Visit us March 17th to the 20th at the ASD show in Las Vegas Convention Center, booth SU463
Live Chat

Take It Back

Los Angeles Business Journal, January 9, 2006

Jacques Stambouli knows about deals, but not the kind that his fellow Harvard Business School alums are accustomed to, with the handshakes and million-dollar transactions. Stambouli’s deals involve shaving a few dollars off merchandise that customers return to retailers and he’s doing a lot of them, especially now, in the post-Christmas season when unwanted gifts are returned.

The warehouse of Stambouli’s company, Vernon-based Via Trading Corp., is a kind of grocery store of returned goods, where everything from fake Christmas trees to PlayStation parts to poker sets to dishware is crammed into boxes lined up in rows. This conglomeration is then sold to vendors, who in turn market the goods at yard sales, discount stores and both real and virtual flea markets, eBay Inc. being the biggest. “You are selling to people wholesale who are reselling it, but it is not really established businesses,” said Stambouli. “It is more of this big underground economy.”

Although underground, this economy is getting larger as more people take a stab at Internet commerce and search for wholesale suppliers. Via Trading is one of a small number of the larger wholesale players in an industry where solo brokers channeling goods from retailers to vendors are the norm. “There were very, very few established companies that dealt with wholesale. There are no wholesale chains across the country,” said Stambouli. He partially attributes this hole to the demise of mom-and-pop stores that, unlike chains, would fill their shelves with goods from wholesalers like Via Trading. Stambouli estimates that Via Trading will make $13 million this year, up from $7 million in 2005 and $4 million the prior year. Via Trading gets most of its items from department stores and big-box retailers. These companies off-load customer returns, which make up about 4 percent to 6 percent of all retail sales, when they can’t put merchandise back on the shelves.

Via Trading gets the goods at 10 percent to 25 percent of their wholesale cost, depending on the size of the order. And Stambouli expects his customers, who typically buy hundreds of items gathered in boxes at about $200 each box, to be able to double their money and still sell at half regular retail prices. Barry Riemer sells purses that he buys from Via Trading at Hooked On Handbags at the Valley Indoor Swap Meet and online. He discounts handbags at his 800-square-foot swap meet location at 60 percent to 90 percent off the retail price. A purse he sells for $15 to $50 might go for $50 to $150 at department stores.

It’s turned into such a booming business for Riemer that he’s phasing out of his job as a vocational teacher. Last year, he sold $60,000 worth of handbags at the swap meet and $100,000 worth on eBay. He doesn’t see his sales ebbing because he said others don’t sell the high-end bags he has. “I don’t feel the least bit threatened. They are selling junk from China. Nobody can compare with a major department store,” said Riemer.

Reliable supply

Even in the underground economy, Stambouli’s MBA came in handy. In fact, Via Trading was the result of a business school exercise: he had to conjure up a new retail concept. “It was going to deal with returns, (but) be a lot more Web-focused. I had done some research, and I had seen a lot of wholesalers trying to do it, but no retailers,” he said. “After a month or two of it, I found it was really difficult to find a reliable source of supply.” Stambouli decided he would be that reliable source, and Via Trading was born. As Via Trading has grown, it has used its size to attract more retailers that it buys from and customers it sells to.

On the retail end, Via Trading can swoop in and scoop up large quantities of goods because it houses inventory in its warehouse. That helps retailers avoid the complication of having to deal with scores of smaller operators, most of whom don’t have the space to store a lot of merchandise. Buying large quantities also benefits Via Trading’s customers. That’s because retailers reduce the price for surplus wholesalers who pick up larger quantities and, therefore, the wholesale price is knocked down.

Among Via Trading’s most popular merchandise categories are electronics, tools and clothing. In December, toys were the biggest sellers. In the warehouse, Stambouli groups the goods according to their sources and can track which stores his customers are most interested in buying returned goods from. Stambouli is coy about releasing information about the stores. As part of his agreement to buy their returns, stores instruct Via Trading and its customers to deface the labels on items. The stores don’t want items to get returned again, a problem that Stambouli said he hasn’t had to deal with yet.

Calls to Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. for comment were not returned. Sharon Weber, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said the company doesn’t sell returned goods to surplus dealers. “We either sell them back to the supplier or, in some cases, if it is merchandise that is unused, we will put it back on the shelf,” she said. “Other than that, we destroy it.” Some retailers who sell to surplus wholesalers make an extra effort to ensure their products don’t make their way back to their stores. One retail chain that Via Trading just started buying goods from doesn’t have stores in California and went with Stambouli to make sure that surplus merchandise is sold far away from its locations.

After the Christmas holiday season, the supply of goods spikes and Via Trading can load up its inventory. However, Stambouli said that’s not necessarily the best time to do so, because the flood of returned goods drags down the price he can command and, after all, the highest demand for the products is right before Christmas. For the most part, Stambouli said he can get returned merchandise all year, and both the flow and demand for the products isn’t particularly seasonal. In Southern California, where the weather is good, flea markets are held throughout the year, and vendors constantly need to replenish their merchandise.

Higher prices

But selling surplus isn’t always easy. There’s a wide variation in the quality of customers: some have little knowledge about what it takes to vend returned goods, while others learn that different products work well in different venues. “You don’t quit your day job. It is $200 to start your own business. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, you got $200 worth of merchandise,” Stambouli said. Those for whom it doesn’t work skipped the necessary legwork. It takes time to sift through the merchandise, pick out the products that aren’t too damaged and can be sold with a higher return, and price accordingly. Those for whom it does work get a good handle on where to best sell the items. For instance, it is not cost-effective to sell cheaper goods on the Internet, where the shipping costs can equal the price of inexpensive items. But more expensive, branded goods can fetch a premium online.

Riemer has found that averaged priced handbags, like a Nine West purse, are good swap meet items. On eBay, Fendi or Coach bags sell for higher prices than they would at the swap meet, where people who are looking for low-price deals shop. The discounts on Riemer’s handbags aren’t what they once were. In the past two years, he said his prices have gone up 20 percent to 25 percent, as he passes on higher wholesale prices to his customers. At Santa Fe Springs-based wholesale surplus supplier Rhino Mart Inc., owner Drawlon Tsang said his prices have risen because retailers are charging more, sometimes triple or quadruple what they were four or five years ago. Retailers can raise more prices because there are more players in the wholesale market, and they’ve increased demand for their returns by making the goods available to the same customers Rhino Mart and Via Trading are after: flea market and Internet vendors.

At the same time, Tsang said retailers are more diligently identifying and retaining the quality items, leaving wholesalers with badly damaged goods that they can only sell at slim margins. “It is now riskier to buy. There are problems with every single item,” he said. At Via Trading, Stambouli can rely on his scale to heighten his bargaining power. With stores dependent on his services, he can make price and quality demands. That’s one reason why, once he hits $20 million in revenues, Stambouli might merge with other regional players to make a $100 million company with even more leverage. “I can’t see this business ever slowing down. There are billions and billions of dollars worth of merchandise that is resold and reprocessed,” he said.

Click here to read the article on www.labusinessjournal.com.

Related Articles

  • All Case Studies
  • Articles

Best Cloud Based Email Services for Business

For most businesses today, email is one of their primary communication methods. Here are 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Cloud-Based Email Service.

How To Avoid Getting Scammed By A Wholesale Vendor

Missing These 10 Tactics is Why Most Online Sellers Get Scammed by Wholesale Vendors. Here’s How To Avoid Getting Scammed

Freedom Entrepreneurial Camp

Enduring life, going with motions, 9-5 days, Monday thru Friday, vs enjoying life, pursuing clear purpose. Take a moment, forecast your life’s trajectory.

Via Trading Auction Preview

Check out an auction we had earlier this year! Happens every 1st & 3rd Thursday of the month!

A Day at the Swap Meet selling HEHSWCR

Via Trading Pallets Wholesale Customer Returns Swap Meet Watch us sell on OfferUp, eBay, VarageSale, Facebook and Craigslist Every Day as we build our resell business.

Selling Cosmetics on eBay with Hooked on Pickin’

How to make a great eBay Listing from start to finish with VIA Trading makeup. I show you how I make the best listing on eBay with the best pictures.

A Day at Via!

Take a trip to the Via Trading wholesale liquidation warehouse. Get a close up look at what is available from Via Trading.

Quick Tour – Via Trading Warehouse

Take a trip with us to the Via Trading wholesale liquidation warehouse. We buy and sell high end pallets of customer returns that we buy from Via Trading.

Live Auction through the eyes of StevenSteph Resale Killers

Live Auction through the eyes of StevenSteph Resale Killers

Auction Preview with StevenSteph Resale Killers

Wholesale Liquidation Auction Preview – The Resale Killers preview Via Trading’s wholesale Liquidation auction to buy bulk and resale

Webinar: How to Buy Wholesale Liquidation Cosmetics

How to Buy Wholesale Liquidation Cosmetics   Share this Article Related Articles .vc_custom_1419240516480{background-color: #f9f9f9 !important;} Best Cloud Based Email Services...

Webinar: Merchandising for Profit

Merchandising for Profit How to Maximize Sales of Liquidation Products   Share this Article Related Articles .vc_custom_1419240516480{background-color: #f9f9f9 !important;} Best...

Find and Sell Name Brand Overstock Products Online

🚀 We finally launched the [FREE] Overstock Academy Podcast In fact, I was so eager to launch, that I released...

Flea Market Selling Day

Flea Market Selling Day Flea Market Selling Day Four hours $757. StevenSteph the Resale Killers spend 4 hours selling wholesale...

The #1 Secret of Elite eBay / Amazon Sellers

Elite eBay and Amazon Sellers don't want you to know this secret tactic to accelerating your Business Recently I was...

Interested in Cosmetics?

Interested in Cosmetics? Cosmetics are a great seller all year round. We would like to tell you a little bit...

Barg-N-Binz Picks Via Trading For its Customer Service

Barg-N-Binz Picks Via Trading Thanks to Excellent Customer Service Andrew Yasparro operates a brick and mortar liquidation store in New...

Virtual Business

Max’s business, LP, was launched in June 2016. The business sells pallets of general merchandise from the WM store through a Facebook group with over 9,000 members. Customers pick up their purchased pallets from Max’s yard.

How to Transition from Amazon to Ecommerce

Already dipped your toes into the ecommerce world selling on Amazon, but want to take the next natural step? Starting your own online shop gives you full control over branding, marketing and sales while giving you unlimited access to useful data about your customers.

Leveraging Group Sites to Liquidate Merchandise

Leveraging Group Sites to Liquidate Excess Merchandise The problem of excess merchandise is familiar to every business owner.  The underlying...

An Overview of Liquidations

An Overview of Liquidations Sourcing bulk liquidations within the supply chain If you're constantly on the hunt trying to purchase...

How to Qualify a Supplier

How to Qualify a Supplier Finding a reputable wholesale liquidator to work with can be a daunting task; there are...

35 Alternatives to Selling on Ebay

35 Alternatives to Selling on Ebay Everyone knows that selling on eBay can be profitable. But let’s face it –...

From Pallets to Truckloads and Beyond

From Pallets to Truckloads and Beyond Nathan of Central Outlets in Florida Some of the most successful businesses are often...

Competitive Pricing for Retail Success

Competitive pricing for retail success Competitive pricing is but one key to retail success How long have you been operating a...

How to Buy Liquidation Cosmetics

Check out this short video training and learn how to purchase wholesale liquidation cosmetics that will be the right fit for your business!

Merchandising for Profit (Discount Stores)

Merchandising for Profit Using Liquidation Products to Drive Discount Store Sales Liquidation products can be more challenging to display for...

Training Webinars

Training Webinars Via Trading is now offering online vendor training webinars with tips and tricks designed to help you grow in...

Lynwood Warehouse Opening

Lynwood Warehouse Opening After having grown out of our warehouse in Vernon, CA, where we operated for over 18 months,...

General Selling Tips

General Selling Tips The general rule of thumb in this industry is that the more sales channels you have, the...

Selling Tips for Retail and Discount Stores

Selling Tips for Retail and Discount Stores The following are a few selling tips for retail and discount stores. If...

eBay Tips and Resources

eBay Tips and Resources eBay Tips and Resources With years of experience selling on eBay, the following partners have put...

General Online Selling Tips

General Online Selling Tips Online vendors use channels such as eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, other online shopping carts or their own...

Craigslist Resources

Craigslist Resources Learn How to Sell on Craigslist When thinking of selling online, most people think of selling items on...

Online Vendor Resources

Online Vendor Resources Online Auction Businesses for Stay-at-Home Moms Internet Based Moms is a website full of great information for...

Via Trading Recognized as CA Small Business of the Year in 2014 (dist. #63)

Via Trading Recognized as CA Small Business of the Year in 2014 On Monday, June 16th, 2014, Via Trading was...

Wholesale Export Success Story

Wholesale Export Success Story Adedoyin Otunuga of Trendy Clothing, Nigeria Our March success story is of a woman who started...

Maximizing your Flea Market Success

Maximizing your Flea Market Success Whether you are a flea market and swap meet veteran or just launching your new...

Brokering Success Story

Successful Merchandise Brokers Shawna & Alan Roehl of Midwestern Wholesale What is your primary business? We are primarily online sellers...

Yard Sales & Multiple Channels Success

Yard Sales & Multiple Channels Success The Tanners If you've ever spoken with a representative at Via Trading about the best ways...

Yard Sales Profits in Retirement

Yard Sales Profits in Retirement Rozanne Rosas of Palmdale, CA Have you considered starting a yard sale to make money...

Home-Based Business Success Story

How Gaby Turned a Hobby into a Profitable Home-Based Business People enter the liquidation industry from all backgrounds and walks...

Flea Market Success Story

Flea Market Success Ana & Jorge Success in the liquidation industry depends on dedication, hard work and making it through...

Merchandising Tips for Flea Markets

Merchandising Tips for Flea Markets Always offer volume discounts where you can. If one item costs $5, charge a little...

101 Hints & Tips for Flea Market Success

101 Hints & Tips for Flea Market Success The internet's largest list of hints and tips for selling at Flea...

Retailing for the Community

Retailing for the Community Don Wright of Sunrise Enterprises, Inc. When the idea of starting or growing a merchandise resale...

Insights for Brick & Mortar Retailers

Insights for Brick & Mortar Retailers Bernard McClay of Rancho Cucamonga, CA Bernard McClay, a long-time customer of Via Trading, recently gave...

Retail Store Success Story

Glen Rundell of Specialz Outlet in North Carolina as an example of identifying an opportunity and fill an untapped niche.

Floor Standing Retail Displays

Floor Standing Retail Displays One of the core aspects of the Via Trading Mission Statement is the notion of continuous...

Merchandising Tips for Discount Stores

Merchandising Tips for Discount Stores An attractive storefront is important! Make sure the entrance entices people to come in, has...

ebay Success Story

Ebay Success Story Dawn Sander of Redlands, California. Until six years ago, Dawn Sander was working as a floor representative...

Online Cosmetics Success Story

Online Cosmetics Success Story Jacek Maksymiuk of Bank of Style Our December Customer of the Month, Jacek Maksymiuk of Bank...

Insights for Online Retailers

Insights for Online Retailers Brent Dill of GreatBuy.com In an increasingly global marketplace, online sales have long become the way...

Selling on Amazon

Selling on Amazon According to Morningstar research, Amazon continues to be one of the leading online marketplaces and is reported...

10 Tips to Starting a Successful Online Business

10 Tips to Starting a Successful Online Business It doesn’t matter if you are starting on eBay, Amazon or setting...

Do’s & Don’ts of Effective Email Marketing

Learn here what you should do and what you shouldn’t. FREE webinar about the Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Email Marketing.

Discount Store Merchandising

This webinar takes you through what you need to know to maximize sales of liquidation products.

Webinar: Flea Market Vendor Training

This FREE Flea Market Vendor Training webinar takes new and seasoned flea market vendors through the must-dos of setting up a success flea market business.

Starting a New Resale Business

Starting a New Resale Business by Rueben Marley, for TopTenWholesale.com Starting up a retail business that makes healthy profits can...

Share This Article