How Do I Buy From the Wholesale Market?

by Chris Anzalone; Updated September 26, 2017

When you purchase an item from a store, most often you must pay the retail price–the price at which a business sells an item to a consumer after purchasing it from a wholesale provider or manufacturer. The retail price is always greater than the wholesale price, as the price difference allows retailers to earn back their initial cost while also securing a profit. Whether you want to sell merchandise for profit or just have access to cheaper goods, you can access the wholesale market as well, but you will need to go through some legal channels before you can get started.

Step 1

Sign up for an Employee Identification Number. Most factory wholesalers will require this information before you can begin conducting business with them. You can obtain your EIN for free at the Internal Revenue Service website after answering a few simple questions.

Step 2

Apply for a resale license, sometimes called a wholesale certificate or seller's permit. In most states, you will apply for this certification through the Department of Revenue, but in certain states, like California and Arizona, you must apply through the Board of Equalization. The Internal Revenue Service website includes a list of the appropriate department to contact in each state. Most authorized wholesale providers will not do business with you if you do not have this permit, so make sure to fill out the application.

Step 3

Find wholesalers who specialize in the type of merchandise you want to buy. Most official, factory wholesalers do not advertise their services out in the open, as they do not deal with the general public. In order to find them, you must do a bit of research. Begin contacting the manufacturers of the items you seek and politely ask for a list of their official wholesale suppliers. For example, if you want to purchase wholesale school supplies from the Happy School Supplies company, just call the company, ask to speak with the sales department and request a list of their wholesalers. Most manufacturers are happy to divulge this information, as it ultimately amounts to more business for them.

Step 4

Contact wholesale providers. With contact information in hand, call or write to the wholesalers and express that you would like to establish an account. They will likely ask you about the nature of your business, so be prepared to answer business-related questions, like projected sales and the estimated volume of merchandise that you plan to buy from the wholesaler. Some wholesalers may reject your request for an account, so make sure to contact as many different ones as possible.

Step 5

Begin buying from your wholesale providers. When wholesalers approve your request for an account, they will provide you with a means for ordering merchandise, whether through catalogs, or quite often, using an online form. Just follow their instructions to begin purchasing merchandise at wholesale price.


  • If you do not want to go through the hassle of filing all of the legal paperwork, you can purchase merchandise at wholesale prices buy signing up for membership at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club.

    Look for businesses that advertise with words like "wholesale," "liquidation" and "overstock." In many cases, you can purchase goods at wholesale prices from these companies, without the need for paperwork.