One reason inflation has such a strong grip on the U.S. economy is that American consumers continue to spend, seemingly undeterred by the price increases, which has in fact helped to fuel them. Recent memories of being on lock down, wearing masks and not wanting to be around other people have all but completely faded away. Consumers are freely spending money, taking trips, eating out at restaurants and buying things. But how much longer will all that spending last?
The combined impact of federal relief during the earliest months of the pandemic, the soaring stock market that followed and record-low unemployment left consumers flush with cash, prompting many to splurge on everything from homes to new and used vehicles and vacations. But all of that spending helped to create a supply squeeze that led to the price increases Jerome Powell and The Federal Reserve are hell bent (seemingly at any cost) on reducing.
First, they were implicit in creating the problem, now they will make an even bigger mess trying to correct their reckless cash infusions from 2020. At the very beginning of the pandemic we definitely needed help and the first round of stimulus money was necessary – it did a great job of keeping the economy moving. Beyond that, it soon became clear we were giving too much, to too many, too quickly including business PPP money that wasn't properly justified to all that received it.
To counteract the unprecedented demand for goods and services, the Federal Reserve has hiked its key interest rate to a level not seen in years. That has caused the stock market to tank, home price growth to grind to a halt, and interest rates for things like automobiles and credit cards to soar. Thank you Jerome Powell. When the ball is snapped no play happens exactly the way you planned, but this isn't the 1970's and to use an old playbook may turn out to be one of the biggest financial mistakes in decades.
In their formal announcement, officials hinted they may slow the pace of hikes in December, saying they will take into account "the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity" in determining future increases. But Powell, in the press conference that followed, didn’t back away from his hawkish stance, saying the latest economic data suggests the Fed may ultimately move rates to higher levels than it projected in September and that the risk is doing too little rate-hiking, not too much.
In a great article written by Laurence Kotlikoff ,author of Money Magic, he said “Powell should stop pretending the Fed can control inflation and start talking to those who can — America's businesses. And he should stop kowtowing to Larry Summers and listen to Elizabeth Warren, who is dead right at least on this issue. The cost of a recession is far greater than the cost of what appears will be a period of moderate and declining inflation.
In comparing 6 episodes of post WW2 inflation to what is happening today, the period right after World War II potentially provides the most relevant case study. The rapid post-war inflationary episode was caused by the elimination of price controls, supply shortages, and pent-up demand. World War II is likely a better comparison for the current economic situation than the 1970s and suggests that inflation could quickly decline once supply chains are fully online and pent-up demand levels off.
When you listen to the news and the weatherman forecasts a major snowstorm, chances are you don’t completely dismiss it and hope things aren’t as bad as predicted. The same should be true for a recession. The growing consensus among many economists is that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in 2023.
Recessions tend to go hand in hand with major stock market declines and widespread unemployment. Without proper preparation, recessions can irrevocably damage your financial stability. That’s why now is a good time to start planning for what to do in the event of a downturn. Sky-high gas prices, a sketchy housing market, interest rate hikes—it seems as though all signs point to a looming economic downturn. If the economy does land in a recession, making a few smart financial moves now may soothe the sting for you. Revisiting your budget, securing new income streams and cutting expenses are all on the table. Below is a look at how to financially prepare for a recession.
Update your resume. The labor market has been hot for job seekers, but that will change if a recession hits. People have to prepare for less overall job security. With the unemployment rate at all-time highs, it only stands to reason that employment will decrease. It would be smart to update your resume now so you are ready if there are layoffs. Also, if you have considered going back to school to get an advanced degree or improving your work skills, now may be the right time to do it. Additional training will always offer you new opportunities for employment in the future, regardless of good or struggling economic conditions.
Reduce Expenses. Start to look at where you can cut back on your spending. Think about what your budget will need to look like in a worse-case scenario. You have to think about all the possibilities of what may happen in a recession. What if my income goes down? What if my hours get cut at work? What if my car breaks down? What if my rent goes up? What if I need emergency medical care? Start looking at where you are spending your money, and where you can cut back. That new pair of shoes, the latest electronic gadget you just have to have, Starbucks drive through every morning, all those dinners out, etc.
Build up an emergency fund. Most financial advisors recommend having enough savings to cover a minimum or 3-6 months living expenses. That could be worth revisiting depending on your specific circumstances. Personal finance expert and best-selling author Suze Orman has also recommended extra savings, and recently told CNBC she pushes for 8-12 months of expenses. “If you lose your job, if you want to leave your job, that gives you the freedom to continue to pay your bills while you’re figuring out what you want to do with your life,” she said. Many are concerned about falling short: Nearly one-third of Americans have less than three months of expenses in savings, and almost one-quarter have no emergency fund.
Pay down debt. If you are carrying any high-interest-rate debt, start focusing on paying it down, Not only will it help you be prepared if you lose your job, but rates are also expected to move even higher than they already have in response to more rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The national average credit card rate rose above 17% for the first time in more than two years due to the Fed’s most recent increase, according to CreditCards.com. The central bank expects to continue to raise rates for the rest of the year.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has become the latest corporate leader to warn about the state of the economy, cautioning that rougher times are likely ahead. In a tweet posted Tuesday evening, the former president and CEO of the online retailing giant echoed comments that Goldman Sachs Chief Executive David Solomon made to CNBC earlier in the day.
“Yep, the probabilities in this economy tell you batten down the hatches”, Bezos said.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the Federal Reserve lately. Interest rate hikes, inflation, high gas prices, the job market, etc. But what exactly is The Federal Reserve and what does it do? Most of us go through life knowing nothing about this body of government and lead perfectly happy lives. If, however, you are one of the rest of us who want to know what Jerome Powell does, here it is.
The Federal Reserve, or “The Fed”, is the central banking system of the United States. The purpose of the Federal Reserve is to regulate banks, manage the country’s money supply, and implement monetary policy. The Federal Reserve System consists of three entities: The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, 12 regional banks, and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).
The Panic of 1907 spurred President Woodrow Wilson to create the Federal Reserve System. He called for a National Monetary Commission to evaluate the best response to prevent ongoing financial panics, bank failures, and business bankruptcies. Congress then passed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
Congress originally designed the Fed to "provide for the establishment of Federal Reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.
Congress created the Fed's board structure to ensure its independence from politics. Board members serve staggered terms of 14 years each. The president appoints a new one every two years, and the U.S. Senate confirms them. If the staggered schedule is followed, then no president or congressional party majority can control the board. he Fed's independence is critical. With autonomy, the central bank can focus on long-term economic goals, making decisions based solely on economic indicators.
Manage inflation: This is the Fed's most visible function. As part of this function, the Fed also promotes maximum employment and ensures interest rates remain moderate over time. Supervise the banking system: The Fed supervises and regulates the nation’s largest banks and enacts laws to protect consumers. Maintain the stability of the financial system: It maintains the stability of the financial markets and constrains potential crises. Provide banking services: The Fed provides services to other banks, the U.S. government, and foreign banks.
Member commercial banks own the Federal Reserve by holding shares of the 12 Federal Reserve banks. This ownership doesn't give them any power because they can't vote. The president, U.S. Treasury Department, and Congress don't ratify the Fed's decisions, although the board members are selected by the president and approved by the Senate. This gives elected officials control over the Fed's long-term direction but not its day-to-day operations.
The Federal Reserve chair sets the direction and tone of both the Federal Reserve Board and the FOMC. Chairman Jerome Powell, a Fed board member, began his term as chair on Feb. 5, 2018.
The previous chair was Janet Yellen, who subsequently became the Secretary of the Treasury. Her term ran from 2014 to 2018. Yellen's biggest concern was unemployment, which made her more likely to want to lower interest rates. Ironically, she was the chair when the economy required contractionary monetary policy. Ben Bernanke served as chair from 2006 to 2014. He was an expert on the Fed's role during the Great Depression, which helped him take steps to end the 2008 financial crisis. This helped keep the economic situation from turning into a depression.
The Federal Reserve has a significant impact on the lives of all Americans. The press scrutinizes the Federal Reserve for clues on how the economy is performing and what the FOMC and board of governors plan to do about it. The Fed directly affects your stock and bond mutual funds, as well as your loan rates. By having such an influence on the economy, the Fed also indirectly affects your home's value and even your chances of being laid off or rehired.
After two years of yo-yo economic conditions, the Federal Reserve is trying to cool off inflation without tipping the nation into a recession. The buzz term for that is a “soft landing,” and that's the goal for the rest of this year, at least. Anything is possible, but this may be a nearly impossible goal to achieve.
The tumult began with the flash-crash recession when the pandemic broke out in early 2020. Massive job losses ensued, followed by stimulus checks and Payroll Protection Program loans flowing everywhere. The stock market surged with all of that money floating around, Gross Domestic Product boomed, housing prices have gone through the roof in some markets, and unemployment is at its lowest level in 50 years.
The problem is that inflation has jumped as well, putting pressure on the central bank to tamp it down through a soft landing. Think of a jetliner hitting the tarmac smoothly, or at least with an impact no more jarring than a bump that causes a few bags to tumble from overhead bins.
The Federal Reserve will likely soon learn what gymnasts already know: sticking a landing is hard.
With inflation surging to a new 40-year high and continuing to accelerate, the Fed is expected just increased interest rates by another three-quarter basis points. This was the third of seven planned rate hikes in 2022, as the Fed tries to cool consumer demand and slow rising prices.
By raising interest rates, the central bank is hoping to achieve a proverbial “soft landing” for the U.S. economy, in which it’s able to tame rapid inflation without causing unemployment to rise or triggering a recession. The Fed and professional forecasters project that inflation will recede to below 3% and unemployment will remain under 4% in 2023.
Recent research, however, suggests that engineering a soft landing is highly improbable and that there is a significant likelihood of a recession in the not too distant future. Inflation is fundamentally caused by too much money chasing too few goods. We saw this first hand this Summer in the closeout business, where a shortage of inventory pushed prices up. The discount and overstock inventory market is not immune to these problems, as we see higher prices and softening consumer demand affecting sales.
In the short run, the supply of goods in the economy is more or less fixed – there is nothing that fiscal or monetary policy can do to change it – so the job of the Fed is to manage total demand in the economy so that it balances with the available supply.
When demand runs too far ahead of supply, the economy begins to overheat, and prices rise sharply. In retrospect, measures of overheating - such as strong demand growth, diminishing inventories and rising wage - began to show in the economy throughout 2021. But a new operating framework that the Fed adopted in August 2020 prevented the Fed from taking action until sustained inflation was already apparent. This case of “too little, too late” allowed the economy to run hot for too long.
As a result, the Fed is way behind the curve today in responding to an overheating economy. To bring down surging inflation, the Fed will now try to raise interest rates to curb consumer demand.
The resulting increase in borrowing costs can help slow economic activity by discouraging consumers and businesses from making new investments. But it would come at the risk of causing major economic disruptions and pushing the economy into a recession. This is the soft landing: Interest rates rise and demand falls enough to lower inflation, but the economy keeps growing.
The history of engineering soft landings is not encouraging. With possibly only one exception, every time the Fed has hit the brakes hard enough to bring down inflation in a meaningful way, the economy has gone into recession.
Online sales grew by a staggering 50% during the pandemic. E-Commerce sales were $870 billion in the US in 2021, a 14.2% increase over 2020 and a 50.5% increase over 2019. E-Commerce represented 13.2% of all retail sales in 2021 in the US. This growth was one of many unexpected consequences of a global pandemic that changed the way we live.
The fastest growth category of online sales over the past two years were furniture, building materials, and electronics which cumulatively grew more than 200% since 2019. Food and beverage e-commerce grew 170%, representing 9.6% of all grocery sales in 2021 according to eMarketer. Apparel was one of the few categories of e-commerce to grow slower than the industry average at 39%.
It is expected that digital sales will cross $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. Prior to the pandemic, nobody expected ecommerce reaching this milestone until 2024. It’s not surprising that ecommerce skyrocketed in 2020 as consumers turned to their devices for their grocery, apparel, and home furnishing purchases. The convenience of ecommerce, combined with this change in consumer behavior, reflects a stronger demand for online shopping throughout the pandemic.
TTech-savvy consumers looking for quick, seamless purchasing options will continue to lean on ecommerce throughout the next few years—and more consumers will jump on the bandwagon. The current forecast is for US retail ecommerce sales to grow 16.1%, reaching $1.06 trillion in 2022.
Amazon’s influence in the ecommerce space is unmatched. The online retailer boasts nearly 40% of all US ecommerce sales. Its US online sales will grow by 15.3% this year, reaching more than $3.6 billion. Amazon’s fastest growing category this year will be food and beverage, with a nearly 25% increase in ecommerce sales year over year. With Amazon dominating the online grocery space, it’s digital grocery footprint will continue to propel the company forward in the ecommerce industry.
Even with interest hikes and inflation still setting records, the year ahead will likely bring about digital milestones sooner than expected. US ecommerce sales may cross $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. Worldwide, it is estimated that ecommerce sales will reach $5 trillion in 2022 and $6 trillion by 2024.
After two years of the pandemic, retailers now face a new major challenge – keeping consumer prices down to remain competitive, while offsetting the impact from rising costs across their own product lines and supply chains. Discount lines may be something we see more of, but it’s not sustainable in the long term. Rather, the customer experience will be more critical than ever for retailers. Consumers are anxious when making purchasing decisions due to the economic headwinds, so creating an effortless experience must be top priority. A key part of this will be keeping up efforts to digitize supply chains – not just for cost efficiencies, but also to build up consumer confidence, which will ultimately help to bolster their purchase decisions.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling overstock inventory, closeouts, liquidation inventory and slow moving products. We have been in the surplus inventory space for more than 37 years and we carry pet product closeouts, liquidations of housewares and home décor as well as surplus lawn and garden products, giftware, toys and sporting goods closeouts.
Experts are warning China’s recent string of COVID-19 lock downs is about to send another shock through global supply chains. As anyone in the import or closeout business already knows, we have been dealing with the painful affects of 2020 shutdowns in China's major cities and ports. Import containers that used to cost $3,500 are now $20,000 (at one point they were as high as $30,000). This expensive and hard-to-get equipment has become the new normal. Can things actually get worse? Some sources say yes.
According to Reuters, at least 370 million people in China have been affected by the most recent wave of lock downs. China has a strict “zero tolerance” policy toward Covid-19 and their President will do everything necessary to eliminate all cases. While the Western world has taken a “learn to live with Covid” approach, China is not willing to accept this and as infections rise, shutdowns spread. The strict shutdowns in China have left many without food and medication, hurting an already weak economy and prompting a warning of possible global shock waves. China's President Xi said “Prevention and control work cannot be relaxed. Persistence is victory.” The closures are an embarrassment to the ruling Communist Party and a setback for official efforts to shore up slumping growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
The shutdowns which started in March could cause massive supply chain disruptions across the globe. Think automobiles, cell phones, consumer supplies, etc. Simply put, manufacturers in the West will not receive the components necessary to complete the production of enough finished goods to meet consumer demand. In turn, this could boost inflation from already too-high levels and limit economic growth for the rest of 2022 and even well into 2023 and beyond.. As imports coming into the United States slow down, it will affect distributors inventory and 3PL warehouse activity (including new warehouse construction). Eventually this will further impact inventory levels for closeouts and excess inventory.
The effects on the West’s supply chain from China’s strict COVID-19 control measures should begin to be felt in North America soon. One impact could be an incremental slowing of the economy. Normally, such a slowing would cause inflationary pressures to moderate, but the opposite appears to be the case this time. Any incremental slowing of the economy will be due to imported goods that are in short supply. The prices of those goods are likely to rise, fanning the strong inflationary forces already in place.
It isn't only bad news for the U.S. consumer. China’s retail sales fell by 3.5% in March versus a year ago. Since many observers believe that any statistic released by China must be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism, the posting of such a large negative comparison is noteworthy. In other words, it is likely the decrease is much worse.
According to one research firm, All but 13 of China’s 100 biggest cities by economic output are under some form of restrictions, The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China estimates the volume of cargo handled by the Shanghai port, the worlds busiest, has fallen by as much as 40%. Restrictions on areas that produce the worlds smartphones, consumer electronics and other goods have prompted forecasters to cut expectations for this years economic growth by more than 3%.
Merchandise USA is an inventory liquidator and buyer for excess inventory. We specialize in purchases of overstock inventory, distressed merchandise and closeouts of housewares, toys, sporting goods home goods and closeout pet products.
It feels a little like a bad dream. We finally reach a point where the end of COVID is in sight and before we even come up for air, there is a whole new set of problems to worry about. Hospital stays are down, severe illness has decreased dramatically, death rates are dropping. Mask mandates have been lifted almost everywhere, friends are gathering together in restaurants, kissing each other, people are shaking hands and we are finally beginning to feel like human beings again. Spring is in the air, communities are filled with hope and life is good! Well, sort of. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has created a raging war in Eastern Europe. Pakistan and India are experiencing continued instability and remain at odds with one another. It is very possible China may invade Taiwan in the near future. And we can't forget about our good friends in North Korea launching it’s biggest long range ballistic missiles test ever, just last week. Seriously, what in the world is going on?
Unfortunately, the answer is everything. Everything in the world is going on. And that's the problem. We live in a world where there are a lot of moving parts and a great deal of International conflict. Peace in one region, fighting in another. World leaders and governments seemingly working things out, but underlying issues eventually bubbling to the surface. For me, it's been a long time since I felt threatened on a National security level. Sure, I understand the streets of Chicago aren't as safe as they once were and you have to be aware and keep your eyes open. Carjackings are commonplace now and, sadly, even shootings have become an accepted part of our culture. But what I'm currently feeling is even more unsettling. The last time I remember having emotions anything like this was more than 20 years ago, living through 9/11 and the events that followed.
Conflicts halfway around the world are real issues for those of us living in the United States and anywhere else on the planet. From an economic standpoint at the very least, we are faced with $5.00 - $6.00 plus per gallon gasoline and nearly 10% inflation, seemingly out of control like a runaway train. But from a more geopolitical standpoint we live in a world where we are forced to co-exist with maniacal world leaders and their followers. Some of whom have the capacity to make irreversible nuclear decisions that would change the world as we know it. The U.S. was recently warned by Russia's Vladimir Putin that “your sanctions are akin to an act of war”. And even worse when he warned Western nations that any interference with what he calls Russia's “special military operation” in Ukraine would be met with “consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.
I feel like we are living in a DC Comics movie with Lex Luther and Doctor Sivana. But the truth is if any nation chooses to use nuclear weapons, it will be the end of civilization as we know it. Last week India accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan. This was a mistake, but it raises some undeniably frightening and unthinkable possibilities. Even a constrained exchange of nuclear warheads between the two nations would, in a split second, be among the most calamitous ever, notwithstanding the risk of the radioactive aftermath and the long-term impact on the environment, our planet and the path forward for everyone on Earth.
For the past 2 years we lived everyday with the fear of a pandemic. We washed our hands, wore masks, worked from home, isolated from each other, and we were told this was the "new normal". In hindsight and in light of current events, that may not have been so terrible. I don't know if I'm ready to live everyday with an even more disturbing and almost impossible to grasp “new normal”. One that is much worse than just getting COVID. The realization that some of the 15,000 nuclear missiles around the world are aimed at my city and airport.
A good friend of mine recently commented “the world is broken”. For me, that pretty much nailed it. Every business I know needs workers but can’t find help. Inflation is screaming out of control (they tell us it is 7% but if that’s true why does a $100 trip to the grocery store cost $150?) I’m not too smart, but that adds up to 50% more, not 7%. News broadcasters cry that the stock market is tumbling (it’s gone from 2 years of record highs, day after day, to dropping 9%) and investors are already in a panic. Container loads of product are getting looted while still on the rail, crime is through the roof in every major city, carjackings have become an accepted part of our lives, people threaten to take down airplanes over mask mandates, TicTok is a leading form of entertainment, the shoulder has become a new lane on the highway, (fill in the blank for just about anything else). Really WTF is going on?
What’s going on is we have a new normal, so fasten your seat belt and get used to it. Oh wait, I didn’t even mention that we have to deal with the constant threat and anxiety that when this current Covid strain eventually runs it’s course there just might be another one – possibly an even worse one – right behind it. Good times!
So I say it’s time to stop waiting for a return to how things used to be, and get used to the way things are. Here are some changes I believe we all must make if we want to adapt to what is going on and get back to our lives.
Quit The Worry Habit. Worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life. It’s natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming job interview, or a first date. But “normal” worry becomes excessive when it’s persistent and uncontrollable. You worry every day about “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, you can’t get anxious thoughts out of your head, and it interferes with your daily life. Figure out how to finally, once and for all, stop the worrying.
Live In The Present. Live in the moment where being present allows you to enjoy life. Life isn’t meant to be lived in the deep corners of your mind. You can find so much joy, purpose, and meaning in life by focusing on the present moment. Living in the present allows you to notice the little moments and things that bring you joy.
Focus On One Thing At A Time. Your brain isn’t actually capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time. What really happens during multitasking is that you start and stop in the middle of tasks, switching, and then repeat the process all over again. It might feel like you are doing multiple things at once, but that’s not the case. Think of your car, and how much starting and stopping wears at the engine and brakes. Similar wear and tear is happening to your brain in terms of ability to concentrate, stay focused as a habit, and manage stress.
Be Kind To Others. Sometimes we forget that there are others who need our help. When we give to others we come away with a sense of satisfaction that can’t be replicated. Think of a time you’ve been there for someone and you will remember that feeling. Make this notion of serving others part of your weekly routine. You will be providing a life change for two people – you and the recipient of your kindness.
Show Gratitude. Gratitude can be used as a tool for happiness and good health. Take some time every day to write down your messages of gratitude and see what happens. Many experts on the laws of the universe say that when you make a statement of gratitude you get more of what you are grateful for. So if you state – “I am so grateful for my good health” – you will get more good health. Happiness and good health are intertwined – you get one then you have the other within your reach.
Exercise. Research shows exercise makes people happier than money. An Oxford and Yale study found regular exercise boosts your mental health more than a nice salary. There are five key benefits of exercise on your health and mind. Physical activity improves your memory and thinking. You’ll feel a sense of achievement, reduce your anxiety, heighten your mood, and increase your energy with a vigorous workout. Yet, over 80% of adults don’t meet government guidelines for exercising 30 minutes a day. Exercise helps you relieve your stress and lift your spirit. To be happier, make physical activity an integral part of your lifestyle.
Merchandise USA is a closeout liquidator in business more than 37 years. We specialize in buying closeouts, overstock and obsolete inventory in all consumer categories including housewares, home décor, toys, sporting goods, baby and infant products, pet products and lawn and garden merchandise. If you have inventory to get rid of, make us your number one choice.
We hosted a COVID vaccination event in our school. With the contributions of many members of our school family and greater connected community, we were able to provide vaccinations for 415 children and adults.
I would like to begin my thanks with the event leadership of Litcy Kurisinkal, our LSC Chair and the team of Nada Riley, Carmen Gioiosa, and Nora Joseph. They put in countless hours making sure this event went smoothly. I was impressed by their resolve and determination that resulted in such a well-run clinic.
Next, I would like recognize the following parent volunteers: FOL Treasurer Gisela Attlan, Girl Scout Leader Kim Shaw, Emily Schaffer, Samita Tiwari, Kruti Zaveri, Marshall Reiffsteck, First grade room parent Jacqueline Menager, Violet Quigley, Nora Gainer, Lori Timmins, Saman Creel, Suma Ashwin Rao, Godfrey Aikins, Eileen Lee, Michael Martineau, Crystal Amoah, Room Parent Co-Chair - Rutu Bole, LSC Budget Chair Melissa Macek and LSC Communication Chair Radhika Dani. I would also like to thank students Nicholas Lee, Awais Mohammad, Galen Solomon, and our own eighth grader Bébhinn Doherty. I feel very fortunate that Lincoln School has such a dedicated community.
I am sending out a big thank you to our school-based staff who helped make this event a success. Mr. Love, our Assistant Principal, was on duty all day. Mr. Jensen, 8th grade teacher, helped for several hours. Our security guards, Brandon Feggins and JC Cervantes contributed their skills for the day. The custodians Alana Adams, Jose Medina, Ernestina Alcantara, and Maria Rivera kept our school spotless throughout the day. The school Engineer Rosie Johnson was also on hand to support the vaccination drive. For all, truly an example of going above-and-beyond!
What really made our event stand apart were the personal touches throughout the day. As the children entered, they were able to select from a variety of toys donated by Jay and Jane Lazar of Merchandise USA, close family friends of the Joseph-Pierce family. These toys greatly helped the children pass the time at the clinic. Additionally, ‘Breezer’, a therapy dog handled by Kim (Lincoln Class of 2001), made her rounds comforting the children as only a big friendly dog can. A special shout out to the local restaurants Cilantro Taco Grill and Philz Coffee for their donated food and coffee for the clinic’s medical staff.
Of course I am especially grateful to Dr. Raj Iyengar, the medical provider Instavaxx, and the medical staff for establishing a professional atmosphere for our COVID vaccination clinic. Finally, I would like to thank Alderman Michelle Smith and McKay Murphy at the Ward 43 office for advocating so strongly on our behalf.
This is a day that I will remember favorably for many years to come. My favorite quote of the day was from one freshly vaccinated child to her friend sitting across the table when she said, “This is the best COVID vaccination clinic I’ve ever been to!”
There's an old saying in the stock market “the trend is your friend”. Can this also be true in warehousing? If so, the trend says get out of your current warehouse situation and move operations to a 3PL. At the end of the day it may be cheaper, more efficient and less stressful than doing it the old way.
3PL warehouses are flourishing and it seems they are being built everywhere. These huge buildings are new homes to companies the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair and other ecommerce companies. And with the huge onslaught coming of goods stuck offshore on freight ships, there appears to be a real shortage of quality warehousing in the United States.
Third-party logistics (3PL) services allow companies to outsource operational activities like warehousing and delivery. By outsourcing logistics, your business has more time and resources to dedicate to sales, marketing, growth and product development. This may be a challenge for those of us in the closeout and overstock business, because our model does not lend itself well to outsourcing. Closeouts require constant attention to detail and monitoring which may not be possible with 3PL's. When importers and wholesalers want to get rid of dead inventory, their shipments can often be messy, complicated, ship from various warehouses, and require additional labeling or rework that would be challenging for an outside warehouse.
However, companies that do direct import or handle original factory cartons direct from wholesalers are good candidates to consider storing inventory at an outside location. Many 3PLs integrate directly with major ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce. As soon as an order is placed on your online store, the details are passed on to a 3PL’s warehouse or fulfillment center then, the order is picked, packed, and shipped to the customer from the warehouse.
We are getting more and more calls from 3PL companies in need of selling excess inventory because their customers have either abandoned inventory or are shutting down their 3PL warehouse. These companies often allow the 3PL to dispose of unwanted inventory so they can stop paying warehouse fees. When a warehouse contacts us they expect to get rid of the inventory in a timely manner so they can either bring in different inventory from new suppliers, or simply sell closeouts and old inventory that has been sitting in the warehouse for a long time. As 3PL warehouses grow and take on more clients, there will be a percentage of them that fail and are forced to get rid of excess inventory that isn't profitable. Warehouse space is valuable and storing dead inventory costs too much money.
Since they warehouse and ship your products for you, a 3PL can take inventory management off your plate. This includes tracking inventory levels, ordering and restocking inventory, and forecasting future demand. Many 3PLs offer built-in inventory management software to streamline and automate the process. Good inventory management software allows you to prepare for various levels of demand and sales by monitoring trends and historical patterns. Again, this may not be the best system for closeout sellers because it tends to be like trying to put a puzzle together without having all the pieces. Companies that specialize in liquidating inventory may be better off having their own dedicated closeout warehouse.
Third-party fulfillment is the most popular fulfillment solution among direct-to-consumer brands with medium-high order volumes. They offer several benefits in the form of time savings, high-quality service, and reduced shipping costs. They can also scale their operations, expanding their services as your brand grows bigger. At Merchandise USA, we are buying an increased amount of closeout inventory from 3PL's that manage both e-commerce and brick and mortar inventory. There are many reasons distributors need to get rid of 3PL inventory, but it is generally about excess inventory that is selling slowly and expensive warehousing costs for merchandise that isn't profitable.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling excess inventory, closeouts and obsolete goods. We have been closeout buyers and liquidation specialists for 37 years and we work with businesses who are shutting down their 3PL warehouses.
Depending on how the calendar falls, sometimes there are a few extra shopping days during the Christmas Holiday. But this year we're going to have an especially long selling season. That's because Holiday shopping has already started, and for proof all you have to do is walk into any Costco. Christmas trees, toys, Winter apparel and more. It feels like the day after Thanksgiving.
Retailers are warning against last minute shopping because there likely won't be anything left. Lockdowns and anxiety from the pandemic lead to pent up demand and historically high savings rates. When the economy began opening up again, consumer demand outpaced China's ability to load and ship containers. Today's work environment and lack of port employees in the U.S. Has lead to the largest bottleneck of imported goods in history.
There are still containers of Holiday and Christmas goods that haven't even left China. There is little chance these will make it here in time, and not even a good chance much of the freight already on the water will get here to make a difference. This is good news for closeout companies that have warehouses with inventory in them. We are seeing increased demand from our retail, wholesale and online customers for goods.
An inventory squeeze could frustrate shoppers; 82% of retail executives surveyed are somewhat or very concerned about inventory shortages, according to a new survey by KPMG, and 55% surveyed plan to set up alternate suppliers. "I can't remember a time when the concern about inventory was that significant," said Scott Rankin, National advisory leader for the consumer and retail team for the KPMG US Advisory practice in Boston.
This year, retailers are voicing early concerns about how they're going to stock shelves as they combat truck driver shortages, supply chain disruptions, congestion at the ports and the shortage of shipping containers. Some toy makers are sounding the alarm and warning consumers about the possibility of empty spots on shelves during parts of the season. MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian, whose company owns LOL Surprise! and Rainbow High dolls,told CNN Business "There is going to be a major shortage of toy products this year”.
FedEx Ground continues to experience significant package volumes due to the explosive growth of e-commerce brought on by the onset of COVID-19. This does not bode well for online shoppers and, again, creates a compelling reason for earlier than usual Christmas shopping.
At the time of this writing more than 65 vessels are queuing in San Pedro Bay outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle 40 per cent of all cargo containers entering the nation. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was rare for more than one to wait to dock at the ports.
Merchandise USA has been in the closeout business for 35+ years. We specialize in helping companies liquidate overstock, surplus and excess inventory.
I started this closeout company while I was in my final year of college at N.I.U. To give you some perspective, that was in 1985 and long before Facebook, Twitter or Amazon were even a twinkle in their founders eyes. It’s been an amazing run and a wild ride, but since the pandemic began this game has now changed again, and in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Hardly anything about buying and selling closeouts remains the same as it was 18 months ago. It’s painful, challenging, frustrating, exhausting and at times even downright depressing. Today it can be especially difficult to see past all the problems we face in business. But even with everything we’ve been through there are things I still love about this industry. Just as much as I did 35 years ago.
1. The People. This has to be the #1 thing for me that never changed In fact, as time went on and I met more customers and business associates, many of them became close personal friends. As it turns out today, many of my best friends and people I talk to the most, are the individuals I met because of Merchandise USA. I can honestly say that the huge majority of our customers are the same people we would choose to be with on a personal day off. I have met people who I now talk to either daily or weekly, I have attended their families weddings, parties, graduations and funerals. There are some cases where it has gone even beyond this; We have made friends not only around the country, but around the world, who have invited us to visit and stay in their homes. In hindsight, this is truly one of the greatest gifts the closeout business gave me.
2. The Adrenaline Rush. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like finding a great deal or making a huge sale. There is an adrenaline rush probably similar to that of a drug, where it’s just such a great high you can’t explain it unless you’ve personally experienced it. Finding a good deal that you know your customers will appreciate and make money with validates your purpose as a closeout buyer. Selling that same inventory gives you a sense of accomplishment to know you have made a good deal and also made money at the same time. Closeouts are funny; when you sell a great deal you can actually feel like you made a gift to your customer.
3 The Independence. I think you can always make money buying and selling closeouts. As long as we live in a world where goods are changing hands, being imported, bought and sold, there will always be opportunities to take advantage of buying excess inventory and liquidations. Now, things may not be the same as they once were, and you may have to figure out how to do business in our “new normal”, but it can be done. I believe if you have the ability to understand the retail market and have knowledge of products and import costs, you will be able to identify profitable overstock and closeout opportunities. At the end of the day, the right item at the right price will always sell.
4. The Merchandise. It’s still fun looking at all the different merchandise we get to work with. I tell people, when you are in the overstock and closeout business, everyday is a new day. Today we may be buying coffee pots and garden hoses, but tomorrow might be basketballs and hammers. It keeps things interesting and the variety helps make things unique and fresh. The thought of having spent 35 years on the same job, or at the very least having to sell one line or product, would have been most uneventful. When you think about all the different categories of closeouts we buy, you can imagine how it offers us an opportunity to stay engaged.
5. The Challenge. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. I guess when you run a small closeout business it’s just part of your DNA to be driven, and to want your company to be the best it can be. The problem is when it becomes so much to overcome that the work load feels like a chore and a burden. All the administrative paperwork and bureaucracy can feel overwhelming and get in the way of the “fun part” of the business.. For me that “fun part” is the challenge of developing relationships, finding good closeouts, and having an opportunity to make money while doing it.
Merchandise USA has been in business more than 35 years and we can help if you are trying to figure out where to sell excess inventory or how to liquidate merchandise. We are closeout buyers ready to buy your discontinued and overstock inventory of all kinds. You can count on us if you need to dispose of slow moving inventory.
As if just having lived through a global pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, we are now faced with shortages of raw materials, lack of overseas shipping containers, unbelievably high freight rates, an inability to hire employees and fear of inflation. The best part is while all this is happening we are also seeing consumer demand spike to levels not seen since The Roaring 20’s.
For starters, it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever – typically nothing good or bad. So what this means is that today’s environment will likely change in another 6-12 months. Hopefully it will be for the better and we will navigate our way through these challenging times. Next, keep in mind that you can only do so much and you can’t change the world or all the crazy things that seem to be happening in it. All you can do is work as hard and smart as you can to alter the things you have the ability to change. The cost of lumber or the price to import an overseas shipping container would not be good examples.
For those of us in the distribution business, today’s times are particularly difficult because closeout and overstock inventory levels are directly related to the strength of the economy and the ability to buy and sell finished goods. Presently all aspects of distribution are being affected and are under pressure. Shipping costs for overseas containers have increased five-fold from what they were only 1 year ago, and even those containers that ship are often stuck in rail yards for weeks once they arrive. Actually getting a local trucking company to be able to pull containers from the yard has become a monster challenge.
The good news is there is consumer demand; so this means the right products at the right prices are easy to sell. As much as a challenge as shipping and distribution has become, the part of the equation that has become easier than it used to be is simply selling closeout merchandise. This unprecedented demand for everyday consumables is strong and the buying public has discretionary income they are willing to spend. This is the result of many things including pent up demand, higher savings rates, and low unemployment. It can be frustrating at times because we are not able to take advantage of a positive selling environment. Receiving product is slow and the turnaround time in shipping schedules has increased to the point where it sometimes feels as if we are moving through quicksand.
The best news is if we compare these current times to The Roaring 20’s, we may have many years of strong growth ahead of us. The key to making the growth sustainable will be managing everything else.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer in business more than 35 years. We specialize in helping companies through their closeout process when selling surplus merchandise, excess inventory, canceled orders and overstock liquidations. We have been in business more than 35 years.
There is a pretty long list of things you can do to help sell excess inventory if you are cleaning out your warehouse or even closing a company and liquidating. For those of us who sell closeouts for a living and distribute wholesale closeouts everyday, we zig and zag through all the do’s and dont’s in hopes of getting it right most of the time. But if you are new to the closeout process, here is what NOT to do.
1. Don’t wait too long. If you wait to long to get rid of old merchandise it loses some of it’s appeal. Old merchandise looks old and no longer has that fresh look. There is just something about it that tends to get drab and blah. If you have wholesale closeouts to get rid of, try to identify the items you want to sell off and put them up for sale quickly. It makes it really hard to sell closeouts that have been laying around in the warehouse for 10 years because the look, well, 10 years old. It is always best to sell excess inventory while the product is new and fresh. Closeout buyers and overstock buyers will also pay more for better goods.
2. Don’t Overprice. The idea is to get rid of old merchandise so price it appropriately. Today’s closeout companies are only interested if the price is right. This means if you want to sell excess inventory it is like selling a house. You have to offer it to the market at the right price in order to move it. Price it too high and it will just sit there. Overstock buyers are only interested in acquiring inventory when they can make a profit, and this means they have to sell closeouts to discount buyers above their cost. So in order to give customers a deal these goods have to be priced right. Keep this in mind when selling excess inventory.
3. Don’t Ignore The Problem. Excess inventory is a natural by-product or running any kind of distributing or wholesale closeouts company. If you don’t have leftover, discontinued and surplus inventory, you may not be doing enough and buying enough. In business, you are bound to make mistakes leading to some situations where you have to sell excess inventory. But if you ignore the signs of slow moving inventory, it doesn’t take long before your warehouse is jammed up with dead merchandise. You definitely don’t want to get in this situation where there is so much obsolete stock on hand that sales slow down and business suffers. Although it is a leap and not likely, this can lead to a situation where you may be faced with closing your company and liquidating. So get rid of overstock inventory while it still looks good.
4. Don’t Go Crazy. When searching for wholesale closeouts, closeout websites or overstock buyers, there are probably more options that you need. If you are closing your company and liquidating, you may want to spend more time aligning yourself with a business consultant who can help you navigate uncharted waters of having to shut down your warehouse and close. But if you are just looking for closeout buyers who can help you liquidate some inventory, pick a few options and run with it. Most closeout websites list overstock buyers for you to contact and for the most part, they should all offer about the same amount. You might eek out a little more from one closeout buyer vs another, but if it takes an extra month of sending samples and tying up valuable warehouse space, it may not be worth the additional effort.
If you are trying to sell excess and surplus inventory without disrupting your normal distribution channels, you may have to think outside the box. This means it might be time to consider shipping your product out of the country where it won’t come back to haunt you. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of all your closeouts, discontinued merchandise and old inventory that doesn’t sell anymore? Sure it would. But what if it ends up in a dollar store located in the same strip mall as one of your best customers? Not so great. What’s the solution? Consider selling your closeouts offshore into a secondary market. Here are some helpful tips on how to get started and liquidate your inventory once and for all.
1. New Showrooms. Research, research, research. Before you do anything you have to think about what new market you want to tackle. To simply say “overseas” is not helpful because it is much too broad. Think about your product mix and where it would sell best. For example, we decided to open a new showroom in Miami because we determined South America and Central America could both be good markets for buying closeouts and discontinued merchandise. We have been building sales in these regions by working with closeout buyers from Panama, Belize, Guatemala, Bolivia and Trinidad. Although it has take a significant amount of work and patience, we have been successful. I am pleased to say we have developed a loyal overseas customer base for buying our excess inventory and closeouts of housewares, sporting goods, luggage, home decor, lawn and garden, and all other deals on consumer closeouts and excess stock.
2. Global Trade shows. There are usually some International Trade shows for every industry. As our trade continues to expand around the world and become a global economy rather than just a domestic one, more and more wholesalers and distributors want to have a global reach. To meet this demand, many trade show organizers are now expanding their marketplaces to excess inventory buyers in other countries. Most of the larger shows in the closeout industry are now designed to attract either just foreign customers, or they are a hybrid for both domestic and overseas closeout buyers. As the global economy continues to boom there is a huge demand for closeouts, discontinued merchandise and liquidation inventory around the globe. Trade shows can be one of the best ways to take advantage of this opportunity and find new ways to get rid of excess inventory and extra stock.
3. International Marketplaces. There are many different online marketplaces where you can list closeouts for sale and post them for closeout buyers to find. Again, these do reach out to domestic buyers but they also continue to develop an overseas customer base. Many of these are membership sites where you pay an annual fee which will allow you to list an unlimited number of closeouts for sale. Some of them are closeout websites where they act as a 3rd party seller for you and they handle the listings. Since there are closeout buyers in most regions of all countries, these sites can be particularly helpful because they cast a wide net and reach a large audience. Recently, buyers for discount stores and variety stores have become accustomed to buying excess inventory from closeout companies in the United States. This makes the process of finding these customers easier because you are tapping into an existing market. We used to only rely on closeout buyers in the United States, but now you can liquidate inventory globally.
4. Overseas Rep Groups. Rep groups can be one of the most valuable tools in selling excess inventory to new markets in other countries. These reps often already have existing relationships with some of the largest closeout buyers in their country, who may be eager to fill their stores with discontinued and surplus merchandise or other inventory for liquidation. They already fully understand the type of merchandise these customers buy, they understand their specific needs, and perhaps the most important factor is they speak their language and share a level of trust. In addition, they have knowledge of any shipping restrictions to be aware of and they have relationships with their country’s International shipping services. This is all vital information necessary for selling closeouts into new markets in other countries. Sales Rep organizations have a huge advantage when it comes to selling closeouts Internationally because they are already a part of the local culture, and they know who to contact with excess inventory and closeouts.
If you are are considering selling excess inventory to surplus buyers or closeout buyers, you may want to also consider the option of donating you extra and unwanted merchandise. Merchandise USA has been in business more than 35 years and we buy closeouts from distributors, 3PL warehouses, Amazon sellers, wholesalers and more. We would be an excellent option for you if you are looking for a good way to sell surplus inventory and liquidate merchandise. But sometimes there is inventory that even liquidators don’t want to buy and in these cases, it may be worth donating your inventory. Here are 5 reasons you may want to consider this as an option for inventory you cannot sell to closeout buyers:
1. Save on Amazon FBA Inventory long term storage fees. If you have closeouts or unsaleable surplus merchandise sitting in an amazon FBA warehouse, you may want to let Amazon dispose of the unwanted inventory for you. Amazon will automatically make eligible inventory available to charitable organizations when you choose to dispose of overstock, returns, and other unwanted items. The Amazon donation option will apply to inventory you select for disposal manually and through automatic disposal settings. You will not have to deal directly with any liquidation companies as Amazon will do everything for you.
2. Make a charitable contribution for a good cause you believe in. Another option for getting rid of closeouts is by donating that new, idle merchandise to charity, your business can earn a federal income tax deduction under Section 170 ( e )(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The IRS Code says that regular C corporations may deduct the cost of the inventory donated, plus half the difference between cost and fair market value. Deductions may be up to twice-cost.
3. Get rid of slow moving or dead inventory. You may find that even closeout buyers and surplus buyers are not interested in liquidating your inventory. This may be due to a problem with the inventory or an issue with the packaging that does not make it attractive to the closeout market. In this case, it is better to give away the inventory just so you can make room in the warehouse and open up valuable warehouse space.
4. Take the tax write-off. There are some cases where, depending on the type of corporation you have, and depending on the type of products you are liquidating, the amount of money you can write off will be better for your bottom line than liquidating your products below cost. For example, if you are selling food products with close dating, and if you are a C Corporation, you may do better by donating than selling.
5. Free up needed warehouse space. As the industrial warehouse market continues to flourish, the cost of both renting and owning warehouse space continues to climb. This makes moving inventory and getting rid of closeouts and surplus inventory more important than ever. If you have already tried closeout buyers and have been unable to liquidate inventory, it may be worth considering the donation option just to get rid of dead inventory and make room in your warehouse for new merchandise.
Merchandise USA is a closeout buyer ready to buy your discontinued, excess and overstock inventory. We have been excess inventory buyers for more than 35 years, and have an excellent reputation.
As a general rule I don’t think a business can stand still. So by this I mean your business is either growing or contracting whether you know it at the time or not. But if you have made a conscious decision to grow your business then you must answer the question “Is now the time?”. There are many factors that come into play and you will have to consider everything.
1. Financial Strength. If your company is in financially stable condition with little or no debt, you are in an excellent position to consider growth. You can expand your labor force and take on more business even though you may not see an immediate return on your investment. You can spend time and money working to increase your business without being under financial stress. This is a huge win.
2. Competition. Look at what your competition is doing. We are currently in a business environment where many companies have retreated and are in “survival” mode. Their goal is to stay afloat through the next week or month or year. They have “dug in” and the priorities are limited to meeting rent and payroll. If you are in a position where you can and choose to expand, you have an opportunity to grab market share when your competition may least expect it.
3. Risk. Like answers to many of life’s questions this one doesn’t come in black or white. Only shades of grey. It has to do with the very fiber of the business owner’s makeup and DNA. Are you prepared to take on the risk of growth; in other words how bad is the potential downside and are you willing to go for it. In my career I have learned that risk tolerance is directly related to 3 things: age, ego and financial need.
4. Life Choices. Running a business is a major commitment that takes endless hours, costs sleepless nights, and can be an emotional strain beyond anything you ever imagined. Something you must consider before you choose to expand is whether you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to succeed. And in order to make this decision, you have to consider your personal life and if this choice is right for you and your family. It may be the hardest part of deciding whether you want to expand your business.
5. Did I Make The Right Decision? This is another loaded question that may not reveal a clear answer for years or even decades. What do you need to consider yourself successful in business? Have you already made it on some level and want more, or have you never really “hit it” and see expansion as your path to the life you have always wanted? A good friend with 100 employees once told me he made more money when his company was small. And almost 40 years ago one of my mentors offered more food for thought:: “You’re going to make it; just know what you are going to do when you get there”.
Merchandise USA has been in business more than 35 years and we can help if you are trying to figure out where to sell excess inventory or how to liquidate merchandise. We are closeout buyers ready to buy your discontinued and overstock inventory of all kinds. We make the closeout process easy and we are very reliable. You can count on us if you need to dispose of slow moving inventory.
These aren’t exactly New Years resolutions. For me they are more like a “wish list” of how I would want to see American’s behavior change post pandemic.
1. Stay Healthier. Taking care of yourself and your personal fitness should be #1 on your list. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that the people most vulnerable to Covid-19 were those who had underlying health issues. Take control, eat better, exercise more, and be responsible for whipping yourself into shape.
2. Be Generous. If you have the means to give and help other people, do it. You can’t save the world and there is no way to help everyone, but pick your favorite or most worthy causes and give if you can. You can give either money or time, but if you help someone else and make their life better, it will make your life better too. Helping a relative, a friend, a business associate or even a stranger can make a difference. 2020 may be over on the calendar, but it did a lot of damage and people need help.
3. Come Together. In my lifetime I have never seen our country and it’s people so divided. You can argue whatever reasons you want to for how we got here: racial prejudice, economic inequality, political tension, religious intolerance, etc. Americans are increasingly clustering in groups of like-minded communities, and surrounding themselves with people who think the same way. If we don’t begin making some deliberate changes to our behavior, we will be faced with a “new normal” of riots in the streets and more violence in our communities. The term “First World Country” has been used to describe a developed and otherwise industrialized country characterized by political stability, democracy, the rule of law, a capitalist economy, economic stability, and a high standard of living. I think we have work to do for this to define us.
4. Lighten Up. Let’s face it, this past year has been difficult on just about everyone. Sure, there were a handful of businesses and individuals who fell on the right side of the pandemic and they prospered. But historically in every challenging period there have been groups who buck the trend and do well (Paul Getty created an oil empire during the Great Recession). However, for most people Covid-19 created a world of hurt that will require healing. So we can begin by letting go of some of our stress, tension and anger as we move toward a more normal future. With vaccines currently being distributed let’s hope for a return to a sense of normalcy by mid 2021. Along with some good old fashioned tolerance.
5. Become More Tech Savvy. The world is changing quickly and there has been a massive shift to tech. Sure, we were already buying more stuff online, we were already having virtual meetings and even some telehealth visits. Some of us were buying electric cars and most of us had a Netflix or HULU account. We all used cell phones instead of landlines and scanned documents instead of faxing them. But now things are really different. Covid-19 pushed the fast forward button on technology. AI is coming on strong, 5G will soon be the norm, and streaming will be the only way we all watch EVERY show. Technology will rule the world as we know it, so buckle in and embrace it. Even my 85 year old Mom now has an Instacart account and orders her groceries online.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling closeout, overstock and liquidation inventory. We have been in business more than 35 years and we are a leader in buying surplus and excess merchandise.
We have reached a point in the pandemic where there is hope for better days ahead. Vaccines are in sight, treatments for infected people have improved, and we can begin to see our way through to the other side of this.
But before we get there we have to confront the fact that we have a tough Winter ahead of us with even more infection and death to come. It is a hard reality we have to face and there seems to be no way around it. I have some thoughts on how to help get through these difficult times.
Be Optimistic. These are challenging times for all of us. We have been forced to change the way we live our lives and have had to make adjustments we would have never thought about pre-Covid. We cannot see our friends and families, we can’t travel or dine out or go to parties and concerts or movies. We are human social creatures learning how to live without the physical connections we crave. But we must make sacrifices today and be optimistic for the future. This is temporary and we will look forward to better days ahead.
Be Safe. We must all be willing to make the sacrifices being asked of us in order to keep ourselves and each other safe. Our country is divided. How sad that we cannot disagree with each other, yet still live in some kind of harmony with one another. How disappointing has it become in our culture that we fight over whether wearing a mask is an appropriate thing to ask of one another. How disheartening that instead of working together against a common goal we fight against each other. If you can only think about yourself, you will likely never do the right thing for your community. Think about the best interests of your friends, your family, your neighbors. By definition this will be the very thing that keeps you safe too.
Be a Warrior. Have confidence you can get through this. Have some vision for how good the future will be when all this is over; think about what your post-Covid world is going to look like. See yourself visiting family and vacationing with friends again and keep a picture of that in your head while struggling through this challenging period. With the dark, cold days of Winter in front of us there will be times when it may seem like we are losing the battle, but that will not be the case. Be prepared to emotionally push your way through these days so they do not defeat you.
Be a Hero. The most productive way to make your life better is get out of your own head, stop thinking about your problems and try to help someone else. Look around you and see how many have been dealt a worse hand than you. See how much more pain others are experiencing than you. Now try to help them and use your strength to make their life better. Send a text or make a call, lend an ear, give away some money, bring some food or offer some compassion or advice. If you know someone who isn’t strong enough, help them to find their courage. Be strong for others; let them lean on you.
Be Grateful. I can tell you from personal experience I am currently navigating my way through the frailty of our burdened healthcare system. In the past 30 days my 85 year old mom has been in the ER twice, the hospital, and now a nursing facility during what is probably the worst possible time for this in my lifetime. It never occurred to me this could happen, but if we have learned anything through all of this it is that life is random and unpredictable. But what I have found to be true is that in spite of all our complaints about healthcare in the U.S. we have an amazing system filled with talented and knowledgeable doctors and nurses who truly want to help. They are selfless and even while facing this monumental task they make sacrifices for us, and in many cases more than what I ever would have expected. So be grateful and kind to them and have respect for them, because you or one of your friends or family may unexpectedly need them before this is all over with.
The reality is that we are where we are. For whatever reasons you may choose to believe or not believe, or whatever blame you want to place, we are faced with this. Now we have to focus our energy on getting to the other side. And whether we like it or not, the only way to get there is to go through it.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company. We have been in business more than 35 years and we specialize in buying excess inventory, closeouts, liquidations and overstock merchandise.
2020 has been a year many of us would like to forget. Covid-19 is affecting our businesses in ways we never could have imagined and we are ready for it all to be over. Unfortunately, we still have to get through the Winter ahead of us, and this is not going to be easy. Small boutique retail stores are shutting down their businesses, restaurants are either closing down or hanging on by a thread, and small businesses of all kinds are going out of business and liquidating due to Covid-19.
Here are some things we can do to get our economy going again:
1. The obvious thing would be a vaccine. Operation Warp Speed, a program developed by the United States Government, has 18 different pharmaceutical companies working on vaccines. The pandemic has created unprecedented public and private partnerships. More than 150 Coronavirus vaccines are in the process of being developed around the world, and the hope is to have one or more brought to market in an effort to ease this global crisis. Historically, vaccines can take 10-15 years on average and in the case of Mumps we had one in only 4 years. Keep in mind the polio epidemic lasted 40 years in the United States. With the unprecedented global effort and financial support underway it is expected we will have a Covid vaccine within 12-18 months.
2. Social distancing. We all know by now to keep our distance from each other as much as possible. And when not possible we are encouraged to wear masks and limit our exposure. If we can manage to do this without destroying our economy it will go a long way toward reducing infection rates. Unfortunately, this is impossible to do while in a bar or nightclub, movie theater, large office building, etc. In part, this is the very reason so many businesses are downsizing, shutting down operations, and closing down. But if we can find some middle ground where we are able to limit our exposure to each other, it will go a long way in saving our small businesses.
3. Follow the science. There is a segment of the U.S. population that has made this a political issue and believes the virus is not real. There are people who refuse to social distance and wear masks because they say it infringes on their right to make their own choices, they insist that they will not be told what to do. There are those among us who believe God will protect them and they will not be harmed even if they get Covid. I say every individual has a right to believe what they want, however, Covid has been proven to be a highly contagious virus and your actions may affect those around you. So I suggest to believe what you believe, but at least follow the science which gives us the facts on which we should base our behavior.
4. Common sense. This is a really important point because during times of panic even the most level-headed among us can get carried away with fear and anxiety. So again, we need to follow the science and try to not get wrapped up in hype and fear. Here are some examples of using common sense when it comes to the do’s and dont’s of Covid. If you are outside by yourself in an open area you don’t need a mask; if you are driving in your car alone or with someone you live with, you don’t need a mask. Stay away from crowds, don’t congregate in small areas, make it your responsibility everyday to self check, take your temperature, monitor your sense of smell, etc. We can each do our own part to control this epidemic until the day comes when we all have access to a safe and effective vaccine.
Merchandise USA is a small business affected by Covid-19 just like every other business. Periodically I talk with someone who suggests that we must be very busy and as a liquidation and closeout company we are doing better than ever. This is not true. We are holding our own, getting through this, and possibly are in better shape than some other industries, but we definitely have not benefited from the pandemic. I have an old friend who is highly educated and very wise. Over the years he has repeated something and I will share it here. “High tides raise all ships”. In other words, we all do best when things are good.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer in business more than 35 years. We specialize in helping companies through their closeout process when selling surplus merchandise, excess inventory, canceled orders and overstock liquidations.
Of all the different ways to sell overstock and excess products, it is becoming crystal clear that online sales just may be the leader of the pack. Let’s review some of the best reasons getting rid of closeouts online is likely the best way to do it.
The Amazon Effect.
Online sales have been growing at a blazing pace for the last 5 years. There has been a major shift from brick and mortar to online sales in all categories and over all platforms. Clearly Amazon is the leader and sets the bar for sellers in terms of pricing their products, serving their customers, and delivering goods to the end user. Today’s consumer now prefers to buy online without having to shop retail stores. Clearly the way to dispose of unwanted inventory and overstock products is also via e-commerce platforms.
The Covid-19 Theory.
The Corona virus basically injected the online movement with steroids. Between not wanting to be in large groups of people, and the work from home movement, the online sales trend went into fast forward. Buying online has become most buyers preferred method of shopping. Whether it be food from the grocery store or pots and pans from Amazon, this is a movement that is here to stay. Buying and selling discontinued and overstock products is no different because even closeout buyers want to shop online.
Decreased Mall Activity.
For the most part, the days of spending all afternoon in a large indoor shopping mall are over. Not only do buyers not have the desire, but they simply don’t have the time. I can see the possibility of a family outing near the holidays for the nostalgia of the experience, but that would be about it. Today’s shoppers have busy lives and shopping online has become the norm. Closeouts and surplus products are no different and sellers disposing of or liquidating products are turning to the internet. It is not unusual for both small and large companies liquidating inventory to find buyers online.
Cost of doing business.
Selling online is cheap. You can get rid of slow moving products rather easily by posting them online or creating online listings. Merchandise USA has been buying closeouts from companies online for years, and we continue to look for deals from Amazon sellers getting out of business, importer companies who may be liquidating inventory, and distributors liquidating stock because they are in need of warehouse space and selling closeouts.
Let’s face facts, today’s business person wants what’s convenient. Buying and selling closeouts online is much easier than scheduling in person meetings and traveling around the country to attend countless trade shows. If you can get rid of closeouts from your desk, why would you want to travel to see customers in person? If you were able to liquidate slow moving products by listing them online, why would you travel to a trade show and spend days in a hotel to sell overstock merchandise? The online movement was already upon us, but now it’s moving at warp speed.
Merchandise USA is one of the largest closeout companies in the United States. We specialize in buying unwanted merchandise, discontinued inventory, overstock merchandise and surplus products.
According to many experts we are about to have a tidal wave of corporate bankruptcies ranging from small mom and pop retail stores to multi-billion dollar corporations. It is being predicted that the number of bankruptcies in 2020 will easily surpass that of the 2008 financial crisis, and the sheer number of them is likely to overwhelm the court system.
So far the largest chapter 11 filing has been that of Hertz, the car rental company. Like many other businesses related to the travel space their operations came to an abrupt stop when the travel and leisure industry was put on pause. The company is in the process of liquidating inventory and reducing its huge fleet in an effort to generate cash and meet demands of creditors.
Other companies that have already filed for bankruptcy protection include J. Crew, Gold’s Gym, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, GNC, Chuck E. Cheese, and more. But the real tragedy is in the company names you never heard of and you won’t recognize. Entrepreneurs who have spent their lives building businesses to support their families and their employee’s families. Small business owners who bled their life savings to keep a dream alive. It all represents a truly staggering number of retail stores, restaurants, floral shops, bakeries, dry cleaners, drug stores and countless more. Some of these companies were staving off liquidation of their inventory prior to the Corona virus, but many of them were financially stable until 2020.
Hopefully, most businesses will still survive by downsizing and reducing overhead. Because we are in the business of buying distressed inventory and liquidating closeouts, I recommend if at all possible business owners start selling off inventory and getting rid of overstock. This is an extremely effective way to create quick cash flow while making warehouse space at the same time. In times like this when business may be at a standstill it is imperative to sell your closeouts and liquidate overstock. I feel the same way about Amazon FBA sellers and other e-commerce sellers. Get rid of old inventory now and convert it to cash.
The Government has offered a number of different programs in an effort to support the business owner. The PPP helped with payroll support, SBA Bridge Loans and additional SBA debt relief are also available. In addition, most individual States also offered their own emergency assistance programs to businesses in need of capital. As I am writing this, Congress and the White House are working on yet another relief package to help both individuals and corporations. Currently, the additional weekly $600 unemployment payout is scheduled to end July 31st.
These days you don’t have to go far to trip over a bankruptcy and economists say the problem is going to get much worse. Only time will tell us how this all plays out, but one thing is for sure. The economic impact of COVID-19 may linger for years before we return to anything close to pre-pandemic levels.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer specializing in liquidation, overstock and excess inventory. We also buy Amazon FBA liquidations for sellers experiencing slow sales.
Let’s be honest, we are operating in difficult and turbulent times. Yes, it was a hardship navigating our way through the challenging tariffs of 2019, but COVID-19 is pain on a whole other level and something that comes along once in a lifetime. Maybe. None of us ever thought we would be living in a world where wearing masks, physical distancing, constant cleaning and disinfecting, and economic shutdowns would be part of our everyday lives. Somehow we are making due and adjusting as best we can while both trying to stay safe and keep the economy open.
Through it all, the American consumer has been a warrior. During the lockdown, internet sales for closeouts and excess inventory soared while people were stuck inside their homes. Overstock deals on puzzles, exercise equipment, cookware, baking products, PPE, craft liquidations, lawn and garden products and children’s products all sold out immediately. Amazon’s standard 1-2 day delivery policy experienced delays of up to 4 weeks. But the consumer continued spending and the online marketplace exploded. It seems any sellers with regular goods and even obsolete inventory did well and generated sales.
Our customer base of off-price retail stores and ecommerce sellers is doing well. Some shut down, others didn’t or wouldn’t, many were deemed essential, while most weren’t. But now they are open and firing on all cylinders. So if you are in the closeout or liquidation business and you plan to survive this thing, you’d better continue to buy, buy, buy. Consumers are flooding our customer’s retail stores and demand for closeouts continues to be strong. We have been fortunate in that we have a loyal customer base that relies on us to provide them with full case lots and wholesale deals of all types of merchandise.
Here’s another one you probably weren’t expecting – the possibility of not going to any major convention centers until at least 2022. There is a short list of business models that are particularly dangerous during a pandemic and will not fare well – bars, airlines, hotels, massage studios….and convention centers. So if you haven’t already become accustomed to using Zoom or FaceTime for video calls, this may be the time. We’ve been selling closeouts and taking orders virtually in our showroom since April. We have also adjusted our buying habits and are buying excess inventory and liquidations via video chats, pictures, samples, etc.
All supply chains to the United States have been severely disrupted due to tariffs and Covid-19. As a result there has been an unusually high volume of excess inventory and closeouts available. It is difficult to say whether this will continue as demand at the retail level remains strong at this time and it is too early to tell if this is due to Federal stimulus money or other factors. However, from our perspective as a distribution company specializing in closeouts and liquidations it appears there will continue to be supply of these inventories and wholesale lots.
These are unprecedented times, but our focus remains the same as it has been since we started in business more than 35 years ago. Our mission is to continue buying closeouts and excess inventory with the intent of supplying our customers with the best values possible We remain optimistic in our view that the American business and consumer will always survive and thrive.
Merchandise USA is a national liquidator in business more than 35 years. We specialize in helping companies eliminate their excess, discontinued and surplus inventory. We are capable of buying almost any size closeout inventory.
A friend of mine posted this letter on her weekly blog and I wanted to share it here.
I have heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not. Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis. Some who live alone are facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest, and time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.
With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales. Some families of four just received $3,400 from the stimulus while other families of four saw $000. Some were concerned about getting a special candy for Easter while others were concerned that there would not be enough bread, milk, and eggs for the weekend.
Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to punish those who break the quarantine. Some are home spending 2-3 hours each day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours each day trying to help educate their children on top of a 10-12-hour workday.
Some have experienced the near death because of Covid-19, some have already lost someone, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal. While some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020, others say the worst is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not all in the same boat. We are each on different ships during this storm, experiencing a very different journey. We are going through a period when our perceptions and needs are very different. Each of us will emerge from this storm in our own way. And for all, it will be important to see beyond what we see at first glance. Not just looking, but seeing and understanding.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling excess inventory, overstock, closeouts and liquidations. We have been in business more than 35 years.
Merchandise USA has had a really good run for a long time. When I started buying and selling closeouts I was still in college and I was able to make money almost by accident. Business came easy and my expenses were next to nothing. But times have changed and running a closeout company today isn’t what it used to be. That’s why if I were starting in business today I would make some changes. Here are the 5 big things I would do different.
1. The first thing I would do is move to a warm climate in a smaller city and build a 200,000 square foot warehouse with high ceilings on a large piece of land. Operating this business in Chicago was a challenge because we moved 4 times over 35 years to accommodate growth, and although each move made things better, we still faced many challenges. I chose to purchase my warehouses so we were always trying to fit into whatever was available in the market at that time, and with each move we made more compromises. Over the years commercial warehouse space in Chicago has become expensive (our real estate taxes are more than many companies pay for rent) and as I get older the cold climate gets more difficult to tolerate.
2. I would hire a staff of competent people and hold them accountable. One of my biggest shortcomings was being a Type A control person and wanting to keep my hands in everything. Like I said, I had a good run for a long time and we still make money, but working 14-16 hour days is getting harder to do and I don’t have enough people I can lean on to get things done. Sure, we have some dedicated employees who are a lot of help but I can’t step away for too long before the train comes off the track.
3. I would have more fun. I was all about the work and my burning desire to have a fat bottom line was non- negotiable. If I were starting today I would find a way to take things easier and enjoy the ride. The liquidation business is a great way to make a lot of money and there will always be overstock and discontinued deals around. But I’ve learned that success and happiness probably did not have to be mutually exclusive.
4. I would learn Spanish. Our biggest opportunity for growth is in South and Central America. We have been expanding our customer base in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico, etc. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to communicate with a customer who wants to buy but doesn’t understand. If rule #1 is the customer is always right, then rule #2 is speak to the customer in their native language.
5. I would have an exit plan. When I first started I was lucky enough to have not only one, but two amazing mentors who helped me more than I can ever tell you. One of them always said “You are going to make it; just know what you are going to do when you get there”. Let’s face it, when you are a kid struggling to get your business off the ground those words don’t have a lot of meaning. But looking back now I understand what he was trying to tell me. It’s real easy to get into business; not so easy to get out.
Merchandise USA is a national liquidator in business more than 35 years. We specialize in helping companies eliminate their excess, discontinued and surplus inventory. We are capable of buying almost any size closeout inventory.
“Brick and mortar is dead, brick and mortar is dead”, blah blah blah. Not entirely true. Although many of our brick and mortar customers have closed up shop and others are struggling through tough times, I have seen some of them literally come back from the dead. “Everything is on-line and people shop on Amazon”. Not entirely true either. I see some of our e-commerce accounts doing great while others can’t figure it out and have to liquidate. So my point is that generalizations don’t work anymore and it’s become a complicated business environment.
Here’s what I do know. There is always opportunity. When times are good there are ways to make money and when times are bad there are also ways to make money (granted, you have to be a little smarter than the average bear). I have an old friend who used to say “rising tides raise all ships”. Probably true. But I want to remind you the iPhone rocketed to stardom during the Great Recession of 2008.
So although I don’t have a crystal ball I know we are currently in a strong economy and there are plenty of goods moving around. Companies are designing, manufacturing, importing and selling a LOT of product. This always presents opportunities for closeout buyers. My company is constantly on the lookout for deals that present themselves due to package changes, cancelled orders, product overstock, warehouse closures, discontinued inventory, bankruptcies etc. There are various reasons a company has to get rid of merchandise, but at the end of the day these are all opportunities. It’s our job to find them.
From a retail perspective I believe selling closeouts will become more important than ever. How many times have you heard “today’s brick and mortar consumer wants an experience”? They want more than simply walking into a store, buying their laundry detergent, and going back home. The treasure chest philosophy of giving the consumer an amazing deal is more important than ever. The idea of giving the customer different bargains everyday plays right into the hands of a creative retail operator.
I do believe things will continue to become more competitive from all sides. The consumer wants the cheapest price while expecting their purchase immediately. This means carrying ample inventory in retail stores, and offering same if not next day free delivery on e-commerce platforms. 2020 will continue to be a demanding environment that serves the almighty consumer. So it’s best to get used to it because to stay relevant we all have our work cut out for us.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company specializing in closeouts, excess inventory, overstock merchandise and discontinued inventory. We have been in business 35 years.
You don’t have to look far to see the massive amount of new warehouses being built. We are in the midst of what may be the most expansive building boom in industrial real estate since the 1900’s, and it’s playing out in every major market across the United States. I’m not talking about small units with an overhead door and a side dock; these massive 500,000 plus square foot behemoths with 36 foot clear ceilings are built on tens of acres of land with room to expand into additional phases.
If you are like me, you are asking yourself who is moving into all these new buildings? And the next puzzling question is who in the world can afford them? Sure, the economy is good and businesses are making money, but are there really that many companies ditching their old space and expanding into new digs? I don’t think so. Maybe there are so many companies relocating around the country that there is now a huge demand to build hundreds of millions of square feet of industrial real estate. But not likely. Especially here in Chicago where you’d need a king’s ransom to afford the steadily increasing real estate taxes. Are there so many new distributors that the current market can’t handle the demand? No again. Maybe closeout wholesalers are leasing up all this new space? Forget about it. In fact, middleman type distribution companies are leaving the market as more and more companies sell direct to the consumer. No these aren’t the reasons. But read on and you will understand what’s happening.
The single biggest explanation for all this new construction is 3PL logistics. Companies are increasingly making the move from their own warehouses and employees to outside 3PL companies. In some circumstances it makes a lot of sense; in other cases it is not possible. For example, in our industry there is no way it can work because closeouts require "hands on" management every day. We are often in the warehouse dealing with issues related to liquidation shipments and could never outsource our warehouse business. We often receive closeouts that must be re-worked, or overstock deals that don’t come in as they were supposed to. But general importers would have a much easier time outsourcing their warehouse needs. It allows them flexibility in how much space they use, and it gives them the opportunity to expand or contract as needed,, they get professional logistics experience without hiring, and they free up time and capital so they can invest energy into driving their business forward.
The Amazon Effect:
Amazon is rapidly expanding and in need of warehouse space. They are an unrelenting force in the world of e-commerce and to reach new markets they need more warehouse space all the time. Data from 2017 shows at that time Amazon owned or leased more than 250 million square feet of office and warehouse space. Now with new aspirations of making Amazon Prime standard 1 day delivery, they need to be even closer to more major markets and populated areas which means more warehouse space. With the launch of the Prime Now service, Amazon has constructed hubs in dense urban areas to store common orders like toilet paper and batteries that can be sent to customers within a few hours
Real Estate Investing:
There is a massive “land grab” going on. In many major markets the price per acre of land has doubled within just the past few years. This makes sense because there is high demand for the land, and the cost to build industrial space has decreased as technology has improved. Today many of these warehouses are built from prefabricated materials and one million square feet can be constructed, start to finish, in only 12 months. So in addition to users pushing demand for more space, investors with cash are looking for investment vehicles other than what may be perceived as an inflated residential real estate market or an overpriced stock market. And let’s face it, earning 2% in a cash account isn’t very appealing right now.
Merchandise USA is a surplus, closeout and wholesale liquidator. We specialize in discontinued products, overstock inventory and liquidation sales and we have been in business 35 years. For more information on the liquidation process please contact us today.
I think every small business owner would agree, this past year has been a wild and crazy ride. We’ve been forced to deal with more than our share of instability and uncertainty – two things that markets and businesses don’t respond well to. Doing business has become the easy part; dealing with everything else has turned into a full time job.
I don’t see an end to the trade war anytime soon. There are a few reasons I feel this way, but in particular I don’t think China is going to make any big moves until next year’s election plays out. If anyone other than Trump wins, it will be good for China and their position in the global economy. It’s been many years and administrations since a President got this tough on trade, and likely it won’t happen again for awhile. I’m not necessarily saying I agree with the way Trump is handling the situation, but I do think it is time to get tougher on International trade.
Minimum wage is a double edged sword. On the one hand, how can we expect anyone to live on only $9 or $10 per hour? I don’t think it’s reasonable. Or even worse, in many parts of the country minimum wage is still under $8.00 per hour (where the argument is that the cost of living is less so people can live on less). But honestly $7.75 per hour? Now the other side of the coin is if we are paying our minimum wage earners $15.00 and $18.00 per hour, we need them to make a stronger contribution to our business. By this I mean they have to figure out how they can help us earn more money and add to our bottom line. At my closeout company we are starting new employees at a higher pay rate than we used to, and I will try to raise pay scales in accordance with performance.
The stock market is very interesting. In my lifetime I have never seen a market that responds so little to actual corporate results, and so much to any small bit of political news or rant on social media. The ups and downs and back and forth of this stock market are more like a roller coaster ride than an investment vehicle. So in my opinion, the best way to acclimate to this climate is to have perspective. Like they always told us, the stock market historically does well over time, and that is the way we should continue to view it. I learned a good lesson in December 2018, when in a period of only 30 days the stock market dropped nearly 20%. When I looked at my portfolio I asked myself if I really believed the companies I owned were fundamentally worth 20% less than they were only one short month ago. And in every case the answer was “NO”. Warren Buffet still offered the best advice ever and it would benefit us to pay attention: “Buy companies not stocks”. We must discipline ourselves to invest for the long term, and buy stock in companies we believe in and understand.
All in all, I think we are in pretty good shape. Unemployment is low, corporate earnings are strong, housing sales are good and housing starts are still very encouraging (just look around you). The real estate market is forward looking, which tells me there is faith in the economy for the next few years. A builder breaking ground today on a 100 unit apartment building believes the market will be strong 24 to 36 months from now. I see more warehouse construction than ever; brand new 500,000 to 1 million square foot industrial warehouse complexes have become commonplace. This indicates to me that research shows commerce is expected to remain strong for the near term, and this in turn reflects well on the overall health of our economy. The one thing I am most concerned about is how little we learned from the Great Recession of 2008. Personal debt is at an all time high and personal savings, you guessed it. An all time low.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout, overstock and liquidation buyer in business 35 years. We specialize in buying discontinued merchandise, Amazon FBA inventory and 3PL liquidations.
I have to admit, I’m surprised by the lack of impact tariffs have had on our business. Had you asked me in January how tariffs would affect the closeout industry, I would have told you I was expecting a challenging year ahead in terms of finding liquidations and overstock. But we are eight months into 2019 and they have had little effect. Here are 5 possible reasons why.
1. Importers brought in extra inventory hoping to avoid tariffs. This resulted in a lot of surplus merchandise in the United States, and in turn it created more excess and overstock situations. In my opinion we are actually seeing more closeout opportunities than we did at this same time last year.
2. Business cycles take time. The tariffs are still relatively new and haven’t been painful enough long enough for many companies to make major changes to the way they operate. At this point it is still a hit to the bottom line and buying and selling patterns have not yet worked their way through the economy. In my opinion a storm is coming and we will see it next year.
3. Companies are giving up and shutting down. There is always that bottom 10%. In other words, there is always that lower tier of companies not doing well and fighting to survive. This happens in all markets and across all industries. The difference this time around is the additional tariffs pushed these organizations over the edge. Any business already struggling has little chance of weathering an additional 25% cost of goods and makes the immediate decision to stop the bleeding. The result? More closeouts, bankruptcies and liquidations.
4. The Fear Factor. Let’s face it; these tariffs can be pretty scary. Basically, importers have a new fixed cost that in many cases can be as big an expense as a large portion of payroll or rent. If you Want to play with the numbers and figure out how much additional business it takes to pay for these tariffs, I imagine it may be as much as having to increase sales by 15 to 20 percent. That’s a huge jump in an already stagnant closeout market that will not allow for price increases. So one quick fix is to generate cash. What’s the best way to do that? Liquidate slow moving inventory and get rid of excess merchandise.
5. Retail is already under fire. We’ve been in a challenging business environment for years. Retail stores are closing at the fastest rate since the Great Recession, and online sales continue to grow. Many companies have been liquidating stock in order to remain competitive and cut costs, and now there are additional tariffs putting even more pressure on the bottom line. Companies are forced to remain lean and mean and this means reducing inventory levels. Again, more closeouts in the marketplace. For now.
We won’t know for sure until next year, but I think 2020 may be a completely different story.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying closeout, overstock, liquidation and excess inventory. We have been in the surplus and closeout industry for more than 33 years.
When I was a kid I hit the lottery. I was born into the right family in the right place at the perfect time. I was taught values and moral standards and what it meant to be a good person. Then I attended school with other kids from other families who lived in the same neighborhood and were taught the same things. My parents were typical middle class workers struggling to keep a family fed, clothed, and healthy. Then maybe once a year we could afford to drive to a nearby state for a summer vacation. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I had everything I needed. Life was good.
It was an awesome world where parents didn’t worry about their kids playing outside after dinner, a place where it was safe to chase after Marty the Good Humor Man’s ice cream truck, and a time when your bike was safe as long as it was parked in your own backyard. We walked to school and trick-or- treated without our parents, we hung out in each other’s basements, listened to radio and watched TV together, and laughed and played in the park until the sun went down and the stars came out.
But what makes it even more amazing is that I was able to keep my three best friends from all those years ago. And when I tell people about my oldest friend (who I met in kindergarten) they are always blown away. But as time goes by and I am reminded how unpredictable life can be, I understand why.
As we grew older we moved away for college, we held different jobs, lived in different cities and we married women who had varied interests. Some of us had children, others didn’t, some marriages lasted, and others couldn’t. But we remained friends through all the years. We shared in each other’s happiness during the good times of weddings, babies, birthdays, promotions, graduations and vacations. And we helped each other through the heartache of dissolved marriages, bad business deals, personal health crisis, and sick and dying parents.
We are each other’s life coaches, therapists and business advisers. We help each other navigate our way through life’s challenges, while at the same time we continue to make fun of each other, ridicule, joke and be sarcastic with each other. It’s a comfort zone that doesn’t exist anywhere else and we have 40-50 years of material and shared experiences to draw from.
Between these three friends there are two doctors and a real estate agent. I have special insight into the San Francisco real estate market through a man who left Chicago, started fresh in a new town and a new profession, and became a leading expert in his industry. I have a direct line to a person who I would trust my life to and I believe is one of the smartest radiologists in the field of medicine today, and I have a friend who I watched evolve from a struggling student to a respected doctor and entrepreneur, putting together larger business deals than I could have thought possible. I share lifelong memories with these professionals who are now at the top of their games, and I am privileged to have them as best friends. We can be apart for months at a time, but when reunited it’s like no time has passed.
We can still talk about anything and everything from girls and cars to favorite foods and music. We debate politics and social issues to fitness and healthcare. We can be busy together or do nothing together; it all works just the same. We are older now, our skin has wrinkles, our recall isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and our hair and beards are turning grey. But on the inside we are the same kids who played together after school, flew model airplanes in the Thom McAn Shoes parking lot, and smoked pot together for the first time. These guys are my friends, my family, my brothers, my heroes, my teachers, and at times my toughest critics. They are a gift and I am grateful to have them in my life.
"You don't have to have anything in common with people you've known since you were five. With old friends, you've got your whole life in common." Lyle Lovett
Merchandise USA has been in business more than 33 years and we specialize in buying discontinued, overstock, closeout and surplus inventory. We also buy Amazon FBA liquidations and 3PL inventory.
It’s that time of year again in the Midwest when we finally begin to thaw out and see the light. But for me it’s also a time to begin thinking about what I can do to improve my business for the months ahead.
Here are 5 things I plan to do as the weather improves:
1. Spring cleaning.
In the wholesale closeout and liquidation business we have a tendency to accumulate old inventory. This slow moving and unsold stock must be disposed of one way or another to make room for new and profitable goods. So I plan to engage in discounts, promotions and donations in an effort to clean house and move out old merchandise.
2. Building renovations.
There are always things to do around the warehouse to help keep it organized and clean, but for me it's much easier to do these things when the weather is warm. This Spring we are going to do some much needed roof repairs, we are going to paint and tuck point the warehouse as needed, and hopefully upgrade and give a face lift to our showroom.
3. Renew Sales Efforts.
I feel like we've become somewhat complacent in the way we sell our merchandise. We go from trade show to trade show to trade show and that's become the primary way we move goods. We've forgotten what it means to cold call new accounts and figure out new and creative ways to develop customers. I plan to spend some time working on improving our sales efforts.
4. Promote Buying Efforts.
In the closeout industry it takes a long time to develop relationships with new vendors. And lets face it, there aren't as many deals around as there used to be. So although we have made some terrific buys in this first quarter, it's important for us to find more companies we can work with. I plan to work on developing new vendor relationships and uncover more overstock opportunities.
5. Personal time.
After almost 35 years in business I am working harder than ever.. There are so many moving parts to what we do that it only works properly if I touch everything, and am involved in all the details. Each day is like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and at times the long hours and endless stress are challenging to manage. So my most important goal is to take care of me and Jane first. As we move toward the Spring/Summer months I am determined to spend more time with family and good friends.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying and selling overstock, closeout, discontinued and surplus inventory.
Having been in the closeout business as long as I have, I know as well as anyone the benefits of keeping a clean and efficiently run warehouse. But the truth is, this is a surprisingly difficult goal to achieve on a regular basis – even for us “professionals” who are supposed to know better. Nobody likes the idea of having to liquidate inventory below cost to a wholesale closeout buyer. We think we will eventually magically sell our excess merchandise by luck, accident or good fortune. I’m here to tell you it takes a lot of work to get rid of old merchandise. Selling the good stuff is easy because it sort of sells itself. It’s the obsolete and slow moving products that can suck the life out of you.
Old merchandise that has stopped selling is a silent killer. Overstock inventory sitting on racks or taking up valuable warehouse space tends to be out of sight, out of mind. If it isn’t in your face every day you may not be reminded how costly it is to keep. But old merchandise takes up space that can otherwise be used to store new products that will turn faster and generate profits.
Promote the heck out of discontinued and overstock products. One of the reasons dead inventory is dead is because we have decided its dead. What would happen if you started paying attention to, and promoting these items to both existing and new accounts. Maybe if we cared enough about our old products to start pushing them again we would find they start selling. The next time you feel the need to get rid of old merchandise, try getting excited about it instead.
There is an old saying: “An old item at a new price is a new item”. This is true and can be the easiest wholesale overstock situation to correct because a simple price change might make all the difference. I remember many years ago we bought a large closeout inventory of sneakers and hi tops. Sales were slow from the beginning, and we tried disposing of them to wholesale liquidators as well as other inventory closeout buyers. We had all the sizes, colors and styles but just couldn’t get the darned things to move. Just before one of our ASD Market Week shows in Las Vegas, we reduced our price and they immediately began selling. In fact, they sold so well we ran out of them and couldn’t fill all the orders. Even months later we were getting re-orders we couldn’t fill because the entire inventory had already been liquidated at a lower price.
Sometimes when a specific product, or group of products, stops selling we can group it together with other items that are selling well. As an example, if you have notebooks, calculators and binders that sell well, but you have pencils you can’t get rid of, consider making a package of all these items and selling them together as one bundle. You may find it’s a great way to reduce your inventory and get rid of all the pencils at the same time! Keep in mind this works with any category so it doesn’t matter if you have closeout pet products, overstock sporting goods, excess house wares inventory, of if you need to liquidate a large inventory of anything else.
If promoting your inventory, reducing prices and bundling products together doesn’t help you reduce you overstock and liquidate merchandise, you can always donate merchandise. In most cases it won’t matter if you are a C corp or an S corp; either way you will get a tax deduction. Occasionally we get stuck with inventory we just can’t seem to get rid of no matter what we do. In these cases, it is better to take the tax deduction than let obsolete inventory take up valuable warehouse space.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer specializing in liquidation, overstock and excess inventory. We also buy Amazon FBA liquidations.
It's 2019 and here we go again. 4 big trade shows in less than 90 days.
January 6-8 – Chicago
We just finished exhibiting at our first Midwest Market Days trade show of the year and I must admit customers are buying. They aren’t buying everything, and unfortunately, we have the same problem as everyone else in that we haven't figured out how to sell through our old inventory. But in general, we can move the right goods at the right price. I think good merchandise will always sell as long as it represents a good closeout at an attractive price. With December year end inventories behind us and the threat of increased import costs due to the trade war, it can make the task of sifting through excess inventory more challenging. There are plenty of overstock products available and we are always looking at closeouts, but we are being more particular about what we choose to buy.
January 8-10 – Atlanta
Every January we attend the America's Mart Gift Show in Atlanta. This is still one of the most robust and well attended trade shows I have ever seen. Buyers come out in droves for almost one full week to see all the new product lines available and to load up on everyday and seasonal goods. I was amazed to see so much Christmas merchandise for sale, when we just finished the holidays. As always, I was impressed with the vast array of beautiful merchandise on display. Our goal at this show is to meet with our vendor partners and identify those lines they have available for liquidation to discontinue from their lines. We have been attending this show for decades, and from this venue we have met some of our best vendors.
January 20-22 – Miami
We opened our Miami International showroom in 2015 and this is where we continue to experience some of our best growth. We cater to customers from South and Central America and have established accounts from Panama, Bahamas, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and the Grand Cayman Islands. New customers from these regions include gift stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores and discounters of all kinds. Closeouts sell particularly well for these accounts because they are extreme value oriented customers looking for inventory liquidations and excess stock of all consumer categories. Be sure to visit us at this show and feel free to call our office to make an appointment (888) 757-0060.
March 17-20 – Las Vegas
March brings ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. We exhibit at this show twice a year and it continues to be a strong order writing show for us. We see all our regulars plus some International accounts, and although traffic is not nearly what it used to be, we can still meet some new customers. This show is ideal for any closeout buyer looking to broaden their vendor base and find closeout companies and experienced liquidators like us. We are one of only a handful of true closeout companies left so be sure you see us early at this "must attend" show.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer specializing in liquidation, overstock and excess inventory. We also buy Amazon FBA liquidations.
Let's be honest, Amazon is truly amazing. I'm right there with you and I agree, the internet is fantastic and I love buying stuff online. The way Amazon has changed the retail environment since its inception in 1994 is nothing short of a miracle. Last year alone they sold more than 30 billion dollars worth of goods online, and there seems to be nothing on the horizon that can impede their growth.
But this is not the death of retail, and I'm going to give you 5 good reasons why.
Innovation. Retail is not dead, but it has changed. Yes, today's retailers have to re-invent themselves. They have to create a user experience that sets them apart from other stores and they must figure out how to make themselves relevant. Customer expectations have changed and buyers are demanding; today's shopper wants more of an "experience". Smart business owners will see this as an opportunity and make the appropriate changes.
Drugstores and Starbucks. Don’t you wonder how many CVS, Walgreens and Starbucks stores we need? Sure, everyone wants to buy some Tylenol and a hot beverage every now and then, but really? Today’s retail operators have an opportunity to do something special and wow the consumer. Give shoppers an experience they find interesting and valuable and retail is alive and well again. I would even make the argument that with all the store closures and vacancies, combined with the mundane retail we have been left with, opening a new store with some flair can be a slam dunk.
Neighborhoods. Guess what? People like shopping in stores. Who knew? That's right, a lot of the data is misleading. Online sales are killing it and consumers are buying more on the internet than ever before. But people really do like walking through a store and touching and feeling things before they buy them. And consumers favor supporting local businesses in their neighborhood (yes it really is true, even millennials and generation Z'ers). People like personal connections and relational experiences, and it still does and always will drive brick and mortar sales.
Technology. Small retailers today have the advantage of being able to operate like large corporations. Modern Point Of Sale systems allow today’s small business to track inventory, chart sales and run budgets like a major player. While other technology lets them market goods with very little expense (think e-mail campaign vs. the old days of newspaper or radio advertising).
Social Media. Let me give you a personal example of this. My company buys and sells closeouts, excess inventory and liquidations. These are fast moving products that sell in high traffic, low margin retail stores. Many of our customers use Instagram and Facebook to drive consumers to their stores. Honestly, I have accounts telling me they are busier than ever and have more people visiting their locations than they ever dreamed possible. They have learned and understand the power of social marketing, and they use it to their advantage.
There is no doubt that online shopping is here to stay. And people love buying stuff from their computers and their phones. But if brick and mortar really is dead and everyone wants to do all their shopping on the internet, why is Amazon opening retail stores?
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer specializing in liquidation, overstock and excess inventory.
Did you know, on average, there is a recession every 5-8 years? Did you know, on average, during a recession the stock market drops 30%? Do you know we are currently in the second longest economic expansion period in U.S. history? You get my drift.
I think we all need to take a step back and consider the possibility that things may be about to change. Although our economy seems to be steaming ahead and unemployment is at a low 4%, we are facing some challenging headwinds that may have an effect on our good fortune. Strained foreign relations, an escalating trade war with China, slowing housing sales and Federal interest rate hikes are just some of the reasons we may be in for an economic downturn.
Truth be told, things have actually been a little too good and I am often reminded of how it was just before the last recession hit. Overpriced restaurants with bad service, red hot real estate prices that in many cases are unaffordable, lofty corporate valuations, an untamed stock market, excessive consumer debt, and a general sense of risk tolerance that I believe is unhealthy.
Everything seems to have an element of perfection built into it, and when things stop running perfectly I’m afraid we are in for a big surprise. Only it won’t really be a surprise because the handwriting is on the wall right in front of us. It seems to me the average guy on the street today has become jaded into believing this is just the way things are supposed to be. If a house doesn’t sell in the first week it’s listed, sellers want to know what’s wrong. When the stock market drops a mere 300 points the news reports the “crash” and everyone goes into a panic. Need a new employee? Good luck finding someone who wants to work hard for $15 per hour. I’ve seen this movie before and I know the ending.
The good news is that the economy ebbs and flows. Growth periods are followed by contractions and downturns don’t last forever. As far as the closeout business goes, I could make the argument we actually do better in tough times. Closeout and liquidation inventory is easier to buy because more sellers need to move goods to generate cash (remember Cash is King?). And overstock deals are easier to sell because our customers discount stores have more appeal during recessions when consumers are very careful with their spending. Also, new closeout customers open businesses during recessions to help feed the need for discount goods. Many attractive vacant retail locations may be filled again with discounters (remember location, location, location?) So start thinking about getting ready for a change, because good times don’t last forever.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout and liquidation buyer in business more than 33 years.
So far the only publicly traded company to reach a trillion dollar market valuation is Apple. But it won't be long before Amazon and Alphabet catch up and also reach this impressive milestone. It is truly an amazing time to be alive and see how these organizations are changing the world. But what is also intriguing is to see the positive impact these companies have had on the closeout industry.Alphabet
Alphabet is the parent company to Google and Google is the dominant search engine in use today. In 2017 it accounted for nearly 75% of all online searches. This means anyone researching things like where to buy and sell closeouts, how to dispose of excess inventory, or how to liquidate warehouses, is further supporting Google. What did we do before we had Google? Do you remember how time consuming and painful it was to make calls from the local yellow pages? When was the last time you needed something and looked at the classified section of a trade paper? Alphabet's Google has been a game changer for the closeout industry for both buyers and sellers.Amazon
Sure, we all know what Amazon is and how it has impacted our daily lives. Go online, buy what you want and in 48 hours it's waiting for you when you come home from work. Amazon has become an invaluable tool for selling overstock and closeout merchandise. Many of our customers now only sell their closeouts on Amazon. But only some people understand the other way Amazon has helped us. Every time you go on a companies website, every time you visit an online store, and every time you stream a movie from your Amazon Prime account you are often able to do this because of something called AWS. Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides cloud computing platforms to companies and governments. AWS is among the largest and fastest growing companies in its industry and is one of the principle ways we, as individuals, are allowed to seemlessley perform all the online tasks we do every day. It's been a huge “win” for the closeout industry.Apple
The first thing I have to tell you about Apple is that I am totally biased. I think it is one of the best companies on the planet and in my opinion it has changed and will continue to improve our lives in a way no other company has. Apple was the true innovator of the smart phone as we know it today. Where would we be without these invaluable tools in our purses and pockets? Did you know almost 60% of all internet searches today are from mobile devices? We talk, read, text, learn, and navigate directions from our phones. Our phone tells us how far we have gone, how many steps we have taken, even how fast or slow our heart beats. But it, too, has had a huge impact on the closeout business. The images we take on our Apple phones are better than the most expensive digital camera could product only 10 years ago. Today we shoot pictures, text or e-mail them, and buy and sell deals in a flash. We Face Time with each other which allows us to do business cheaper and easier. Merchandise USA even has it's own App that we use internally on all of our IOS devices for inventory control, customer records, and uploading images to photo files.
These three companies, each currently valued at or near a trillion dollars, have all been game changers for the closeout industry. Without them we would still be living in the dark ages of sending faxes and mailing color pictures overnight via FedEx and UPS.
Merchandise USA is a leader in buying closeout, excess and overstock inventory from importers and distributors. We have been in business more than 33 years.
We just finished exhibiting at another ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. This is still the major trade show for the closeout, surplus and liquidation industry, and we exhibit twice per year as we have every single year since I started this company more than 33 years ago. In fact, there was a period during the 1990's when there were four ASD Shows per year in Vegas and we participated in all of them.
So last night as I lay in bed in my familiar Las Vegas hotel room, I wasn't counting sheep. I was counting room nights. Nights I've spent in Vegas. ASD Shows are a week long every time, times 2 shows per year, times 33 years. Then the five or six years where we did 4 shows per year so another dozen shows, times 7 nights. Then I started thinking of all the 2-3 day trips I've made to Vegas for buying shows. Gift shows, hardware shows, apparel shows and more. All in all I calculated that I've spent 700 nights in Vegas hotel rooms. Two years of my life in Las Vegas. Nice.
I cringe every time someone asks me where I'm going, and I tell them I'm off to Vegas. “Wow, are you lucky!”, or “I'm so jealous!!”, or my personal favorite “I love Las Vegas, take me with you!”. These closeout shows are hard work and after so many years of doing them they simply aren't as fun and exciting as they once were. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining (well maybe a little). These shows have been good for business and I've met friends and customers who live and work in countries all over the world. We've forged relationships that likely never would have developed had it not been for all these nights in Las Vegas.
But I always thought it would be fun to take a trip there like a normal person. See the shows, gamble all night in the casino, sleep late, have drinks around the pool, take a nap in the sun, even spend a day walking the strip and acting like a tourist. But for now it's looking like my next trip to Las Vegas will be another work related stay, inching me toward the 800 night milestone. Ugh.
Merchandise USA is a 33 year old surplus, overstock and closeout buyer for all categories of excess and discontinued inventories.
The internet is a lot like New York City. It's a great place to visit, but I'm not sure I would want to live there. I understand the attraction to wanting to have an online business; the allure of being able to sell 24 hours a day, even while you are sleeping, is intriguing to say the least. And lets face it, we have all heard success stories that make us believe the internet is the Holy Grail. But the reality is that many Amazon sellers and online businesses are getting totally crushed.
In any given day we get five to ten phone calls and e-mails from companies in need of liquidating Amazon FBA inventory or other merchandise that was selling online. The amount of overstock and excess inventory being generated from these companies is staggering. The reasons are many, ranging from poor listings and excessive competition to high prices and simply poor products. But in every case, high expectations and big cash outlays were met head on with lackluster sales.
One of the issues with selling on the internet is that it is often a race to the bottom. Sure, you may be excited about the prospect of selling thousands of your new and exciting widgets with promises of making fortunes. But what happens when you find yourself up against other sellers who keep undercutting your price for the same or very similar items? There is no hiding from the lowest price available when you are selling online. Everything is out there for the consumer to see in plain sight and if you don't have the lowest price, you are looking right into the eyes of a liquidation sale.
Even if you are fortunate enough to have a great product that sells well, you may not be profitable. Between the cost of goods, the cost of pay per click ads, or Amazon fees, warehousing costs, returns, and shipping expenses, your winning item may still be a loser when it comes to making you money. We see a lot of this, and in many cases these products become excess and overstock inventory for sale in the marketplace.
In the old days products were bought and sold differently. We would look at an item, review the product and packaging, assess the value, and make a decision to buy or not buy. Not so anymore. Today's sales are driven by numbers and data. Sellers are mostly interested in rankings and visibility. Gone are the days of being creative and assembling a promotion to create interest in products or product categories. Now it's mostly all about number crunching where computer geeks make better buying decisions than seasoned retail buyers.
The good news for us is there are plenty of closeouts, overstocks, and liquidations for sale. We buy all kinds of excess inventory originally planned to sell online. Sure, it takes a lot of work to repack, redesign, and often relabel these products to fit our needs but we do what it takes. Because if all we do is run with the rest of the pack, we would probably get crushed as well.
Merchandise USA is a 33 year old surplus, overstock and closeout buyer for all categories of excess and discontinued inventories.
The year was 1997 and I was a 31 year old enterprising businessman with a point to prove, a mark to make and a fire in my belly. By this time I had already been in business for myself more than 10 years and had built a stable foundation. I had experienced working in various types of shared storage spaces and multi tenant buildings. I was young, motivated, and making good money, but missing one important piece of the puzzle that mattered more to me than anything. I wanted to purchase a warehouse building of my own; a place where I could settle in and hang my name on the door. I wanted my own home, sweet home.
But at the time the industrial real estate market was strong and I couldn't find any deals. I remember driving street after street and talking to broker after broker. Nothing. Either it was too big, too small, or too far away. It didn't have any loading, it didn't have enough loading, the ceilings were too low, the office was too small or too large, or for the times I found something workable – well those were just way too expensive. But I had an angel on my side and I didn't know it at the time. I had my Dad.
Over the years my Dad and I had a challenging relationship, but it was never for lack of his interest in everything I did and every move I made. He was the most supportive Father I could have ever asked for and I was fortunate he took such an interest in everything I did since I was little. So everyday he would call. “There is a building at such and such address” he would share. “I saw it”, I would tell him as if he didn't think I was out there pounding the pavement. “I spoke with Jim Getzoff today and he has a property on the South Side” he would say. “I know about it”, I would tell him in despair. “The roof needs to be replaced and it's littered with environmental problems”. I used to get so frustrated with him because he would always tell me everything I already knew. Almost always. One day he mentioned a broker I hadn't heard of and an address I hadn't seen. “Where on 36th Street?” I eagerly asked. Hmmm, interesting. I hadn't seen it.
In January 1998, 3021 W. 36th Street, Chicago, IL 60632 changed ownership and became mine. It was my baby. It was 30,000 square feet of raw hope and promise and possibility and love and admiration and pride and dedication and inspiration. I spent 20 years of my life in this building, taking care of it and it taking care of me. Nothing that ever broke stayed broke. I made sure this building was managed and cared for to the best of my abilities. If the roof leaked it was immediately fixed, if brickwork needed attention we didn't wait. Old office? Fix it up and make it look new. Broken windows? Only for as long as it took to get new glass. Graffiti in the back? Gone within 72 hours. Nice pictures on the walls, hardwood floors in the office, and on and on and on.
But now with the real estate market strong again, I took advantage of an opportunity to sell the building and move on. The truth is, it isn't as perfect for me as it once was, and I understand this is part of life and change and growth and acceptance. I know it's existence is only one of brick and mortar, a structure of concrete floors and rubber roof, but to me it was always so much more. It was the words I spoke and the air I breathed and the happiness in my smile and the pain in my joints. It was all I talked about for years and in many ways I can see that it was even too much a part of me in that I let it define me. To me it was a real living thing.
So in my heart there is a void and the difficulty for me comes in letting go. Not to all the dreams and hopes this building held, because I was very fortunate that most of them were realized for me. But in knowing I won't be there any longer, and all I am left with now will be my memories. The love I had for this space over all the years it nurtured and grew my business is simply irreplaceable.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer and liquidator in business more than 33 years.
When we opened our Miami showroom in 2015, I was hopeful it would be a way for us to sell more of our closeout and surplus inventory. One of the challenges we were having at the time was that we were repeatedly seeing the same customers and not selling enough new accounts. Our last show in April was by far the best to date, and we believe it will continue to grow.
Now don't get me wrong, we love our regular accounts and appreciate everything about them. But for any business to survive, it must grow it's customer base in an effort to manage inventory flow and insure a steady cash flow. I have found that over time in Miami we have been able to meet and cultivate a new and different kind of client. Many of these people have businesses in Florida, South America and Central America, where our special niche of closeouts is a perfect fit. Since we specialize in buying liquidations and excess merchandise, it allows us to give these customers product at low prices they would not be able to get anywhere else.
As an example, I met a wonderful woman from the Bahamas named Angel (I think she really is an Angel) who has a beautiful store in Nassau. Like the rest of us, the post Amazon retail environment has affected her business and she has been forced to make changes and re-tool. So instead of selling only books and stationery, she now carries home accessories, glassware, and more general merchandise. This week we will be shipping her almost a full container of closeouts.
Then there is Anan, clearly an aggressive business owner from Jacksonville who is always on the go, and seeking out deals on all kinds of inventory. I can tell from the short time I have know him that he is a hands-on operator, always multi tasking, and in total control of his business.
Naseem is an old-school hard-working-as-they-come business owner from South Miami. She runs a retail outlet all by herself and there is never a time I talk to her on the phone when she is not with a customer. Somehow between buying, unpacking, stocking the store and paying bills, I consistently hear her dialog with customers, answering their questions and thanking them for their business.
Jim buys closeouts for a huge warehouse superstore in the Cayman Islands. Although we knew him before we opened in Miami, he recently told me he will be visiting this showroom more frequently because it allows him to have a steady flow of product from vendors he trusts. Jim is one of the nicest buyers you could hope to work with, and is a wonderful addition to our customer base.
There are too many more to name, but we feel our growth from this showroom is real and I have more faith than ever in the customer base drawn to it. Our next show dates are June 24th -26th and for more details please visit either our website at www.merchandiseusa.com or Mart of Miami showroom website at www.martofmiami.com
First, I learned something today I want to share with you. Americas last full blown trade war was in 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression. Claiming it was protecting American jobs, Congress passed the Smoot Hawley Act. This was a bill that was originally introduced and designed to protect farmers. But to build political support, many lawmakers asked for tariffs -- or taxes -- on all sorts of goods in exchange for their vote.
At the end of the day, U.S. Imports fell 40% in the two years after Smoot Hawley was passed. Banks failed, the unemployment rate increased, and the economy grew worse. Although these trade wars were not the cause of the Depression, it is clear they made matters much worse than they otherwise would have been. A trade war is a lot like business itself; easy to get into and difficult to get out of.
Ultimately, U.S. tariffs on overseas products are met with retaliatory strikes, leading to additional tariffs from the United States, and back and forth we go as each side hurls more artillery at the other. In the end, it is the Global economy that will suffer, and each country will likely be worse off for the whole thing with the possible exception of each leaders ego.
My basic dumbed down way of looking at things is this: Let's say U.S. breweries buy all the material for their beer cans overseas because it's cheaper than buying it here. Makes sense. So we impose a 10% tariff on all imported aluminum to create a more level playing field in an effort to get breweries to buy their beer cans locally. But now its more expensive to package the beer and the liquor people don't want to make less money, so they raise their prices. Guess what happens next? US consumers don't buy as much beer because it's cutting into their ability to buy groceries for their families, or they start buying wine, or they switch to imported bear. So domestic breweries lose revenue.
Wanna take another guess at what happens now? The beer companies start laying off employees because they aren't as busy as they used to be. Now take a stab at which one of those economic rates will begin to suffer. That's right, the unemployment rate goes up. Now, this is just a single tariff. Can you imagine multiple layers of retaliation in many industries on all sorts of goods in a trade war? No thanks.
A trade war would deliver a particularly hard blow to the closeout industry because we have to sell closeouts and overstocks way below regular cost. If it suddenly became more expensive to import general merchandise, and we were paying more to buy closeouts, we would have to raise our prices and our customers would have to raise their prices. Somehow, I don't think the low end discount buyer today is going to pay more for our overstock, closeout and liquidated inventory. They just won't buy as much. And that means closeout retail sales will suffer. No thanks again.
Merchandise USA is an inventory liquidator specializing in closeout and surplus inventory. Contact us if you are selling closeout toys, liquidating housewares, or have any other excess inventory.
When I was a little kid, there were only two things that made me happier than using a spoon to pry coins out from the slot in the head of my plastic Mickey Mouse bank. One was scouring the pages of the three inch thick Sears catalog that had a "better than anyone could ever photo shop" picture of every product imaginable. I ravaged those pages so many times they became thin as tissue paper, and the images of the toys were etched in my mind forever.
But my favorite thing to do, and the activity I dreamed of at night and loved the most, was a trip with my parents to the Bargain Town store. Bargain Town, for those of us old enough to remember life before Amazon, is what they used to call Toys R Us back in the 1970's. And man oh man, did I love going there. You have to remember, we didn't have iPads, Gameboys, iPhones, Apps, or anything like that to play with. The Bargain Town investors weren't crying that kids were addicted to going to the toy store. If anything, kids back then were strung out on Estes Rockets, Raleigh bicycles, Tyco trains and Cox gas powered airplanes. My childhood was made up of the things any product liability attorney would dream of getting his hands on in today's upside down, nobody takes responsibility for anything, I'm suing because my coffee is too hot, crazy world . My hero was Geoffrey The Giraffe and it was his respected iconic cartoon face I couldn't wait to see in the Sunday newspaper ads.
Life was simple. If you wanted a toy you went to the toy store. The atmosphere was truly something special and it lived in a time and a place where 35,000 square feet of toys and games was magical. It turned a commercial strip mall into a wonderland like no other retail space ever had before, and Geoffrey's smiling face stood proud above the parking lot like a billboard for a Presidential candidate. You felt like a King marching into that place, and if your parents wanted to make you feel even more special, they signed you up for Geoffrey's Birthday Club.
What a shame for boys and girls today to have never been able to experience the thrill of being a Toys R Us Kid and pushing one of those metal shopping carts with damaged wheels down a Bargain Town aisle. To have never played in the store with a metal Slinky or Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist doll. To never fly a Cox or Testers gas tethered airplane in circles until you get a head rush so bad you have to fall down. Or to have missed an opportunity to be one of the first kids on the block to Bargain Town for the Mattel Vertibird helicopter or to buy your first Battleship game or bicycle.
The death of the retail mall I can accept and live with. And I understand that shopping trends have changed, the internet is here to stay, and kids are getting older younger. I'm okay with all that. But dealing with the loss of Geoffrey the Giraffe.. ...not so much.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout company. We specialize in buying overstock and surplus inventory of all categories including toys.
Here we are again planning for another ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. Upcoming dates are March 10th to 14th and, as usual, we are expecting a busy show . If you don't already have an appointment to see us, please call today to reserve a day and time. We are located in SU-811 and, as always, our booths will be jam-packed with great deals on closeout and liquidation products of all kinds.
One of the best things about this show is it allows us to see our valued International friends and customers who don't regularly visit our Chicago or Miami showrooms. Since we specialize in selling overstock and excess inventory only, these goods tend to move quickly and our overseas accounts don't always have the opportunity to buy them. But in Las Vegas, we bring samples of all our best deals and we look forward to seeing customers who can only visit with us at this market.
We also welcome our clients who regularly support us in Chicago and Miami, and we encourage you to see us as early as well in Las Vegas for new closeout deals. In addition to seeing our regular customers, we are always very excited to meet new accounts. So if you have not purchased from us in the past, the Las Vegas show is an excellent opportunity for you to take advantage of our overstock, closeout and liquidation deals.
This show, we are planning to have large selections of handbags, pillows, giftware, home accessories, housewares, apparel, novelties, toys and much more. And the best thing about our merchandise is that it is all closeouts, all the time. We do not buy regular imports. So call today to make your appointment, and see us as early as possible at ASD Market Week! (888) 757-0060.
Merchandise USA is a 33 year old wholesale liquidator specializing in closeout and surplus inventory.
I've been in the closeout business for a long time. Like a really long time. Some of our suppliers have been selling us their closeouts for decades. Other vendors are one hit wonders, where we buy from them one time and never hear from them again. But with all the deals I have made, and all the liquidations I've purchased, I have a few suggestions for anyone trying to find the right closeout company for their inventory.
1. Research, Research, Research. There are a lot of good apples in the closeout industry, but there are also a lot of rotten eggs. If you are talking with a company you don't know, get references and talk to other sellers who have already liquidated their overstock to them. Did they pickup and pay on time? Did they pay in full or were there unnecessary deductions? Was the process easy, or was it difficult and would they work with the company again?
2. Do The Math. Let's face it you are liquidating merchandise so you are going to take a loss. But the question is, do you have any better options? Can you sell half the product over the next 12 months for 3X the money, and be better off? If you get rid of the dead stock now at pennies on the dollar, can you make up the losses over the next year because you have more space to turn goods? You have to examine your options, do the math, and make the choice that is right for you. This will put you in a much better position to find the right buyer.
3. Ask Questions. Just because you are selling and they are buying doesn't mean you can't ask them questions. Don't be afraid to push back a little and find out where they plan to sell your merchandise. Will it go back into the marketplace and interfere with your distribution? Bad idea. Will it be sold online for all the world to see including your core customers? Poor Judgment. Ask all these questions in advance so you won't have any unpleasant surprises.
4. Buyer or Broker? You want a company that will make you an offer to make a clean purchase of all your liquidation stock. You need a buyer who has the ability to swoop in, pickup all the merchandise, ship it to their warehouse, pay you right away, and be done with it. What you don't want is somebody making you false promises about how they can sell your merchandise for you. You don't need a broker who has no skin in the game and wants to make money off your misfortune without taking a position. Save yourself the frustration and aggravation; work only with a real buyer.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying surplus, liquidated, overstock and closeout inventory.
“Some of the best deals are the ones we never get”. I have to admit this is one of my favorite sayings and mostly because it's so true. We buy closeouts that we think are going to fly, and they trickle out of the warehouse, or even worse don’t sell at all. Then we take overstock inventory we don’t even want because it is part of a larger package deal, and these are the items that often sell better than anything. But the best is when we look back at merchandise we wanted to buy in the worst way, but didn't get, and we learn later it would have been slow moving inventory or obsolete stock we would have had to liquidate at a loss. You have to be Columbo to figure it all out.
Buying overstock inventory and surplus merchandise can be an unpredictable game, and as closeout buyers, we are often put in a position where we have to take a chance on something. Should we buy this discontinued inventory just because it is cheap? Should we invest in excess merchandise that someone else is trying to get rid of? Hard to say.
The truth is there is often opportunity to make money with a bankruptcy or an overstock or closeout deal. But there are risks - like maybe the merchandise won’t sell and we might have to liquidate it. Or maybe what we think is a great closeout opportunity really isn't as good as it looks. But this is all part of the closeout business, and if you aren’t making any mistakes then it’s likely you just aren’t buying enough liquidations.
We have been excess inventory buyers for 33 years, so trust me when I tell you it isn’t easy to pick only beauty queens. When we buy a deal it’s because at the time we think it’s a great buy. But somehow many of these “deals” have turned out to be total dogs. And some of them bark really loud.
Like baseball, it’s all about the batting average. There is simply no way to avoid striking out. But if you hit enough singles and doubles, an occasional triple and every once in awhile a home run, then the numbers tend to work out. And that’ll make you a happy puppy.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale liquidator specializing in buying overstock and closeout inventory. Contact us with any overstock clearance, going out of business sale, or bankruptcy liquidation.
When you think of all the things you wouldn't want to be today, one of them would have to be a real estate developer with an indoor shopping mall in his portfolio. These behemoths are millions of square feet of vacant wasteland, and in many ways represent the very idea of how the retail environment has drastically changed in the past 20 years.
As a kid growing up on the North Shore of Chicago, we spent countless hours roaming the massive footage of these indoor spaces. For us, it was less a place to support the retail stores inside and more a case of where to hang out after school. But today the piped in music echoes off barren walls.
Today's kids (and adults, for that matter) have little need or interest in visiting an indoor shopping mall anchored by a Macy's, J.C. Penney's or Nordstrom's. Of the more than 1,100 indoor malls left in the United States, analysts estimate more than 1 in every 4 will be closed by 2022. The mall staple, Radio Schack, has filed for bankruptcy twice in two years. This year alone, nine national retailers filed for bankruptcy.
Some ailing malls have already moved on to a second life. Austin Community College in Texas purchased Highland Mall in 2012 and converted part of it into a tech driven learning lab and library. In Nashville, Vanderbilt University Medical Center moved into the second floor of the 100 Oaks Mall, a few blocks from Downtown. The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY bought their nearby mall and transformed part of it into an auditorium. In May, the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville, PA gave it's remaining tenants 90 days to close up shop and tenants expect the mall to be demolished.
The decline in malls began slowly. In the mid 2000's the rise in online shopping and affects of the Great Recession let to a drop in sales at many of the country's malls. By the years 2010-2013 mall visits during the holiday season dropped by as much as 50%. But there is hope after all. The Mayfield Mall in Mountain View, CA shut down in 1983 when Hewlett Packard moved in an transformed the space into offices. Then in 2013 Google bought and renovated the 500,000 square foot space turning it into it's Google Glass headquarters.
Merchandise USA is a wholesale closeout buyer specializing in excess inventory and overstock.
Convenience:Depending on the type of business you are in, there can be some very compelling reasons to run your wholesale distribution company through a 3PL warehouse. In some cases it makes a great deal of sense to use a fulfillment warehouse, but in other cases it can be an inventory control nightmare. Here are some of the biggest pros and cons of working with a 3PL company.
Flexibility: The simple fact is that there are times when business is better than others. 3PL logistics allows you to increase space as needed. You can increase and decrease your space as your business ebbs and flows. This is especially important if you have wholesale products to sell that are by nature either seasonal or cyclical. Even in the case of a company going out of business, and there is a liquidation of a company, it is much easier to downsize 3PL warehouse space as needed until the entire inventory is liquidated.
Technology:Fulfillment warehouses that specialize in warehouse distribution tend to have state of the art technology systems. This means you can operate in real time with your inventory, and your system can communicate with their inventory management programs for efficient operations. The technological advantage is most likely helpful to businesses with wholesale sites and inventory management issues related to slow moving systems and procedures.
Lack of Contol: When you allow an outside company to run your warehouse, you definitely have to give up control. No longer can you run in back to look at something, go grab a quick sample, or take a fast look at something that requires inspection. In many cases, with closeout, overstock and excess inventory, shipments come in that must be properly inspected in a short period of time.
Commitment: Once you turn everything over to a third party warehouse and remove your inside people from doing this work, you are tied to the outside warehouse. If at any point you decide to bring these duties back in house you will essentially be starting all over again with a new warehouse crew and system. This would impact shipping for weeks or months until you are up and running.
Reputation: I often tell my people that the strongest impression our customers have of our company is what the pallets and cartons look like when they arrive at their stores. If you get into a situation where your 3PL company does a sloppy job organizing and palletizing your orders, mislabeling cartons and/or pallets, and sending dirty cases, packing boxes sideways/upside down, etc, this affects your reputation because it affects the image your customer has of your organization.
So at the end of the day, although it may seem that 3PL distribution is a slam dunk, you'll have to consider it very carefully. Just because the largest logistics companies in the United States promise they can do the job for you, it may not mean you are a match. Surplus and closeout companies would have a very difficult time operating from a third party warehouse. Wholesale liquidators, online liquidation auctions, and companies selling wholesale liquidation pallets would also have a difficult time operating from a fulfillment warehouse.
Merchandise USA is a surplus, closeout and wholesale liquidator. We specialize in discontinued products, bankruptcy inventory and liquidation sales. For more information on the liquidation process please contact us.
As Amazon and other on-line shopping continues to take its toll on the retail sector, we will likely see more store closings in the years ahead. Personally, I'm not a member of the “retail is dead” fan club, and I think many brick and mortar businesses are finding ways to survive and thrive in today's brave new world. The simple truth of it all is they have to figure out how to do things differently.
But since the majority of them don't know how to change, it is likely we will have more chapter 11 filings ahead in 2018 and more companies going out of business. This year alone we saw many big names file for bankruptcy protection – Toys R Us, Radio Shack, The Limited, Rue 21 and Payless Shoes are just a handful of the casualties.
The stores that really should have the best chance of survival are the independent retailers in the closeout industry. These are companies running outlets with anywhere from one to a couple hundred units, where they are regional in nature and they have the ability to zig and zag with the market as it continues to morph into something different. They can buy special deals from wholesale liquidators and run overstock clearance sales.
These companies can effectively continue bringing in closeout and surplus merchandise and promote liquidation sales and overstock. They can have a truckload deal of clothing one week, and another truckload of appliances the next week. They can be different. They can offer the consumer something that really has value. Deals. The trick is going to be figuring out how to get them in the store. Radio broadcasting? I don't think so. TV advertising? Not going to happen. How about running a series of ads in the newspaper? Forget it.
Now let's talk about social media and Facebook and Instagram and blogging and start doing one of the hardest things imaginable. Change.
When it comes to liquidating merchandise, it can be an easy and pleasant experience if you have the right attitude and take the appropriate steps. Since we have specialized in the closeout business for many years, I wanted to share some ideas on how to get through the process quickly and painlessly.
Get over it. One of the biggest deterrents to letting go and getting rid of dead inventory is the emotional component. Nobody likes the idea of selling something for less than it cost because, well, let's face it, nobody likes losing money. But sometimes, it is necessary in the short term to liquidate closeouts that are taking up warehouse space, or tying up valuable cash. This way, you can reach your long term business goal of overall profitability.
Choose your partner wisely. There are a lot of players out there in the closeout world. Some of them are experienced and reliable, and others not so much. So it is important you do your due diligence when choosing where you will be liquidating your merchandise. Look for a closeout buyer who is aligned with your expectations of what you want to happen. Find a company capable of giving you what you need to help you every step of the way through the transaction, from start to finish. This includes getting the price you expect, as well as agreeing on shipping and payment terms.
Learn something. There is an old saying “learn from your mistakes”. This is true in business and very important when liquidating inventory. In an effort to limit the amount of money lost on liquidations it is helpful to understand how you got into your situation in the first place. There are times when we have to liquidate overstock merchandise because of a natural product life cycle, or phasing out slow-moving merchandise to make way for a new line. But there are other times when we are forced to sell because the product was inferior in the marketplace, or the price was too high or the product became obsolete. These are the things to avoid a second time around, if possible.
Your first offer is your best offer. One thing I tell people who call us wanting to get rid of surplus merchandise is that your first offer is often your best offer. We experience the same thing when selling closeouts; if someone makes us an offer to take everything and if we can find a way to justify selling all of our inventory quickly, all at one time, we do our best to make it happen. Many times if we hold out for a higher price, not only do we not get it, but we end up getting less than the original offer. So if you are old enough to remember “Let's Make A Deal” with Monte Hall and Carol Merrill, you'll know what I mean when I say you should consider taking what's on Jay's table.
Finding the right company to buy surplus merchandise is not rocket science and anyone can do it as long as you are armed with the right information. Merchandise USA is a liquidator and surplus company in business since 1984, and we stand proud of our long track record in the industry.
We are opening our Miami Lakes showroom to all customers next week, November 12th-14th. Whether your company is based in Florida, South America, or Central America this is a great opportunity to purchase last minute inventory on closeouts, liquidations, and wholesale buyouts
for the Holidays.
If you operate retail stores, you are well aware of how important the last 6 weeks of the year can be toward driving sales. Take advantage of this opportunity to buy overstock inventory on deals we are making available in all categories including toys, housewares, giftware, glassware, novelties, crafts, seasonal inventory, and sporting goods. We also have bulk closeouts, wholesale apparel, and many other kinds of surplus merchandise at deep discount prices.
Since we are one of the largest inventory liquidators in the industry, we are always receiving new shipments. I encourage you to visit our showroom where you can see all of our most recent deals on exciting closeout merchandise. We have been liquidation experts since 1984 and have more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space loaded with incredible deals on overstock merchandise at prices 50% to 75% below regular wholesale.
So if you are interested in buying closeouts, call us today at (888) 757-0060 to make a show appointment, or visit our website www.merchandiseusa.com for more details.
If you are a a wholesale distributor or importer, it's time to begin working down your inventory for 2017. Ideally, you want to clear out any closeout, overstock , excess or surplus inventory before December 31st. The clock is ticking and time moves quickly. It's best to begin planning now and here are some compelling reasons why.
1. Tax benefits. Assuming you made money this year, it's a good opportunity to offset your income with any losses. If you have to sell your inactive and surplus inventory below cost it makes sense to do it in the same year you had other gains. The government is your partner in your income, so you may as well let them also participate in any losses and take the tax write off.
2. Warehouse space. As the real estate market around the country continues to heat up, the cost to buy or lease warehouse space keeps rising. If you are fortunate enough to be locked into a lease rate there is no point in using up any of your existing space with unwanted inventory. If you are paying for additional outside storage , this makes even less sense because you can sell your closeouts and reduce the amount of space you need.
3. Cash Flow. Let's face facts, the bills keep coming, the cost of doing business keeps going up, and there never seems to be enough money in the checking account to comfortably pay for everything. There is a good chance you'll never miss that slow moving inventory in your warehouse, so why not sell it in one fell swoop and convert it into a pile of cash? Use the money to pay down debt, hire additional help, or invest it into more profitable merchandise and keep turning it.
4. Business Closure. If you have made the difficult decision to close a division of your company, or close the entire business, it means you must liquidate your inventory. If your fiscal year ends at the end of a calendar year, it will help you to complete everything by December 31st. There is never a good time to liquidate a company or dispose of all your merchandise but it is easier from an accounting standpoint to not roll it over to the following year.
5. Peace Of Mind. Sometimes the thought of doing something seems bigger than it really is, and this can get in the way of actually completing the task at hand. When it comes to liquidating closeouts it is an easy process and there is no benefit to procrastinating. Excess inventory is not like a fine wine because it doesn't get better with age. In fact, over time it almost always get worse. Get rid of it, clean your warehouse space, clear your head, and move on to more profitable inventory in 2018.
Merchandise USA has been in the closeout business for 33 years. We specialize in helping companies liquidate overstock, surplus and excess inventory.
I can't be the only person who thinks about these things. I mean, in their day these were undoubtedly amazing inventions that changed lives. But there must be a way to improve them so they work better for us in the ever changing world we live in. Here are the first 6 on my long list.
1. The Iron. I know I'm a guy and may not be the best when it comes to operating an iron. But seriously, isn't there another way to do this that makes more sense? Do we really need to stand over a steaming chunk of metal, leaking hot water all over the garment we are trying to make look better?
2. The Ironing Board. This is simply a good idea, but a bad design. Period. Can't they figure out another way to make the thing stand, than crummy old metal legs that unfold at a hinge that's always in the stuck closed position? And can't it be a little more stable so it doesn't tip over every time you move? Did the guy who invented this thing not know that it would be supporting a burning chunk of metal plugged into the wall with a cord half the size it should have been?
3. Hotel Luggage Cart. Good idea, needs updating. For starters, they never should have been built so narrow and tall. As soon as you stack any weight toward the top, the whole thing falls over. And I think the wheels are still version 1.0 from when the wheel was first invented. When we go to trade shows we often have boxes filled with samples of last minute closeouts. We need a better luggage cart than what every hotel has to offer. I think the upgrade should include a basket, mirrors, a much wider base, bigger wheels and GPS to your room.
4. Root Canal. Teeth are weird. I mean they are a living breathing part of us, but not treated the same way as the rest of our body. A bad tooth may not hurt much at the beginning, but if you procrastinate taking action (my preferred treatment plan), it will definitely get worse. I cracked my back molar and they couldn't do root canal so my only option was to have it pulled. Why can't they make some kind of teeth adhesive and shoot it in there like drywall insulation? Or develop a way to strap one tooth to another until it heals, like a broken finger or toe. We've been pulling teeth since ancient times and I am amazed they can't find a way to repair a crack in the root.
5. Plastic Lids. For me, there is something about drinking coffee out of a ceramic mug that I just don't like. Even when eating at a restaurant, I prefer my coffee in a to-go cup. But why in the world can't anyone invent a leak-proof plastic lid? Why does every refreshing sip have to be accompanied by an equal portion of my coffee dripping down the side of my cup?
6. Airplane Internet. Yes, it is amazingly unbelievable. That we can access the internet from our computer while flying through the sky in an airplane is truly nothing short of a miracle. It is beyond belief and I am totally in awe of this. But since they have the technology, and they figured out how to make it work, why can't they make it work well? Why do I have to type 10 characters, then wait until my computer catches up to me? Why does my screen have to freeze and disconnect me? I am not saying what we have isn't fantastic, because it is. But they can send a rocket 750 million miles to orbit the planet Saturn and send back streaming color images. Why can't I get my e-mail?
Merchandise USA specializes in buying wholesale overstock, closeout, excess and liquidation inventory. We have been in business more than 30 years.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a a 10 year old kid doing homework in my bedroom while my parents and their friends were having dinner downstairs. They would drone on and on about things that had absolutely no impact on anything that was important to me. How did their stupid conversation have anything to do with the truly meaningful things in my life? And when would they leave so I could go back downstairs and watch the only TV we had in the house?
I couldn't believe how bored I used to get listening to them talk about things like politics, jobs, and all their old people health problems. Boy was I happy I was a kid and would never have to deal with any of those things. All I had to worry about was what time the Summer day would turn to night and my Mom would start calling my name out "Jay, time to come in". Then again a few minutes later "Let's go, you can play with your friends tomorrow"
Blink an eye and here I am having my 53rd birthday. What did I just say? When did that happen? I mean on the one hand it makes sense. I see how the years played out and where the time went. But then on the other hand , really, 53? I was just a kid riding my new banana seat bike and shooting off model rockets in the field behind my school. It's all somewhat of a blur - the days turned into weeks, the weeks rolled into months, and the months bled into years.
Then I look at all the amazing things that have happened so far in my lifetime. Smoke detectors, digital music, cell phones, MRI machines, GPS, DNA fingerprinting. Time keeps speeding by and it seems to go faster as I get older.
If only Apple could come out with an app to slow things down a little.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying overstock, closeout and liquidation inventory.
1. I'm doing everyone elses work. I'm spending my time providing customers with case packs, case dimensions, pallet heights, shipment weights, inner packs, schedulele B tariff numbers, product material content, freight quotes, etc. I'm dealing with my employees health insurance, payroll problems, personal issues, time off, and personality conflicts. My internet goes down and I'm trouble shooting because the guy that installed our new system didn't really finish the job. I'm on the phone for 45 minutes with UPS Freight because they lost a shipment and never followed up to the claim as promised (multiple times). And the list goes on......
2. I'm having complete conversations electronically. I am a huge fan of e-mail and text when used effectively. But I find people want to have entire conversations via their phones and computers and believe me, this doesn't save time, this takes time. Put a thought or idea out there, send and receive, send and receive again, get a different answer because they misunderstood. Type, type, type, delete because it isn't worded perfectly. Send again, wait, send and receive 10 times until they finally reply (30 seconds later). Over and over and over. It's a waste of time and cutting into productivity more than ever. Text and e-mail is for short quick spurts, not complete conversations and negotiations.
3. We really never recovered from the Great Recession. In many cases things seem like they are better than ever. Real estate is booming, restaurants are packed, unemployment is at record low levels, the stock market is at an all-time high, big corporate profits are up, etc. But did you know statistics show 8 in 10 Americans are in dept and live paycheck to paycheck? And did you know 10 percent of people earning $100,000 plus have trouble making ends meet? Consumer debt is on the rise again and it is showing signs of weakening the retail environment. The effect on our business is that our customers are buying less and more selectively. At the end of the day this equals more work.
4. I'm getting older. It pains me to admit this but I don't have the same level of energy I once did. When I was younger I could work 14 or 15 hours, go the the gym, have dinner, sleep for 4-5 hours and go do it again. Today I can still work long hours, but I don't multi-task as well and by midday my brain starts to get fuzzy. I go to the gym and I still eat. But my workout isn't as hard, I eat less and different foods, and I need more sleep than I used to in order to recover for the next day.
5. The thrill is gone. Here's the worst one. It isn't fun anymore. When the thrill is gone and all you are left with is the workload, aggrevation, and bitterness, it's hard to feel good about things. And when you no longer feel the excitement of making things happen, it's an uphill battle every minute of every day. If I can just figure out how to get back to the basics of buying and selling closeouts, and spending my day making deals with customers and vendors, it would be a beautiful thing.
Merchandise USA specializes in buying overstock, closeout and liquidation inventory.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.