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Three Best Ways to Sell Excess Holiday Merchandise
By Willa Plank What happens when your sweaters or electronics aren't sold before the Christmas holiday? Instead of drastically marking down merchandise for post-holiday sales, there are a few ways to unload excess inventory without severely hurting your bottom line. Here's how.
1. Sell your inventory through a consignment outfit. Roberta Weissburg, owner of Roberta Weissburg Leathers in Pittsburgh, says she consigns her excess items year-round to the local National Council of Jewish Women chapter, which has a consignment operation. Weissburg gets a percentage of the profit, although if merchandise is not sold within a certain time, she gets it back. Ms. Weissburg says the option helps moves merchandise – at least out of her store. "Our customers are loyal and they know our merchandise as well as I do," Ms. Weissburg says. "If they see the same pieces year after year, they might wonder if there is something wrong with our business." One site to find consignment shops is ConsignmentShops.com.Bonnie Rubin, interim executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women's Pittsburgh chapter, says some retailers also donate to the thrift operation if merchandise doesn't sell at consignment, which counts as a tax write-off for those retailers. To locate thrift shops for donating merchandise, consult a directory such as TheThriftShopper.com.
2. Sell to a liquidator.
Hudson Salvage LLC, based in Hattiesburg, Miss., pays cash upfront for excess inventory, which is later sold in its Dirt Cheap and Treasure Hunt stores. Robert Roberts, chief executive, says the company typically buys large amounts of inventory from a small client – usually, about $10,000 or more – but will consider smaller amounts. The benefits of using a liquidator can include: receiving cash upfront, having someone else take care of logistics such as shipping, and closing the transaction quickly. Most companies that work with Hudson Salvage are "looking for liquidity in a very short period of time," Roberts said. A downside to using a liquidator is receiving less than the original wholesale price for the products. Hudson Salvage, for instance, generally pays around 50% or more of the wholesale price for consumable goods or well-known branded inventories, but will pay 10-30% for private-label or slow-moving inventory. Other liquidators include Excesstechnologies.com and Liquidation.com. The latter manages the auction of inventory, from single to multiple items.
3. Don't forget online marketplaces. Small merchants who don't have enough to sell to a liquidator can always try unloading merchandise through third-party sites, says Charles "Tee" Rowe, president and chief executive of Association of Small Business Development Centers. Retailers who are trying to sell single items may have luck listing products on eBay and Craigslist. Another marketplace for slightly larger quantities is Overstock.com. Businesses can sell their inventory outright to the site, or partner with the site to list their fixed-price products. Write to Willa Plank at firstname.lastname@example.org