
Overall, progress is being made, but it seems almost invisible and that it’s proceeding at glacial pace.
It’s been a real adventure! We’re still hoping to be able to meet our June target to open. Fingers crossed…