Chicago Wholesale​ ​Closeout​ ​Company​ ​Bazaar,​ ​Inc.​ ​Continues​ ​to​ ​Build​ ​on​ ​40 Years​ ​of​ ​Growth​ ​Despite​ ​Shrinking​ ​Purchasing​ ​Opportunities

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As automation and emerging technology limit manufacturer needs to sell wholesale closeout merchandise, Bazaar finds success by making personal relationships paramount

the Bazaar, Inc. are Reclamation Specialists

The more things change, the more they stay the same, so the most valuable thing I can teach him is that no matter how innovation alters our processes, our success starts with with trust. It starts with the deal.

According to the US Census Bureau, the wholesale industry represented $608.1 billion value in sales and inventory in August of 2017. Despite this staggering figure, sustained profitability in the industry’s subsectors, specifically manufacturer wholesale closeouts, is precarious. It exists in the middle of a tightrope between the timeless art of the handshake deal and the agility needed for a company to incorporate modern evolutions in automation and e-commerce. Chicagoland-based Bazaar, Inc. and its consumer arm, Bargains in a Box, has managed 38 years of sustained growth despite on-demand and automated retail technology permitting manufacturers to operate with more precision, thus limiting the amount of misorders and mistakes in the production process.

“Years ago manufacturers used to just make products,” Bazaar CEO Rob Nardick said. “They had warehouses filled with products and they’d take orders. Today, the manufacturer is much more technology driven, sharper, they have a lot of systems in place that allow them to not have to produce anything until they get the orders, which has really stymied the flow of the merchandise over the years. That’s why there’s only four or five of legitimate companies left that operate in 100 percent closeouts like we do.”

The landscape of the wholesale closeout industry has virtually been in a continuous state of flex since Nardick began running Bazaar, Inc. in 1978. The industry is propelled by manufacturer miscalculations, something that producers of goods are always looking to minimize. Bazaar has grown by identifying and embracing new opportunities while never losing site of the fact that personal relationships built on trust are the foundation of its business.

“We’ve branched out to a lot of different areas that we didn’t touch years ago. For example, we launched a repack warehouse about 10 years ago that allowed us to become a one-stop shop for manufacturer reclamation,” Nardick Said. “These partnerships require a lot of trust between manufacturers and sellers. When a manufacturer sell us reclaimed goods they know that we’ll inventory it, pick it up, scan it, clean it and sell it to desirable stores or in our own retail arm, Bargains in a Box."

Trust is paramount when dealing with reclamation due to an industry off-chute called diversion. If a shipment of goods is damaged the manufacturer will sell it at a wholesale price, but there’s nothing to ensure the buyer won’t undercut the manufacturer by selling the damaged goods to the retailer for which it was initially intended at a cheaper price than was agreed upon between the manufacturer and said retailer. This is a legal practice and a big business with annual sales in the U.S. in the tens of billions of dollars. The only thing that can prevent it is by dealing with a trustworthy buyer.

“We are always very careful about who we sell the merchandise to, but there are companies out there that divert goods,” said Nardick. ”Bazaar doesn’t operate like that. We’re the opposite of a diverter. We want to protect our manufacturing partners by burying these products in dollar stores, small mom-and-pops, close-out stores and other places that it won’t necessarily be advertised.”

Reclamation is just one of the industry facets where Bazaar has made inroads. Nardick, who is the second-generation CEO of Bazaar, looks to his son and VP of Strategy and Development, Brad Nardick, to ensure that the company continues to innovate alongside the industry. Bazaar’s revenue streams have diversified over the years to include 5 percent international sales and 5 percent online transactions.

“Reclamation will continue to be big for us on the buying side,” said Brad Nardick. “But we have to be aware of what’s happening on the B2C side as well. We’re implementing online sales through our Amazon platforms and have also used the internet to expand into a global retailer. I believe that brick and mortar storefronts will exist in 15 years, but if they don’t we’ll be ahead of the curve and positioned to operate where the consumers are.”

Rob and Brad have unique views on how tech will change their business but they both agree that in order to remain profitable, personal relationships need to remain as the foundation of their business on both the buying and selling sides.

“Since I was a kid my dad and I would visit all of our stores and warehouses and get to know all our employees,” said Brad Nardick. “I believe that the key to success is rooted in my dad’s ability to run this company with an open hand, not an iron fist. That’s why I truly hope that our 8 brick and mortar locations will never fully transition to online retail. There’s something inherently satisfying about getting to know our communities and existing as a tangible partner that works to make everyday a little better for everyone.”

Rob Nardick echoes that sentiment. “Brad has done great things to help us diversify our efforts on the retail side and keep us profitable in the digital age. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, so the most valuable thing I can teach him is that no matter how innovation alters our processes, our success starts with with trust. It starts with the deal.”

The Bazaar, Inc. is a distributor that buys and sells closeout name brand merchandise to wholesalers and retailers. Bargains in a Box sells everything from big screen televisions and electronics to food, cleaning supplies, baby goods, books, pet supplies, toys, clothing, and much more. For more information, visit http://www.thebazaarinc.com/

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Jared Stewart
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