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Weighing the Benefits of Selling Wholesale

I recently wrapped up a job as a delivery driver for a company that cleaned leather jackets, area rugs, and other items. The way my job worked was that in the course of a day, I’d visit 25 or 30 different dry cleaners, picking up whatever dirty items they had before returning them cleaned a week later. Through the job, I got to see first hand the advantages and disadvantages of selling wholesale.

Primarily, we functioned on a wholesale pricing model. That is, my boss, cleaned the items for the dry cleaners at a set cost for them and then let them determine their own markup. Some of the savvier places would double the price of the item with their customers. The poorer business people would often haggle with me over cost because of the low prices they’d agreed to with their customers.

It was always my boss’s dream that we could move away from the wholesaler model and start going more directly to end-user customers. It might have worked well with rugs since a person will sometimes send out an entire house’s worth when a delivery person is there to save the inconvenience of having to transport them themselves or to ostensibly get a lower price for a bulk rate. I couldn’t see the end-user approach working as well for leather jackets, though, even if we had the luxury of being able to start with higher prices. The volume simply wouldn’t be there, and I could easily see drivers having to make 40-50 stops in a day to break even. It would be madness.

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