An online business based in Scottsdale is helping independent retailers compete with the Walmarts of the world.
Marc Joseph, the former owner of a chain of Valley hair salons, established DollarDays two years ago because he wanted to give small retailers a better way to obtain their inventory.
“Small businesses are underserved by [wholesale] distributors, especially if they’re not located in a big city,” Joseph said. “A major manufacturer can’t afford to send out a sales manager for a $500 order, so an entrepreneur can’t get the prices or assortment that a big national retailer can negotiate.”
A visit to the company’s website, DollarDays.com, reveals a bewildering array of products: votive candles, men’s and women’s apparel, graduation gift baskets, even store fixtures and counter displays. Joseph says the site contains 20,000 different items from 200 manufacturers.
About one-third of the items are closeouts or cancelled orders, Joseph said. Another one-third are seasonal items. With Easter having just passed, DollarDays.com is aggressively pushing Mother’s Day products, from gift baskets to greeting cards.
“We might add 300 items and take off 150 items,” he said. “Two days from now, the site could look completely different.”
Lisette Candelaria learned about DollarDays.com at a trade show soon after opening her Planet Dollar store in Avondale eight months ago. About 95 percent of her store inventory sells for $1 or less and includes American Greetings cards, Hallmark gift bags and various household items. For the past two months, Candelaria has used DollarDays.com as her main product source.
“I was using a million other distributors in Chicago, in California, but it was always a hassle,” Candelaria said. “There were the costs of shipping out of state, and sometimes the orders wouldn’t get here on time. During the day, I’ll be running the cash register, managing the store and receiving merchandise. There’s no time to eat or breathe, so being able to go on the Net and know my orders will arrive in 24 to 48 hours is critical.”
Although Joseph declined to reveal revenue figures, dollar discount stores are clearly frequent buyers from his website. He says he has helped set up about 200 dollar stores nationwide.
“If an [entrepreneur] sends us a floor plan, our staff will help them lay out the store,” he said. “Our goal is to be their long-term partner for reorders.”
Dorothea Oien began using DollarDays.com about six months ago to enhance her product line at Dee’s Collectibles, a business she operates out of her Glendale home. In addition to figurines and similar collectible items, Oien takes orders for lamps, tables and bedroom furnishings.
“The prices were good, and there was easy access through the website,” Oien said of DollarDays.com. “I buy bedding bags and candles, but I also use wholesalers in California for lamps and other furnishings. I use more than one [source], because a single distributor won’t carry everything I need.”
Oien, who has 10 years of retail experience, moved to Arizona in 1998 from Greenville, N.C. She operated a collectibles store in Greenville but didn’t open one in Glendale because she didn’t expect to stay in the area for long. Now she’s planning to move into retail space in downtown Glendale by mid-July. She expects to invest $10,000 to open the store, which she envisions as a kitchen-and-bath outlet similar to national retailers Linens N’ Things or Bed, Bath & Beyond.
“Part of the motive is higher revenue. You can only go so far with a home-based business,” Oien said. “I want to get our name out more so customers can see that they can get the same products from me with more personal service.”
The impending expansion of Oien’s business is the kind of impact Joseph envisioned for DollarDays.
“There are plenty of products needed across the board, and the Internet provides a distribution channel for the individual entrepreneur,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about Walmart running everyone out of business.”
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