While some eBay sellers are still thriving on eBay's post-Christmas "get what you really wanted" ad campaign, others are looking forward to the new year's inventory. Many sellers usually rely on wholesale distributors, but at this time of the year, when gift returns are so prevalent, closeout dealers are often the best suppliers.
Via Trading is one such dealer. Company CEO Jacques Stambouli has worked hard for his relationships with both national department stores and local retailers. The result is a one-stop-source for eBay sellers (large and small) looking for closeout merchandise.
As every successful eBay seller knows, you make money in turning inventory. Retail stores would much rather sell returns in truck loads to closeout companies like Via Trading and clear space for the new hot item, than deal with repeated price reductions to shift old stock.
Via Trading has been in business for 3 years and employs 18 people in their 65,000 square-foot warehouse in Vernon, California. They offer mixed pallets in many categories, from clothing and accessories, to electronics, tools, jewelry and watches.
So why would eBay sellers want to pay Via Trading's marked up prices rather than dealing direct? Well, most of us don't have the contacts or the cash flow to buy in the quantities Via Trading does. For a $100 retail item, Via Trading may pay $10 and sell it to you for $20. There is still a huge mark up to be made when listing it on eBay.
As with any purchase from a closeout dealer, it is important to do your research. Items are sold as part of a pallet (without exact manifest), "as is" with no returns, so Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware!). The website states they welcome buyers to visit their warehouse and choose their pallet from those available (no mix and matching). So if you are in the Los Angeles area, this may be the source you are looking for. (Note: California buyers must provide a reseller's certificate before their first order will be accepted.)
This market is not for everyone though. In their website FAQs, Via Trading is very clear about who should and should not be purchasing department store returns:
"If you are not prepared to test items do not purchase. If you are not prepared to repair items - do not purchase. If you only want to deal with 100% retail ready items do not purchase. If you are not prepared to expect a percentage of items to be out of box, defective, cosmetically blemished etc. do not purchase.
If you are prepared to test, fix, clean, cannibalize, be creative in sales, open new sales channels in order to get the most revenue back when needed - then do purchase."
eBay Silver PowerSeller Holly Dowd (User ID innovationsltd) has been buying from Via Trading for about a year, and 90 percent of her eBay inventory comes from them. "They got me started in this business," she says. About 75 percent of the 2-3 electronics pallets she purchases each month are sold on eBay (admittedly some of these items need minor repairs before she lists them). The other 25 percent gets donated or recycled. When asked about Via Trading's overall service and value, Dowd said, "I never give anyone a rating over an 8, but Via Trading gets a 9." I asked her if she had any comments for other eBay sellers who might want to try Via Trading's services, jokingly she said, "Stay away! They're mine!" I think this is as good a review as you can get from a competitive seller.
Another PowerSeller regular is Barry Riemer (User ID hookedonhandbags). Riemer purchases handbag pallets as often as they become available. Approximately 20 percent of the pallets are sold on eBay (mainly designer bags). The remainder he sells in his brick-and-mortar store. Everything he sells on eBay is purchased from Via Trading, keeping him a Gold PowerSeller with over 4600 feedback (99.8 percent positive). "Via Trading subscribes to "old school" merchandising,...they demonstrate that the small customer such as myself is as important as their biggest customer."
Both Dowd and Riemer purchase in person at the warehouse, however Via Trading will ship pallets for between $90-$200 depending on the pallet, with an extra $45 fee if shipping to a residential location (if they cannot use UPS). This may make some pallets less cost-effective, but it is an option to consider particularly if you plan to purchase multiple quantities, which reduces the per-pallet cost.
According to Stambouli, there are plans to expand Via Trading to include a full-service warehouse on the East coast. At this time, plans are still tentative and no firm dates or locations have been released, other than "sometime next year."
You can find Via Trading online at http://www.viatrading.com.