Looking for wholesalers for the product(s) you plan to sell? Here's an organized guide to the places you should look.
Find Wholesalers Through the Internet
I'm sure this isn't a head-slapping "duh" moment for you, but a few tips about your web search for suppliers.
1) Save yourself time by doing a search for suppliers of a specific type. For example, search for "swimsuit wholesalers" rather than just "wholesalers" if that's the product you're looking for.
2) Add location to your search if it matters. For example, "swimsuit wholesalers Canada". Generally, the narrower your search, the more valuable your results will be.
3) Use web portals and/or wholesale directories.
Industry Canada maintains a Canadian Company Capabilities database that you can search for free to find potential suppliers in Canada.
Web portals such as Alibaba.com are great for global sourcing. Minimum order levels are presented right up front and the site offers over 2 million supplier storefronts as of this writing.
More Free Wholesale Directories
4) Work your social web.
A query in a LinkedIn group you belong to, a tweet or a Facebook post will at least let your social network know that you're looking and may lead directly to the wholesaler you're looking for.
Find Wholesalers Through Industry Sources
Through industry-related associations.
Getting access to inside information is one of the advantages of belonging to an industry-related association.
And in some industries, things such as wholesalers of common products are common knowledge.
Don't overlook industry association websites as a resource. This American National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors Member Association List links to the websites of many different industry associations and may be a good starting point for you.
In industry publications.
Dental Practice Management News. Auto Dealer Monthly Magazine. Florists' Review Magazine. Just three examples of publications that are devoted to particular industries - and can be great sources of information on where to source the product(s) you’re looking for. To find magazines for your industry, type "magazines for (your business type or profession)" into your browser’s search box.
Industry-related trade shows.
There's a trade show for almost every retail business – and often, more than one every year. Home and garden shows abound, for example, and often showcase products that are available through wholesale or distributor agreements for resale.
Business to business or industry-only trade shows focus on manufacturer's latest offerings and can be meccas of new suppliers for small businesses. The ABA Beauty Show in Montreal, for example, gives manufacturers the chance to show their "innovative products, services and new techniques linked to the beauty industry".
Websites that list tradeshows (searchable by industry and/or by country):
Find Wholesalers Through Local Resources
Your local business associations.
Your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Development Centre, Business in Action group, Home-Based Business Association, Rotary Club – local business groups often have resources to offer such as lists of wholesalers.
And the other business people you meet through meetings and business-related social functions such as meet-and-greets are great sources of leads. Don't be afraid to let the people you meet know what you're looking for. They'll keep it in mind and be on the hunt for you.
Check your local sources.
If you live in a city, there's a chance that there are some local manufacturers of the product you're looking for. Searching for "manufacturer (the products) (your city)" online or checking the yellow pages of your phone book can't hurt.
Don't Get Discouraged
Through the web, through your connections, through industry sources – I'm sure you've noticed that there's one common theme here; you're going to have to do some legwork and search for the wholesalers you need.
Your competitors are not likely to tell you who theirs are or want to share them with you.
Finding wholesalers tends to be a process rather than a one-search event for most new small businesses. So don’t give up if you can’t find the supplier you're looking for right away. After all, perseverance is one of the hallmarks of success.