Kole Broadens Line
A year ago, Danny and Robert Kole, partners in Kole Imports, a long time wholesaler of tools, housewares, and toys, made a deliberate decision to broaden their offering in order to become a one stop source for retailers.
As a result, the Carson, California based company now maintains more than 4,000 items in stock on a day-to-day basis, Danny Kole reports. Dollar stores have been the company's main customer base for the past 20 years, and that is not changing.
"We have increased our mix 15 percent a year for the past three years," he reports. "In the last year, however, we not only expanded the product selection in our top three categories, we also added new categories."
The new categories are crafts, scrapbooking, religious items, and pet products. Kole did not select these categories willy-nilly. It tested each of them before rolling them into its regular product mix. As a result, each has been a successful addition, building business not just for Kole, but even more importantly, Kole says, "for our customers."
From the retailers' perspective, Kole reasons, a one stop makes it easier to place orders and to receive orders while also saving on freight costs. Kole adds strength to those inherent advantages.
"We pack and ship like items together in orders," he explains, "so store clerks can stack items in sequence and place related items together quickly on the shelves." It will also break cases in its warehouse so retailers can buy items in the quantities they want and in amounts that turn quickly. They can meet Kole's minimum order requirement of $250 with a big selection of assorted products.
"Offering a range of items in a category also helps retailers sell more products in multiples," he says. In the craft category, for example, "consumers rarely buy just one item at a time. Many of our long time customers have added crafts, and, as a result, raised sales volume significantly," he says.
The same is true for scrapbooking materials, pet supplies, and religious items. All four of these categories are ones that are in the ascendant at retail. The craft assortment began with about 30 items and will add more. "Customers that begin a test in a new category will provide us with the feedback from their customers and their sales experiences, and we buy according to that demand," says Kole.
While the majority of products are targeted to Dollar stores, it repackages items we provide them with a quality look, so consumers can readily see that there's good value in the item. Kole has its own graphics department, knowledgeable and experienced in developing packages with high impulse appeal.
The company also creates groups of products, and the graphics department creat3es packages that give them the look of a consistent "lien" of goods. Within its tools category, for example, auto accessories all have their own look. So do padlocks, and many other subcategories. The packaging has more impact at retail.
Despite the added value Kole gives to its products, the overwhelming majority wholesale in the 50 cents range, providing retailers with an ample markup. "We bill our company as 'Your Profit Source'," Kole says, "and no matter how broad our selection becomes, retailers' ability to profit from our products will remain our chief focus."
Web Wholesaler Magazine, August, 2004
IMPORTS, 24600 South
Main Street, Carson, CA 90745