A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
HEY VINNY: DON'T YELL AT ME!
I didn't make the rules.
by "Benny Da Buyer" (August, 2003)
(Note: In his first column, Benny resonds to Vinny Da Vendors
complaint about chains insisting on low, low prices. You can read
Vinny's original column HERE.)
Ok, so here's the deal: Mike Hartnett called me and asked me to
write a column from the chains' point of view. He said he didn't
want Creative Leisure News to be a one-sided, anti-chain
newsletter, and would I write my thoughts on all these issues.
I'm not sure my boss would approve, so I'm going to stay as
anonymous as Vinny Da Vendor. Benny Da Buyer has a nice ring to it,
don't ya think?
Ok, down to business: In Vinny's first column, "Whatever
Happened to Strawberry?" he talked about developing a new line,
then the mean ole chain buyer said in order for it to sell it would
have to be half the price Vinny suggested.
So poor Vinny was faced with the problem: cheapen the line to the
point where, he says, it wouldn't sell. Or abandon the project
The overall implication seemed to be: cheap is good.
Well, he's right, and it drives me crazy. I would love to have more
higher-ticket lines in my department but ... if I don't think the
consumer will buy it, what am I supposed to do?
I don't think I'm the buyer Vinny's sales rep showed the new line
to, but I've been in that situation a million times. I'm sorry, but
if I don't think it will sell at a given price, I don't think it
Yeah, you can complain about how price-oriented the chains are, how
we've taught the consumer to be cheap, cheap, cheap. You've got a
point there, Vinny. But don't holler at me about it, that
"EVERYTHING ON SALE ALL THE TIME!" philosophy didn't come
Advice to Vinny.
Here's what you should of done: Don't spend a lot of money before
you show me the project. Let me see the concept early, maybe a few
drawings, or if possible a mockup of the package and the prototype.
If my opinion is so important, why wait until the end to present it
I know your answer before you even say it: lots of vendors are
afraid to show basic ideas to some buyers because they're afraid the
buyers will give the idea to some other guy they like better. I've
heard such stories, and they embarrass me. Trust me, I don't do
So how do you tell if a buyer will keep your new idea confidential?
I have no answer for that. Just ask around to other vendors, I
guess. The reputations are out there.
(Note: Any thoughts on what Benny wrote? Any topics you'd
like to see Benny discuss in future columns? Call or email Mike
Hartnett and he will pass them on to Benny. Mike will delete your
name first, if you prefer. Call 309-925-5593 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)