Yosef Martin is Founder and President of Merchandize Liquidators, a closeout and liquidation wholesale company specializing in selling overstock and customer-returned merchandise from major stores back to the market for a fraction of the original wholesale cost. Joe started his business as a college student with an initial investment of $375 and grew it into the #34 ranked company in the Business Products & Services Industry. A thought-leader and entrepreneurial expert, Joe welcomes anyone to reach out to him @M_Liquidators.
MO: Can you describe what Merchandize Liquidators does?
Joe: Merchandize Liquidators is a closeout and liquidation wholesale company. We specialize in selling overstock and customer-returned merchandise from major stores back to the market for a fraction of the original wholesale cost. We sell brand-name items, as well as non-branded clothing, cosmetics, toys, electronics, HBA products, shoes, furniture, and more.
MO: How are you able to offer merchandise at such a low price?
Joe: The nature of the secondary market is different from the regular wholesale industry. Our products are cheap because they mostly come mixed and not in factory cases. For example, L’Oréal mascara typically sells for $14 in a regular drugstore. Its wholesale cost, however, is about $8 per piece. We sell the same item for about $1.50 apiece.
We can do this because L’Oréal clears all its items off store shelves twice a year to introduce different shades (fall and winter have different shades than spring and summer). We buy the leftover product after the reset. The products coming off the shelves sometimes have discount stickers, which makes them unsellable for very large retailers, such as CVS. We use that to our advantage and buy the stock well below the original wholesale cost.
MO: Did you face any particular challenges when first establishing this business model?
Joe: The actual challenge was coming up with the concept. It’s like going to an auctioneer and buying a great deal. We carry different deals on a consistent basis, and we had to find a way to make it work.
MO: Where did you get the inspiration for this unique business model?
Joe: It started with a friend, who bought merchandise from a store that had closed. He used the term “liquidators.” After searching on Google, I knew what I needed to look for. I wanted to make sure I could build a program with a large store to keep the merchandise coming consistently, rather than looking for businesses that had closed. I didn’t want to be on a search for the Holy Grail. It was important for me to establish an ongoing supply of unwanted goods from retailers in which they received a small recovery cost for their purchases.
MO: How do most of your customers find you? Is it through organic searches online?
Joe: Most find us via Google, followed by word-of-mouth marketing, Facebook, and magazines.
MO: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of thus far in your career?
Joe: It’s actually not the gross sales or the speed with which the business is growing – I’m proudest of the employees. I see the business grow with the employees. Finding the right people for your business is one of the hardest tasks for any firm. After all, your business is only as good as your employees.
My model was Google. I visited their headquarters a few times, and I saw why it was ranked as the number-one place to work. The Google crew was very bonded. It was like they had their own clique. My goal was to at least match that feeling.
Today, my staff is together 24/7. They have a group diet, they go together on road trips to Orlando, and they go out on weekends. It’s basically a second family. It took some time and planning to make it happen. I had personality requirements; the people I hired had to be team players, but they needed to be able to solve problems individually. I always took people by recommendation first.
MO: What are you most excited about for the future of Merchandize Liquidators?
Joe: I get excited every day over small things – even planning a meeting with a client – but I think the charity organization we opened, called “Truckloads of Hope,” is my biggest source of excitement. I want to raise one million dollars’ worth of merchandise and cash in the first year. As a Mason and a Shriner, this motivation comes naturally.
This is a team effort. I believe that some actions go a long way, and I’m excited to start. We have many ideas so far, but what I want to really see is the organization making a change. That will be a kind of self-actualization.
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