Stocking a retail clothing business is relatively simple. Most manufacturer-direct clothing purchases happen on a wholesale basis and involve a sizable discount to the retailer. Manufacturers require proof of intent before doing a business-to-business transaction in the form of a tax ID number.
Obtain a tax ID number from the state where the business is registered. Reputable manufacturers use this number to process billing. The state also uses this number to assess taxes. You will not be able to buy without a tax ID.
Attend trade shows and events to see what is in fashion. Do not check magazines, because those styles were selected months before. Instead, attend fashion shows and trade conventions, like Las Vegas' MAGIC, Miami Swim Week and New York Fashion Week, and visit showrooms to see what's hot and happening.
Contact the manufacturer to set up a wholesale client account. Most manufacturers will not allow credit until they have done business with the customer for a while. That's okay; it is to your advantage to test drive the company with card purchases first.
Obtain catalogs or passwords from manufacturers that interest you. These Web sites are tightly protected, and one usually requires approval before browsing. Print catalogs include price lists and large pictures that give a good representation of fit, fabric and appearance. It is best to use both the Web and print media to order stock, since Web sites often list seasonal sales and discounts.
Select the items that suit your store, noting the colors and if it comes in special sizes such as plus or junior. Some manufacturers take the guesswork out of picking sizes by compiling packs of items in a particular mix of sizes. Pick enough to fill the minimum first order, which may be as little as $250 for some manufacturers. This information is available in the sales literature.
Call, fax or e-mail the order to the manufacturer. It is probably best to make the purchase order in writing so that there is a reliable record. Once the order is placed, request confirmation and tracking numbers.When the order arrives, make certain to check it thoroughly, and call the manufacturer immediately if anything is amiss.
Avoid websites that tout "manufacturer direct savings!" for everyone. Many of these sites are retailers masquerading as wholesale operations.True wholesale Web sites are going to be pretty hard to find, and they will seldom be so blatant.
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