How to Buy Products at Wholesale & in Bulk Amounts

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Retailers make money because they can purchase large amounts of product at wholesale and then mark up the price for the consumer. But retailers aren't the only buyers who can purchase products at wholesale prices and in bulk amounts because many companies do not require a retail license to sell products at reduced prices. Though it may take some extra work, the average consumer can purchase products directly from the retailer or distributor and save money in the process.

  • Locate where local retailers purchase their products from, or look into research distributors such as unfi.com and frontier.coop. Nearly every product available for purchase comes from a distributor that may be willing to sell it direct to you, the consumer.

  • Contact the distributor directly to find out what requirements they have on minimum purchases. For example, United Natural Foods, Inc (UNFI) requires a $500 minimum order. Frontier will provide free shipping on wholesale orders over $250. (Cost from 2009.) Many warehouses will allow you to buy directly from them, and may even deliver to your home, as long as you purchase a minimum amount.

  • Create a buying club. A buying club is no more than a group of people getting together to purchase bulk items at wholesale prices. With enough people placing orders, meeting the minimum purchase amount is easier. Cases and bulk products can also be divided and shared.

  • Join a buying club. A local buying club may already be established in your area, and the distributor you are interested in purchasing from may be able to tell you if a buying club already exists.

  • Join a retail buyer's club. For a yearly membership fee you will have access to bulk products at prices generally below suggested retail price. Sam's Club, a retail buyer's club, charges a $40 annual membership fee and Costco, a similar retailer, charges $50. (Cost from 2009.) However, these products will still be marked up a bit from wholesale cost.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do the math before you buy. Retailers generally mark up products 20 to 60 percent above wholesale. A real bargain would be something you buy at least than 20 percent than you would pay for retail. Explore your local food co-op or health food store. Many of these kinds of retailers allow customers to make special orders of bulk products or by the case for prices substantially lower than retail.

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