Ok, so last week we mentioned that we may have an in at a major retailers distribution center. As with saying things like "We are having a baby!" or "I am going to college," it is a lot more complicated than it sounds. You can’t just waltz in there and buy up their excess inventory and returns. Though we are blessed to know someone who knows someone, the process to be on the list just to bid on these items is daunting.
We met with the head of inventory liquidation early in the week. His name is Chuck. We met him at the mouth of a cavernous warehouse that had to be about 500,000 square feet. He handed us hardhats and reflector vests and told us to follow him. He is a fast talking no-nonsense person. We had to really book it to keep up with him. While we walked he told us what we would need to do to be considered a bidder for their excess inventory. All the while, his walky-talky kept going off and he would bark “copy that” into it.
We have never seen such a place in our lives. It was HUGE. The shelves were stacked higher than our house is tall. There were state of the art forklifts that could reach up and take enormous pallets down from the highest shelf. It was a lot to take in. Chuck pointed out a huge bay in which an even bigger semi was being loaded. We were told that that was an inventory buy out company and that most bidders bid by the semi-truckload like this. We were sure we would not qualify then. But having seen that place was a fantastic fieldtrip in itself so no real loss if we could not do this.
In his office, which was covered in papers and pictures of his kids, Chuck took off his hat and asked us to sit. He began explaining the process that we would have to go through to become a bidder. Feeling totally our of our league, we asked what the smallest quantity was that we could bid on. We certainly could not purchase by the semi-full, maybe by the van full but, that was about the best we could do. He told us that the retailer sometimes had a few smaller lots of odd items that the bigger buy out companies were not as interested in. We asked what his definition of a “smaller lot” was. He said “say 4 or less of each item and about 100 to 200 or so items total in the lot." Now that we could handle. Chuck let is know that he could not promise anything but we could try. We filled out the paperwork, signed the agreement and disclosure. It covered things like informing them that we planned to resell the items and not holding them responsible for the items.
Chuck shook our hands, took our paperwork and we chatted awhile. Before we left he surprised us by telling us that every once in awhile he himself puts lots together from items throughout the warehouse. If a box gets torn or crushed he throws that in and all the local returns would be included. He said he would send us an email letting us know when our paperwork went through. Then we would be given a login the site for bidding.
We believe this is an exciting opportunity for the future of our ecommerce business. Stay tuned we will keep you posted!