Americans love to work. While full-time employment is characterized as a 40 hour work week, the average employee actually spends 47 hours at work each week, compared to 35 in Germany or Sweden. The United States is also rare among wealthy nations in that it does not guarantee paid vacation. And those working for companies that do offer paid vacation don’t even take it; 54 percent of worker bees squander half of their vacation days each year. In the closeouts industry where we sell excess inventory to overstock distributors, it’s easy to log 70 and 80 hour weeks. Selling closeouts is demanding and often involves travel, attending trade shows, scheduling Zoom sessions and meeting with other wholesale liquidators.
This culture and economic structure has serious consequences—physical ones. In his recent book Dying for a Paycheck, Stanford University organizational behavior professor Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that some 150,000 deaths in the United States each year, and as many as 1 million in China, can be attributed to overwork. Wholesale liquidators specialize in buying excess inventory from importers, Amazon FBA sellers, and other distributors who may need to sell old inventory taking up warehouse space. Overstock distributors can easily work 60+ hours a week trying to find buyers for closeouts and surplus inventory. The constant pressure of having to identify companies in liquidation is terribly demanding. Sedentary lifestyles, sleeplessness, and stress—all provoked by damaging work cultures and economic anxieties—are partly to blame for our high rate of sickness and death due to overwork.
The pandemic, and especially remote work, has created new opportunities to work too hard. The W.H.O. director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that teleworking has blurred the line between work and home and that people who have survived layoffs at struggling businesses have ended up working longer hours. It takes an enormous amount of energy to get up everyday, search for closeout warehouses to sell excess inventory, meet with overstock distributors and cultivate new vendors and customers for wholesale closeout liquidations. One survey found an overwhelming majority of American employees have shortened, postponed or canceled vacations during the pandemic.
Feeling overworked can also wreak havoc on your mental health. Stress is correlated with 75 percent to 90 percent of medical visits, according to the American Institute of Stress. It’s estimated to cost the U.S. economy approximately $600 billion annually. Wholesale liquidators and closeout companies are often run by highly motivated individuals who demand a lot of themselves. Overstock distributors that sell excess inventory are part of a competitive industry that requires long hours. There are a lot of closeout companies around the country, all competing to buy overstock, surplus and excess inventory. In order to liquidate business inventory these companies have a lot of employees who travel, engage in meetings and entertain customers and vendors. It is these relationships that forge relationships for liquidation buyers, but the very same relationships are challenging to maintain. Liquidation inventory is usually the result of a business importing too much merchandise, moving or closing 3PL warehouses, or having a wholesale surplus due to reduced sales. The liquidation process can be stressful and time consuming without the right contacts.
Work, at least as it currently exists, sucks. There’s a reason they have to pay you to do it. There’s a reason closeout buyers and liquidators get paid good money to sell closeout inventory. With overwork killing nearly a million people a year, now is the time to double down on the struggle for less time to the boss, and more time for what we will. Our lives should not be centered around production for profit. There is more to life than having a wholesale closeout liquidation, or refining the liquidation process. Should we relax the grip work discipline has on our use of time, wrote E. P. Thompson, we might “relearn some of the arts of living and how to fill the interstices of their day with enriched, more leisurely, personal and social relations.” Or, as one writer of a post-work manifesto put it, “It’s time to get a life.” It’s either that or we drop dead.
Merchandise USA helps businesses sell overstock inventory and closeout merchandise. We perform liquidation of a company for profit, and we help identify liquidation products and liquidation goods so you can concentrate on your core business. Call us to learn how the closeout process works.