When should I start reaching out to Buyers + Retailers?

When you’re big goal is to grow your wholesale business it can be daunting to know exactly what the right time is to start reaching out. I’m all for setting your foundation first, which means having your pricing in place, catalogs or line sheets to send and a few samples on hand if a package is requested. You’re probably wondering thinking to yourself, “that’s fine and great Carolyn, but aren’t some months better for buying than others? How do I catch them at the time when they have the budget to actually purchase my products? I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

selling to retailers


If a buyer or retailer loves your product, there is no “best time” of year to buy from you.

When your product feels like a natural fit for a store and your buyer knows it will speak to their clientele they will do their best to find the dollars to bring in your goods. Depending on when you spoke with them, the time of year, what they have on their sales floor, what their current needs are (and a whole lot of other factors)  will help determine when they’d be placing an order with you.

That said, there are a few things you can do to try and approach them when they are the most likely to have extra dollars to spend.

Know your industry’s buying cycles

Depending on the type of retailer you are targeting will determine how much money they will have available to spend. If pitching Paper Source or another large retail chain is your big goal it’s important to keep in mind that they work months in advance. Some major retailers will book their holiday goods around May but some start thinking about holiday as early as January. Independent boutiques and smaller retail locations don’t necessarily work as far in advance and will buy closer to need. Know who you want to target and create a calendar for you to follow. Not sure of your target retailer’s buying schedule? Don’t be afraid to ask. Nervous about asking this question in a way that doesn’t come across as pushy? Try something along the lines of:

“I’m working on my design calendar and plan to show holiday in June. Does that align with your usual holiday planning?”

Your buyer’s response will probably include details about when they start thinking about ordering for this selling period. Something along the lines of, “That’s great! I usually start booking holiday in July” or “That’s a little late for me, I like to have holiday finalized by May.”

Align with industry trade shows

If the buyers you’re targeting attend a specific show you’re going to want to connect with them BEFORE that show, because they will be spending lots of money at the show. If you get them just after they attend a tradeshow chances are they will have spent most of their money. Curious about what kinds of shows your retail buyer might be walking? Check out this post that lists some of the most popular shows by industry.

Ask your buyer about their business

You should do everything in your power to learn as much about a buyer’s business as possible. The only way to truly know what goes on behind the scenes is to ask! When you learn about their business, what works, what doesn’t, and their busy and slow seasons you’re in a better position to strategically grow your wholesale business with them.

For instance, I live in Saratoga Springs NY. We’re known for our horse racing season and for 6 weeks out of the year our town is hoppin! For many independent boutiques the weeks from July-August are some of the slowest of the year but in Saratoga Springs, local businesses can do 40% or more of their annual business in the summer months! Having this information up your sleeve means you know when certain stores will require more inventory and plan your follow up accordingly.