May 17, 2004, 12:00 AM

Small retailers find online wholesaling a bargain

As more wholesalers sell their products online, small merchants are finding the web offers products and services they can’t always find offline. "Without going online to my suppliers I would be out of business," dollar store retailer Trina Ortiz says.

As more wholesalers sell their products on the web, small merchants are finding the online channel offers products and services they can’t always find offline. "Without going online to my suppliers I would be out of business," says Trina Ortiz, owner of three Ortiz Dollar Store & More locations in the Pueblo, CO, area.

Ortiz says traditional wholesale catalogs can’t compare to the efficiency and timeliness offered by online wholesalers, which she finds through Internet searches and by visiting "Most wholesalers put out a catalog once a year, and that catalog has the merchandise that at the time of publication is usually in stock," she says, adding that keeping her stores stocked with fresh products is key to her success. "But a couple of months later the percent of merchandise that is in the catalog and not in stock is very high. The only way to find new items is online, which is usually updated as often as daily."

Tom Williams, a principal and manager of the family-owned Big Gib Store in rural Republic, Wash., says he routinely receives visits from a locally based wholesaler of general merchandise for his store’s section on goods typically found in dollar stores. But that wholesaler, who is also a friend of the family, rarely gets any of Big Gib’s business, Williams says. "His pricing is pretty much the same as online wholesalers’, but it takes him 3 to 4 weeks to deliver goods, but when we order online we get deliveries in 7 to 10 days or sooner."

The 4 Quarters Dollar Store in Belle Fourche, S.D., has done all of its product ordering online since opening for business last summer, says owner Robin Olson. Although Olson will occasionally view product offers from traveling salesmen, so far their product catalogs have been too scant and their prices too high in comparison to online offerings. "They haven’t been able to give me prices as good as available online, and their catalogs are not that big and don’t offer a lot of variety," she says.


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