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Wholesale, How Can One Be Taken Seriously?


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Hello hello!


Yay! I've missed it here. I had to review one of my old threads to ensure I hadn't missed any information and honestly, Neil and Davide, you answered my questions so thoroughly and honestly - so thank you.


So at the beginning of last year I gave myself a challenge of selling a ring pre loved and came here for some insights. At the time I explored multiple avenues to sell the ring, which was an interesting learning curve.


Since then, I have ended up creating my own online store where I now source and sell premium pre loved luxury jewellery :) I'm based in Australia so have a much smaller market, however it's become a hobby that I really enjoy!


As crazy as it must sound to you both, particularly coming from someone who is not in the trade, I have wanted for a very long time to develop my own diamond jewellery. I know it must sound crazy! But, it's a goal, so well, here I am...


I am hoping to find out is it possible and how to get a wholesaler to take me seriously and deal direct with me?


Thanks heaps :)

Edited by Kittykat
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Buying is easy. Selling is what's hard. Where you buy is going to vary a bit depending on what you're looking for but but wholesalers and manufacturers are dying to find retailers who can move things through the pipeline. If I were to give only one pointer it would be to worry less about finding who you're looking for in a supplier and working on becoming what THEY are looking for.


The only trick, to the extent that there is one at all, is separating out the customers who are just trying to cut the retailer out of the loop. Any real wholesaler isn't going to be interested in getting into a price war with their own customers after all. That's just stupid.


It may be different in Australia but in the US, here's how to do it:


1) Get your licenses and permits in order.

2) Make a visible marketplace. This can be anything from websites to business cards to an art show booth. 'Look' like a retailer. Just a website template is not enough by the way.

3) Advertise.

4) Attend a trade show or three. Hobnob.

5) Be prepared to meet the minimum order requirements.

6) Pay your bills on time. Get a credit card in the company name.

7) Sell stuff. Sell sell sell.


The traps people get into here are easy enough as well:


1) Selling is hard work. Folks want a quick fix automated solution. Despite what various spamsters will tell you, there is no automated pipeline that will generate money for without effort. You have to work at it. You can't do it all from your couch and on you laptop. Sorry. Go meet people in person. At wholesale this is even more important than at retail.


2) Fear of advertising. Advertising is the curse of jewelers, and most other merchants too. It's easy to burn BIG money and it's a barrier for nearly everyone. Any idiot can get a URL and fill out a template for a few dozen dollars but that won't get you either customers or suppliers. If you build it, they WON'T come, you need to promote it. Some advertising is free and a lot of the best is offline (like handing out business cards for example). Do it.


3) Fear of inventory. This is another zinger for jewelers, especially diamond jewelers. If you don't have it you can't sell it, and if you're just flipping virtual inventory for a commission it's hard as hell to get a decent margin.


4) Too much inventory. This is the flip side of the above. It's easy to bury yourself in what looks like bargains and to wipe out your working capital. Diamonds are expensive and it's amazing how quickly inventory adds up. This even applies to cheap things like beads and plastic trinkets. Pay attention to what you buy and make sure it's synchronized with what you actually sell (as opposed to what you would like to sell. Put another way, you want an inventory of what sells well, not necessarily what you personally like).

Edited by denverappraiser
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Hi Denver, I really appreciate such a detailed response. You've been an invaluable source of information.


What you are saying makes a lot of sense, and I have been considering trade shows. I think that needs to be a thing to lock in.


I'm at a point, where I have been able to regularly turn over a decent amount of inventory of pre loved luxury diamond jewellery. I have a decent, not massive, but a good sized collection.


At this stage in Australia, my stock is limited to what I can find pre loved in the niche I have specialised in, and that has been my biggest barrier to growth.


I want to be able to have control of stock. Which is why I want to be able to also create my own items to sell. Also, I am prepared that my own line, may not be as successful as the pre loved niche I have been selling in, however I need to try it for myself to see if I can make if successful and then I won't be limited by supply if I can make it work.


I do want to do advertising, currently I'm using social media and a lot of the growth has been organic.


However I want to ensure that I have something to sell, if I start advertising and marketing more heavily...if that makes sense.


Thats my chicken egg scenario.


So I completely understand what you mean. I think I am perplexed about what comes first, ie how do I get inventory to sell and expanding my brand before I have inventory to sell.


So maybe the best thing to do is attend a trade shows and start speaking to people. Discussing what I currently do and see if someone wants to work with me?


Gosh, I hope this makes sense. I really appreciate the help.

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It's not a coincidence that you'll see most of the vintage sellers go the route of selling new 'vintage style' things instead of specializing in the old. The problem is both with getting supply and maintaining quality control. There's good old stuff out there, but it's in a sea of worn out junk.


Attend a show.

Subscribe to the trade magazines.

If there's setters and manufacturers in your area or even close, go meet them. In person.


Social media is advertising. Google SEO is advertising. Handing out business cards is advertising. What I'm doing right now is advertising. It doesn't necessarily cost money but it takes time, effort and thought. If you don't do it, you will fail. I promise. One of the side benefits is that potential vendors will see you, not just potential customers. Again, they're looking for customers who can actually sell things, and the easiest way for them to do that is to pay attention to your advertising.

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Hi Denver,


I understand. Thank you so much for your advice. I have some confidence now in knowing that there will be people willing to sell to me at some stage. I had a bit of a blind spot, so thank you for your advice.


I think on some level I have been doing what you mention, but I didn't have a clear vision as to how that would create wholesale opportunities. I wasn't 100% sure if someone would even deal with me not being a jeweller. Thank you for your very useful advice. I understand more now, what I need to do more of, what I need to do and what I need to refine.


Thank you very much, you are always so helpful :)

Edited by Kittykat
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Hi Denver,


I found a trade show that is local - however there was a note in registration saying NB wholesalers are not permitted to attend.




Are there different trade shows to meet wholesalers? Why would they not be allowed to attend? Or is a wholesaler different to a supplier, do I want a supplier?



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The shows don't like wholesalers attending because they tend to make side deals with the other customers. The exhibitors are wholesalers and they pay good money for the booths to be there. The whole idea is to allow them to make presentations to the attendees. Not the other way around.


That looks like a fine show. Read through the credentials requirements and arrange to comply with them. Lack of a physical address identifiable as a jewelry store is not a deal killer but it may be necessary to have a PO Box (you probably should do this anyway by the way. There's a personal risk associated with people in the diamond business giving out their home addresses.)


Preregistration to these things is almost always a good idea. Among other things it'll get you on the mailing lists of the exhibitors and you'll start to received solicitations in the mail.

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Thanks Denver for clarifying, so the trade displays are wholesaler and the delegates are buyers? Perfect!


I have a PO Box number already :)


One question that looked hard for me to answer for credential requirements all my inventory comes from private sales. I have purchased a decent amount and have invoices as most transactions have been via PayPal so I have paper trails, however they aren't suppliers. The question they asked were to provide invoices from suppliers. I'm hoping this is something they can work around.


Thank you for checking our the trade show too, I really appreciate it, I'm glad to know it looks like a good one!


Eta: I spoke to one of the conference organisers he requested a few screen shots of transactions I have been doing. He also suggested for me to register now, but the PDF isn't currently up. Hopefully I will be registered soon!


Eta again: as the trade show isn't until late August I am also going to try one of your other suggestions to try and meet people in person. A google search of manufacturers brings me a building filled with jewellers, custom designers and diamond sellers etc. I hope to pluck up some courage to go and speak to people and see what I can find out.


I remembered hearing once, was that anyone who advertisers to the general public is a retailer, not a wholesaler. So as someone pretty inexperienced, how do I differentiate between the two, a retailer vs a wholesaler in my travels?

Edited by Kittykat
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Requirements vary by show - contact the organisers and talk to them about what they would see as acceptable trade references/invoices, but in many cases it doesn't need to be suppliers of gems/jewellery: invoices for jewellery boxes, office supplies, tools, professional services (appraisals, insurance, tax advice) are all good ways of checking that someone is actually working as a business.

The distinction between wholesalers and retailers is an interesting one - I think it's quite black and white:

  • If you are dealing with the general public/final consumer on a one-off deal basis, you are a retailer.
  • If you are dealing with people that will resell what they buy from you and/or on a repeated (or even regular) basis, you are a wholesaler.

This said, it's all about the nature of the deal, not about the company; there are firms that will trade wholesale AND retail, and firms that will only trade in one of the two markets

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I actually have a similar problem to yours when I go to these shows. I'm pretty deep in the jewelry business and have been for decades but, in practice, I don't buy and sell jewelry. I don't have receipts for that. I buy phone service, office supplies, microscopes and so on, but rather specifically NOT jewelry. You can't really tell from looking at my receipts what I do for a living. I"ve been hastled at the registration desks but I've never been blocked. A business card and a tax license with jewelry type words on them goes a long way in these situations. It helps to be a member of one or more of the jewelry associations too. I have no idea what you've got there but surely there's something.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Allow me to tell a random story.


A bit of background. My office is in one of those buildings. It takes a pass to get in without an escort, it takes credentials and a form to get a pass, and one of the things they ask for is receipts of items purchased for resale.


Most of the building is full of people selling what are called 'gifts'. Those are the trinkets that the stores in the mountains are full of. It means coffee mugs with cutsy sayings and things like that. I'm in Colorado and the tourist business is a big deal out here. We've got hundreds of them in the building as well as clothing people selling marijuana or ski theme t-shirts and sunglasses. Dealer margins on this kind of goods are pretty high and people want to get into the building because they imagine they can get things for better prices. The front desk ladies are the gatekeepers.


Enter a lady who is a friend of mine from outside. She's a welder. She's been running her own business for decades and she's a welder in a big way. She had her crews built the railings at the airport parking lot and the roller coasters at the local amusement park for example. We're not talking about a muffler shop here. So she filled out her form at the front desk and gave them a receipt for 200 tons of steel welding stock. That's a railroad car full and it cost something like $100,000. The front desk ladies had no idea what to make of it. In one sense, no one ever made such a purchase for personal use but, on the other hand, it's pretty clear from the nature of it that this is not the sort of business that the sales reps in the building are looking for.

Edited by denverappraiser
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  • 2 weeks later...

With diamond jewelery it's imperative that you do have some knowledge of the prices. Two pieces of jewellery can look the same to the naked eye but can have vast differences in their values. It's important to be able to look at the pieces and gauge the value. This comes after lots of viewing and experience but you do start at some point. 


Have you considered taking a diploma to learn more about jewellery and diamonds? These courses may as well serve you as point of contact with people in the trade and you will learn many things about the local trade, the trends, the liking and everything else. 

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