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I sell at a wholesale gift show, and have seen another problem in the last
couple of years. Groups of housewives, cruise the show, with credentials
of pseudo-businesses, such as selling executive gift baskets, running home
jewelry parties, or being personal shoppers. They want wholesale prices
for the 1 or 2 pieces they order. Others make a list of every personal gift
they will have to give in the next 2 years, and attempt to buy wholesale,
representing themselves as business buyers. Lastly, a group of 3-5 women
will say they all own a business, and they share the buying responsibility
to buy for it. They will meet your minimum, yet it is clear that they are
each picking out things for themselves. They have the minimum and they
have the resale license, so what do you do? It is hard not to offend the
legitimate business owner, while not wanting to be a sucker to the phonies.
I know about minimum orders, and credit checks, but these buyers have
become increasingly aggressive, demanding what they see as their right to
buy wholesale. I even have had people with resale licenses that say they
own plumbing businesses, or funeral supplies businesses, ask for wholesale
when buying jewelry!! Then I see a few of my customers, shopping the isles,
looking for bargains, and the opportunity to buy wholesale from my

Awhile ago, in the convention center, they had a business card machine, in
a main hallway, and literally anyone could create their own business for a
couple of bucks, in just a few minutes! Luckily, that is now gone.

It is hard to put pressure on the management to stop all of this nonsense,
because many of the vendors want to be able to sell their samples for cash
on the last day, and they don’t care if the buyers have the right
credentials, etc. They feel that any sale is still a sale, and that ruins
it for the rest of us. Comments?

Comments . . . well, as an individual who makes each piece of
jewelry by hand (and I think of it as art, rather than Jewelry.)
I can understand your concern, but, could these women be budding
artists who happen to make jewelry? (somehow I doubt it too, but
you never know . . .)

Too many of the “gem/jewelry shows” I’ve attended have been a
farce. They claim to sell to professionals, yet, I see kids,
teens, and those whom don’t know a thing about what they are
purchasing there. The prices are never wholesale, but since
there aren’t any REAL wholesale shows in our area, we don’t have
much of a choice, other than to spend hundreds of dollars to
travel to the places that truly offer WHOLESALE (and in my
opinion, if I have to spend hundreds to get there, is it really
wholesale to me??? Somehow, I can never justify that.)

I’m assuming that you are selling finished pieces . . .yes, I
can sympathize and allowing ANYONE to buy is unfair. I buy loose
stones (mostly cabs of semi-precious and minerals) and don’t
think it’s fair when I have to pay premium price, because we
don’t have much wholesale available. Rio Grand has NEVER claimed
to sell at “wholesale prices!”

I think the key word is “Vendors License” which means something
different in different States. Plumbers who have a “Vendors
License” or the local hairdresser who sells product at her
"rented station" also has a vendors license (at least in my
state, it doesn’t make a difference . . ) are considered VENDORS
(period!) All call attend any wholesale show.

Seems to me that because I am a goldsmith, it is easy for me to think
that I am some kind of special character that deserves to get special
prices on jewelry components. Actually, I think that buying wholesale means
buying in bulk.Around here, if one wants to get a really decent price on
laundry detergent, on might go to Price Club and buy a washing machine
sized box of detergent. If one wants to get an even better deal, one could
call Proctor Gamble and get a truckload. Of course these solutions involve
new storage costs that will usually offset any pricing advantages that one
might enjoy by buying in bulk.

I don't know what auto mechanics do around the world, but around here,

they get about a 15% discount from their parts distributors or
"wholesalers". Not the 50-66% that jewelers expect. Often, an individual
can pick up these mechanics discounts just by “knowing” a mechanic.

I don't understand why an artist or goldsmith should get a special

distributors price when we are buying in single pieces.Sure, we can and
should cut the best deal we can, but remember that show vendors have
distribution costs that (such as travel expenses) that "New York dealers"
don’t have to incur. They also have plenty of competition. In the end the
market polices itself.

I suspect that the problem is in the use of the word "wholesale". I like

to call myself “wholesale” I sell to “retailers”. If I want to do a lot of
business, I can continue to sell my goods through my distributors at a
discount. If I want to make more money on individual pieces of jewelry, I
will have to make myself more accessible to the public and educate te
public about who I am and what I can do for them. That means more rent and
higher advertising costs. Some things that the “retailers” have alreay

Seems to me that all this talk about the "wholesale" rooms is influenced

by the misunderstanding of what “wholesale” means. If you want a better
deal in those back rooms, try buying in large enough quantities to make it
worthwhile for the wholesaler to dicker.

As a hobby jeweler (with a rapidly growing client list) I have had no
difficulty in at least getting a discount at the local shows. I agree that
wholesale prices are not supposed to be for the general public, but it was
a few vendors giving me a good price break a number of years ago that
helped me move to the point where my “hobby” (obsession?) supports itself.
(and then some lately). If I am asking for a wholesale price at the shows I
go to (none are officially wholesale, and all are open to the public) I
always am purchasing a reasonable quantity. At the most recent show I
attended I saw some excellent fw pearls, I wouldn’t ask for wholesale for
one strand, but I bought half of the hank and got a fair price. I always
tell people about the shows and encourage them to go. Even though they may
buy something cheaper there than from a local retailer, I think that the
exposure to the variety of items they see at the shows will end up with
them more ready and willing to buy something other than the usual. That
certainly helps people like me…Ben

In Tucson, we were at a show that was open to the public. The way we
dealt with the retail/wholesale issue was very simple: Buy like a
wholesaler and you get wholesale prices. There were legitimate store
owners, etc. that would take 45 minutes of our time to select one half
carat iolite and then would show us that they were in the business but we
still charged them retail prices because they took the same amount of time
and energy as someone outside of the jewelry business. Unless you are
willing to either buy quantity or mixed parcels, expect to be treated like

Another approach to this whole situation is to build a rapport with your
vendors. There are people who now give me excellent prices on a $5 sale
because I accepted the high prices that they initially offered and kept
buying from them. As the vendor realizes that I do have potential to buy
real amounts and that I am a dedicated customer, prices and service start
to get better.

My suggestion is ask around and find a small list of very good suppliers
(not Stuller or Rio or other large standard pricing companies) and start
buying from them and continue buying from them. Try to talk to someone
who has the ability to make prices. If you are a good customer (i.e. pay
your bills, understand that difficult custom orders will be more expensive,
etc.) you WILL get wholesale prices. It is every vendor’s dream to have
steady business, no matter what the size, from upright people who
understand the product that they are buying.

Good luck,