Let’s take a step back and start by asking. . .
Where Do Stores Get Their Stuff? - or Wholesale, Retail, Resale - What’s the Difference?
Imagine It’s a beautiful August day - you’re driving down a country road and see a farm stand selling fresh corn. Behind the stand are fields of ripening corn - You know exactly where that “store” got it’s merchandise.
The stand represents the farms retail operation. You can buy two ears of corn or a bushel, you are still
making a retail purchase.
The farm (the producer & wholesaler) will sell most of the corn wholesale -
Either to a cannery (another wholesaler), that will process the item, and re-sell it to grocery stores
Or directly to a Supermarket chain (retailer), that will distribute their large purchase among their many retail stores.
And yes, this an oversimplification. . .
Moving on to. . .
Manufactured goods - these also, often begin on the farm -
A farm grows cotton - sells it (wholesale) to a mill - the mill weaves cloth, and sells it (wholesale) to a factory - the factory sews t-shirts and sells them either . . .
1) retail, out of there own shops
2)wholesale to large chains, that distribute the shirts among their many retail stores
3)wholesale, to distributors (also called jobbers) who buy massive quantities, break them down into large quantities & resell to small shops
4) some and/or all of the above
They sell them (wholesale) to another factory, that dyes, prints or otherwise decorates them & then resells them in any of the ways just mentioned.
And so, a simple ball of cotton, moves up & up the food chain - becoming more expensive as it goes along.
Eventually it moves back down - and gets cheaper!
At the end of the season, manufacturers and big stores, sell their leftovers (wholesale) to big discount chains - or to discount distributors, who break down the lots and sell them to smaller discount stores.
Small stores usually just pack the stuff away . Some do send it to auction - and there are auctions that specialize in the bulk sale of “shelf pulls” ( items with worn torn or damaged packaging ) & end of season close outs
But usually unsold items - a case of this and half a box of that - gets packed up & stowed away in basements & storage units. Where it accumulates & sits . . . & sits & sits. . . Often forgotten. . . Until the business closes & the inventory is sold in bulk. If it sits long enough, it may actually improve. It may become the holy grail of vintage dealers: new/old stock.
NEW/OLD - old items, that were never sold & never used. (What dealer doesn’t dream of going into the basement of an old Mom & Pop toy store & finding half a dozen original Barbies, or GI Joes tucked away in a closet?).
Most deadstock is not that valuable- but it’s still can be very cool - and a great deal for the resale vender & their customers.
Leftover t-shirts, from a forgotten political campaign, boxes of unused buttons from a long retired wholesale importer, or most recently, boxes of candles from a closed gift shop: Not quite new, but also not used, these are among my favorite things at Junk.
Some purchases are small - 1,000 furry cat toys & 1,000 rubbery aliens - all of which fit easily on the passenger seat of my van - Some purchases are large - a gazillion pieces of costume jewelry from the 70’s 80’s & 90’s - enough to fill a truck & sell for 5 years. Some are just odd!
Last year I bought about 10,000 pieces of clothing from a woman who shopped as a hobby. Seriously - she spent 20 years buying clothes (mostly new, at discount stores), in a variety of small sizes (not hers!) and arranging them into outfits - Skirt, blouse, sweater, scarf & belt - the works! - some were displayed on store racks throughout her house, others were neatly packed away and labeled. In one box - labeled black winter skirts - there were 50 unworn black wool A-line skirts. Different brands - but all the same skirt. Weird. She just liked to shop. At 86, still spry & shopping, she decided to sell her house & move into an assisted living complex. She couldn’t bring the “collection” with her. And so it came to JUNK - not really new, not really used - just simple good quality classic clothes - at bargain prices for our lucky shoppers!
I doubt I’ll every find another collection quite like that one!
One last aside - not everything in the world is discounted - Luxury companies often tightly control the distribution of their branded goods & destroy, rather than discount unsold items