How to Find Vendors

Title:  How to Find Vendors

What will you learn?

  • Where can you find vendors for your boutique?

  • Should you purchase a vendor list?

There are lots of vendor lists available online to purchase.  If you do your research yourself there is no reason to purchase a vendor list.  In this article, you’ll be provided with direction on where to go to find clothing and accessory wholesale vendors for your boutique.  Please be aware that in order for you to purchase wholesale you’ll likely want to set-up your business legally.  Without the proper paperwork a majority, but not all, wholesale vendors will not sell merchandise to you.

 

LA Fashion District

If you are prepared and take a trip to the fashion district you may be able to easily identify wholesale vendors for your boutique.  There are over 2,000 “wholesale only” shops in the LA Fashion District.  There are over a thousand more shops open to the public.  Before you go you should do the following to prepare:

  • Ensure you have the required legal documentation to purchase wholesale.

  • Set a schedule, not all wholesale vendors are open seven days a week (and on weekends it can be very crowded)

  • Establish a budget and make travel arrangements (food, lodging if staying overnight, transportation, parking, merchandise purchases)

  • Have a plan in advance as to which wholesale vendors offer the merchandise you are interested in buying.  You can do online research in advance by visiting the fashion district website.  You can identify the type of merchandise the wholesale vendors sell and also where they are located within the district to save you time during your trip.

  • While you are there you can arrange for the merchandise to be shipped to you so that you do not have to carry around a lot of merchandise, which will slow you down as you go from one wholesale vendor’s shop to another.

  • Take a notebook with you if you are not ready to purchase on the spot so that you can write down items you were interested in and from which wholesale vendor they may be purchased from.  If taking pictures or videos be sure to ask for permission first and obey any posted signage.

 

Tradeshows

There are fashion industry tradeshows located in many cities throughout the world.  Tradeshows are a great opportunity to visit with many of the wholesale vendors in a central location instead of traveling to each vendor independently.  Meeting with wholesale vendors allows you the opportunity to inspect the quality of the merchandise that you will be sending to your customers.  Listed below is one of the largest and most popular tradeshows in the United States.

 

Online Wholesale Marketplaces

If you want to find wholesale vendors while in the comfort of your home or store you can check out online wholesale market places.  You can find hundreds of brands and manufacturers that you can sell in your boutique. You’ll be able to find out merchandise details such as fabric type, sizing, pricing, and much more.  You’ll be able to purchase the items online and have them sent to you.  In order to make a purchase, you’ll have to have proof that you’re a legal business and will have to create an account.  Be sure to read through the online “help” and/or “support” information to understand the requirements.  Listed below are a few of the biggest online wholesale marketplaces.  With a bit of research, you can discover others.

 

 

Online Search

You can enter, into a search engine, a variety of different search terms including “wholesale clothing”, “wholesale clothing vendors”, and “wholesale clothing vendors list”, to find wholesale vendors to purchase clothing and other merchandise for your boutique. This may not be the most time-efficient way of identifying wholesale vendors but it will work.  You’ll have to filter out irrelevant results, old listings, inaccurate listings, and duplicate listings among other things.  

 

Information Databases

All wholesale vendors are required to file legal paperwork at the start of their business and as well as annually (as is required for your boutique).  There are public records available for these businesses.  One of the best ways to access this information is by going to a library.  Don’t be afraid to get assistance from your local librarian.  Most libraries have access to databases, which you can not access online, for free.  They have paid for licenses so that members of the library can access the databases for free.  The librarian can also direct you as to what database is best to use to find the list of wholesale vendors.  Provided below is a link to the Houston Public Library Business Databases.  Business Insights: Global and Reference USA are good databases to find information about businesses.

Image Search

If you see an item of clothing being sold by another boutique you may be able to find the vendor by conducting an image search.  Searching for a vendor by image will not work all the time.  If the boutique is using the image on the vendor website then you’ll likely be able to trace it back to the vendor’s website.  Here are the steps to search by image.

  1. Click on the image

  2. Copy the URL for the image

  3. Go to http://images.google.com/ 

  4. Enter the image URL

  5. Browse through the search results until you find the image on the vendor’s website

 

 

Tag Identification

A lot of stores purchase merchandise from wholesale vendors and sell the merchandise with vendor tags instead of having custom tags made and sewn into the garments.  If you have clothes at home that you like and have purchased from a store, you may be able to identify the vendor by simply looking at the tag.  Of course, you can always check the tags in the store without purchasing in store.  Once you’ve found the brand name in the tag you can search online for the vendor.  While the vendor may not have that particular merchandise in stock, they will likely have similar merchandise available for purchase in stock.

Ask

One other way of identifying wholesale vendors is to simply ask.  There are a lot of online support communities for boutique owners.  You can post a picture of the merchandise and ask the community if they know where you can purchase the merchandise.

 

Pay

As mentioned at the beginning, there are lots of wholesale vendor lists available for purchase online.  You simply need to type in “boutique vendor list” in a search engine and you’ll be able to find several lists.  The creators of these lists have utilized many of the techniques discussed here.  When you are buying the list, you are paying for the time that they have spent researching to find the vendors. 

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