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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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Independents: Support Vendors Who Support You

"Support goes both ways. It is a relationship of trust and consistency."

by Name Withheld (August 1, 2005)

Excellent dialogue you have going in your newsletter, on a topic most consumers and very few retailers understand thoroughly.

Don't forget too, to tell the independents NOT TO BUY from those vendors who continue to use business practices that hurt their business, including dumping product at consumer shows, undercutting them with special deals to QVC and other large retailers, and dumping current product at jobber stores like Big Lots.

Just because a product is cute and "trendy" doesn't mean that product's manufacturer is supporting independents in their everyday struggle just to keep the doors open.

Look for vendors who WILL support you. Those whose products are not available in every store in town, and those who actually still manufacture their products in the good old USA.

You can't blame the consumer (well, not ALL the time) for looking for a deal. To some it's a sport; for some it makes the hobby of scrapbooking more accessible. Instead, independents need to support manufacturers who are not participating in these practices.

Support is a two-way relationship. Independents are looking for a little give from manufacturers lower minimums and other privileges. Manufacturers are looking for consistency and stability.

If an independent guarantees a certain level of orders over the course of a year, that's a relationship. If an independent store operates capriciously, discontinuing existing lines only to continually bring in the new, untried and trendy, manufacturers will continue to search for the large retailers in order to stay in business.

I enjoy your newsletter very much because of the issues you get into and the discussion you are able to provide by enabling all sides of the trade relationship to engage. By wording things the way you do, and sometimes withholding names, you are able to call it as it plays a rarity in this day.

It is frustrating to see independent retailers fail to support companies who adhere to high standards quality printing and excellent design, timely shipping of new product, top-notch customer service, and reasonable prices.

Meanwhile, they continue to order the same brands carried at lower prices by the chains, and are always chasing the elusive new, trendy manufacturer (who invariably experiences timely shipping problems and therefore ties up their money.)

With business practices like that it's no wonder the independents find it hard to stick around.

Talk lately is that it is becoming rare for a scrapbook product design to be re-ordered by a retailer. From the retailer's perspective, there is no need to re-order with so many other designs available that might fit the bill.

However, manufacturers invest in design time, production costs, and storage cost. There is a minimum amount that must be manufactured at once to maintain a reasonable consumer cost. Without re-orders, manufacturers will actually be forced into doing that which the independents deplore dumping product to jobbers or at consumer shows for a deal. Isn't it ironic that some retailers might actually in part be the cause of a practice they dislike?

Support goes both ways. It is a relationship of trust and consistency. Thanks for doing all you can to foster this atmosphere in what can be an impersonal, cold-hearted, bottom line world.

(Note: To comment on this and other industry issues, email CLN at mike@clnonline.com. To read previous "Vinny" columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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Vinny's Recent Columns...
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THE HISTORY OF PLAID ENTERPRISES, INC.; It's come a long way in 36 years.

"FLASH" SALES COME TO THE INDUSTRY; Q. & A. about the newest way to introduce new products or dispose of overstocks.

SITTING ON A BULLS EYE; What to do if competitors want your market share, or customers want to cut costs.


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BEYOND MARKET MULTIPLES: INCREASING THE VALUE OF YOUR COMPANY BEFORE THE SALE; How to create a company with greater appeal to buyers.

CHA SHOW NEW PRODUCT REPORT; Hundreds (thousands?) of products, many from new exhibitors.

THE SOLUTION TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS; A sure fire way to inspire them to quilt.

ATTRACTING YOUNGER CUSTOMERS; Yes, we aren't our mothers' knitters.

NEW PRODUCTS TO BE UNVEILED AT THE CHAS SHOW; Two parts: new exhibitors and veterans.

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REST IN PEACE: JEAN HOWARD BARR; JHB International's Founder and CEO.

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UNDERSTANDING INDIE CRAFTERS (BY AN INDIE CRAFTER); What they want, what they buy, and how to reach them.

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CHA AND PMA: SHOULD IT BE EITHER/OR? Why not take the best of both worlds?


RESPONSES TO CLN'S CODE OF ETHICS...from chain store execs, vendors, and reps.

PROVO RESPONDS TO CRICUT CRITICS; Unexpected demand caused problems.

ADVICE TO VENDORS; Common sense, please!

HOW TO HAVE A GREAT TRADE SHOW; It takes more than great products.

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IS MIKE DUPEY RIGHT? The industry's retail pioneer's criticism of chain stores elicits strong reactions.

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WHY INDEPENDENTS ARE DECLINING AND THE INDUSTRY IS SOFT; We can't improve the situation until we understand the causes.

HOW TO MAKE THE SCRAPBOOK PIE LARGER; "Keep it simple and non-threatening."

INDEPENDENTS: SUPPORT VENDORS WHO SUPPORT YOU; "Support goes both ways. It is a relationship of trust and consistency."

WHAT MAKES A GREAT SALES REP? Colleagues and customers remember the late Bob Watikins.

TRADE SHOW PRESS POINTERS; Maximize your publicity for a minimal cost.

HOW CAN A SCRAPBOOK START-UP SUCCEED? The answer may be a "Group" away.

DO TRADE SHOWS REFLECT THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY? If we're like other industries, trade shows may be in trouble.


THE STATE OF THE FLORAL MARKET; A blunt interview with Aldik's Larry Gold.

YOU WANT JUNK? YOU GOT IT; Pricing pressures are ruining good categories.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRADE SHOW; Ten tips for CHA Winter Show exhibitors.

MORE VENDORS RESPOND...; A dialog between vendors and a savvy but unhappy independent.

VENDORS RESPOND TO INDEPENDENT'S PLIGHT; Why vendors have minimums and what retailers can do about it.

RETAIL, E-TAIL, AND "UNFAIR COMPETITION"; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY, PT. II; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY; Talent, drive, and product -- but no money.


THE THREE L's: YOU CAN'T SELL WITHOUT THEM; How to look, listen, and learn.

IT WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY...; but why does that matter?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO STRAWBERRY?; Does every new product have to be cheap?