Do You Work With Wholesale Distributors?

Three veteran retailers weigh in on the pros and cons of ordering archery gear from wholesale distributors.

Do You Work With Wholesale Distributors?

Bryan Schertz

On Target Archery

Canton, Texas

We certainly do. We used to do lots of business with Pape’s, but Kinsey’s acquired the company, so now we primarily work with Kinsey’s South. Once in a while, we’ll order from Kinsey’s North if Kinsey’s South is out of stock on an item we need.

For a new dealer, ordering through wholesale distributors is the only way to go. I utilized them real hard during my first two years in business. After that, I’d established enough credibility to work directly with manufacturers, but I’ve continued to use wholesale distributors when necessary. 

Today, I primarily use them for special orders, or when I need to get an item in quickly but can’t reach the manufacturer’s minimum order amount. It’s convenient, and you can still make some money. More importantly, you don’t lose the sale to another store.

Another advantage of ordering through wholesale distributors is stocking less inventory. Plus, they have a wider selection to choose from. When I have two customers who want two very different products that I don’t have in stock, I can generally order both in one order and pay shipping once, not twice.

They offer some buying incentives, too. If I reach a certain order amount, sometimes they’ll provide free shipping. During the peak of the season, they have a specified day with free shipping.  

As for disadvantages, the primary one is I make less profit when I order from a wholesale distributor. It’s because they’re the middlemen between the manufacturers and the pro shops. They have to make money, too. It’s nice to have them around. They certainly have a place in the industry.

John Landrith

A-1 Archery

Hudson, Wisconsin

Yes, we do. We order through Kinsey’s, H&H Archery, and Lancaster Archery. In particular, we’ve had a great relationship with H&H Archery for many, many years. Decades, in fact.

We purchase most of our merchandise directly through manufacturers, but wholesale distributors are great for those times when we need to special-order a product or two. We always have a handful of customers who want to buy products we don’t stock, so the ability to order those random items through a distributor and get them quickly is huge for us. We don’t have to turn the customer away.

It’s also a timing thing. When a customer needs an item ASAP that we ran out of stock on, we can get it as quickly as the next business day through H&H if they have it in stock. In contrast, we’re looking at a five- to six-day lead time when we order direct from manufacturers.

We order heaviest from wholesale distributors from July through October, which is our busiest time. If we run out of particular products and need to bring more in quickly, we lean on H&H Archery to get what we need so we can keep selling rather than turn folks away. For example, if we bring in six arrow rests and then reach a point where we should’ve ordered 12, we bring in the remaining six from H&H. They do a great job for us. In a sense, they’re our back-stock room without the up-front storage or financial commitments that we would if we had our own back stock.

The only real disadvantage is that we pay a bit more at wholesale pricing than we do through manufacturers, but distributors are the middlemen. That’s how it works. Yes, we lose a percentage of our profit margins by paying wholesale pricing, but it’s worth it because we can get archery items ultra-fast. Again, we get the sale and don’t have to turn our prospective customers away.

Unloading a large shipment of new compound bows at A-1 Archery in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Unloading a large shipment of new compound bows at A-1 Archery in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Pro Shop Staff

Buffalo Jump Archery

Helena, Montana

We do most of our ordering directly through manufacturers, but we do occasionally order through wholesale distributors. Most often, it’s when we need to order just one item.

That brings us to the advantages. First, the ability to order just one item means we don’t have to meet a minimum order with a manufacturer. With distributors, we can order one item at any time. Ship times, we find, are also a bit faster. Most items come within three days. Our customers don’t have to wait so long and we don’t lose the sale. We make the customer happy, and they come back again.

Of course, the only legitimate disadvantage is that items obviously cost a few bucks more than they do directly through the manufacturer. That obviously eats a small percentage of profit margin, but the convenience is worth it. Plus, one of the distributors we order through offers free shipping on all orders 1 day a week. Obviously, that helps us out a great deal.


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