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Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


A view of the industry through the eyes of a chain buyer.

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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 altogether.

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 will sell.

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 from me.

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 to me?

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 that.

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 mike@clnonline.com.)



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