If "never pay retail" is your credo, you know that a trip to the outlet mall is just the tip of the iceberg. But how low can the prices go? Further reductions will only be possible through some effort on your part, like buying larger quantities or securing a reseller's license.
Work your network of colleagues, friends and family to find wholesale sources. Plumbers, contractors, landscapers, florists, interior designers and jewelers all have access to wholesale markets and/or prices. These professionals may require that you hire them to take advantage of reduced prices, so balance these expenditures against potential savings.
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Call wholesale suppliers and ask if they have special hours for the general public. Wholesalers are listed in the Yellow Pages by category, such as "Plumbing Supplies--Wholesale." They'll charge sales tax and mark up prices a bit, but you can still find great bargains.
Join associations or professional groups that share your interests. Many groups, through their combined buying power, have access to lower prices. Magazines and Web sites devoted to your special interest will probably advertise groups to join.
Consider applying for a business license and reseller's license from your state or county if you use a lot of something. Most wholesale suppliers will sell to you once you supply this information. Of course, you have to either be in business already or establish one. This is not as difficult as it might first seem. Existing hobbies, interests or skills can be treated as a business venture. For example, if you enjoy gardening, look into getting a business license as a plant nursery. A few sales to friends will make you legitimate. Research legal requirements carefully and compare costs to expected savings.
Shop around to find the best prices. Warehouse clubs often have prices that are close to wholesale. See How to Shop the Warehouse Stores.
Pay by credit card wherever possible for optimal buyer protection. If you have to pay COD, make sure to thoroughly inspect all merchandise before you accept goods.
Some companies buy overstocks or discontinued items and sell them in bulk quantities at wholesale or below-wholesale prices. While these can be great bargains, there's probably a reason for this--they were unpopular to begin with. Cosmetic seconds, items that are functionally sound but have a slight blemish, can be great deals. Usually the blemish is insignificant, but be sure to check before you buy. Highpoint, North Carolina, is the wholesale furniture capital of the United States. Research manufacturer names, models, style numbers, color descriptions and material specifications for furniture pieces that you like. Then, during Highpoint's semiannual after-market sales, purchase clearance items and floor samples.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Web sites that offer to give you instant access to wholesale inventories are highly suspect.