Flea Market Business Success: Organize Operations

August 28th, 2012

Organize your Operations

While in the early days of your business selling as much as you can during each flea market day may be enough, you need to become organized and strategic about your operations in order to grow your business to its full potential.

  • Keep track of accounts and customer records: A simple notebook to write down your sales may be enough at first, but it is much easier to keep track of sales and inventory with proper software such as Intuit or Quicken, as well as CRM’s (Customer Relationship Management) softwares. A CRM would allow you to collect your customers’ data (such as email address, phone number or even home address) so you can then market to them outside of flea market opening times.
  • Keep inventory records: Make sure you know how much you bought of something, how fast you sold it and what your profitability was. This will allow you to make faster and more educated purchasing decisions down the line, and you’ll be able to pull up sales information for an item quickly and easily.
  • Take advantage of technology and tools: If you only accept cash or check payments, consider accepting credit card payments. This will make it easier to close sales with customers who may not be carrying enough money in cash. Consider obtaining a merchant service account with your bank, and take advantage of Smartphone applications for Credit Card processing. iPhones and other Android based phones now have the ability to charge and process credit card payments on the spot without the need for a credit card machine.

How to Source Wholesale Merchandise for a Flea Market or Resale Business

August 22nd, 2012

Source Merchandise Efficiently

If you are just starting out, you may not be very familiar with the different ways in which you can source products for your business. Here are a few starting points:

  • Trade Shows: Visit wholesale industry trade shows to meet companies face-to-face, negotiate deals in person and take advantage of a huge scope of products all under one roof. You can typically source everything you need in one visit to a trade show, from several vendors. For a list of closeout industry trade shows, visit the Association of Surplus Dealers online.
  • Internet searches: A simple Google search for “wholesale products” or other similar terms will yield a slew of results. When browsing through company websites, make sure to look for wholesalers who own and warehouse their own inventory if possible. In many cases, wholesalers who do not own their own inventory are brokers, or middle-men, and you can often overpay for products versus working directly with the wholesalers who own the products. If possible, choose a wholesaler you can visit in person to inspect the goods prior to making your first purchase until you are comfortable.
  • Trade Magazines and B2B Websites: There are many printed sources and wholesale search engines dedicated to helping businesses find product. Some of these publications include: Retailer’s Forum, Swap Meet Magazine, Independent Retailer, Solo Mayoreo (Spanish), Web Wholesaler, Western/Eastern Merchandiser and more. Popular B2B sourcing websites include: TopTen Wholesale, CloseoutCentral and WholesaleCentral. These search engines allow you to enter a search term and find wholesalers nationwide who can provide you with those products.

The Shoe Crew: Changing the World One Shoe at a Time!

July 23rd, 2012

In June of 2012, Via Trading had the honor of partnering with The Shoe Crew in their efforts to collect and donate much needed new athletic shoes to underprivileged kids in the greater Los Angeles area.

Founded in 2012 by a team of approximately 20 teen volunteers, The Shoe Crew‘s mission is to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth by providing them with shoes at the end of the summer so they can begin the school year on a good note.

"All kids deserve to have comfortable, nice-looking shoes for school," said volunteer and young actor Gabriel Welch. "We really wanted to do something productive with our time this summer," added the 16 year old captain of The Shoe Crew.

The Shoe Crew’s hardworking volunteers have partnered with two additional organizations in Los Angeles: A Place Called Home and Shoes That Fit, dedicated to providing underprivileged youth with essential necessities to improve the quality of their lives.

The Shoe Crew’s current mission is to collect 2,200 pairs of new athletic shoes before the school year begins, and to distribute them to A Place Called Home and Shoes That Fit as soon as possible.

To meet their goal, The Shoe Crew has held (and is continuing to hold) several shoe-raising events in LA this year, including a gala in Malibu that Via Trading attended in June. Hundreds of teens showed up to the party with their shoe donations, adding a great volume of shoes to what had already been donated by separate organizations.

Via Trading is happy to have been able to help out with the donation of 100 pairs of athletic shoes.

As of July 23rd, The Shoe Crew has collected 1,804 pairs of shoes and is getting close to reaching their goal just in time for the Back to School season. The crew will be attending the Back to School event at A Place Called Home in August to help distribute the shoes they have collected. They have already collected enough shoes to provide ALL the kids at A Place Called Home with new shoes, and are hoping to collect a few hundred more pairs of shoes to fill the warehouse at Shoes That Fit.

To contact The Shoe Crew or to support their cause by donating shoes, time or financial resources, please visit their website.

Discover the Via Trading Load Center

July 12th, 2012

Discover the Via Trading Load Center: find details and manifests for the full and partial truckloads, single pallet & case lots and opportunistic deals available at Via Trading daily. Filter through various criteria to find loads you like, and view, summarize, download or email manifests quickly and easily.
This short video describes the features of the Load Center and how to use them to make the most of your wholesale purchasing experience!

The Via Trading Load Center

Via Trading Launches the Load Center

June 5th, 2012

On Tuesday, June 5th 2012, Via Trading launched the Load Center, a real-time database of Via Trading’s offers of full truckloads, partial truckloads, manifested single pallet lots, manifested case lots and opportunistic deals.

Wholesale buyers can now log on to the Load Center and see the available lots at a glance on one screen, saving valuable time and effort.

The Load Center was created in response to an expressed customer and employee need. While Via’s website has undergone significant improvements over the last few years, it was still lacking a central place from which to view all available loads, sort them by category, price or other metrics, and obtain their manifests easily.¬† While our website had been efficient for browsing, reading through product descriptions and obtaining industry resources, it lacked the functionality and the ease of use that is integral to selling manifested lots and loads online.

After months of specifications and development, the Load Center is now available from any computer in the world 24/7!

Customers simply need to log in to their account on www.ViaTrading.com, click on “Load Center” and begin browsing. The Load Center is free to use for all members of Via Trading’s community and anyone interested in purchasing liquidation merchandise for resale.
Updated multiple times daily, the Load Center offers users the ability to:

- View all available loads and relevant information
- Filter loads by various criteria (condition, price, location, store, category, etc.)
- View and download single or multiple manifests instantly
- Manipulate and summarize manifests
- See most recent loads added
- View discounted or “on sale” loads

Visit the load center today to start exploring!
We are always available to help with any questions or concerns – simply email us at [email protected] or call 877-202-3616 and we’ll be happy to help!

Please note: the Load Center is an extension of our existing website! Don’t forget to visit our All Products page to see all available case packs, pallets and lots not listed in the Load Center!

It Takes a Village

May 14th, 2012

It takes a village to support a community. At the Los Angeles Community Outreach Center, this statement couldn’t be more true.

On Sunday, May 13th 2012, Via Trading had the honor of attending the LA Community Outreach Center’s Mother’s Day Lunch, put together by the shelter’s volunteer director, residents and fellow volunteers.

The LACOC provides a roof over the heads of men, women and women with children under 12, a food distribution program, a bus token transportation program, clothing distribution, employment and health service resources and hot meals to the community nightly.

Established in 1990 to address the needs of the homeless men, women and children of South Central Los Angeles, the original building was burned down during the Los Angeles riots of 1992. It was then rebuilt by its very own residents and 22 years later, the shelter is home to 21 people among which a 9 month old baby boy named Michael and an 11 year old girl.

A branch of Church on the Move (a Missionary Baptist Church on Vermont Ave), the Los Angeles Community Outreach center functions exclusively on the time and care of volunteers and resident members. Each person plays an integral role in feeding, clothing, rehabilitating and caring for the community.

Frances Rodriguez, the shelter’s newly appointed volunteer director welcomed us with open arms as we entered the building on Sunday to show our support for their organization and to spend a few hours celebrating Mother’s Day.

The long hallway to the community’s communal area echoed with the laughter of young and old residents alike. We walked right into a white elephant gift-giving ceremony that had each resident choose an unknown gift out of a basket when his or her name was called. The Pastor held up a woman’s swimsuit with an infectious smile, and laughter ensued when the gag gifts didn’t quite fit the recipient. We were welcomed with hugs and ample thanks for the donation of cleaning supplies we had made to this heart-warming organization earlier in the week.

We were offered a seat and a heaping plate of nachos with cheese while we all waited for the homemade meal to finish cooking.

As we sat and watched the celebration of motherhood unfold, we were introduced to residents who confirmed that it really does take a village. Each and every day, residents assume the responsibilities that help keep the shelter alive. From cooking duty, food pickup duty, cleaning duty, donation collection duty, passing out of transportation token duty and more, everyone has a job, a purpose to fulfill within the organization and a strong sense of belonging. It felt more like a big, loud and animated family than it did a place where people turn when all other options are exhausted.

The resilience of the human spirit shone brightly as we listened to each individual’s story and celebrated with the generous community that makes this shelter possible.

Nathania Stambouli
Marketing Manager 

 

 

Via Trading encourages you to get involved in your local community, in Los Angeles or wherever you are. Whether you are able to donate funds or material goods to help clothe and feed, or a few minutes of your time to lend a caring ear, we urge you to join us in counting our blessings and paying it forward.

A Retail & Wholesale Success Story

December 26th, 2011

Check out Via Trading’s latest Customer Success Story!

A Community’s Needs Met Leads to Increased Profits: A Retail Success Story

One of the key factors that contributes to the success of a new business venture is the ability to identify an opportunity and fill an untapped niche. Glen Rundell of Specialz Outlet in North Carolina embraced this idea, and here is his story.

Until about a year ago, Rundell had spent several years in the real estate industry, dabbling in both the sale and construction of residential and commercial property. As the economy and housing markets continued to decline, he began looking for other opportunities in late 2010. A life-long entrepreneur, Rundell wanted to provide a product or service at a great value when people were most concerned about how they spent their hard-earned dollars…

Read more on our website!

Via Trading Partners with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee for a Hot Meal & Toy Drive!

December 19th, 2011

On Sunday December 18th, 2011, Via Trading had the honor of participating in a community event in our local area of Watts, to bring a hot meal and toys to the disadvantaged families of the area before the holidays. The event was held at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) center, a non-profit, community-based, human social services organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of South Central LA residents.

This event was put on by the kind people of the Watts Lane Life Project, a program created by the East Side Riders Bike Club (ESRBC) and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) in collaboration with the California Highway Patrol, the Sheriff’s Department an LAPD, with the purpose of creating a Community Outreach program and a Bike Safety Project.

At 11:00 am, the event was kicked off by an impressive procession of motorcycles by the East Side Rider’s Bike Club initiated the event, as throngs of leather-clad men and women arrived to help serve food and distribute toys.

Hundreds of families lined up outside the WLCAC’s facilities waiting for their pre-holiday meal and festivities.

Families were then invited into the auditorium where they were served a hot meal that they enjoyed at picnic tables inside the auditorium. Children played outside as they finished their meals, and the WLCAC regulars showed off their skateboarding skills at the Watts Community Skate Park within the WLCAC’s fences.

Once the meal was over, lines formed outside the main hall where thousands of toys were stacked up on tables, generous donations of nearby companies and local supporters like Via Trading.

Read more on our website!

Via Trading Launches New Website

November 16th, 2011

On October 13th 2011, Via Trading launched its new website with great new features to improve the customer experience on the site and the amount of information available about each product to make your purchasing process as easy and efficient as possible.

Our new website features:

  • Real time shipping quotes – get a shipping quote on your order before you submit it! Our system is now able to quote most orders directly in the shopping cart. Update your shopping cart with different items to see various shipping quotes and options in real time.
  • Product selling tips – the majority of our products now come with a series of product-specific selling tips to help you get the most out of your investment.
  • Product reviews – submit reviews on products you’ve purchased in the past and read other customers’ reviews to help you make a purchasing decision.
  • Product videos – our site now features over 20 videos for some of our most popular products. View the videos directly inside each product page or check out our “product video” section to view all product videos in one place.
  • Detailed navigation filters – from our product category pages, you can now filter your product search by packing (cases, pallets, loads), Condition (New overstock, master case, shelf pulls, preworn, customer returns, etc), price point (Under $100, Under $250, Under $500, Under $1000, Over $1000), Type of Item (Via Direct, Partner Offer, Blue Label Special, Product category and Manifest.
  • Quick checkout – a more streamlined checkout process that allows you to submit an order and obtain a shipping quote in just 3 clicks!
  • Small business and industry resources – a more detailed and expanded resource section with selling tips and resources for a variety of resale channels, liquidation industry article, wholesale purchasing resources and more!

Check out our website features page for an explanation on how to use each of our new features.

We hope you enjoy our new website and we welcome feedback, comments and thoughts on how we can improve!

 

Good Merchandising in a Retail Store = More Sales!

November 8th, 2011

Merchandising Tips for Discount Stores

  • An attractive storefront is important! Make sure the entrance entices people to come in, has a clear “entrance” sign and is clean and welcoming.
  • Make use of your store windows. Ensure you use them to communicate what you sell, any promotions you’re running, discounts you’re offering and other messages (like opening hours). Change your messages up at least twice a month to avoid the perception that you have nothing new to offer.
  • Organize merchandise by the category whenever possible to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
  • When laying out your store, put similar/relevant items near each other. For example, if you’re selling beds or mattresses, put your bedding and linen items in the same section of your store. This will help you up-sell and get the most out of each customer’s visit. “Buying a mattress? Check out our bed-in-bag sets to go with your new mattress!”
  • Place your pricing sticker in the same area on each product. This creates consistency and allows your customers to find the price easily.
  • Use a simple dating system to help you determine how long products are sitting in your store before they sell. For example, use a letter and number format like A, B, C for the months and 1, 2, 3 for the days of the month. An item marked A1 would then have been in your store since January 1st. This will allow you to quickly see what has been in the store for too long so you can discount it and make room for new items.
  • Clear the aisles. Make it easy for customers to walk through the aisles without any hindrance – blocked aisles result in no-go areas and lost sales.
  • Walk the store as if you were a customer. Do you bang into merchandise or displays? Is merchandise hard to reach? Is it difficult to find what you want? If so, make the necessary changes.
  • Purchase retail displays for small merchandise. Instead of dumping small items into bins that customers have to rummage through, consider purchasing retail displays on which to hang the items to make them more attractive AND easier to see for your customers.
  • Keep the store clean. Just because these are discounted items doesn’t mean they have to be dirty, dusty and unattractive.
  • Assign sufficient staff to be responsible for merchandising. Making items attractive on the shelves, replenishing shelves once certain items sell out and keeping the store tidy and well laid out is a full time position and requires a hands-on individual. Don’t skimp on the things that make your store attractive to your customers!
  • Put tall items against walls so that they don’t block the view throughout your store.
  • Keep items within arms’ reach. Stacking shelves too high with merchandise is not only potentially hazardous, but it can also result in customers not buying certain items because they physically can’t reach them.
  • Eye level is buy level! Keep a note of your best selling items and place them at eye level on the shelves.
  • Choose an area inside your store to put your clearance items and keep that space consistently. Return customers will know to go look there for new great deals on clearance items.
  • Use signage to communicate key messages like discounts. Use signage also to define merchandise categories in your store. You can hang those from the ceiling or put them on sign holders, but give your customers an easy to way to know what is where inside the store.
  • Use small shelf signage to communicate product-specific messages. Shelf signage can be placed on specific shelves to communicate something about that exact product.
  • Put smaller items and low priced items near the checkout counter to encourage impulse buys!
  • Stage the merchandise where feasible. For example, use mannequins to display clothing, dress beds with sheets/pillows/comforters. The more customers are able to visualize how the item may look in their home, the more likely they are to buy it.
  • Separate clothing by men, women and children and organize it by size – all size Small on one rack, all size Medium on another rack, etc.
  • Offer baskets or shopping carts to help customers carry merchandise. If you offer no carrying solution, customers will purchase only what they are able to hold in their hands.
  • Make the shopping experience pleasant! Make sure your store is at a comfortable temperature with sufficient lighting. An uncomfortable experience can lead to customers cutting their visits short.
  • Take one item out of its box to show your customers what the actual item looks like (and to avoid them opening boxes themselves).
  • Take advantage of loss leaders to bring in additional traffic into your store. A loss leader is a product sold at a low price (at cost or sometimes below cost) to stimulate other profitable sales.
  • Train your staff on product knowledge so that they are better able to answer any questions customer may have.
  • Ensure your staff greets customers pleasantly and let them know they’re available to help if need.
  • Invest in a retail Point of Sale system that can provide you with a detailed sales analysis to enable you to know what sells and what merchandise is lagging in sales.