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I've Been Everywhere, Man   July 15, 2017

The closeout business is a fast-moving, ever-changing dynamic that requires getting around and being in front of people all the time. Between buying and selling at trade shows, visiting customers, and meeting with vendors, here is a list of cities I have visited over the past 30 something years.

Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Newark, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Columbus, Nashville, Las Vegas, Des Moines, Portland, Miami, Greenfield, New Orleans, Cleveland, Tampa, Milwaukee, Toledo, Huntington Beach, Knoxville, Montreal, Charlotte, Baltimore, Dayton, Lansing, Peoria, Green Bay, Detroit Lakes, San Francisco, Montgomery

Throughout my closeout career I have met people from all walks of life, many of whom I have known since I started this business in 1984. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to live a life that allowed me to see so many places and make so many friends. It occurred to me that most people probably don't get to see as much as I have, and for this I will always be grateful.

The business has changed, so much that it would be unrecognizable to me today had I not been a part of it all these years. But now it is a piece of me, embedded in the very fiber of my DNA, and for better or worse I breath it in, and I breath it out, and it runs through my blood. The financial success and seemingly important business victories are what we work hard for everyday. But the friends who have become permanent fixtures in my life are the real rewards.

Merchandise USA is a liquidation and closeout buyer specializing in selling overstock inventory.

Tell Me It Ain't So   Jun 18, 2017

It seems impossible, but here we are again preparing for our ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. We barely finish the last show, ship our orders and begin to recover, when before you know it here we are pulling samples for the next one. Talk about groundhog day.

Truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with the ASD Show. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Love....the amount of business we write/Hate....22 hours setting up our booths
Love....working with International customers we don't see often/Hate....10 nights in Las Vegas
Love....the excitement that still exists for Saturday selling/Hate....junk food for more than a week
Love....being with friends from around the globe/Hate....teardown after the show
Love....getting out of the office for 10 days/Hate....being out of the office for 10 days!


But whether I like it or not, here it comes again. So we are making plans and working hard to make this one of our best shows ever. Be sure to see us there and make your appointment early, because we book up fast and the best deals go quickly.

Merchandise USA has been in business 30+ years and we specialize in liquidations and closeouts.

It's A Funny Thing   May 6, 2017

I want you to know that I really do try to keep this blog informative, interesting and helpful. It isn't always easy to come up with relevant topics, but I give it a lot of thought and effort. So I hope you don't think I've bailed on you just because all I'm doing this month is re-posting a joke I was told.

This past week got the best of me, so when I read this and it made me laugh out loud I wanted to share it. Thanks to a good customer and friend of mine, here it is.

Jack had been a compulsive worrier for years, to the point it was ruining his marriage, his career, and generally his entire life. He tried every self-help book published, went to countless group seminars, and eventually saw a psychologist who recommended a specialist who could help him.

His friend, Bob, noticed a dramatic change and asked "What happened? You used to worry so much you could barely get through the day without having a nervous breakdown? But now you have become so easy going, and nothing seems to bother you anymore."

"I hired a professional worrier and I haven't had a worry since." replied Jack. "A professional worrier? Really? That must be expensive." Bob replied. "How much does it cost?"

"He charges $10,000 a month." Jack told him."

"$10,000 a month!!? How in the world can you afford to pay him?" exclaimed Bob.

"I don't know, that's his problem."

Chicago May Market Days Still Rocks   April 9, 2017

If you want to know how bad the retail business is, just read the headlines. Everyday there are reports of another major chain shedding stores, reporting declining sales, and looking for different ways to stop the bleeding. But in spite of all this bad news, there is life at our end of the brick and mortar discount store market.

We recently completed our ASD Market Week Show where, although traffic and order volume was in line with the last few shows, our average order size improved. We are finding there are still many good accounts alive and well who are buying. We just have to get out there and get in front of them.

Don't get me wrong, running a business today is unbelievably challenging. We are working longer hours, and putting in more effort than ever before to stay on top of everything. But the point I am making is that all is not a lost cause, and as I said from the beginning when I started this company in 1984.......there is always opportunity.

So back to May Market Days. Every May, we hold a trade show in Chicago for buyers of discount and overstock merchandise. We participate with more than 100 exhibitors to bring the best closeout and liquidation deals to customers from around the world. This upcoming show is shaping up to be one of the most actively attended events we have had since we started this more than 20 years ago. Check it out at www.midwestmarketdays.com and register to attend May 1st and 2nd.

I'm not saying things are perfect. But don't believe everything you read.

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year old wholesale liquidation and closeout company.

Hey Mikey, He Likes It!  March 9, 2017

When I was a kid growing up, one of the most popular television commercials was a Quaker Oats campaign for LIFE cereal. Two boys fighting over who should eat the healthy breakfast cereal until they pushed it on their kid brother to try out. My oh my, how things have changed. For starters, I don't think there is a kid today who would even sit through a television commercial. And the word "Like" has taken on a whole new meaning.

Last month we finally started a Merchandise USA Facebook page. I know, I know, I'm the last one to the party, but it took me that long to understand how social media might help us. So we've been posting, uploading and boosting. We've been sharing and friending and in return we're being liked and followed. In the old days if I wanted to make a friend I went to a party. And the last thing I wanted was for anyone to follow me.

But today we live in a different world. One where we live our lives in front of a computer or on our cell phones. We talk to people, get directions, buy stuff and even keep our daily calendars on all on our phones. And if we have a free minute, we cannot wait to check Facebook on our phones so we can see how all our friends are living seemingly better lives than we are.

So please, Like us on Facebook. And I'll let you know as soon as I figure out what Instagram does.

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year old wholesale liquidation and closeout company.

Defining Our Mission Statement  Feburary 4, 2017

First let me tell you these words sound impressive, but I had no idea what they really meant. I had heard them before, and I guess I had a vague idea that it is supposed to be some internal code or belief about what my company does and how we see outselves. Or something like what is the “culture” of our company and what is our vision for what we are and what we want to become.

So I Googled "mission statement" and now I have a better understanding of what this means.

Our mission is to serve our customers well by always providing them with new and value-oriented closeout and overstock deals. It is also our purpose to treat all vendors as fair as possible, in taking entire inventories and honoring our agreed to terms. I believe it has always been my philosophy to be transparent and honest when doing business, and to never deliberately misrepresent anything about who we are or how we operate, and furthermore to go out of our way to be above board.

For me, this idea of having a mission statement appears to be what I always felt were my core beliefs about what this company is and how it operates. I guess a mission statement can be defined as the personality of the company, if there is such a thing. And I believe that is an extension of my own personal values.

Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling closeout, overstock, liquidation and surplus inventory and we have been in business 31 years.

The 2017 Atlanta Gift Show Was A Success!  January 15, 2017

We just spent three days at Americas Mart in Atlanta, and I have to say it is one of my favorite buying shows of the year. The venue is open and spacious, our vendors are always welcoming and friendly to work with and the City is youthful, beautiful and energetic. Thanks to our good friends at Factory Direct Craft in Ohio, we had the privilege of staying at the Westin Hotel where the nights are filled with fun and good food, and we start each morning with Starbucks Coffee right in our lobby.

We bought large quantities of closeouts and liquidations in all categories ranging from glassware, home accessories, giftware, figurines, furniture, handbags, toys, Seasonal merchandise and much more. Fortunately, we have a lot of warehouse space and will have somewhere to unload all these great deals when the trucks start coming in!

The best news is these opportunity buys will be exciting for our customers and their customers. We will make these new values available at our upcoming trade shows including our big presence at ASD Market Week which will be held this year in Las Vegas March 18-22. You can view our entire trade show calendar right here on our website, and you can also shop our inventory for closeout deals or submit information with any excess wholesale stock you have for sale.

Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling closeout, overstock, liquidation and surplus inventory and we have been in business 31 years.

The 2016 Boxing Match Is Finally Over  December 31, 2016

Don't worry, I'm not about to unload my political opinions on you. I barely discussed them among close friends and family, so I certainly won't do it here. But what I do want to share with you are 10 things that this election brought front and center and I think are noteworthy.

If nothing else, perhaps we all share the same sense of relief and gratitude that the mud-slinging is once and for all over and we can all move forward. Hopefully, it won't be into a ditch.

1.Our country has been torn apart in a way that it may never be stitched back together.

2.If you didn't believe in the power of social media before, you surely will now.

3.Sometimes brand names can fall flat on their face. Jeb Bush.

4.If a third party couldn't polarize this time, it probably doesn't have a chance.

5.Racism, judgment, fear and bigotry are alive and well in the United States.

6.Trump won by spending half. Somewhere in all this lies a good business lesson.

7.What the internet giveth, the internet taketh away. Ken Bone.

8.Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were possibly the 2 most disliked candidates in history.

9.All roads lead back to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. Follow the money.

10.The 2016 election was so dispiriting perhaps the system can only rise from here.


Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout, overstock and surplus company in business 31 years.

But if you try sometimes, you get what you need  November 21, 2016

I guess I've always been motivated to put 110% into everything I do. With me there seems to be little middle ground as I'm either not involved, or I'm "all in". I don't know maybe it came from my Father who never pushed me too hard, but always made it clear that it was important to make money. Maybe it was because as a kid we were the "poor family" in our middle class neighborhood and it started a fire inside of me with a desire to build something. Maybe being a product of the Baby Boomer generation is the answer.

I don't know what it is, but In any event I'm a pusher. And I don't mean drug pusher, I mean I'm up early, work hard, discipline myself, and push myself to my limits. But here's the rub: it isn't working the way it used to.

I'm not able to meet my goals as efficiently as I did in the past. In fact, some of the things I aim for I am missing by a mile. I often don't get the results I want, and it has been rather frustrating. I can't tell you specifically what happened, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with a number of things. First, I'm getting a little older and I don't have the determination I once had. I've also lost a bit of my ability to focus the way I used to, and my time is now occupied with things I never used to think about like health issues of friends and family members, health issues of my own, and simply trying to live a fuller life outside of work. And then there's the obvious that the business environment has changed so much I often wonder if what I accomplished could ever be repeated.

I haven't decided yet if I've just lowered my expectations to a new low, or if I'm maturing and accepting that there is more to life than work, work and more work. In my younger days I was only happy if I got what I wanted; anything short of 100% success was failure. But now I'm finding there is something to be said for a little less drive and a little more reflection. I may not always get everything I want, but I do have everything I need. And that's a pretty damn good feeling.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale overstock, closeout and liquidation surplus company in business 31 years.

Enjoy The Ride  October 21, 2016

Last year I made a promise to myself that I would never again drive to the warehouse unless it was absolutely necessary. It's only 25 miles away, but it is the commute from Hell. What can take almost 2 hours in Chicago traffic is a short, half hour train ride. Even better, somebody else does the driving. Perfect!

Taking the train has been a blessing. Not only does it get me from station to station in only 35 minutes, but it gives me the opportunity (weather permitting) to walk from home to the train and again at the end of the day from the train home. It's a nice way to rack up an additional 6,000 steps on my Apple Watch. Waking up at 4:30 AM isn't easy but has proven to be the best way to begin my day. And the 5:55 AM train is as reliable as clockwork. Always there. Always on time.

But my point in telling you all this is to address the Metra train motto posted everywhere in the station. "Enjoy The Ride".

I use it as a metaphor for how I want to better live my life, and I try to think more about it each time I see one of those painted murals, or billboards, or advertisements along the highway. Enjoy the day to day. Take everything a little more in stride. Don't sweat the small stuff. Be present. Be happy. Be kind to others. Don't take things for granted.

I want to learn to handle my overwhelming amount of work while still enjoying life. It has become a bigger challenge than ever to do this but the simple Metra advertising slogan helps me. It reminds me that there is more to life than buying and selling closeouts, and shippinig merchandise. It gives me perspective on how to do better, how to make healthier choices. And for that I am grateful.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale overstock and liquidation buyer in business more than 30 years.

5 Things You Can Do Now To Increase Profits...  October 07, 2016

What if I gave you 30 minutes to identify the top 5 things your company can do to increase profits? If I told you not to worry about all the details, but hit on those 5 big areas where you know there is room to improve.

Well, that's exactly what I did in this exercise because it forced me to see the areas where change can have the greatest impact. Now I'm not saying these are easy, or even that I would know how to implement them, but I believe they would definitely work.

1. In spite of any emotional impact it may have on you, let all employees know that your policy will be to consistently let go of the bottom performing 10%. I don't know if GE still does this but for many years it was their everyday policy. Keep the top 90% and always be in the process of eliminating the bottom 10%.

2. Spend more time talking to vendors and customers. When it comes to closeouts and overstocks these 2 things are at the core of what drives our business and everything else is a constant stream of disruptions. Focus on what really counts.

3. Identify your 3 biggest annual expenses and commit to doing whatever necessary to reduce them by 15% over the next 12 months. Surely there are changes that can be made to make this happen.

4. Spend less time reading and responding to email. Honestly, there are many times through the day where I feel like I am having a conversation with someone over my computer. Send and wait for the reply. Read the reply, respond and click, click, click again waiting for another reply. Waste of time - start checking e-mail once per hour and spend your time being more productive.

5. Streamline. I think we all have our own areas where we can trim down and become more efficient. We have become complacent and continue to carry expenses we really don't need and can easily learn to do without. Maybe it is an assistant who doesn't pull his/her weight, a trade show that has become adequate at best, advertising that no longer works, etc. Find yours and eliminate it.

Merchandise USA specializes in overstock, closeout and excess inventory.

Cherishing Memories...  August 21, 2016

While cleaning a closet in my house this weekend, I came across a 21-year-old scrapbook with a "press release" my Dad wrote about me.

I was going to re-type it for this blog but decided to shoot a picture from my phone and post it here, as he wrote it, in his words. Next month will be 4 years since he died, and having had the benefit of perspective I think of him often. It really is amazing how time passes, flies, marches on, or whatever you want to call it.

This month marks my 31st year in business. Merchandise USA specializes in buying closeout, overstock and liquidation inventory

15 Inspiring Quotes To Motivate You  August 8, 2016

Running a successful closeout business today is so demanding I wouldn't know where to begin trying to explain all the challenges. At times it can be overwhelming. I was reading a list of motivational quotes, and thought I would use this blog to share some of them. I think these are important to review from time to time when we need inspiration.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. - Winston Churchill

Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value. - Albert Einstein

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. - Charles Darwin

The best revenge is massive success. - Frank Sinatra

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt

If you're going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. - Arthur Ash

I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. - Vidal Sassoon

The #1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family and neighbors. Napoleon Hill

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing. - Abraham Lincoln

In my experience there is only one motivation, and that is desire. No reasons or principle contain it or stand against it. - Jane Smiley

Whenever you find yourself on the side of majority, it's time to pause and reflect. - Mark Twain

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year old wholesale overstock and closeout company. We specialize in buying and selling closeout, discontinued and excess inventory.

Bruce Springsteen Loves Merchandise USA's Closeouts  June 21, 2016

Let's face it, day to day operations can become boring at times because it's generally the "same old, same old". But once in awhile something truly exciting happens and it makes for a great story.

So I'm sitting on the floor next to our booth at a trade show, and I'm untangling a bunch of wind chimes that are all stuck together. I'm pulling strings through other strings, looping chimes over other parts of chimes, and really concentrating on how to separate these darn things. Then out of the blue I look up, and there - standing in front of me - is Bruce Springsteen. That's right, The Boss himself is at my trade show and I'm sitting there on the floor surrounded by boxes of closeouts, and literally head to toe in a messy knot of garden decorations. And all I could think about was how little he looked in person. I had no idea he was so small when everything he does is larger than life.

So we sat there like old friends talking and laughing for hours, while the entire time he kept telling me how much he loves our wind chimes. He tells me how nice they look, and how great they sound and what a good deal we have on them. I'm puzzled by all this and can't piece it together in a way that makes any sense. Why is he still here talking to me? Why am I sitting on the floor? How does he know my name and why does he know so much about the closeout and liquidation business?

Now fast forward to tonight when, before going to bed, my wife tells me she better head upstairs and get under the covers because Bruce was going to be visiting again. Sounds a little weird, right? Well only until you know the rest of the story -- the whole thing was a dream my wife had last night, and I just explained it to you the way she described it to me this morning.

Jane usually wakes up mad at me for something I did in her dreams. This was a more pleasant experience so I thought I would share it.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and overstock buyer in business 30+ years. We specialize in buying liquidation and surplus inventory.

Yada Yada Yada  May 20, 2016

When you have been in business as long as I have, it can be challenging to keep things fresh and interesting. Fortunately the closeout business offers us the opportunity to work with new items all the time, which in and of itself keeps things from getting too stale. But even with that, we still have the same routine, work with the same people, talk to a lot of the same customers, and often get "stuck" in the same frame of mind.

Here are a few things I began doing to "change it up" and keep things from becoming routine.

1. Update Information. Our new website store automatically updates new overstock items with images as we input them into our system. This is great news for prospects and customers who can view new items, often daily, with prices, barcodes, case packs and images. Our web store used to change once every couple weeks but now thanks to better systems and technology it is updated all the time.

2. Talk more. There is no question about it -- email was an amazing revolution and it allows us to move things off our desk quickly by sending short messages back and forth with one another. The problem with it is we lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with people who have much more information, personality, and content to offer than a quick sentence followed by a "click". When you talk to people and get their stories it makes the day better and less routine. It definitely takes more time but trust me, it's well worth it.

3. Travel. This year one of my goals is to get out and see more customers so we better understand how they operate and what they do. Sure, we ship closeout and overstock deals all over the country (around the world, to be more accurate) but we don't really know our customers until we get in front of them. I will never forget the time I traveled to Bend, Oregon to visit a good friend and customer with a 20,000 square foot store called 3 Bucks or Less. After the grand tour I was taken to a large overhead door that lead to his warehouse area. As a joke there was a hand-written poster board sign posted "This Area For All Dead Merchandise USA Closeouts". You get to see that most people are just like you and me -- they want to keep things interesting and have a little fun.

Yada Yada Yada is just another way of saying things are boring and predictable. With a little effort and change we can keep things interesting.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale overstock, closeout and liquidation company in business more than 30 years.

The Difference Between Then and Now  May 2, 2016

Today I was thinking about all the changes that have occurred in the 30+ years I have been in the closeout business. It's a long list, but here are 10 of the more prominent things that stand out in my mind:

Then: When I started in business I kept all my contacts information on 3x5 index cards in a paper shoebox. Now: Today everything is stored in the computer, and it can all be backed up onto a thumb drive that fits in my shirt pocket.

Then: When I started in business if you wanted a customer to see an item quickly, you had to spend money and overnight the sample. Now: Today, we take pictures and e-mail them instantaneously from our smartphones. And we get frustrated if they aren't there in a minute.

Then: We used to ask vendors if they had an (800) toll free number because long distance calls were too expensive. Now: Today we get unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S. for a minimal monthly fee that costs less than a good meal out.

Then: We used to spend small fortunes designing flyers and brochures. I could only send 100 at a time because I didn't have enough money. Now: Today you can e-mail millions of people color brochures and flyers of overstocks and deals for virtually nothing.

Then: Information was more limited and everyone didn't know everything about every closeout. It was possible to find a "sleeper". Now: It seems no sooner do we buy a deal and begin to offer it around, than we are told "yeah, we already saw those".

Then: Once upon a time there seemed to be a higher level of respect for one another. We just seemed to treat each other better. Now: I don't know, it seems to me that today there are more cases of people doing what is best for them and not their neighbor.

Then: I didn't know what I didn't know. Everything was possible, the sky was the limit, and I was overflowing with drive and determination. Now: I now know what I don't know (which is worse). I still believe the sky is the limit, and my drive and determination paid off.

Then: There were a handful of trade shows each year and every one of them was special. Every one, in and of itself, was a big deal. Now: We have so many trade shows that not a month goes by where we don't see our customers. We have too many shows, too often.

Then: The numbers worked much better. Expenses were lower and it was a friendlier environment in which to make money. Now: We spend so much money promoting, buying and selling our closeouts that we can't keep as much in our own pocket.

Then: This is the worst one for me. I was excited to get to the office and begin my work. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Now: Don't get me wrong, I'm still happy and grateful to go to work. But honestly, it just isn't as much fun as it used to be.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale overstock and closeout company, specializing in buying excess inventory since 1984.

Time Is Shorter Thank You Think  April 14, 2016

4 months ago to this day was a normal day for me like any other. I was rushed, stressed, and trying to accomplish more than any one person should ever have to do in a day. At lunchtime I stood up from my desk chair, and that moment began a 4 month long struggle with a back injury that ended yesterday with surgery. Most likely it was years in the making, but it hit me unexpectedly like a freight train.

In the beginning I was unable to get out of bed for weeks, except to hobble 10 steps to the bathroom. Everyday my wife brought me lunch and dinner in bed, and I worked as much as possible from my laptop. This was followed my months of pain in my hip, butt, foot, shin and numbness down my lower leg, all of which I tried to help with diet, PT, acupuncture, medications, steroid injections, stretches, etc. In the end I couldn't take it any longer and needed surgery.

What's my point? For 4 months I couldn't drive so once I was able to leave the house, my wife and employees took me to/from work everyday. As a passenger I would stare out the window watching all those walkers, runners and bikers effortlessly gliding along without giving a single thought to the pain their next move would bring. I watched people multi tasking on cellphones, carrying packages and pulling luggage while I had to carefully plan and execute every movement, each time struggling to get in the car or open a door or take a shower (where I had to sit on a medical bench rather than stand). I closely watched handicapped people and gained an appreciation of what a life of pain really means. I saw the homeless differently, now with more compassion and less judgment. I noticed my own attitude about traffic congestion and aggressive drivers change from one of anger and frustration to one of patience, gratitude and passiveness.

So again, my point. I just went through a huge "time out". Maybe it was the universe shouting at me to slow down because I missed prior warning signs it tried sending me. Maybe it was a stroke of luck for a second chance on how to lead a better life. Maybe it was just fate and I am given an opportunity to either learn from it, or go back to my same old ways and perhaps develop some new illness or disease. Maybe it's nothing other than what it is - a bad back and I choose to read all this into it. I don't know, but I can only tell you the effect it had on me.

Be happy. Be grateful. Enjoy your life. Cherish your health if you have it, and do everything in your power to regain it if you don't. Business and money are great to have, it's fun buying big closeout deals and making sales, but they mean nothing when you are not healthy enough to enjoy them. Make yourself happy and treat yourself well. And start today because I now understand time is shorter than we all think.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale liquidation and overstock buyer in business more than 30 years.

It's Time To Start Thinking Summer!  February 29, 2016

With the Winter almost behind us, it's already time to begin thinking about how we can promote our businesses through the Summer.

As we already know, things tend to slow down in the Summer months because people are out doing other things than shopping. But that doesn't mean retail and wholesale operations need to throw up the white flag and surrender. Think in terms of what many of the majors do - run promotions and special sales. Here are some examples of how we can all promote business:

1. Christmas in July. This has always been one of my favorites because you can sell all your everyday goods, plus get a jump on moving some of the Holiday inventory carried over from last year. Use words like closeouts, overstock, liquidation and get your customer interested. It's an inexpensive way to generate activity with a simple promotion.

2. Inventory reduction. Don't be afraid to use the words and let your customers know you are motivated to move some older inventory. Old merchandise at a new price is often new merchandise. Take advantage of a great opportunity to clear out some dead stock, and give your existing customers a chance to buy it at a discount. This is a real win-win and keeps cash flowing at the same time.

3. Special promotions. Here is a chance to really use your creativity. For example, you can choose 3 random days during the month and offer a 15% discount to anyone whose birthday falls on those days. You can have a special "August" sale for anyone whose birthday is in August. You can offer all customers who come in on a specific day Saturday a 20% Super Saturday Savings. Let your imagination be your guide.

But don't do nothing, because it will likely result in disappointing sales.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and liquidation buyer in business more than 30 years.

There Is No Way To Happiness  January 16, 2016

Happiness is elusive. We often strive to be happy and no matter what we do, we just cannot get there. We work hard to meet goals that will make us happy, yet we are left feeling empty. If we are lucky enough to reach the goals, we are already setting new markers we feel must be met. And if we don't meet our goals, we beat ourselves up over it until we feel so bad that it literally hurts inside.

I recently read an article that explained the reason for much of our unhappiness is that it is based in temporary things: reaching a sales goal, getting a new job, buying that new car, and being disappointed when things don't go as planned. The writer went on to explain how if we based our happiness on more permanent things (our healthy marriage, our good health, our strong family ties, appreciation for our good fortune, etc), then the temporary goals we don't meet would have little impact on our "happiness" barometer, and less of an affect on our daily lives.

It amazes me how miserable we all can manage to make ourselves, when all we have to do is live and die and be happy in between. We are so wrapped up in so many things that we allow to make us unhappy that if we could just let go and lead a simpler life, all would be good in the world. If we could figure out how to quit the worry habit and stop constantly planning for tomorrow and just live now, it could really be something special.

Many years ago I read something that always stuck with me. I would like to share it with you here because it is worth remembering:There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company in business 31 years.

Factory Direct Craft, Springsboro OH - One Of My Favorite Customers  December 22, 2015

I'm pleased to be able to say that I get quite a bit of positive feedback on my blog. And this is interesting because generally I write more for my own personal therapy than anything else. In fact, it never occurred to me that I might develop a following of people who would be eager to read what I have to say. So you can understand why I was recently surprised when Shari Doggett from Factory Direct Craft pulled me aside and told me that she looks forward to reading my blog. Really? Wow. How cool. And that was my inspiration for today's entry.

R Now let's be honest, I'm not writing about owners Shari and Paul Doggett because Shari complimented my writing skills. That isn't the reason at all. The real reason I'm doing it is so they will place a very large order with me the next time they see us. No seriously, I'm just kidding. The truth is, I'm writing about Factory Direct Craft because Shari's comment made me pause, reflect and remember the two things I always loved most about this business. It was the thrill of the deal, and the people. The very things I am now out of touch with because I am too deeply involved in operations problems, warehouse and transportation issues, personnel nonsense, administration issues, etc.

Factory Direct Craft is a family-owned online company in business since 1985 (the same year Merchandise USA started). They have been a customer of ours for almost 12 years. Owners Shari and Paul both understand their business very clearly. They are keenly aware that true closeouts are a limited resource, and that today it often takes creativity and insight to make money with closeouts. Because they have such a rich history of buying both overstock merchandise and imports, they are educated buyers with a fundamental understanding of value and opportunity. And let me be very clear about this because it is something not all customers share. Thank you Shari and Paul for getting this.

They are our friends. We always share meals with them when we meet in Atlanta for the Gift Show. On one occasion in particular, their children and other employees also joined us for a memorable evening. When they visit our showroom we are genuinely happy to see them because we like them, and as with many of our other customers, we truly enjoy being with them.

They are our partner. When FDC buys closeouts from us that work for them, we are successful because we add to their success. We try to share deals with each other when we are offered things better suited for the other. In other words, we work well together.

We trust them. I cannot think of one single time there was ever a problem. I cannot think of one single time a payment was late.

They are easy to work with. They appreciate us. They don't take us for granted. They are excited to buy from us. They see value in what we offer them. They are creative. They are inspiring. They understand how to make money. And the list goes on. They are truly one of my favorite customers, because they do everything right. If you want to learn more about their story visit them online factorydirectcraft.com

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and overstock buyer in business more than 30 years.

Giving Thanks and Being Grateful  December 11, 2015

I remember back to when I was a kid. Every Sunday my Mom and Dad would load me and my two sisters in their 1970 blue Ford LTD, and we would make the drive from the suburbs to the City to visit my Grandparents. Almost 50 years later I can still remember these three things as if it were yesterday:

1. The way my Grandpa's roughly shaved beard scratched against my soft cheek when he kissed me hello.

2. Playing with my dad's old set of big, heavy Lionel metal trains and track. Not the cheap plastic HO scale they had when I was a kid. And certainly nothing like the ones they have today. Wait, do kids play with trains today? Do any toy companies even make them anymore?

3. Every week, like clockwork, my Grandma telling me something that a 5-year old could never be expected to understand: "As long as you have your health......."

So here I am. Another Thanksgiving, another joyous Christmas season, and a year later than the last time I was reminded to be kind to others and be grateful for everything we have. And as I approach my 52nd year, it is finally beginning to sink in. I have seen friends suffer with struggling businesses that were forced to close, I have other friends who have been divorced or lost jobs and face difficult roads ahead. And far worse I have dear friends and family who have been affected by sickness, illness and tragedy. The kinds of things that I now understand much better than when I was a boy and my Grandmother would repeatedly tell me "As long as you have your health".

I think we have to find a way to be good with what we have because what we have is good enough. To be happy with where we are because where we are is far enough. We lead stressful lives with punishing time frames and deadlines. Yes, it is very easy to be ungrateful and feel we need more, more, more. But it is a painful way to go through life; trust me, I know because I live it everyday. I am so busy working on tomorrow and the next day and next week, planning for next month, the next deal, that next show, that I forget to be present where the good things in life actually happen. Where you get to feel grateful for having a loving wife, good friends and a warm, safe home. Where you get to enjoy a hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning while the sun shines in through the window. Where you get to take an afternoon nap with your dog by your side. Things that may sound corny and silly, but the very things that make us feel grateful in our lives.

I recently watched a TED speaker discuss the topic of happiness and his message was simple. Happy people are not grateful people; grateful people are happy people. I think there is a lot to this, and I’m making a promise to work harder at it. Not just for me, but for those around me. If you want to watch the 15 minute video you can see it here Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer and liquidator in business more than 30 years.

Closeout, Overstock and Liquidation Deals in Miami  November 1, 2015

I want to dedicate this entry to our new Miami showroom which is showing signs of being a huge success.

Although we only joined the showroom 6 months ago, I am already seeing an increase in sales and activity in our South and Central America business. The showroom is a haven for retailers interested in buying houseware closeouts, toy closeouts, stationery merchandise, overstock health and beauty aids, discount home décor, sporting goods, craft closeouts, and all other categories of liquidation merchandise. There are also vendors selling closeout party goods, hosiery, domestics, electronics, dollar store merchandise, furniture and much more.

If you are buying closeouts for Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad, Bahamas, Mexico or similar markets, you won't want to miss this opportunity. Currently, we have approximately 25 vendors in the building and there are plans to expand due to increased demand for 2016. The showroom is conveniently located in Miami Lakes, FL, and it is equal distance between the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami International airports.

Although Merchandise USA does most of it's business in the United States, our export business has been one of our best areas for growth. We are always interested in working with new export customers, so if you would like to make an appointment with us in Miami please contact us today. If you are visiting Miami between show dates, we will be happy to make arrangements for you to visit the showroom, meet our showroom coordinator, and have a tour of the showroom.

For more details on participating exhibitors, show dates, and further details please visit www.martofmiami.com

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year experienced closeout buyer and wholesale overstock company.

How Do People Live Without Dogs  October 25, 2015

I'm a dog person. My wife is a dog person. All my closest friends (well, I make a few exceptions) are dog people. Why wouldn't everyone have a dog? Got me, because they are the goofiest, funniest, dumbest, most loving, softest, warmest, bravest, cutest things on the planet.

Our dog, Summer, is a 5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback. She's really good at eating, and even better at sleeping, and below is a list of some things that make her so special to us:

1. Somebody once told me Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a sense of fairness. I believe this to be true; there is a healthy give and take in our relationship that keeps everything amicable.

2. Even after a totally crappy and disappointing day, Summer makes me smile.

3. She is willing to do anything and go anywhere; generally speaking if we lead she will follow. And very often, she leads and we follow.

4. She can teach us a thing or two about relaxing, living in the moment, and enjoying the here and now.

5. When she gets excited, Summer still nibbles at our lips and noses just like when she was a puppy.

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year old wholesale closeout buyer. Below is a picture of Summer modeling one of our closeout dog crates.

 

Overstock F.A.Q

8 Creative Ways To Increase Your Sales In The Wholesale Closeout Business  October 7, 2015

Let's face it. Keeping our sales numbers up in todays economy is a challenge, to say the least. Retail stores are closing, downsizing, buying smaller quantities of fewer items, working off existing inventory, etc, etc. But if you are a business owner, you know your expenses keep increasing; the cost of doing business goes up, payroll goes up, margins slip, and one way or another you have to find a way to do more. If you are an employee, it is likely your boss is all over you to produce more sales and hit new numbers. What in the world are we all supposed to do.

Honestly, it's a tough grind and I don't have a single solution. I do, however, have a lot of small ideas that when applied together can make a significant difference. Here are some things I am trying to do; maybe they are worth you considering as well.

1. Be more of a doer and less of a thinker. Get in the game and make things happen. Try to concentrate on activities that will create results, rather than activities that just keep you busy and make you think you are being productive (ex: checking e-mail every 10 minutes, creating the "perfect" sales proposal/spreadsheets/image file, prospecting but not aggressively calling, etc).

2. Do outside prospecting and be committed to getting at least 3 sales a month from outside sources other than your regular customer base.

3. Try new things. Try new things. Try new things. Don't just talk about it. TRY NEW THINGS!

4. Work to keep a positive mental attitude at all times. We've heard it our entire lives, but it is true: Attitude determines altitude. Your thought habits control your commitment, happiness, resilience, confidence, and persistence.

5. Make 5 cold calls without fail every single day. Even if these 100 cold calls per month result in no sales, no leads, and hangups, continue making them because you never know where your next new customer will come from. One thing is for certain; they won't knock on your door.

6. Be open to criticism and ask a team member to review your weak points with you. Even the best of us can learn new things; If you are willing to listen and take some advice it will make you a better salesperson.

7. Use your time more efficiently. We often do more "busy" work than we realize and with some thought can create a better schedule. Remember, just 30 minutes per day adds up to almost a month of productive time per year.

8. Use the internet effectively. I'm a huge believe in the power of the internet, but I have little faith in sending a mass e-mail to hundreds of prospects and waiting for the phone to ring. You still have to do all the necessary legwork the old fashioned way - make the calls, meet the people, develop the relationships, etc. The internet and e-mail is a tool to help make your job easier, not the tool to do the job for you.

Merchandise USA buys wholesale closeouts and wholesale overstock. We have been in business more than 30 years.

Here's How To Make Money With Closeouts  September 20, 2015

I'm going to let you in on a secret. I currently do, and always did believe that I am a genuine closeout person. By that, I mean I buy things that other companies can't sell or don't want (because they are over-priced, over-produced, poorly marketed, improperly packaged, etc). And I think if I did my job right, and I offer my customer a value, a truly good deal, then the product will always sell through. Unfortunately, that is not really the case anymore. In today's economy, we have to do much more.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of closeouts:

1. Give your customer a better shopping experience. Have you ever walked through Nordstrom's during the Christmas season? Have you been to a Whole Foods store and watched people walk around sipping wine while they shop? It used to be the liquidation business was all about price, but today you are dealing with an unbelievable amount of competition for your customers dollars. Do a better job of merchandising your products, build appealing displays, play music in the store, improve the lighting and layout so your customer enjoys shopping, keep it clean and organized, create an atmosphere where your customers will have fun, make it easy for them to comfortably move through the store, etc.

2. Markdown slow movers. You are going to make your share of mistakes when buying overstock inventory, but don't let it hurt your sales. Reduce prices on inventory that is no longer selling, and move product around the store to give it a fresh look. You can also run 2 for 1 sales on select items, or offer special discounts to drive traffic to those items that otherwise aren't selling. Consider things like "Christmas in July" sales or "Super Saturday" promotions to create excitement, and give your customers reasons to keep coming back.

3. Be creative. In todays marketplace, it isn't enough to think low prices alone will drive your sales. Start thinking outside the box and consider some of these ideas: Collect e-mail addresses from customers with their dates of birth and send them a card on their birthday with a special discount offer. Create a new website showcasing your special items to bring customers into the store. Have a dedicated person on the floor helping customers, demonstrating items, and interacting with shoppers. Open an Amazon store to increase sales without adding overhead. Run a special Toys For Tots donation program for your local fire department.

Don't get me wrong, low prices are definitely key. But even in the closeout and liquidation business, it isn't everything.

Merchandise USA has been in business 30 years and we specialize in buying closeout and overstock inventory.

A Perfect Storm Global Recession May Be Brewing  August 23, 2015

Here in America things have been pretty good. Since the economy bottomed out in 2009 we have seen job growth, wage increases, and triple digit increases in our stock market. Even taking into consideration the "blood bath" as the media likes to call it (a 6% stock market drop this past week), things have been good. But rarely have so many large global economies been so ill-equipped to handle a downturn at the same time.

1. Chinese growth is slowing much faster than anticipated. With China's huge population of almost 1.4 billion people, and the country's role as a prominent global player, their slowing economy will have a massive butterfly effect around the world.

2. European debt levels are at their highest since the single currency Euro was introduced in 1999. Although the eyes of the world are on Greece and its potential default on its debt, there are several other countries in the EU that have debts to rival the struggling nation.

3. The economies of both Russia and Brazil are expected to shrink this year. The Russian economy is dependent on oil and gas production for growth. So as the price of crude oil continues to fall, the value of the ruble continues it's downward trend along with it. Current crude oil prices have not been this low since 2009. Inflation in Brazil is currently 9.5% and unemployment is at a 5 year high. It is the largest Latin American economy, and is expected to contract 2% this year.

4. Recently I have heard talk of how the U.S. will lead the world economy. How the U.S. is back again. The problem in the U.S. is that the security we feel due to increased stock price valuations, job growth, new housing starts, personal savings, etc, is a false sense of security. We have been able to experience this growth at the hand of our government who has kept interest rates near zero since 2008. There has been no organic growth; it is all smoke and mirrors. Traditionally, as the economy slows and the inevitable recession hits, the Fed reduces interest rates to stimulate growth. Am I the only one concerned about how we are going to reduce rates from zero?

Merchandise USA is a 30+ year old buyer of closeout, overstock, and liquidation inventory.

DON'T WORRY, YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE IT......  July 19, 2015

Thirty years ago I didn't know much at all about closeouts. But I had this burning desire to get out there, start moving forward, and try to build some kind of a business. Looking back at things, I would say that as long as you have the drive and motivation, you will ultimately find the path.

In this blog I want to pay tribute to two people who were mentors to me and helped me when I was much younger. I don't think I would have "learned the ropes" and been able to get where I am today without them. Although I haven't talked with either in many years I am grateful to them both for wanting to help me, and for taking me under their wings. For this I will be forever grateful.

Richard Shapiro. Rich was one of those guys who made you want to be just like him. His personality was powerful and overbearing, he wore sunglasses outside to block the sun, and inside....well, who knows why he wore them inside. Always chewing on a toothpick, he would use words like "bread" and "dough" instead of money, which made him seem even more cool. He was well educated, had a phenomenal memory, and was ready at any instant to criticize someone with one of his quips like "he would rather curse the darkness than light a candle", or "he has more degrees than a thermometer". He was a pro when it came to squeezing every last penny out of a deal because he was convincing, shrewd, and boy did he know how to make money in this business. His specialty was surplus tools and equipment, and in his day he was the best at it. Rich always used to tell me "You are going to make it; just know what you will do when you get there". Something he never figured out for himself.

Sonny Neiman. Sonny made just as big an impact on my life as Rich, but Sonny was different. He was warm and funny, and although I know he was just as motivated as Rich, I remember him being more easy going and laid back about everything. He must have been in his early 50's when he sold his building in Philadelphia and moved his family to Florida, where I visited him and his wife Joanie many times. Always with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, he would tell me how people he hadn't heard from in years would find him; he used to tell me how "they crawl out of the woodwork". And when he wouldn't get a deal he wanted at his price it was "It's better in their warehouse than in mine". I never heard him answer his phone with "Sonny Neiman Company"; instead, it was always just a friendly "Hello" or "Good Morning". He was good to me, a close friend for many years, and I'm sorry I lost contact with him. But I know it was my fault, maybe because I was young and impatient, maybe because at the time I didn't understand how to be more loyal to someone who helps you.

Today I am older than either of them were when I first met them. I think about the things they did and said back then, and I compare them to the things I do and say today. And it makes me realize that in the same short span of time that it took me to get from there to here, I can be in my mid eighties like they both are today.

Merchandise USA specializes in overstock and closeouts, and would not be here if not for Richard Shapiro and Sonny Neiman.

Common Mistakes When Liquidating Inventory  June 22, 2015

Liquidating inventory is a pretty straight forward concept. Too much inventory, too little cash flow, too little warehouse space. Move inventory, create cash flow, increase warehouse space. Sounds simple, right? In theory it is, but over the years I have noticed some common mistakes companies make when selling their inventory. Here are the top 3:

1. Waiting too long. Merchandise seems to have a finite lifespan. It is very good at the beginning, then pretty good for awhile, but after too much time goes by it just sort of dies. It loses it's freshness because the packaging becomes outdated or discolored, or the product itself simply no longer fits into the marketplace the way it once did. The times just seem to pass the product by, and by then it has lost all of its value. I had an old friend who used to talk about the difference between "worth less" and "worthless". Move the inventory while it still has some value.

2. Holding Out For Price. When you are selling product you no longer want or need, it's really more about moving the product than it is about squeezing every possible dime out of it. Let's say you used to be in the yellow widget business, but today you are in the green widget business. You have truckloads of old yellow widgets sitting dormant, taking up valuable space in your warehouse. In fact, your green widget business is suffering because you don't have enough room to properly expand. Get rid of the yellow widgets for whatever you can get; before you know it you will makeup any losses with your profitable green widget business. Don't lose a deal because you held out for a price you were unable to get. It isn't worth it.

3. Choosing The Wrong Partner. I often hear from vendors how they were promised a deal from their buyer, but months go by and the deal never materializes. In this business, and in today's fast paced environment, there is little reason a seller should have to wait. If you are being promised a deal but you aren't getting your P.O. or money, it's because there is no deal. Make sure you are working with a real buyer who is capable of making a deal happen. Be careful with brokers who often make promises they cannot keep.

Contact Merchandise USA if you are selling closeout and overstock inventory. We are a buyer with 100,000 + square feet of warehouse space.

Silly Closeout Questions I Am Often Asked  May 31, 2015

1. Do you sell closeouts or just buy them? I know it is a perfectly innocent question, and although it makes little sense, you would not believe how many times during the course of a week, month, year it is asked. So I politely explain that we both buy and sell closeout and overstock inventory, and I would be happy to help in anyway possible. But In my head I sarcastically answer "Nope, we just buy them and fill up warehouses with merchandise. Haven't figured out a way to sell any of this stuff yet, but thanks to the money trees we planted behind the warehouse we can keep buying". This reminds me of the time I was on a cruise ship and a passenger asked the Captain "Do these stairs go up as well as down?"

2. Before we sell you anything, we would require a list of your customers. Can you provide it? Now, I am just as careful about protecting my inventory as the next guy, and I completely understand a vendor wanting to be sure that their closeouts will not come back to haunt them by re-appearing in their market at a fraction of regular price. But really? You want me to just hand you my entire customer list?

3. Can you get more of those good items you sold out of? Again, good question, but it doesn't make much sense. We buy and sell closeouts with limited quantities. We take all of whatever is there. Sometimes items are great, sometimes they are dogs, but when they are gone they are gone. I believe this is implied in the word closeout. It reminds me of the time one of my customers told the story of when he was leaving for a trade show and his store manager stopped him on the way out and demanded "Don't buy any junk". Like he spends the first 2 days at the show picking out the worst items he can possibly find, and on the last day when the show is almost over he says to himself "okay, now I better start getting some of the good stuff before I leave". I've never, ever, ever bought a single item that I didn't think was a winner at the time I bought it.

4. Why is your price so high? I was offered it for a lot less from another company". This one is easy because I have been through it so many times I feel like Jerry Seinfeld delivering the perfectly timed punch line. "Okay" I say, "then go buy it from them". And then, just as expected, they say "I can't, they're out of it". My sarcasm always gets the best of me "Well, if I was out of it I would sell it to you for even less!"

Merchandise USA is a specialist in buying and selling excess stock, closeouts, overstock and surplus inventory.

Merchandise USA Opens a Showroom in Miami  May 17, 2015

I am pleased and excited to announce we are ready to bring on the heat in Miami! On June 1st we will be opening our brand new Florida showroom at the Mart of Miami in Miami Gardens, FL. We feel that having a permanent presence in Florida will offer our South and Central America customers the opportunity to see our most up to date closeout deals.

If you would like to make an appointment to see our closeout and overstock inventory, please call or e-mail today. Merchandise USA has been in business 30 years and we specialize in liquidation and surplus inventory. We buy and sell all product categories including home decor, giftware, toys, novelties, apparel, lawn and garden, glassware, party goods, hardware, etc.

The showroom address is 20600 NW 47th Ave Miami Gardens, FL 33055. For more details on our showroom and show dates, please visit www.martofmiami.com or call us at (773) 579-0600.

Other participating vendors include Al-Dan Trading, Euro-Ware Inc, Compass Industries, The Bazaar, Oceanis, OKK Trading, and many more.

Merchandise USA specializes in closeouts and liquidations only.

Jay Lazar Merchandise USA, Inc.

Hit The Road Jack  May 1, 2015

If you are like me, you are always looking for new ways to increase business. How can we get more customers? Where can we find new prospects? What areas are we missing where there is opportunity for growing our closeout and overstock business?

The truth is there probably aren't too many new ideas we haven't already thought about. However, there are plenty of old ideas we have forgotten about. At the beginning of our business careers we didn't know what we didn't know. In other words, we tried anything and everything in an effort to drum up business and generate income because we didn't know anything else. When I started this business it was at the tail end of a recession, but it didn't matter because I didn't think about it or pay attention to it. I just got out there, saw customers, and never gave up.

So what am I saying? I'm saying sometimes it helps to get back to the basics. This week my team spent some time out on the road visiting face to face with both new and existing customers. They carried samples with them, scheduled meetings, knocked on doors, and made some things happen. We live in an era of immediate gratification, electronic communication, and instant messaging. But I think this week we did better by selling the old fashioned way. On the road, in front of people, creating relationships, one on one.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout liquidator in business 30 years.

Closeouts And Summer Sales  March 30, 2015

I have been in the wholesale closeout business for 30 years. That means I've seen 30 fourth quarters where sales and activity always ramp up. And I've also seen 30 summers where the pace slows and sales trend down for a few months.

But there may be good news this year! Thanks to the lowest gasoline prices since 2009, consumers have a lot of extra cash in their pockets. Economic forecasts suggest it takes 3-6 months before the economy feels the effects of all these savings. This year it is estimated the average family will have an extra $750, most of which should go back into the economy. With harsh winter conditions tampering consumer spending, the climate is ripe for money to be spent as the temperature warms up.

In addition, between November 2014 and January 2015, the economy added almost one million jobs - the best three month pace in 17 years. Consumer confidence and personal savings are both climbing, and many Americans are seeing wage increases again. Add all this up and we may have good reason to expect a busier than normal summer.

To Do List: Live a Little  March 9, 2015

The truth is today I feel like I came out of a cocoon. The temperature in Chicago is above 40 degrees for the first time in what feels like an eternity, and I was actually able to walk to the coffee shop without a parka and ski hat. As I waited in line I saw people leaving with smiles on their faces and happy dogs on leashes. The deep freeze is finally over and there are even some 50 degree days in our forecast for next week.

So as I look forward to the Spring and Summer months, and as I prepare my "to do" list of a million and one things, there is one must do for me. One priority that somehow has to make its way to the top of my lengthy list of chores, goals, plans and deadlines. It may not make me much money or help productivity, and it won't do much in terms of getting through the workload, but it's crucial that it happens.

It seems I've been so busy checking things off my list that I've lost sight of being present and having a life. So as the trees blossom and the days get longer and warmer, I will concentrate on the priority I have set for myself. Live a little.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout distributor specializing in overstock and excess inventory.

Viva Las Vegas!  February 8, 2015

I am excited to let you know that next month we will be exhibiting at the ASD closeout show in Las Vegas for the 82nd time. Yes, you read that correctly -we have been an exhibitor at ASD for nearly 30 years. I have personally moved with it from the original Hilton Hotel, to the Sands Convention Center, to it's home today at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

We started hand-writing our orders with only one small booth selling fewer than 50 items; today we have 500 square feet of show space, we use a computer scanning system, and have more than 3,000 items. We still specialize in closeout, liquidation, overstock and obsolete inventory, and I am proud to say we have retained a niche allowing us to service both large and small accounts, all with the same great deals on excess inventory. We do not sell any regular import items, our specialty and focus is 100% closeouts.

Merchandise USA sells all categories of consumer goods including apparel, housewares, home decor, giftware, glassware, toys, crafts, hardware, novelties, domestics, sporting goods, and more. We have the ability to ship both domestically and internationally, and our wide variety of closeouts allows any retailer the opportunity to be profitable with our merchandise.

If you are one of our existing customers, we look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas. If you don't know us or have not yet purchased from us, please make an appointment to work with one of our great salespeople at the show. You can call us at (773) 579-0600 or e-mail closeouts@merchandiseusa.com You can also visit us online www.merchandiseusa.com

Merchandise USA has been a buyer and reseller of closeouts, obsolete inventory, and overstock merchandise for 30 years.

Our Computer Workers  January 5, 2015

In today's blog I want to thank two very special people who do all of our computer work.

First is my brother-in-law, and good friend, Mike. Mike handles our trade show computers, office database, and inventory systems. It was almost 15 years ago that we outgrew our store bought Quickbooks program and, from scratch, Mike programmed an inventory database specific to our needs. We grew into this software, and in 2005 he designed our trade show system where we began scanning all our orders with wireless hand-held devices. Today these are very common, but 10 years ago we were way ahead of our time. We are currently in the process of upgrading this system.

I also want to thank my other computer pro, Kris. Kris has opened up a whole new world to me of search engine optimization, Google Adwords management, and social media (including You Tube, Facebook and Twitter). In two years he has increased traffic to our website 200%, and the end result has been a steady flow of new leads and expanded business opportunities. Kris is also there for me anytime I have computer questions ranging from e-mail issues, to hardware problems, to software integration. I am grateful I can reach him at almost any hour of the day.

I can't thank Mike and Kris enough for what they do, and our business wouldn’t be the same without them.

Merchandise USA is a 30 year old closeout and overstock buyer.

Raime Ralyte Joins Our Team!  December 14, 2014

This past week was very exciting for me as we welcome a new salesperson to Merchandise USA. Two years ago we lost Chuck St. Arnaud, a close personal friend and employee, to cancer, and we never replaced him. Chuck was amazing, always smiling, willing to do anything to help, never in a bad mood, and happy as long as he was just selling something. He would light up the whole room when he walked in; he made the day better. When you think about Chuck, you see his big smile and feel his warm heart, and then you smile yourself.

We weren't looking for someone when the opportunity to hire Raime presented itself, but as we learn in life the best opportunities are often the ones that plop right down in front of us when we least expect them. Raime is a seasoned sales professional who has been in the closeout industry almost 10 years. In addition to her unbelievably pleasant and warm personality, she brings us new ideas, great energy, and a loyal customer base that is anxious to begin working with her at her new home. She is well versed in computers, and is already working on sales presentations for her customers and new prospects. Raime is fun to be around, she lightens the mood, and I know she will become a valuable asset to us.

When Chuck joined us we all seemed to smile a little more and the days looked a little brighter. I think we may have lucked out again.

Employee Meetings in the Closeout Business  November 19, 2014

I'm not a meetings kind of guy. My company never had them, my employees learned not to expect them, and I even slowly did away with the once a year annual employee performance reviews. To me, meetings were always a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. I felt like we were making great progress, until the next day when everyone reverted to their bad habits and it was like nothing ever happened. So I learned to look at meetings as a waste of time, something that got in the way of actually getting work done.

Until recently. I went out of town and within one day my team was fighting like high school girls over a boy. That's when it occurred to me they were no longer a team; they were just a bunch of people coming to work everyday. So now I keep a running journal of issues, problems, complaints, suggestions, compliments, and "things" that come up through the course of the week. It could be a parking issue, how a customer was mistreated , what one employee said to another, a good deed an employee did, anything I feel is important enough to make everybody aware of.

I informally gather everyone in the office once a week and have a 30 minute session where I air the dirty laundry. I've made it clear I won't hold anything back to protect anyone's feelings, and everything is fair game. Some things have improved, some things I am still discussing from week to week waiting for improvement, some things have lead to other beneficial conversation. But at the end of the day I've learned it is a well spent half hour that seems to be helping everyone - including me. But to me these aren't customary meetings. They are informal discussion groups where I sometimes feel like a marriage counselor. But I like it, and I think it is helping. I'm even beginning to prepare for individual performance reviews again.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and liquidation buyer in business 30 years.

Gas Prices and Selling Closeouts  November 9, 2014

There has always been a close relationship between the price of gas and discount retail sales. As the price of gas increases, the consumer has less discretionary cash to spend in the stores. But as the price of gas decreases, this has a positive affect and fuels consumer spending.

The average gas price is currently under $3.00 per gallon for the first time since 2010. Studies show that consumers will spend two thirds of what they save at the pump; thus cycling money back into the economy and driving economic growth. Plummeting gas prices are, in effect, the same as a wage increase because it puts more disposable income in the consumers pocket. One Moody's analyst suggested lower gas prices will pump an estimated 40 billion dollars back into the economy in 2015.

And in the short term, lower gas prices should have a huge impact on retail holiday sales over the next 6 weeks. Lower and middle income earners are the most likely to spend a large portion of their gas savings, and this will drive 4th quarter sales at dollar stores and discount stores.

In our industry where retail sales have been sluggish for the past few years, this may be the beginning of a Very Merry Christmas season.

Merchandise USA is a 30 year old buyer of closeout, overstock and excess inventory.

Working With My Wife  October 12, 2014

Although I founded Merchandise USA on my own in 1985, it was 10 years ago that I brought on an individual who really helped my business. I met her in 1989 where she was managing a busy Chicago deli, but it wasn't until almost 15 years later that she quit her job and came on board at Merchandise USA. This Summer we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.

Let me tell you a little bit about Jane. First, I can count on her like a clock ticking on the wall. She is reliable, consistent, determined, persistent, and trustworthy with anything. Second, she is smart. Jane handles all of our receivables, payables, insurance, and employee days off, while still doing some buying and selling too. Third, she is kind and fair and caring and understanding and loving and supportive.

Although we work together, we are in separate offices and most of the time we do our own thing. We often joke that rather than talk to each other we text or e-mail from 10 feet away. Do we have times when we get frustrated with each other? Of course. Do we have some differences? Sure we do. If Jane hasn't had lunch by 12:15 she gets crabby. I can let a breakfast banana sit on my desk for days until it turns brown, and not eat lunch at all. I'm an over-stapler and it drives her crazy. She uses paper clips that never keep anything together. So what.

People often ask me "How do you work with your wife"? They tell me "I could never do it", or "I would be divorced", and "you must be crazy". Well, my feeling is quite different. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and liquidation company in business 30 years.

5 Steps To Becoming More Productive  September 20, 2014

Let's face facts; we all have the same 24 hours in each day to do the things we need to do. Work, read, spend time with family, exercise, eat, go to school, take personal time, etc, etc. So why do some of us always feel stressed and rushed, while others are able to be highly productive and get everything done? Here are 5 things you can do that will start you on the road to higher productivity:

1. Wake up early. Not only will you add hours to your day, but by starting the day while most others are still asleep you will gain quality time. The old saying "the early bird gets the worm" may have been silly childhood rhetoric, but it is profoundly true. Get in the office early and you can accomplish task after task before anyone else comes in. Go for an early run and you can be showered up and have breakfast all before 7AM. Wake up while it's dark and be on the road by 6AM - if you have any kind of driving commute you will likely save yourself and hour or more in traffic.

2. Stop watching television. I love a good movie as much as the next guy, but most of the content on television today is a complete 100% waste of time and adds no value to our lives. The news is depressing, the network shows are mostly bad, and if your cable is anything like mine, you have 200 channels and there's never anything on. Instead, spend your time paying bills, going to the grocery store, catching up on e-mails, reading, or doing chores that you would otherwise leave for your valuable weekend time.

3. Do one thing at a time. Somewhere along the way we have all been brainwashed into believing that multi-tasking makes the best use of our time. But I think one of the biggest changes we can make is simply to start doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a fun buzzword, and it gives others the impression that we can handle an over-abundance of responsibilities. But in terms of being the best use of our time? Not so much. Try to prioritize what you need to do in the next 3 or 6 hours. Start with the most important task, focus on it, finish it, and go on to another one.

4. Quit worrying. It's a bad habit, it accomplishes nothing, and it is a waste of time. It sucks up your mental energy and this in turn makes you physically tired. Remember, worry is a habit like any other habit, and you can break it. Keep in mind what Mark Twain said many years ago and it will help you when you catch yourself worrying. "I've lived through many things in my life, some of which actually happened".

5. Limit your inbox time. Email has become an important tool for all of us, and I rely on it as much as you for both personal and business communication. But clicking the send and receive button every 5 minutes doesn't make a lot of sense. It isn't a slot machine, and it's unlikely someone is sending you an e-mail that you won a lottery. So use e-mail as a tool to send relevant messages, and check for responses periodically (once an hour, or once every couple hours). If it requires more immediate attention that this, you may want to consider picking up the phone.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout, surplus and overstock company in business 30 years. We specialize in buying and selling toys, housewares, gifts, home décor, furniture, stationery, and much more.

10 Proven Habits For Being Successful  August 22, 2014

This Year Merchandise USA will celebrate it's 30th year in business. After considerable thought I have compiled a list of the 10 most important things you must do everyday to be a success. Here is how I was able to do it:

1. Don't stop looking over your shoulder. Your competition will leave you in the dust if you take your eye off them. Know what is happening in your industry, and pay close attention to your competition. Do not allow them to be better than you.

2. Work your butt off. Owning your own business doesn't buy you a ticket to days off, vacations or free time. It is a free ride to long days and an unending work load. Embrace it or you will never make it.

3. Stay positive. It's very easy to get beaten down and knocked around. Do whatever is necessary to walk through the door every morning with a good attitude.

4. Get up early. Start your days early and you will find you are much more productive before everyone else gets to work. I find I can get more done in one hour alone, than I can all morning with the distractions of employees and phone calls.

5. Be disciplined. Repetition can be boring but it is also an important part of being successful. Find what works and what is profitable, then repeat the same behavior day after day and year after year.

6. Never, ever, ever give up. Period.

7. Live it, eat it, sleep it. For better or worse I think about my business all the time. I am always working on it and trying to make it run better. I don't get to turn it off - it lives and breathes with me.

8. Change with it. Years ago a friend told me that in business either you move forward or you die. At the time I didn't understand, but now I know what it means. There is no coasting or keeping your business where it is. You must always push for more; otherwise you are dead.

9. Save your money. When you are fortunate enough to experience success save some money. Good times generally don't last forever and it pays off to have a security blanket.

10. Be grateful. If you are fortunate enough to be successful there were likely people in your life who helped you. Maybe it was a hard working employee, perhaps a supportive spouse, possibly a family member who lent you money, someone who mentored you, or maybe all of these. As much as you may think so, you didn't make it alone.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company in business 30 years.

Get In Shape And Improve Your Business  August 10, 2014

I like to refer to myself as a runner but I don't think I have really earned that. Runners take on half marathons, marathons, triathlons, road warrior races and other distances more than I can handle. But I run. It's only 3-4 miles at a time, a few days each week, but it's enough to keep me in pretty good shape and it definitely helps me cope with the everyday stress and aggravation of being in business.

Now I'm no expert, but I can just about promise that if you are out of shape, you can easily improve your business by exercising. You will feel better, gain confidence, improve concentration, and have more stamina. In my opinion these are monster benefits well worth the effort. Finding the time isn't easy, especially when traveling; but if you make it a priority no different from managing employees or paying bills, you will be grateful for the results. Feel better at work, and work gets better.

The nice part about running is you can do it anywhere, anytime. I have run in different cities and numerous countries both morning and night. All you need are running shoes and a cell phone with GPS, and you will always find your way home without worry. Plus it's a great way to challenge yourself with something outside of work. Give it a try and improve the look of your bottom and your bottom line both at the same time.

Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company in business 30 years.

Vegas ASD Closeout Show August 3-6, 2014  July 24, 2014

It's hard to believe, but the ASD show is just around the corner! Merchandise USA has been an exhibitor since 1985, and we have participated in 2-4 shows every year for almost 30 years. Although I have lost track of the exact number, I think this will be our 80th or 81st show. This trade show is a great opportunity for us to see both our regular customers, as well as many overseas accounts who only order from us twice a year when they attend ASD.

As usual, we are well stocked for our customers and our inventory is filled with closeouts and overstocks in all categories including housewares, giftware, handbags, hardware, novelties, home decor apparel and much more. Merchandise USA specializes in buying discontinued and obsolete inventory from import and wholesale companies. We then pass along the big discounts to our customers, who sell product in their stores for up to 75% off regular retail.

Our booth is located in the Las Vegas Convention Center, #SU-711, and If you are interested in learning more about the show please visit the ASD website or contact our office at (773) 579-0600 for details. You can also visit us online at www.merchandiseusa.com

Boy, Have We Bought Some Crazy Closeout Deals  July 5, 2014

When you are in business as long as I have been, you see some interesting things. Here are just a few of the craziest deals we ever bought......

1. Smelly teddy bears. I don't remember the exact time we bought them, but it was a good 20 years ago. I got a call one day from a warehouse in Minnesota that had two containers of teddy bears. These cuddly white bears were huge, soft, adorable and really beautifully made. The problem with them was that when they crossed the ocean, somehow the shipping containers got water in them, and all the bears smelled horrible. The bears never got wet, they just smelled something awful. So I bought them very cheap and had both containers sent to a workshop where they were all removed from their boxes, sprayed with citrus, and allowed to air out for a few days. Then they were re-packed in new plastic, new boxes, and re-palletized. Like nothing ever happened!

2. Scorpions. This one was so amazingly pathetic I can hardly believe it really happened. We had a great deal on a toy called "I Dig Insects". It was a big boxed Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of thing that included a pair of kids goggles, a hammer, a pick, and a fake rock with plastic scorpions encased in it. The idea was for the kid to "excavate" the toy and dig out the scorpions. A real adventure. Until we shipped them all to a large discount chain and I got a call from the panicked buyer that the scorpions crawled out of the cases and were in their warehouse. I tried to explain to her this was impossible, but my argument fell on deaf ears and they returned (at my expense, of course) several hundred cases. In the week or so this drama went on I began wondering if it was possible the factory really used dead scorpions and some survived the trip from China. So when they all came back I immediately had my guys take them outside, open cases, and crack open a bunch of the rocks. Sure enough, they were filled with colorful plastic scorpions. Most likely, since we bought these from a warehouse in hot and humid Florida, some harmless bugs got into the cases and that’s what the buyer saw. The large chain store customer? Out of business.

3. Disappearing soap. It was one of those deals I was really excited about. I mean it had everything going for it - good packaging, great product, cheap price and a large quantity. They were packages of kids soap in the shape of various animals like ducks, bunnies, puppies, etc. Some came one per package, and others came in a multi 5-pack. It took me awhile to get the deal worked out, but eventually it was all finalized and the product was picked up in one 53 foot truck. A few days went by and the soap hadn't shown up, so I contacted the freight broker. Everyday for the next week, we tried to locate the driver and make contact. Nothing. Not a word. At about the same time we finally agreed to put in a claim for the stolen merchandise, the truck showed up. Apparently the driver had a girlfriend somewhere along the way and decided it was a good time for a visit. The best part of the whole story? The soap was a terrible seller and we liquidated it below cost. This story is a gentle reminder of something I often say. Some of the best deals are the ones you never get.

Famous Quotes To Help Stay Motivated  June 22, 2014

If you are like me, sometimes the stress of work, relationships, employees, and life in general can get you down. Every now and then we can all use a little “pick me up”, and I find inspirational quotes from famous sources can really do the trick. Read on to find words of wisdom about life, goals, friendship, determination, overcoming fears, and more.

"In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends" – John Churton Collins
"I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened" – Mark Twain
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them" – Walt Disney
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way" – Napoleon Hill
"Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be" – Eleanor Roosevelt
"It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up" – Vince Lombardi
"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take" – Wayne Gretzky
"You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind" – Proverb
"The only way around is through" – Robert Frost
"Be the change you want to see" – Ghandi


The U.S Economy Is Improving  June 9, 2014

I'm not sure just when and where I noticed it, but the other day I found myself thinking about the economy and actually feeling pretty good about it. Homes and condos in my neighborhood are moving quickly, sellers are getting asking or over-asking prices, and the value of my home seems to be back up to near what it was pre-recession. My family and friends are working again (yes, we are all working harder and making less or the same), but our lives in the "new normal" seem to be moving forward. I read that the National unemployment rate is 6.3% and I'm wondering if there is really something to this.

I see fewer empty storefronts than I have for the past 4-5 years, and the stores feel busy again. I see consumers walking up and down streets carrying shopping bags, restaurants are busy, sports and entertainment venues are booked up again. Automobile manufacturers are experiencing record sales, hotels seem to be busy and although the news tells me something different, all the young kids I know either in college or recently graduated are working.

In our business the demand from the customer side seems to be improving, and the flow of excess and closeout inventory on the supply side is strong. But it's strong in a good way. During the Great Recession we were were buying liquidations because companies were closing and strapped for cash. Today's deals seem to be more about planned inventory turnover, or improved package design for the next generation of a product cycle.

All in all I have to say I'm optimistic for the first time in quite awhile. And it feels good.

How My Dad Helped My Closeout Career  May 8, 2014

In 2012, after a long illness, my Dad passed away at 81 years old. At first I wasn't going to write this blog because I didn't want it to be a "downer". But in thinking about it I decided it would be the opposite, and an appropriate topic for me to share. He was really a good person with a kind heart. I think in the end I can say he was his own worst enemy, and deep down he probably knew this about himself. For years he had anger management and anxiety problems, and for as long as I can remember he battled depression. But the other thing he did as long as I can remember, was take an interest in everything I did. "How is the business", he would ask me. "How are the sales", and the one he always asked first, "Is the money coming in"? He even made the initial contact for me with one of our largest vendors (and now good friend) we still buy from today. I can't recall exactly how many years ago this was, but I do recall the first P.O. being faxed in because there was no e-mail yet.

Then in 1998 I was looking for a warehouse. After I spent what seemed like every waking moment driving streets and talking with realtors, I kept coming up empty and was ready to give up. Everything was either too large or too small, too expensive or in need of too much repair, too far away, not enough office space, too much office space, too old, too new, etc. When my Dad learned I couldn't find what I wanted he began his own search which ultimately lead to us buying one of the buildings we still operate from today.

I'm proud to say I think of my Dad often when running my business. Sometimes when I see a P.O. for that valuable vendor, and sometimes when I park my car in front of the building I bought 15 years ago. But most often I think of him when I am reminded of the good judgment and business sense he taught me. Merchandise USA is a 28 year old company and we specialize in closeouts, liquidations and overstock.

Severe Weather Has Affected The Closeout Business  April 8, 2014

This past winter was not an easy one in the trucking industry. And this made things challenging for all of us in the wholesale closeout business. Getting truckloads in and out of Chicago was unbelievably difficult. Overseas containers were just as hard to get, and the effects still ravage on. Equipment continues to be extremely tight, and although we are told it is all about the harsh winter it doesn't seem to add up. Back in January, when we were told there was no equipment due to weather conditions across the country, it made sense. But I have a difficult time understanding how we are still experiencing shortages from weather 60-90 days ago.

The closeout business relies on the timely movement of inventory. When we buy a good deal, we want to pickup right away and conversely, when we sell inventory we want our orders out as soon as possible. This is the first time in our almost 30 year history where we have had so many completed orders sitting at the dock awaiting pickup. It affects the small customers who consolidate full truckloads in Chicago, as well as the larger International closeout customers who cannot get equipment to move full containers. And if we are lucky enough to get trucks, the rates have skyrocketed to as much as 50% increases.

Unfortunately, I think the effects of all this will painfully register in 2nd quarter retail results, where we may see lower sales and diminished margins. They say Hope springs eternal. Here, here.

Another Successful Closeout Show  March 23, 2014

This past week we exhibited at our 68th ASD Show in Las Vegas. As always, this major trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center was humming with excitement, and we had the opportunity to see many of our long-time customers and friends. Our display was filled with closeouts and overstocks of giftware, home decor, hardware, toys, games, crafts, apparel, housewares, and much more.

The lucky winner of our i-Pad drawing was Glen Guthrie from Dollar Plus in Fort Worth, TX. Glen's appreciation and sincere thanks are well noted, and he made a special point of telling us that in his many trips to Las Vegas, he "ain’t never won nothing". We love you, Glen.

Our next show will be held in River Grove, IL, where we are an active participant in the Midwest Market Days venue. Mark your calendar now and be sure to see us in Chicago May 19-20. Merchandise USA is a 28 year old closeout and liquidation company and we have amazing deals for variety stores, discount stores, supermarkets, export customers, and wholesale distributors.

Advice to My Younger Self About The Closeout Industry  March 2, 2014

Dear Jay,

You are about to embark on the ride of your life. As a young man about to enter the closeout world you have so much energy and drive, I know you will be successful. You are going to experience wild swings like you cannot imagine: amazing days, horrible days, highs, lows, strings of success, and strings of failures. Remember what one of your mentors always told you. He often said "There is no question you will be a success - but know what you are going to do when you get there".

There will be times when the pressure will be so great, you don't think you will be able to carry on. And there will be other times where your business makes you feel so amazing, that it will be better than the high any drug can give you. Here are some of my best suggestions for you as you begin:

1. Try not to let your business define you. Enjoy everyday of life regardless of whether Merchandise USA has a good day or bad.

2. Treat other people well. There is an old saying that goes like this: The people you see on the way up may be the same people you see on the way down.

3. Be grateful in your high moods, and graceful in your low moods. In other words, don't get carried away with your success; remain calm, professional and courteous to others. And the same rules hold true for when you fail.

4. Don't lie, cheat or do anything illegal. There will be some times when it seems everything is going wrong and you can't keep it together. Business stinks, sales are horrible, you aren't getting deals, and you are down in the dumps. Then an unethical or immoral opportunity presents itself, and you start trying to justify it to yourself. Take my advice now - pass and have faith that things will improve because they will.

5. Save your money. I know at your age it is hard to understand, but trust me. Save your money because things change and you never know what may happen. You will be ahead of the game.

6. Take time off. Your heart and soul is going to go into this business, so make sure you plan time along the way for yourself. Take some trips with your family and keep in touch with your good friends. You can have all the money and success in the world, but you have to share it with people.

I can promise you time passes quickly, and before you know it 30 years will go by. When you get to where you are now, take a hard look at everything and steer your ship accordingly. Merchandise USA is a 28 year old wholesale closeout distributor.

How To Land Big Accounts  February 2, 2014

Let's face it, we all want to have more big accounts. Not only do they allow us to move more goods and drive sales, but larger accounts often allow us to grow our business more quickly. But want and desire don't cut it when it comes to playing with the big boys. Here are some helpful tips you can use when trying to catch a whale.

1. Focus. Take some time to carefully research the customers you want to go after. Learn all about them so you have a good understanding of their operation. Become familiar with how they started, learn about their growth and development, have a clear picture of their customer base and how you can add value to what they do. This is your best bet for a successful partnership with them.

2. Look The Part. This means get your act together before you put yourself in front of a new prospect. Be an expert on their competition so you know how you can add to their success; be familiar with their website and know in detail what they sell and how they sell it. If you are selling closeout and overstock inventory, take the time to make a professional presentation including excel spreadsheets, pdf files, photo galleries, etc. Likely your prospective buyer will be a bigger company than you, so their buyers will investigate you. Make sure you are prepared.

3. Be Enthusiastic. Sure it sounds obvious, but don't forget to be excited about your company and your products. You live, breath, eat and sleep your business and it is with you 24/7. But everything you have to offer is brand new to your prospective customer and they don't know the first thing about you. So it needs to come across the way Bruce Springsteen plays Madison Square Garden - like you are making the presentation for the very first time and can't wait to get the word out.

4. Quit Fear. It's easy to feel nervous and uncomfortable when making a presentation to a new account. But fear has no place in the business world, and you must get past it. If you come across and being nervous and afraid, your buyer will think you are nervous and afraid. You may not get the sale or land the big account for other reasons, don't let it be this one.

5. Be Determined. No matter what the outcome, go after another one.

Merchandise USA is a 28 year old distributor of closeout, overstock and excess inventory.

When Is It Time To Fire An Employee?  January 1, 2014

It's surprising how many businesses keep employees who don't show up on time, can’t work a full day, don’t get the job done, talk on their cell phones, etc, etc. Employees aren't perfect and we all experience many of the same problems. But here are some compelling reasons to let them go.

1. Dishonesty. If you believe an employee is stealing from you (time, money, or product) it is time to let them go. In today's business climate it can be very difficult to keep it all together. The last thing any of us need is an employee who not only doesn’t help our bottom line, but takes from it.

2. Lack of Enthusiasm. A successful business must be filled with good energy and enthusiasm. This runs all the way from the top level management down. It runs through the sales team, administration, and distribution. When a team member has no enthusiasm for his/her job, and is simply going through the motions, it is time to let them go.

3. Sexual Misconduct. In recent years this problem has attracted attention, as many cases have been brought forward and employees have been held accountable for their actions. If you believe you have a harassment issue in your workplace, document and investigate as much as you can. Not only is it important to dismiss the responsible employee, but you also want to keep the rest of your team comfortable and prevent the person who was the subject of the discrimination from suing.

4. Incompetent. Let’s face it, some people just don’t get it. If you have an individual who is unable to perform the necessary tasks, you have a responsibility to train him/her. But if you have made a reasonable training effort and they simply don't get it, it's not your problem. Let them go.

5. Negativity. While this trait is not in itself necessarily a reason to fire someone, it can become a real drag on the company, especially in a small workplace. If it escalates to the degree where an employee is gossiping and/or spreading malicious rumors, then it may be cause for termination. But at the very least this employee must be monitored very carefully.

An old friend of mine had a great spin when letting an employee go. He used to tell me he was going to allow them to be successful elsewhere.

How To Avoid Business Burnout  January 1, 2014

class="margin-0px-top">Some of the biggest benefits of being an entrepreneur include financial independence, personal achievement, and turning your dreams into reality. Unfortunately, it's easy to get burned out along the way. Here are 5 tips to avoiding burnout:

1.Delegate. It won't take long before you figure out that as hard as you try, and as much as you may want to control it all, you simply cannot do everything. Let others help you, and you will help yourself.

2. Forget Inbox Zero. You will never finish everything, and if you do - you aren't busy enough. Accept the reality that you will always have some work left at the end of the day. Your inbox cannot and should not be empty.

3. Change Your Routine. Let's face it there is nothing as mundane as a boring routine. Keep you goals in mind, but change your game plan and try new things. Work from home one day, get out and visit a customer or vendor, spend an afternoon working on a new e-mail campaign, etc.

4. Set Boundaries. One of the biggest complaints of self employed individuals is that they are "always working". Only you can set boundaries of when you are available to work, and when you are "off". Set boundaries, honor them, and it will help preserve your drive and enthusiasm.


3 Easy Ways To Improve Cash Flow   December 16, 2013

One of the biggest problems we continue to have today is collections. Any small business today relies on timely payments to keep business running smoothly. Afterall, what good are all the sales if we aren't getting paid and our cash flow doesn't "flow". Here are 3 tips that may help you improve your cash flow and, in turn, allow you to better manage your business:

1. Negotiate special payment terms with key customers. This means anything from offering a 2% cash discount for quick payment, to offering special discounts on future orders and even offering your customer some type of award or bonus program for paying within terms. At the end of the day everyone likes a special perk - even slow paying customers.

2. Factor your receivables. This may be an expensive alternative, but once the customer is approved for shipment you will be paid in a timely manor by your factor. This takes the guess work out of when you will be paid by whom, and assures steady cash flow.

3. Liquidate closeout and overstock inventory. This may seem obvious, but we all have a bad habit of sitting with extra product that can be quickly converted to cash and put to better use. It isn't so much about what we paid for it way back when; it is more about what can we get for it today. If you have inventory to liquidate, contact Merchandise USA today (773) 579-0600. We have been in the closeout business since 1984 and are experts in the field.

Selling Closeouts On-Line  November 30, 2013

One of the biggest growth areas I have seen in our business has been the number of customers who sell our closeouts on-line. When we first started doing business with internet re-sellers, it seemed they only wanted name brand, easily recognizable items. If it wasn't a household name, they didn't want it. So we learned quickly where we could sell our overstock and closeouts that were branded, and, in some cases, were even getting more money for them.

Now things have changed again. Not only do we do business with more on-line sellers, but these customers are willing to try new things. It seems they have learned that anything and everything can be sold on-line. So now if we get closeouts on novelty baby rompers with cute sayings on them, we see them being sold over the internet. Or school locker wallpaper and light up chandeliers. Even a deal we had on plush Koala bears. And why not? If you have shopped on Amazon lately there isn't anything you can't buy.

So in one respect we have opened up a new market in which to do some business. But in another light, the on-line market is taking business away from our everyday brick and mortar customers.

Merchandise USA is a 28 year old wholesale closeout buyer specializing in purchasing excess inventory, overstock and liquidation inventory.

Recovery In The Closeout Industry  November 16, 2013

In many respects, things are looking up. The real estate market has shown huge signs of improvement. I see all types of new construction and conversions in my Chicago neighborhood, and the Southeast and Southwest parts of the country have shown particularly strong growth, with assessed values jumping as much as 50%. Gas prices have been steady and affordable. Inflation has been low and interest rates have remained low, allowing consumers buy homes and make repairs.

But in our business, we are seeing that our retail accounts customers may not be participating in the same kind of rally. As we continue to search out better values on closeouts, liquidations andoverstocks, our customers continue to become more selective. The lower and middle class customers who shop our stores have been through a very challenging period. Although some are in better financial shape than they were a few years ago, they seem to have simply adjusted to buying less.

If you are selling closeouts today, it is more important than ever to be sure you are aggressively priced. If your overstock is any type of discretionary product outside of food or consumables, we are finding it will only sell if we can offer our customers very deep discounts. Selling closeouts today is a lot like selling a house. If you have the right product at the right price, it will sell. But if you have weak product that is overpriced, you are going to have a hard time with it.

Merchandise USA is a closeout specialist in business since 1984, and we are experts when it comes to selling excess inventory and overstocks. We buy closeout housewares, toys, giftware, domestics, sporting goods and much more.

Celebrating 28 Years Of Shared Success  October 30, 2013

This August Merchandise USA will be in business 28 years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers and vendors for their loyal support. Over the past quarter century, the closeout business has changed more than I can begin to explain in this short blog. I have seen my share of companies come and go, but there are a select few customers who have been with us since the very beginning, and to them I would like to give special thanks. And also congratulate them on zigging and zagging their way through years of confusing and difficult changes in business.

As the economy continues to improve and things loosen up, it seems we are seeing more signs of what used to be. Happier customers, better orders, more exciting closeout deals, and more opportunities. It makes me feel good to do business with people who started in business at the same time I did; I know we share common war stories and fought similar battles. But most of all, I can appreciate everything they have gone through to get where they are. Because I traveled down the same road.

Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling overstock, closeout and wholesale liquidations. If you are interested in buying closeouts we have one of the most diverse lines in the industry; if you are interested in selling overstocks and closeouts, we are among the most experienced in the industry.

Top 5 Tips For Selling Closeouts  September 30, 2013

Here is a list of what we believe are the 5 most important things when trying to move your overstock inventory:

1. Get organized. As a closeout buyer for 28 years we have seen just about everything. Be sure you are making an offer to your buyer that is clear and easy to understand. Nothing kills a sale faster than confusing your customer.

2. Get educated. Understand your product line so you can explain to your buyer what you are selling.

Details like quantities, original costs, pallet counts, etc, are important. If you don't know what you have, there is hardly a chance we will be able to figure it out.

3. Use technology. In today's world almost anyone can operate a computer, take pictures from a phone, and generate an excel spreadsheet. Use these advances to put together a simple presentation of your excess stock. Your buyer will be much more likely to respond favorably to your closeout opportunity.

4. Be realistic. It is important to understand that when you contact an overstock buyer like Merchandise USA you are talking to a liquidator. So keep in mind you will only be able to get a fraction of your original wholesale prices. If you are not prepared to offer significant discounts, you would likely be better off selling to your regular customers in small quantities.

5. Be careful. Although there are many very good surplus and closeout companies who have been in business for generations, there are just as many bad ones with poor reputations. We suggest you do your homework before working with a liquidation buyer. Find out how long they have been in business, get references, talk to other vendors who sell them, and be specific about when you should expect payment. Merchandise USA has been an obsolete stock buyer for almost 30 years, and we will be happy to share with you whatever information you need to feel comfortable with us.