Finally, the story of how we got started selling products for our business, www.RoseLaneCottage.com. I know a few people have asked me about this, and I apologize for not responding sooner.
The story I'm about to tell is actually quite embarrassing. And yet it shows how God cares for the humble, and He gets all the glory, so I'm happy to share it.
When my husband and I decided to start "that cottage thing" as he put it, one of the biggest questions was "Where would we get the products to sell?" I knew that big department stores had teams of buyers, but how could someone like me find product to sell?
It wasn't that I didn't know WHAT to sell. I did. I've been reading home decorating magazines for years. I'm a longtime Victoria Magazine reader, then Romantic Homes, and occasionally Cottage Style and Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. I love pretty, romantic and quirky home accent pieces. Add to that the cottage decorating books I bought, and I had a list of what I wanted to sell. But where would I find it?
So I just started asking friends if anyone knew anything about buying wholesale. Somewhere, someone told me about a gift show in Atlanta. So, being the diligent researcher that I am (not), I looked on the Internet and discovered the Atlanta Gift Show. (Note: do not try to find it, it is now defunct, not surprisingly)
I was surprised to find out how strict they were. They wanted proof of a business license and our resale tax number. Since I had that information, I submitted it with my application to attend, and we had taken the first step on our buying trip.
My husband stayed at home with the kids, and my mother planned to go with me. The day finally came in January when we got on a plane and travelled across the country to Atlanta. We rented a car, and drove to our hotel. The next day I was beside myself with excitement about going to the Atlanta Gift Show, and we found our way to the convention center. We walked in, registered, and stood gawking at a large room with booths set up all over.
I was thankful we had planned three days to get through this room. But it quickly became apparent that we were going to get through this room in a few hours - not days. It was very easy to scan a booth and see if they have items you want. Most didn't.
I started to panic. What had we done? We flew all across the country for this?? Throughout the morning, my mom and I noticed there were people in the room who had on different name tags than us. Their name tags said "America's Mart." I had no idea what that meant, but I was desperate enough to ask someone. So at lunch we sat next to a couple, and I braved looking like an idiot and asked where they had been. I explained how new I was to the business - which I didn't need to explain. You know how when you are nervous you talk to much? Yep, that was me.
To their credit, they did not laugh out loud. They were kind and explained that just down the street was a HUGE market. But that it was very hard to get into. Thank the Lord I had brought all my paperwork, a checkbook and a business credit card. Being done with Atlanta's Gift Show around 1 p.m. on the first day, my mom and I headed over to America's Mart. Only God could have opened the doors to get me in, because I really needed proof of having a store. I'm still thankful to that registration lady for having pity on such a foolish woman like me. But we got in.
My mom and I then entered into a shopper's paradise. Three skyscrapers filled with merchandise for store owners like me. I've been back every year since in January, when the temporary wholesalers are there.
If you want to open a store from home, and resell items. You will need to get a resale tax license. This is called something different in many states. Then I would advise you to start by going to a show close to home. In hindsight, I should have asked a local store owner were they went. Hopefully I can save you some time and money with my example. I did some research and found this listing of wholesale trade shows.
Wish I had this list a few years ago! Please note you can NOT just show up. You have to prove you are a legitimate retailer, and either preregister or register on site.
Hope that helps some of you with a desire to start a business. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.