FAQ series: “Can I Get a Discount?” and “Do you sell Wholesale?” (aka Wholesale Respect)

QUESTION : "Do you sell Wholesale?" or "Do you only sell Retail?"

What folks really mean is: "Can I get drastic discounts from you?" or "Can I not take your price tags seriously?"

The ANSWERS are: Yes...and No.

Why be so coy? Either you DO - and/or you will sell Wholesale - or you DON'T (and you won't).

Sure - I could just as easily have said No & No, or Yes & Yes - or even mix it up: No/Yes & Yes/No - but that's all very confusing (without explanation). Furthermore, those simple replies don't really answer the questions - at least not to my liking - they're not reflective of my situation...which is why I've felt it necessary to craft this important Blog. It covers a LOT of ground, and has been an opportunity for me to weave in MANY thoughts and observations, which have been percolating over the course of years.

What's inside the display window of a shop I know, that does not do wholesale, per se.
What's inside the display window of a shop I know, that does not do wholesale, per se.

I hope none of my readers take any part of this personally (or "badly"). Truly, it's not about any one person - but speaks to a range of experiences I've had, which I'm glad to finally address here and now.

I suppose I'm working up to an apology - this tome is a bit long and involved - my Blogs are never one liners. I'm simply not that kind of writer, though I promise some more basic statements to follow. For now, what you see is what you get.

That's why I don't "drop" Blogs as often as I might. They require some serious thought - touch on a topic that won't go away (ie. keeps coming up, or otherwise strikes me as truly relevant, in an ongoing way) - and they generally take me many hours (indeed, days!) to proofread, edit, embellish, and finalize. I've spent from Friday through into Monday on this one!

NOT FOR EVERYBODY

For those of you who A) don't really want to grasp my nuanced answer to the questions posed; B) tend to ask questions gratuitously (just 'cause they pop up in your head); or C) if you use these prequalifying questions (e.g. "do you Wholesale?") as an excuse to not really see the Crystals in front of you (regardless of their price)...then feel free to Skip this article...there are indeed other fish in the sea (no shortage of people nowadays trying to sell you crystals)!

But I do sincerely hope that curiosity (and genuine interest) will have you reading right through to the end, here. I don't mean to put you off, or be patronizing, but I think it would be worse for me to just blurt out the answers without an explanation, or proper context (which will provide better perspective on why I feel, or respond as I do).

For me to just say "No" or "Yes," or even "Yes...but not like how you might be thinking" would leave it ambiguous. Hopefully I will have made my various answers clear by the end of this rambling inquiry.

Maybe, just maybe, you'll respect me more for it. I know my regular clients get all this. But it's helpful to have it laid out so thoroughly "on paper."

Nuff said, let's get on with it!

WHAT IS WHOLESALE?

Not one of mine - but someone's highly valued Quartz(?) - clearly featuring a healthy markup.
Not one of mine - but someone's highly valued Quartz(?) - clearly featuring a healthy markup.

You see, for most people - especially "in the industry" - being a Wholesaler means that you (as a qualified buyer, ie. when you're purchasing for resale), can generally look forward to getting 50% off anything you see on a Seller's tabletop (and that's exciting!).

How fun is that - to know that no price is really that price - that ultimately, you'll be paying a lot less than what you see on the sticker!

I wonder how it feels to also know that the Seller probably paid 25% of the SRP (suggested retail price) - so that they're actually doubling or quadrupling their money either way - depending on whether you pay "keystone" (50% off) or full retail.

It would seem they can't lose! Actually everybody wins, right? You get your price and they get theirs...everybody's happy.

I get that it would appear that way, but let's look deeper. Let's understand a bit more about what's behind this elaborate dance of pricing...

THE MIXED BLESSING OF THE MARKUP (here's where it gets technical)

If a Wholesaler gets that extra margin of profitable windfall (with the 4x+ markup), it helps them to cover their costs handsomely. The standard margin (of 2x) allows them to at least double their money, so they can (maybe) cover the costs of importing, traveling, lodging, rent, family expenses, and every other cost they incur during the normal course of doing business. But as I know from being self-employed since 1988, it's not always glamorous (or easy) to be "catching as catch can" either way.

Me poring over wholesale bins at a gem show.
Me poring over wholesale bins at a gem show.

Let me explain further. I can see why you might think Wholesalers roll in the dough. Sometimes - if they're lucky, and they can buy in bulk - a Wholesaler might be given an item for cents or just a few bucks, so their markup is even greater than usual (in the dimension of 10 times or more!).

But don't think for a minute, that they're pocketing everything above and beyond their original cost - or that everything they buy costs next to nothing.

Remember also, that when they (say, you) buy in volume, you're often stuck with a lot of lesser material that picky buyers will pass over, as they benefit from being able to choose only the best on display.

Remember that when you (as a buyer) are trying to get the lowest price - bargaining beneath what a Seller really wants to let something go for - that what you're ultimately doing is asking them to forgo their own livelihood each time.

What makes Sellers feel like you're pushing them beyond their comfort zone - is when it feels like you're denying them compensation for what it is they do best - just so you can feel good about the great deal you just got.

At shows and on street corners, everybody's trying to get in on the action (of selling crystals).
At fairs and on street corners, everybody's trying to get in on the action (of selling crystals).

Certainly not every buyer's this way - many obey tags as written - but if you've ever been on "the other side of the table," you know that hagglers attend every show. That mentality can show up even virtually, on Facebook Comments, etc. - but bargaining is not illegal. It's also not always offensive.

I just want to put it out there: try to take into consideration how the vendor may be feeling (or what their needs might be). I'm advocating for another way to think more compassionately about our transactions, from the Seller's perspective. Not to deny the Buyer's their "rights" - but to remind us all - it's a two way street.

I think most readers of a Blog like this, will probably be consumers: Buyers. Even Sellers are Buyers too, so we all know that perspective. A Blog like this gives us an opportunity to share at least my perspective on the Sellers' experience.

WHERE RETAILERS AND WHOLESALERS ARE ON THE SAME PAGE

Of course Sellers - and really, everything I'm saying about Wholesalers is also true for Retailers - have a choice. They don't have to undersell their items, and they often don't.

As I say "it doesn't hurt to ask for a discount, the worst thing that can happen is that I'll say no."

But when I (or when sellers in general) refuse to go lower than a certain number - please honor and respect that decision. Don't judge us as if we're being unreasonable, or greedy for requesting a minimum price point. That's just what we need for the sale to make sense (to us).

Everytime we refuse to offer further discounts - it's not 'cause we're trying to be rude or deprive you of what you may already feel to be naturally yours - I get how attached we can get to the stones we love.

Until it's purchased, though, any given piece actually still belongs to the original owner. We're happy to keep holding onto any given item till someone else - more understanding of its value - comes along.

BUT AREN'T ALL STONES CHEAP? THEY'RE ROCKS, AFTER ALL!

Please remember, not everything (actually, nothing) is free to us in this business. A hundred dollar item is not costing $3 - it probably called for the outlay of a whole lot more than that - with no assurance that anyone would ever buy it. Imagine multiplying that calculus across our entire inventory.

WE DON'T JUST SPEND MONEY ON THE FEW ITEMS YOU'RE CONSIDERING

Money's being spent not just on individual pieces, but to cover all the stock we don't sell at any given show (and that we have to then haul home)...which is often the majority of what's on display.

A snapshot of part of my showroom.
A snapshot of part of my showroom.

For those who don't come back to our showrooms, remember that we also have to buy stock to keep "the shop" back home looking full and healthy. All told - tens of thousands of dollars (or more!) - are tied up in inventory..."just sitting there."

What we're not making, at any given moment, is a LOT higher in number than whatever we might hope to make at the event you happen to be attending.

Any one sale - unless it's several hundred (to several thousand) dollars - won't make or break our day. I say this to put agonizing over a small - or even medium purchase - into perspective. Sellers regularly drop K's to buy stuff, so to them, it's not such a big thing.

Back to the micro-view.

WHY CAN'T YOU SELL THIS FOR LESS?!

I've encountered the incredulous attitude "I can't believe you're not gonna take $100" (for a $350 item) - or Offers on eBay which propose that I sell an item for 20% of my asking price. Some people just don't get it! Why would I sell something for less than I bought it for - assuming I even paid 50% for it - and why would I price something at $100, if all I really wanted was 20 bucks for it?

It becomes a bit of a disrespect thing. Asking is fine - even making a preposterously low offer - that's all fair game. But don't be surprised if we get annoyed (or say "no").

WHAT SETS ME APART

Many Wholesalers - for tax purposes, or their own peace of mind - mark everything up a standard amount...so that what you're paying is (ideally) some logically consistent reflection of what they paid for it (those super-cheap bargains they got notwithstanding).

That may not even be true - I'm sure everyone does their thing a little bit different - but for the sake of argument, let's run with it.

I used to think this was the ultra-rare crystalized version of Lapis - and it kind of is - but it's called Lazurite. The white is generally marble (as opposed to the usual white Calcite in Lapis). And the termination is quite unique in configuration.
I value highly this rare - crystalized version of Lapis - even though I've discovered that in this form, it's called Lazurite. The termination is quite unique in configuration. I'm looking for top dollar on something like this, which I have not seen at any of my Wholesalers.

I'm not the same. I don't follow that business model.

My markups are not based on what I paid for something - but rather, on what I perceive it's worth to be - or what someone should be (or will approach) paying for it...based on my experience selling thousands of stones...and also based on what I've seen come and go in the market.

You see, geological finds can lead to a glut of a certain item, for a year or two. Then it disappears, because those pockets are all mined out. If I sell something special like that for bottom dollar, then later, I won't have it...I will have undersold it early in the game (failing to base my pricing instead on its longer term value).

I DON'T "RUN OUT."

I see myself as responsible for carrying a huge variety of key Power Stones - including less common ones - in such a way that when everyone else sells out, I'll still have them in stock.

A "proper" Wholesaler will have LOTS of stock for sure - I'm thinking of one right now - but they never seem to have any quality Clear Quartz points in stock - how is that even imaginable?!

Basically, because Quantity is most Wholesalers' prime directive ("buy low, sell high, and in volume"), what you see on their tables is what's readily available at Tucson, or from their imports, this year. There are whole classes of stones - because they're harder to find (or not likely to turn over quickly) - that don't even show up on their shelves. And then even some of their staples - which may have first attracted you to them - are sold out, never to be seen again.

A quality, naturally uniform Sugilite like this, is also something I almost never find from most wholesalers.
A quality, naturally uniform (in color & harmonious form) Sugilite like this, is also something I almost never find from most wholesalers.

I LIKE TO CARRY HEAVY HITTERS

I'm not in this for the quick buck, so I'm happy to stock up on some of those more obscure stones - in spite of their expensiveness. Yes, I pay real money for them. And I'm not afraid to sit on them for awhile, even years!

STANDARD DISCOUNTS JUST AREN'T POSSIBLE

It's hard for folks to understand why I can't just offer a blanket discount on all my merchandise.

Hopefully, by this Blog (and other conversations, when I show you in person the scope of what I'm carrying), you can understand how the markups can vary wildly, and why some stones are just too rare to sell off below market value.

Some stones - and this may seem odd to you - I don't even sell at the "going rate" (what you might find it for, say, on eBay). I'll price them higher, for future value, because I know they won't be so easy to find in years to come (and I want to have them then, too). Also, I check around, and firmly believe they're "going extinct." It's a whole "Save the Whales" kind of motivation.

WHO GETS IT IS IN!

My ultimate reward is that when a real collector (and they're out there!) - or someone who knows what to look for - stumbles upon my treasure trove. They get overjoyed to have such a huge selection of quality stones to choose from. Those are the people I'm more inclined to want to hook up - as opposed to someone just asking me (out of the blue) for a big discount. I want these Crystals to go to homes where I know they'll be appreciated (note the pet reference there).

I ACTUALLY HAVE WHOLE VARIETIES OTHERS DO NOT

I have certain types of stones in quantities I don't see from either Wholesalers OR Retailers.

A particularly tasty specimen of Rhodochrosite - which I collect because it's not being mined any more - but also because it's beautiful, and metaphysically, a powerful healer.
A particularly tasty specimen of Rhodochrosite - which I collect because it's not being mined any more - but also because it's beautiful, and metaphysically, a powerful healer.

For example(s), I have a large collection of Lemurian (as well as Red lasers and Diamantina) Quartz, in all sizes. I have a staggering variety of Crystal Skulls (and Hearts!). I have Nephrite Jade and Rhodochrosite (which most sellers don't sell, or run out of).

I have every type of Petrified Wood I can get my hands on. I have all the key Black Stones. I have Pyramids in many different types of material...Palm StonesWands ditto.

I could go on - but this type of collection does not build itself up by selling off everything I get immediately - or letting folks get deep discounts on irreplaceable stones. There's got to be something good "left for the next guy."

SO DO I SELL WHOLESALE?

At long last, I'll give you my answer (if you haven't guessed, or interpreted from my initial response, based on all my extensive verbiage above).

Let's zoom out a sec. If you're expecting a blanket discount from a Seller - not even the full Keystone referenced above (from an exclusive Wholesaler) - you might be able to get 10-30% off from folks whose primary business is Retail. Of course, they'll want you to be buying a bunch, though, to make it worth it for them (I have a lot of experience buying directly from shops).

However - that's not me - at least in principle. I'm not "that easy." I never give blanket percentage discounts (as suggested above).

Rare Indian double terminated Lemurian - hard to let go - but the price and the person were right!
Rare Indian double terminated Lemurian - hard to let go - but the price and the person were right!

In practice, however, I may well be able to give you those types of breaks on individual pieces (even 50% off plus!). But it all depends, because I operate on an item by item basis, and it's based on your choice and selection. For me, it's all about "how easy would it be to replace this piece," and also "how invested am I in keeping this in stock." If I can "live without" something, I'll be happy to pass it along.

I GET NOW WHY "YES and NO" IS AN ACCURATE RESPONSE

Complex factors and considerations go into determining how low I can actually go.

Buying from me is a more involved, personal, relationship-oriented process - not just between us, as human beings - but between you and me and the Crystals!

An assortment a client recently asked me to set aside for them...all substantial items.
The assortment a client recently asked me to set aside for them...not inconsequential items.

DOES VOLUME MATTER?

Also to be taken into consideration is how much you're spending. Obviously, the more you're willing to put on the table, the more inclined I am to hook you up. One hand washes the other.

THE UNDERLYING ENERGY EXCHANGE

It's not just about the money. People say "money talks - bullshit walks" - that certainly has its place (and happens often enough). But when you consider money as an "energy exchange" it gets deeper. Your big purchase doesn't just fill my coffers - it puts gas in my car, helps put my kid through Summer camp, turns into a credit card payment - I pass it along as soon as it's received.

GIVING BEGETS GIVING

When you spend money, you're contributing to energy flow. That silly adage "money makes the world go 'round" starts to gain some more meaning. It's an acknowledgement and tangible pat on the back. That keeps us stone sellers going - finding more great specimens for you - and everybody else!

That's why I give back - doing free webinars (and individual sessions); putting out thought provoking blogs like this: and answering even potential customers' questions - where do you think that energy comes from (or ought to be coming from)? Your helping me helps me to help you (and others).

I can't keep doing what I'm doing - or expand my exposure in the world - without my dear and loyal buyers! So I thank you all, you know who you are. And I welcome future virtual and in-person customers with open arms.

BUT I'M ON A BUDGET!

I realize that for you, it's a real investment. We all have (or try to have) spending limits. Everything you expend on rocks you could be putting elsewhere. It's a privilege to be able to buy Crystals, and an honor for us Sellers, when you purchase them.

This ginormous Elestial Milky Smoky DT I'd had for decades - but it came time to pass it along - but for a pretty penny...I haven't seen any like it since.
This ginormous Elestial Milky Smoky DT I'd had for decades - but it came time to pass it along - but for a pretty penny...I haven't seen any like it since I even got it!

I tell people: "everything you buy from me, I chose to buy before you." So believe me, I want to honor your commitment commensurately, by looking out for your wallet as well.

Anyone coming to me in good faith, with genuine interest, you can be sure I will do my very best to hook you up.

DO ONLY BIG BUYERS GET BREAKS?

In the interest of full disclosure - even big buyers sometimes don't get certain items discounted at all - they're simply worth what they're worth (and I can't sell them for anything less than "asking").

In the business, you'll see the qualifying word "NET" next to a price, it means "I don't care who you are or how much you're buying, but this is what you're gonna pay for this item."

WHAT'S MY OVERARCHING SALES PHILOSOPHY?

Ultimately, what I want you to do is not be driven by the starting price - or some across-the-board markdown potential - but instead by the pieces themselves.

THE PIECE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRICE

My motto really is: "the piece is more important than the price!"

Pick out what you like - and based on what I got it for, or how much I value it, as well as how much else you're getting - and I'll definitely give you a break.

CONCLUSION

In the end, it would appear that I am capable of doing something like Wholesale - but not categorically - and so I stand by my original answer to "Can you do Wholesale?" It's both Yes, and No. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kyle Russell has been working with Crystals since 1987, when a transformative experience left him suddenly knowledgeable about the energetic qualities of Power Stones. Since then, he's honed his understanding through experience, working with individuals and groups, teaching Meditation and developing paradigms for understanding The Language of Crystals. You can learn more by contacting him Kyle@CrystalConcentrics.com.

 

Kyle Russell

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