October 30, 2003, 12:00 AM

How the web helped a Dollar Store owner get started

When former store manager Trina Ortiz wanted to open up three of her own Dollar stores, she struggled to find enough inventory. But when she discovered a wholesale channel on the web, inventory grew quickly, she says.

When former store manager Trina Ortiz wanted to open up three of her own Dollar stores, she struggled to find enough inventory. But when she discovered a wholesale channel on the web, inventory – and sales – grew quickly, she tells InternetRetailer.com.

 

"At first, I didn’t think stocking three stores would be that hard," she says. "But after the first month and a half, they were only about 50% full. We had to spread out the inventory to make the stores look better stocked."

 

Ortiz, who invested in the three stores with members of her family, had formerly managed a Dollar Tree store for another company. But she had never been directly involved with sourcing inventory. As the new co-owner and president of the three Ortiz Dollar Store & More locations in the Pueblo, CO, metropolitan area, she initially tried a few different wholesalers, including several found on the web. But none was able to provide a single source of products for all of her stores’ categories.

 

"The first time I searched the web, I found 6 suppliers with products I could use, but two suppliers were really bad and had stuff I wouldn’t give away," she says. She finally made progress after discovering WholesaleCentral.com, a clearinghouse for suppliers to small retailers. An initial inquiry there resulted in 133 suppliers. "Within two weeks, I got up to 100% inventory levels," she says.

 

Ortiz says she has since learned how to buy most effectively from her many new suppliers, so that she can limit the number of deliveries. She adds that a new search feature on WholesaleCentral.com, called a product locator, enables her to quickly find suppliers of niche products by posting a request for particular products, even under particular buying terms. When she recently wanted to quickly source products for Halloween, she posted a request for products available at 10% off regular retail prices and received 17 offers within a few days, Ortiz says.

 

WholesaleCentral.com e-mails retailers’ product locator requests to all pertinent suppliers among its 1,400 member wholesalers, who then send an e-mail back to the retailer through WholesaleCentral.com with terms of what they can offer. The wholesalers don’t know the identity of the retailer until the merchant decides to accept their offer, Ortiz says.

 

WholesaleCentral.com charges no fees to retailers. It charges a membership fee of $199 every six months to wholesalers. There are no other transaction fees.WholesaleCentral.com also raises revenue by selling ads on its web site to wholesalers.

 

Scott Sumner, president and ÇEO of WholesaleCentral.com, said he expects to have 2,000 member wholesalers in the first half of next year.

 

 

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