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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently sent out 203 packages to various stores and boutiques around the country, as well as to Zappos, Pacsun, Tilliys, and Zumies. I included a wholesale pricing listing sheet, line sheet, brand history and background, purchase order, terms and conditions, and the reason for sending them the package in the form of a brief business letter. The reason I stated, was to help them make MONEY. Specifically, more of it. As stated previously, in one of my post, I have 5 brands. The line sheet included over 40 designs total.

In the letter I proposed that they use my website to order via a credit card. I explained to them that they would first need to create an account and the request to obtain wholesale status on their account whereby they can then purchase the shirts at whole sale price. The second payment option would be 50% deposit and 50% on delivery. NO TERMS WHAT SO EVER!


I believe my brands and design are hip and relevant with the designated market. As a result of this, I think I will get at least 10 to 20 responses. If I get 5, I will be happy as well.


Have any of you guys done this in the past? How did it work out?
 

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Fair play for trying - can't knock you for that.

I find I am always more successful with sales on a face to face basis. Posting is 1 way communication. They may say "we can't do this because of xyz" and you are not there to counter the argument. On the other hand, you are contacting them - maybe they wouldn't meet or speak with you. Did you try?

So who opens the package? do you know that the person with responsibility to buy is the person who actually opens it, or is it just some lower down person with no authority who throws it in the trash? DId you contact them before hand to let them know to expect the package, then check they had received it afterwards?

Did you include a sample so they can see and feel the quality of your prints?

Good luck for trying - I think 5 to 10% response is optimistic. This is a competitive market. I would have offered stocking them on a consignment basis, if you could afford it. then they have 0% risk. Getting your items into the shop is your #1 priority. Not offering payment terms is tough.

Let us know how you get on and who responds and what they say,

Richie
 

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Definite A+ for effort.

But to get the response you're looking for, you will need to reach out personally to the people responsible for the buying for each store.

For the smaller boutiques, there's a decent chance your package will make it's way to the buyer or owner. So you just need to follow up and make an appointment to meet or talk to them about your product lines.

For the bigger chain stores, the regional buyers usually work out of a national or regional office, not at the individual store location. So if you sent a package to a store location, it is highly unlikely it will get in the hands of the buyer.

I like the angle about making them more money. But are you sure that the profit margins you are offering are better than the brands they are currently carrying? If so, how do you know this? If not, then there may be a major disconnect between your sales pitch and wholesale pricing.

Not offering terms is going to severely limit your responses. You're basically telling your prospective clients that may must accept risk by carrying your brand.

The larger chain stores will not pay by credit card. That's just not how they operate. The smaller boutiques may be fine with it, though.

Most stores will have their own policies, terms and conditions. So even if they are interested in your product lines, they will contact you and want to dictate the terms to you, not the other way around. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just about finding a happy medium. So it's important to be willing to adjust.

Good luck and keep us posted on the responses you get.
 

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The website is ROMNUS.COM. It cost me about 400 dollars. The reason I choosed this method was because I could not possible reach all these stores by myself and I have tried aquiring sales rep, but those bastards are not willing to take on new brands or they don't like the 15% commission I was offering. The one sales rep I have right now sucks and have not made one sale in 5 months and I am now in the process of trying to get my merchandise back from him.

The package I sent was very very professional. Not some run of the mill stuff. Once, they see it, they will no I mean business.


I did not offer terms because I don't think I can do it now. I am too small of a company to grant terms. However, if they are interested and need terms that I might consider.

I am hoping if I did sent the package to a store and not the corporate office, the employee/manager will have the common sense to send it in to the main office.

I will let you guys know the responses.
 

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The reason I choosed this method was because I could not possible reach all these stores by myself
There's nothing wrong with mailing out a package of samples and info about your brand. But it would have helped to contact the buyer first so you can send directly to them and they know to look out for it. Unfortunately, I think most of your packages are never going to get where it needs to be.

and I have tried aquiring sales rep, but those bastards are not willing to take on new brands
There is a reason sales reps hesitate to take on new brands. And that is because retail stores hesitate to take on new brands.

The one sales rep I have right now sucks and have not made one sale in 5 months and I am now in the process of trying to get my merchandise back from him.
5 months is not a lot of time. Most retail stores place orders several months in advance of putting the product on their sales floor. And most stores have specific "open to buy" seasons where they write their orders. So it should be expected that stores need to see the product a few times over a period of a few months before placing an order with a new brand.

The package I sent was very very professional. Not some run of the mill stuff. Once, they see it, they will no I mean business.
I have no doubt that your product and presentation are top notch. But most buyers don't invest in product. They invest in brands. And as a startup, your brand is you. So without making a direct connection to the buyer, I don't think the "they will no I mean business" just by looking at the samples is going to translate into a sale.

I did not offer terms because I don't think I can do it now. I am too small of a company to grant terms.
Exactly. And that scares off retail stores from working with startup brands. It's not just payment terms, it's all of the other things that most small companies have in common:

- No guarantee the brand will still be in business in a few months. If a major retailer places a huge order in June and wants it to ship in September, they need to know the order is going to be there. But there is too much risk with startups.

- High production costs, which leads to high wholesale costs, which means small profit margins in comparison to established brands.

- Boutiques who place smaller orders want to be able to place "fill-in" reorders. Meaning, if they run out of a certain design on a certain color in a certain size, they may want to place an order for just a few fill in shirts to keep they sales floor stocked. Most startups cannot meet this requirement because they don't keep stock. They produce orders on demand and need to meet supplier and printer minimums.

- Startup brands that source from domestic suppliers like American Apparel, Gildan, Anvil, etc, often have to deal with inventory issues. And most startups don't usually have on-site quality assurance when their shirts are printed. All of this leads to a lot of inconsistencies in color, size, fit, printing, etc. Sometimes, this could be ok for larger box stores. But it doesn't work for boutiques. They require consistent product. But all stores will always want to check the merchandise before committing to payment.

I am hoping if I did sent the package to a store and not the corporate office, the employee/manager will have the common sense to send it in to the main office.
I wouldn't count on it. There is no guarantee the store manager or employee will even know who the regional buyer is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Hey Kimura, thanks for the information. As the saying goes, Nothing ventured nothing gained. All, I need to obtain is 5 or 10 stores to order and from there I can build my empire. Unlike other small businesses, I can assure you my brands will be around for a very long time. Why? Well, for one, I have resources that not many have. For example, I am a veteran, thus I can obtain very low interest loans. Secondly, I have 5 brands which will no doubt help each other out. If one gets huge, I can allocate some money to prop up the other. My brands are found here: romnus.com/aboutus.asp

1. American Empire Co. - Patriotic brand for civilians, but primarily for the military
2. Claim Supremacy - Combat Sports Brand primarily
3. Dateolicious - Women clothing. Dating site brand
4. CULTure of CORRUPTion - Two brand in one. Skate, Punk,Street, Anti-Corruption gear. (New concept Never done before. An actual brand that intends to FIGHT societal corruption while being hip and cool. We are the Angel in your dreams and the devil in your nightmares.)
5. ROMNUS - Action, Combat, MotoSports, Skate, Surf brand.

Additionally, I specifically, stated on the whole sale price that.

1. Negitions on the price welcome
2. Samples are availble upon request.

I work with Impressink.com and they are willing to work with me to meet any demand requirement, quailty specification, and as well as price.


As stated in my previous post, if the store is interested and would like to do terms I will most likely do it, but not on huge orders. I would say no more than 500 shirts tops.

Thanks for your words of wisdom and insight on the matter. I appreciate it from someone who has been there and done that.
 

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From your original post, it appears you are aggressive and speak what you want and terms are your way or no way. This can be good and it can be bad....

If I would have received the package, I would have read into it that you dominate the product and I wouldn't be comfortable with that as a client. It's almost as if you have all push and no bending. In business, oftentimes, it's about compromise. I wouldn't have said this is the way it is, I would have left it open for interpretation and then follow up with contacting them with more information and how you could work together. The way I perceived it is, you stated your terms and you wouldn't sway from that. I know you commented above that you would be willing to give terms etc, if needed, but if I would have received the package with the way you described it above, I wouldn't have thought that.

Now this is my opinion only and others may not see it that way. The great thing is, you can still follow up, and need to, otherwise your $400 is most likely lost. Without contacting them, hope for 1% response. If you sent it out to 203 companies, if 2 people respond, that would be good, again this is my opinion, take it for what it's worth. I would love to be proved wrong and see you gain much more than that. In sales, people will pull away if they feel threatened in any way. Being threatened doesn't mean physical, but they are protecting themselves and their businesses and anything they do not feel comfortable with will push them away, and rightfully so. A face to face meeting is so much greater because they see you as a person and then they can really understand who you are and instead of being told that you will help them make money, they can feel confident in you working together to make money. Some people might take that statement and say who are you and why do you think I need you to make money, it's all a matter of perspective.

That's why if you leave it more open ended and meet them and get to know them in the short time you have, you can cater the conversation to helping them understand how working together will benefit them. If someone tells me it does, doesn't make it necessarily so. If someone takes the time and gains my trust, I'm more apt to give it a go if I feel confident in them and in this case their brand.

Again, just my .02...
 

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just for future reference, i think i would have done the queries on a smaller scale, 25 or so, then got some feedback and learned some lessons from all that. that way, i could take what i learned from peeling away some of the corporate onion and use that to impress smaller outlets and know the lingo for the bigger guys. i like it when i ask a question and the person has the answer, ya know? i appreciate honestly when they don't, but i would rather them know. :)

so, for making me think of that, i appreciate this thread. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Jeri, for your insight. Yes, I was a little bit aggresive, however, one cannot please everyone. If they are so thin skin to be offended, and question who the hell I think I may be, then to hell with them. It is a numbers game. If they are really into my brands, their background, and see the potential to make money (that what ONLY matters) then they will contact me to inquire to get things going. If they don't I could just move on or contact them myself after a few days.
 

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Honestly, I don't believe it's about being thin skinned, I think it's more about being comfortable in a business relationship. If they don't feel comfortable, they won't believe they are going to make money. I'm not saying to change who you are, I'm just suggesting that looking at a business relationship more as a give and take will go much further than a take it or leave it attitude.

Let us know, though, I'm sure I'm not the only one interested to see how well you do with it. What you did was great in getting out there and making it happen. Too many people talk about doing something, then never do, and for that you need to be commended.
 

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I just talked to my friend who runs a specialty sports store....They just did a booking order for back to school, fall and Christmas......Some of the tees they bought were 50% to 60% off and invoices were not due until Jan 15 13.....This is what you are facing when you are trying to get your line out and your terms are way less favourable....
 

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PeeWeeMan, +1 for being proactive! Nothing ventured nothing gained is absolutely correct. i've never tried to launch a tshirt brand, however, I can assure you that the bigger chain stores will not purchase anything off of a website. As kimurra mentioned, they do their buying from a central location or regional office, and they deal primarily with vendors or manufacturers reps who have (for the most part) a legitimate "order-to-cash" AP/AR department, with extended terms, a guaranteed returns policy, and a robust supply chain. the open-to-buy scenario is also true. some of the big chains only buy once or twice a year, and usually months in advance of the ship date. Trust me, the bigger they are, the more demands they have. Your best bet is probably going to be with the smaller independent stores or boutiques. Your next step is to follow up with a phone call to every one of them. do not wait for them to contact you. good luck.
 

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I think its a great start, but it will take much more work to get to where you want to be. Have you looked at going to the shows that buyers attend such as magic show? This is a show where most large companies will make their purchases for the future seasons, and its a great place to network with other vendors, get feedback as to how they do it, and to also interact with buyers.

Here is some constructive criticism. I took a look at your website, and although it looks nice, there are a few things that I immediately noticed. On the first Tee page I went to, the first photo box had a no photo yet in the image window. Big companies as well as small will notice these small things. You also had many pages with items not even added to them yet. Hide those pages until you have the merchandise listed. Its best not to have them at all, then to have a button to click only to find nothing is there. My immediate response as I kept clicking pages with nothing on them, was I wanted to leave your site. Make sure your website is as professional as the line sheets and such you have sent out. Call each company and ask for their buyers department. Then speak to the buyers and ask how you might be able to get a sample of your amazing product to them. People connect on a personal basis. You are more likely to make sales walking in and talking to buyers, showing them your products, and making it personal, then by simply mailing out sales packets.

Don't get me wrong, I think what you have done is commendable and I will be interested to see how it turns out, but also follow up, make sure the buyers get your packets. I have to agree with Kimura, that if they are being sent to the stores themselves chances of them getting to the buyers are very slim. Call corporate offices, and find out the buyers info and send them to them personally. But you might do much better going in person bringing samples of your items, and showing them what you are selling, rather then sending out mass mailings of packets. You may not be able to visit as many stores this way, but you get to talk in person, one on one and make an impression this way, they can feel the product, see the product, see the printing style and not just an image. Good luck with your business and I hope nothing but success for you. I do love your optimism.
 

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I think you are doing an awesome thing for yourself by being savvy enough to do this. This is going to sound kind of bad, and I'm kind of a blunt person...but you really need to make your designs stick out and unique. I just don't (personally) see anything that's going to make a store like Pac Sun etc., that probably get inquiries every day want to jump on this. If you PROVED you had a solid audience already in place by sending sales data sheets, Google analytic reports etc.,..then maybe. I really hope you don't take what I say as something bad, it's simply meant as constructive criticism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Honestly, the stuff I see on Pacsun website is ridiculously stupid. If pacsun is willing to sell crap like that to teenagers, then surely my design, my brand in particular Dateolicious and Cult Corrupt should fit in quite nicely and sell. I checked out my competition such as Famous Stars and straps, Young and Reckless, Rebel 8, Zoo York, etc. and I personally would not buy any of what they are offering. To sums things up, I can't design anything worst than what they are offering. So I got a chance. Haha.

Examples:


 

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Honestly, the stuff I see on Pacsun website is ridiculously stupid. If pacsun is willing to sell crap like that to teenagers, then surely my design, my brand in particular Dateolicious and Cult Corrupt should fit in quite nicely and sell. I checked out my competition such as Famous Stars and straps, Young and Reckless, Rebel 8, Zoo York, etc. and I personally would not buy any of what they are offering. To sums things up, I can't design anything worst than what they are offering. So I got a chance. Haha.
Well to be fair Famous has a pro skater founder, for skaters. One that had a pretty big pop following for a while. That is going to sell regardless. I don't know anything about those other brands.
Which, btw...UGH! I see all these names like zoo york etc., and as I'm trying to name my site now, if I had thought of that I would've dismissed it haha. Shows how far my advice should be taken. lol
 
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