How & Why We Started Our Company

Most businesses use this page to tell you how triumphant and wonderful their journey has been and they omit the struggles everyone faces when they start out.  We are going to keep it real and tell you our FULL, genuine story (including the terrible parts!) because Big Brand Wholesale has a back-story that many find inspirational... and even a little funny  :)

Let’s rewind to 2005 when owner, Tori Thompson began this company.  Here is her story:
 
I was told I would no longer be able to bartend because I had gained too much weight due to being in my final months of my first pregnancy.  As you can imagine, being fired for being “too fat to work here” when you are about to be a new mother is pretty darn devastating, but life goes on and on August 1st, 2005 I had my first son.
(pictured below: Our Potbelly Pig, Bacon and our son Luke)
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When Luke was born I had two revelations:
1. OMG, WHY IS BABY STUFF SO EXPENSIVE???
and
2. LIKE SERIOUSLY, WHY IS BABY STUFF SO @*%#ing EXPENSIVE?!
 
In desperation I turned to eBay and Craigslist to sell stuff.  In a short matter of time my merchandise was selling faster than I could obtain it.  At this time in my life I had time, but I didn't have money, so I wasn't greedy at all.  I was elated to make $3 net profit. I figured if I can make $3 net profit by working from home while raising Luke, and IF I could make $3 profit only 1 time per hour, every day, for a month, I could make over $2,100 a month!  And $2,100 a month can buy a lot of baby stuff... and *maybe* even a purse for mommy too.  At this time I knew I absolutely *could* get more for many of the items I was selling, but I couldn't afford to wait, so I priced to sell.  And it sure did sell!
 
I began spending 4 days a week driving to stores to scour their Clearance Sections in hopes of finding inventory (If you have a giant smile on your face because you know exactly what I'm talking about, yup, we've all been there!!).  Some days i would find lots of stuff but other days there was little-to-nothing and the expense of gasoline and car maintenance from excessive driving was starting to add up. The time I was spending "hunting and gathering" (literally, I was hunting ... then gathering... and this was just the steps to OBTAIN the merch before the whole SELLING process began!); was taking away from time spent photographing, listing and shipping. I realized this method is not going to work if I really wanted to make money; if I could get the merchandise delivered to my door I could focus on selling it instead of finding it.

This led me to contact big brand companies and try to purchase wholesale direct… which *sounded* like a simple task but I quickly discovered how wrong I was! Door-after-door was slammed in my face due to:
-          Not having a warehouse with a pallet jack, loading dock or a fork lift. I was shocked; because I don't have a warehouse I can't buy???
-          Unaffordable "minimum purchase" financial requirements. A 25-year-old-just-fired-new-mother absolutely doesn't have $5,000 to buy Smashbox lipsticks! Jeez! Can't I just buy $50 worth??
-          Giant minimum purchase quantities. Where on earth was I going to put 2,500 suitcases? I'm not an airport! Can't I just buy 4 pieces?!
-          Insufficient company yearly sales requirements, no Tax I.D, no EIN and no LLC which made it so I couldn’t even apply to become a buyer! It would have been easier for me to donate plasma, blood, eggs and a kidney all in the same day than to come up with all that paperwork!

The vendors I found that were willing to sell to small businesses (or literally brand new sellers) were nothing but frustrating.  You didn’t get to know WHAT you were buying, it usually wasn't name brand and it was typically a mixture of stuff, which often included totally trashed merchandise that can’t even be salvaged. I even got suckered into buying this because I was a new seller. Wanna hear a funny story (it's only funny because I'm still in business!)...
 
Ok so... I had found a "wholesaler" (notice the air quotes) on eBay who offered bulk panties, makeup and purses. The listing said "You might not get what's in the pics" and of course the photos showed AMAZING, new, gorgeous stuffs, so I thought "even if it's not those exact items, it can't be THAT bad!". I did notice that the listing also said "DESIGNER BRANDS!" but ALSO stated "Not all pieces will be designer brands".  This made me assume that, at worst, I would be getting half-name-brand and half no-brand, which didn't seem *that* bad.  So I invest the only money I had saved up, $5,500. I literally blew my life savings on this *spoiler alert* TOTAL TRASH!
 
So after waiting TWO WEEKS for this Ebay idiot to ship my stuff then waiting another week and a half for shipping from California to me in Michigan, this super sketchy, dirty, busted up, off-white cube van shows up and delivers these 3 massive boxes that were too big to ship regular mail. Each box was covered with black plastic trash bags that were taped together (you cant make this stuff up!). Now when I say these are massive boxes, I mean HUGE. They were so big they should have been shipped on pallets (because the weight of the stuff inside the box is so heavy that it physically rips right through the bottom of the box!) but somehow this Ebay seller got these two dudes in this creepy van to drive them across the United States and unload them in my parents driveway.
So I open box #1 and it's more trash bags which are full of my makeup, classy, eh? To this day it amazes me that someone thought the best way to package makeup was buy dumping 200 pounds of it into a trash bag then throwing it inside a thin box and sending it across the country inside a predator-van.
I then open one of these can-liner-bags and the first thing I pick up is a shattered liquid foundation. Off to a great start (obvious sarcasm in case you missed it). I then pick up a nail polish covered in the foundation then I pick up a Maybelline compact, new in package (hooray!)...expiration date is 1999! It's not even the same CENTURY!!  So I think to myself "The makeup sucks but the panties and purses will be better"....

I then open Box 2 and it's the purses. Immediately I notice something chalky and black on the first one. "Must be dirt or something" I think to myself. I pick up the second one, more black powder stuff. Third is the same. Fourth is wet. Fifth is wet and black....it then dawns on me....this is probably BLACK MOLD! 

Box 3 is the panties. I don't remember the exact piece count but it was a ton. Maybe 3,000 or so. I believe they were only 12 cents a piece or something like that. Anyways, I pull the top trash bags off the box and open the first interior trash bag and the worst smell I have ever smelled in my entire life permeates my nostrils. It's this smell like no other...don't laugh, but it smelled like...burnt hair mixed with burnt rubber mixed with....literal mushroom farts... but wait, it gets worse! The panties were thongs straight from China, in China sizing and with tags on them that showed a picture of a little girl and said, in big, bold, English letters, "Kid Thong".
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OMG is an understatement. Like, I think my heart missed at least 2 beats. It was probably how Luke felt when he found out Darth Vader was his dad, but maybe worse because I doubt Darth smelled like this bag of my investment and Luke wasn't out $5,500. 
 
So I did what any other person would do, I gagged twice, held my breath then ran to my computer to contact to the seller. I'm vigorously typing  "hello. I received my purchase today and I'm a little confused. The makeup is broken and from last century. The purses are wet and covered in black mold and the panties smell like rubber farts. Can you please ask the two dudes in the van to turn around and load this back up?". 
Now let me explain, this is early 2006. Back then eBay was still new and in favor of sellers because ebay wasn't greedy a**hole yet. Back then there wasn't really any major-major-major "rules" online because mainstream eCommerce as a whole was brand-spanking-new and the main concern was sellers not shipping stuff or shipping counterfeits. Nobody really considered issues like thongs for babies, cosmetics older than your child and moldy crossbody bags. Back then, as long as the seller could show it was Delivered, the buyer was out of luck.  It took companies a couple more years to realize that sellers can be scammers too. PLUS, I had made another massive mistake.  Although I bought the cheap panties through eBay, the seller had contacted me outside of eBay and convinced me to add on the purses and bags.  It is safe to say, this experience was filled with "Life Lessons" for me... as well as a 6-foot-high pile of sexy underwear for toddlers in my living room.  Yes, I can absolutely assure you that I cried myself to sleep that night.

After a few days the seller responds and hes like...
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My response "fair enough but you also didn't mention the items will be completely unsellable"

This story goes on and on, so let me spare you the details and fast forward to how this ended....which was me, having to start completely over, from scratch after working so hard to save up money. It was really awful. It was super depressing. It would have been so much easier to give up. Thank God for good friends and cheap wine. #BoonesFarm2006.
 
So I spend a while rebuilding to get back to where I was before this horrid scam. 
It was at this time that i realized that I was going to find a way to help all the other “Little Guys” out there. I never wanted anyone to go through the hassle, run-around and utter trauma I endured.  I wanted to make sure that people like myself have a safe place they can buy through because the reality is, NOBODY, and I repeat NOBODY, should ever have to walk all of their investment to the curb on trash day.
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In 2010 I secured my first warehousing in Michigan and obtained my LLC. It was a really small warehouse space, but it worked!
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 I had finally met all of the requirements to be able to work directly with large vendors.  I found ways to buy liquidations directly from big box stores and chain stores. My mission was:

- Let eBayers, Amazon Sellers, Flea Market sellers, College students, retirees and whoever else wants a better life to have a source to buy from that doesn’t have unaffordable minimums, doesn’t require business licensing or a loading dock. 

- Let these buyers know EXACTLY what they are buying without stating "You might not get what's in the pics".

- Find a way to let buyers purchase only the type of merchandise they want.  The “Little Guy” doesn’t want a mixture of random categories; they want niche products and they want to know what the heck they're getting! *pounds fist on table*

- Make sure buyers know the “quality” of items.  If it’s damaged; TELL THEM.  If it has clearance stickers, make them aware, and it it’s absolutely amazing stuff, tell them how great it is.  A buyer should never feel like they were cheated out of their hard earned money. 

- Create a system that allows buyers to communicate with a REAL person quickly and efficiently.

- Buyers have given their blood, sweat and tears to be able to afford the inventory they purchased. Package it nice because nothing says "we don't care" like being delivered a busted-up box covered in taped-trash-bags! 

- Ship FAST. Little guys can only afford to buy when they NEED inventory. Nobody buys milk 8 weeks in advance. You buy it when ya need it! Treat the inventory like dairy! Whoa, that got real weird, real fast. 

- And finally, treat people like people, hence the reason this "about us" isn't some corporate speech with photos of us in suits. Never send form-letters or copy and paste responses. Have an actual person type an actual response. #alwayscare
 
A second move was made in 2013 but this warehouse was outgrown so fast that is under 2 years we were completely out of space and it was chaotic!  It became so cramped that only 1 person at a time could fit an aisle1 (Yeah, I'm absolutely sure it was a fire hazard)
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What other companies don't tell you is just how much they went through to get where they are today!  We have had employees steal from us, other companies take advantage of us, water floods, a leaking warehouse roof, snow-storms freezing all of our pipes, some kids playing with lighters set a vehicle on fire in our parking lot in the wee hours of the morning! We showed up to work to find our parking lot filled with fire truck and police! In 2013 a man who owned a computer repair business next door was on the news for stealing his customers devices. Then, in 2015 a man who owned a Spa business in our plaza made national headlines when one of his customers ran out his front door, partially clothed, during the middle of a massage. 
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She ran across the plaza to the police station and reported that the business owner had inappropriately touched her. When the new broke, numerous other women came forward to complain of the same.  Then there were protesters!  This was a terrible experience because his door was literally right next to ours!  But during all of this and more, we persevered!
 
 
October 2017 we moved to our big warehouse in Wayne, Michigan. We LOVE it.  You can take a virtual tour of our warehouse by watching the video below:
We now have a really awesome customer pickup location that we are actually proud of....oh, and by "we" I mean myself AND the staff! Yep, for many years now there's been warehouse, sorting and customer service reps! We will be at this location for no less than 5 more years and will only move when we are completely out of space...which hopefully is a long time away! 
 
On July 18, 2019 we changed our company name and website from WorldsSexiestWholesale.com to BigBrandWholesale.com.  We hired a company to build a new website for us. 
 
Often I think back to the disastrous 2 years that I suffered through.  It makes me realize several things:
1. Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply change course.  For example, people have asked me "why didn't you sue the #&LL out of the bar that fired you?" or "why didn't you press charges against the eBay seller who essentially stole your money?"  Trust me, I absolutely considered it, but both of these avenues are very costly and time consuming. If I put my time and energy into a legal battle I wouldn't be able to put that energy into selling.  Sometimes, as hard as it is, the best route is to salvage whatever you can then cut your losses and move on because everything really does work out in the end if you always give it your best.  If someone doesn't want you to work for them, do you REALLY want that job?  Like seriously, do you genuinely want to work a place where you're not valued?  Of course not!  But looking back, I am SO THANKFUL I was fired!  If I wasn't fired by my short, rude, unreliable boss who had a pile of thick chest chair sticking out of the top of his shirt, I never would have started selling online! This company only exists because of my termination!  Sometimes I wonder if I should reach out to that jerk and thank him. 
 
2. Most importantly, that even when things seem impossible, it's mandatory to never give up.  Everything you want to be great at takes work and dedication.  Imagine if Tiger Woods tried golfing twice then quit because it was hard?  If you are struggling to figure things out, just keep plugging away.  Instead of putting difficult situation on the back-burner, double down and give it 100%.  Read. Research.  Learn.  If you throw yourself into fixing the issue you WILL fix it! If a fired bartender can be successful, you absolutely can achieve your dreams too!