Another thing about "wholesale" prices

Submitted by LH on 10/19/01. ( )

I've often read with interest the many threads that arise from time to time concerning why we cannot get a vendor to offer us wholesale rates like so many other businesses have. Being relatively new to running my shop as a business rather than a hobby, I quickly realized that my degree in biology didn't offer much in the business world. So, I decided to discuss this matter with owners of other businesses that offer a sevrice not unlike taxidermy - that being a service that the customer is unable to provide for themselves. One of my first questions had to do with how they go about calculating the prices they charge for their work. I was talking to the business office manager at a locally owned and very successful car repair shop. With this wholesale price issue being such a hot spot with some of us, I touched on that specifically and what I learned makes me happy to have things the way they are. As a rule, these guys get their parts from their vendors at a wholesale "cost" rate, but they do not get to set the retail price. The vendor does that for them and there's no latitude one way or the other. If you want to use their parts, then you sell them at their price... period. I was advised that this is an industry practice that is pretty much status quo everywhere. For what it's worth, I consider the price I pay any vendor as my wholeslae rate, even if the customer can get the part for the same price direct. That's his business, not mine. I charge a retail rate with 30%markup on ALL materials plus X-amount per hour for labor, then add on a shop fee so I can replace equipment, pay utilities, insurance, and so forth. I'd rather pay the prices I pay now and be able to alter that part of my price calculation equation at my discretion rather than have somebody someplace else telling me what the upper limit of that part's price will be. BTW, I'm only a part-timer and my business plan will not correlate with a lot of the things you fulltimers do, so keep that in mind as you reply.

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You are comparing two seperate trades..

This response submitted by James Jonas on 10/19/01. ( )

Please understand that auto repair and taxidermy are quite aways from being alike. Our work is more of a craft that can be taken to an art form at the farther end of the spectrum. I have been a full time taxidermist for over twentyfive years, and there is no doubt that for the most part, any one in the world can buy supplies at our prices. You can buy all sorts of chemicals , hypo needles, etc
etc... with no form of professional identity needed. Some call that a great thing, I call it belittling to an industry. I have belonged to the NTA for a long time and have brought this up from time to time with very little reaction. There are a ton of hobbiest out there that really feed the supply companies. The supply companies are in business to make money just like everyone else. I don't put any blame on suppliers, we all want to get as much as we can for the goods or services we sell! Even still I will always believe that the taxidermy trade would be looked at more business like if
supply sales where structured in a more professional manner.

Problem for years

This response submitted by Len on 10/19/01. ( )

LH, This has been a problem for years and no matter who addresses the suppliers its still doesn't get changed. Why the suppliers are afraid to make the change I don't know. They know that they get a lot of business from people wanting to dabble in taxidermy.The catalogs are avaiable and also now everything is on-line. If they would leave the existing prices as wholesale and then create a retail cost for people not operating a business they would still has the same amount of business.A lot of people buy the supplies, find out how hard it really is to turn out a quality mount and quit within a year or two. These people come and go every day so I believe they would still get the same amount of retail orders. If you were really interested in the wholesale just start up a business and get the discount.
If the NTA really wanted to pull all the state members together, here is a perfect chance for them to dive in and get this matter resolved. I approached Mike Kirkhart in 1999 when he was the president of the NTA and got no where with him or the NTA. They just say they can't do anything. Its like talking to a wall.

Did I miss something

This response submitted by George on 10/19/01. ( )

I know I must have as it seems we're back to whining about suppliers doing us wrong by selling the same thing to beginners or novices. Might I enquire where each of you got your supplies when you first started? Since "most" taxidermy schools tend to be a extension of the instructors ideals, very few taxidermist go "to school". If you're over 30, probably NONE of you went to school.

Next question. When your battery dies in your car, do you take it to and ASC certified mechanic, a dealer's service department, or do you go down to Wal-Mart and see how cheap you can find one? Your faucet leaks. Do you call a plumber or do you head to Lowes for a replacement stem and washer? You need a new deck, call a carpenter? The list goes on forever. As I've said before, if and I mean IF, any novice, hobbiest, or parttimer is actually taking work away from you and you don't have enough to keep you busy, it's not THEIR fault nor the suppliers. The customers have decided they get more for their money elsewhere. You can use all the rationalization you'd like, but the onus still belongs to the guy standing in the mirror.

I can only shake my head

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 10/19/01. ( )

You know someone somewhere is going to say "here comes Yox telling us its his way or no way", and thats not true. BUT, I gotta tell yas this much. You are very wrong on this discount parts thing. If you could sit in a suppliers office as many times as I have, walk through production, look at expenses, and cost of materials, labor and packaging like I have, this argument wouldnt even stand on its own. Trust me, you are getting stuff at cost. The mark-up just isnt there. The expense that suppliers would have to determine who is deserving of discounts is just not realistic. Who decides who gets what discount? How much they buy? How much they mount? Fancy letterhead? Who pisses and moans the most? Uh-uh, it wont happen, period. Heres an idea, why dont you guys charge more for your work? At LEAST stay up with the rise in foam costs, the rise in frieght, all those increases you are paying for already. Please, though, whether you agree with me or not, please dont post in here how the suppliers are out to get the taxidermist and put him out of biz, OK? Some folks made that statement last time we spoke about this, and proved a few things to the rest of us. Mainly that you dont need much of an education to do taxidermy, LOL!

If we were REALLY educated..

This response submitted by Jim Tucker on 10/20/01. ( )

We would have quit this bus. years ago. LOL! Bill is right. The amount of work that goes in to making and marketing forms is astronomical. We should be glad to get them at the price we do. So they charge a hobbiest $10 more. Whoop de doo! Won't make me any happier. Won't stop the hobbiest either. I have a LOT of "hobbiest" around me giving away their work. Just charge all that the market will bear and you'll be a lot happier, and you will forget about all those poor slobs getting their supplies for the same as you.

Well all the kings have spoken

This response submitted by James Jonas on 10/20/01. ( )

...Now try to look at the whole picture. All big companies can look overwelming, behind he scenes. And who said we pay too much for supplies. Its the structure thats screwed up.
And as far as not making enough money.. That ws not mentioned once above! All the suppliers know how much each of us buys per year. Also they are charging us all the same since they know there is really nothing we can do about it. I say make your caSE KOWN TO THEM AND OTHERS. Buy smartly and forget all the paded items they sell and find local wholesalers for some of those items. But then again you have suck butts that get free stuff who will always stick up for the practices that are going on. Read through some of this crap and the truth is clear to see.

I agree with George, I think

This response submitted by Bill K. on 10/20/01. ( )

Being a self proclaimed dyslexic, I have to read things a few times before I get the gist of things but I'm reasonably sure that it is the company that determines if a discount or wholesale is warranted, not the consumer. But on the other hand I could be wrong. After all what would you expect from a 40 year old who went to taxidermy school ;-)

I think I got ya George

This response submitted by LH on 10/20/01. ( )

The point I originally tried to make, albeit not too well, was that I, as the owner of my business, would much rather have full discretionary control over what I charge for parts rather than having those figures, as well as my parts-related profit, dictated to me by some outside entity. I disagree that taxidermy and auto repair are dissimilar. A long time ago, George or Yox or somebody made the valid pint that we, as taxidermists, provide a sought-after service that not everyone has the talent to do for themselves. I'm not for squat at fixing cars so I have to go to the mechanic when the Ford goes tits up. Thankfully, my mechanic can't mount deer worth a dang either, so we've formed something of a symbiotic relationship. LOL Their total price - what you pay when the work is completed - is labor, parts, and something for the company to cover expenses. Same stuff I charge for in a somewhat oversimplified way of looking at it. I don't expect my vendors to charge me any less than they are. I couldn't sculpt or carcass cast every form I need for thirty bucks and change per head, nor could I make my own eyes, mix and blend my own paints, etc. I consider their price to be my "cost". The customer never sees this amount because in calculating my prices each year, I figure in a minimum profit figure per item. If anything, I'd like to see my catalogs come without the prices listed near the items, but rather, have them included in a separate price list. That way, I could sit down with the customer and show him some of the really neat stuff that's being offered within the industry without having to explain how come I pay so little, yet the mount costs so much. It doesn't matter at that point what I think about my pricing system. It's his perception as we sit at the desk that's causing the rift. I've only been doing taxidermy six years and I can show you in my books that I make a profit on EVERY account, or I don't take it in. By not having a middleman meddling in my business and dictating to me what my prices will be, I am able to include a profit per item calculation which allows me to increase what I make per mount and "hide" it where it doesn't make either the shop fee or the labor look exhorbitant. Finally, I look at the hobbyist versus professional taxidermist as being a matter of experience and artistic skill. Give ten taxidermists ten identical capes, forms, eyes, tools, ... everything they need to do a deer shoulder mount, and you'll get ten very different looking finsihed mounts. One will stand out above the rest, while one will be not quite up to parr. The differences will be not only a matter of skill, but artistic interpretation - I might like a certain look on a deer that you don't prefer (i.e., raspberry noses). Only experience and time in the business allow you to develop the skill to really recreate an animal's "personna", which is a tarit that most (not all) hobbyists lack. Bottom line is that the vendors do their job for the very same reason I do - to make money. If the NTA or anyone else came to me telling me that I had to charge X-amount because they said so, I'd probably tell them to go pack sand in their &^#*!. If you don't like paying the asking price because it prevents you from making a profit, maybe you need to listen to the ol' dogs and re-evaluate your price to see if you're making any money at all, anyway. Not to be mean spirited or disrespectful, but it may not be the vendor that's screwing you. Just my opinion, I may be wrong.

I sounds to me....

This response submitted by CUR on 10/20/01. ( )

Like the business is seldom a "business". I have been in a number of diverse businesses over the years, either by direct activity, or as an investor in start-up operations. The fundamental rule of business applies to everything from auto repair to aircraft production and all things large and small in-between.

Sourcing parts and materials is a fundamental key to any production or manufacturing business. The establishment of a basic operating cost, or the "nut" as it is called, is also fundamental. A finished product, whether it be a boeing 757 or a moose head, is subject to the same fundamental finance and costing rules. The sum total of the share of raw materials, sourced materials, labor, overhead and taxes, will allow anyone to arrive at a unit cost for anything from thimbles to the International Space Station. The difference is the size of the ledger and the number of accountants it requires to record the data and use it to arrive at an end cost.

The object of any assembly business is to source the best quality goods and raw materials at the best price. In any business, many sourced items are cheaper to make in-house after a certain unit quantity is reached. Other items may be bought from intermediate distributors until quantities warrant direct purchase from the manufacturer.

I hear so much ranting and raving about comparative pricing and quality and the horsefeathers about someone else cutting into one's client base that I personally get sick of it. All products have an extablished tier or pyramid of price from the cheapest to the best. In automobiles, the price and quality structure run from the Yugo to the Rolls Royce and beyond to custom cars ordered by oil shieks. Every product imaginable has a basement unit and a custom, expensive unit. The secret of manufacturing or hand production is to decide where your finished goods fit in the pyramid and hammer that segment of the market to death. The only way to rise from that tier is to diversify, or generate a product that is so evidently better than the competition's goods that it's perceived value warrants the asking price.

When the cost of a finished good is arrived by the base forumlae, profit desired is tacked on, and then it is either sold directly to the consumer (retailed) or sold via distribution to a retail outlet (wholesaled) for resale to the end consumer. Basically taxidermy shops are retail service goods vendors. The price of the end product is arrived at by adding the cost of materials and supplies and services contracted (tanning, rugging, etc.)to the in-house labor cost and the share of shop maintenance and then adding a profit margin to the goods to arrive at the cost to the customer.

In my instance, goods are costed out individually over the quantity of production. At times, the accounting is quite complex, but the final price is wholesale based. The goods are then sold through my sales and distribution network to end retailers or direct marketers on a "key stone" base. That is the wholesale price of my personal goods is one half the retail price. My profit per unit comes from the difference between cost of production and assembly and the wholesale selling price. Before I ever begin production, all components and sub-contracted goods and services for each segment of manufacture is computed and tallied to arrive at a unit cost to which my gross profit margin is attached.

I also do "pride" pieces. Those are one-of-a kind originals that are sold for much higher prices than my reproductions and prints. While there are hundreds of other wildlife artists in the world with whom I compete, I have no idea what their goods bring in the market place, nor do I care. My responsibility, as defined, is to produce a quality unit at a fair price where the perceived value of the piece is higher than the retail cost. Cheaper goods abound, in the galleries and shops where my goods compete. When the cheaper goods look as good as mine at half the price, then I have failed. And my sales will surely reflect that failure.

Finally, the taxidermists should include the suppliers and catalog producers in their prayers each night. Sourcing goods is a serious part of any business. I can purchase anything direct from the manufacturer, and so can the average schmoe, but the hanger is quantity. I purchase all resins and mold making and casting and finishing supplies for from 30% - 40% of the taxidermy catalog prices. Everyone can do that, but only if you order a 1000 gallons a year as our studio does. Many makers do supply sample and small lot quantities for the individual to purchase, but it requires that one give up a little drinking and play time to track down those suppliers.
The catalog producers have done all the sourcing for the individual user. If they offer an incentive discount, you should send them Xmas presents in addition to the prayers of thanks. They are also the folks doing speculation purchases in volume and breaking those 55 gallon barrels down into service units of 4 to 16 ounces of the material required by the folks in the small shops. There is another way to beat the price gouge and that is the one used by farmers across the nation - Co-op purchasing. Perhaps if taxidermists would quit worrying so much about what another gets for his or her deer head, and work together in regional groups, bulk buying would solve some of the problems.

One thought about another subject is that many taxidermist state that they get in 100 or so deer heads a year and charge, oh, let's say $300.00 per head. Those same folks state that they can do a deer head in one day. Let's see...hmm....100 heads at $300.00 is $30,000.00 gross income......and that in 100 days! What about the other 265 days in the year? Seems to me that if the thinking caps were put on the ole noggins and a few of the toys retired until more prosperous times, the shops could hit the six figure mark without a lot of effort. With all that money in the bank, there wouldn't be time to sweat the little peckerhead down the street.

Not agreeing yet

This response submitted by Len on 10/20/01. ( )

I find it amusing that as soon as somebody brings up a question about simple business practices, it is assumed by everybody that taxidermists are not chargings accordingly and if they want more money then they should charge more for their product.They also assume that they are worried about the other taxidermist taking work away from them.
Simple business management states that you buy from wholesalers. In this field, anybody can buy the supplies for the same price. In other words we, we are considered retailers to the supply companies. I don't know of any other business that does this. But appartently if you just charge more for your product, then its OK. I hear all the time how this is to be considered a professional business and we need to enhance that image. Doesn't seem to professional to me. I find it hard to believe that the taxidermists don't care enough about their profession that are satisfied with the fact that they its OK to just charge more to make up for the suppliers. As long as we are satisfied with just to go along with the crowd we will never elevate the profession of taxidermy.

I gotta laugh at the logic, and the sarcasm!

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 10/20/01. ( )

All freebies aside, Ill stand by what I said. And if you fellas think for one second that buying supplies at WHOLESALE price is what its gonna take for customers of ours to finally stand up and say "wow, taxidermy IS a business", well...I cant say what Id say to that! Try RUNNING your biz like a business, that MIGHT impress 'em. Yep, a few here might think that that last statement implies that they have no business sense, and of course I didnt say that at all. But you know how it is, leave a name out there, and someone will come by and apply it to themselves, thus calling YOU a namecaller! For those who wondered openly as to why some of us added points to this that werent made directly in the first post, check the archives. We were referring to past posts on this subject, too. Of course, I thought we'd already beat this subject to death, but who knows. OK, all you major supply companys, Im waiting for all those free goodies to be sent my way, for shamelessly supporting you. Give me a break!

Me tpp. Bill

This response submitted by George on 10/21/01. ( )

LH, I see your point in making business easier, but McKenzie DOES supply such a catalog so you can show the customers. For the others, I maintain a photo log to show customers poses and possibilities. James, nothing can help you I suppose. I'm not about to buy anything CHEAP to pass along to my customers. My work is bad enough by itself and I'm not using some paper form or death cast to make it look even worse than it does. If you truly want to get a discount, CUR hit it on the nail. Buy in bulk. I know of TWO suppliers that offer discounts by volume. I nitpick a lot and order less than $100 many times and don't take advantage of this, but believe me, when I get ready to buy the big forms: the bears and all my years deer mannikens, I put them on a single order. A 5 or 10% discount on a $2000 order can make a difference of more than the cost of freight. Some of you immediately think that's big money, but it's only 50 deer mannikens, eyes, and earliners. So it really DOES come down to how you conduct business and less and less about how great a taxidermist you are.
And I want to ask you guys one more thing. Where do you buy your groceries? Your prescriptions? I spend a WHOLE lot more on these things than I do taxidermy supplies and I KNOW the farmers ain't getting $2.80 a gallon for milk, but the Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Food Lion or Circle K don't give discounts for volume. You guys are worring about pissants and ignoring the elephants that are waiting to stampede over you. Now if I could afford to drive to the supplier and pick it up without paying for boxing, crating or shipping, think how much I could save.
And please, work on the name calling. I'd like to hear some new ones. Once you've been called a hack and a taxidermist, everything else looks upward. LOL

BTW Look at the BASS posting

This response submitted by Geoge on 10/21/01. ( )

Did you see the prices that Ken Rogers guy is ASKING for that stuff? MAN, I should be charging THOSE prices. Yox, did you mount that stuff? At that price, Carl Ackley better have supervised it. LOL

Let me get CURdirect about this....

This response submitted by CUR on 10/21/01. ( )

GOL DURN IT!.....The catalog price IS THE COST OF GOODS! That is the cost that goes into your equation. If you order a fish blank from Van Dyke's that is made by Archie Phillips, you pay the same price that Archie will charge for the product. That is a retail segment of our industry. Buy a mannikin from Van Dyke's or another maker, and that is the WHOLESALE price because the goods are sold direct from factory to the end user! The suppliers are RETAIL merchants, not wholesale parts supply houses. The catalog houses buy materials that they do not make at wholesale from manufacturers in BULK! They break bulk lots down into small order quantity and sell it to you at a PROFIT! Their cost of handling and re-packaging goods is passed on to the customer, along with a margin of PROFIT!

Did you ever wonder why Charlie brown charges much more for a Remington 870 than does Wally-World? It is because Wally-World buys in BULK and then sells a zillion 870's as a LOSS LEADER! A loss leader is a piece of merchandise that is sold at little or no profit, or even a loss to entice a buyer into a store in hopes that the buyer will purchase shotshells, camo clothing, drillies for the little lady and a guilt present or two before taking the cheap shotgun out the door. Kodak got rich giving away cameras by selling them at a fraction of the manufacturing and marketing cost. Then they ripped your shorts with film sales. The cameras were marginal goods, the film made the buck for the Eastman folks, until the Japanese came along and messed with the goose that laid the golden egg.

PROFIT is the result of selling ANYTHING at a price that is GREATER than the SUM TOTAL of the COST OF PRODUCTION of the GOODS. What you pay for a mannikin or a handfull of $hit makes no difference. It is the PROFIT MARGIN that keeps businesses running in the BLACK.

There are only two ways to reduce the price of goods. A.) BUILD COMPONENTS YOURSELF, or B.) SOURCE MATERIALS IN WHOLESALE LOT SIZES.
Each taxidermy shop that is a legitimate business has a retail sales license or tax ID number. That certificate or TAX ID number is all that is required to QUALIFY a business to purchase raw materials in bulk lots that most manufacturers require. Want cheap? BUY IN BULK.
WANT TO SAVE MONEY? SOURCE heavy goods and HAZMAT materials locally to SAVE ON SHIPPING.

Quit crying about things you can't find in the catalogs and learn to MAKE THEM YOURSELF! I notice that folks on here make fun of old timers like Elwood and the Kempf's and Pray. Maybe the new techinques and materials are better, but you have to give those guys (and Audrey) credit for one thing. They knew how to make what they needed and thought enough of the rest of you to start the catalogs so that it would be easier for you to locate materials than it was for them.

LEARN TO ADD! Add up the cost of materials, tack on your overhead, and labor, add in a profit margin and quit moaning. The PROFESSIONAL EDGE is in workmanship and knowledge, not in a raw material costing advantage. EXCUSE ME for shouting, but this ^&%#$^%^&%$ thing doesn't have italics or a bold select. I am not yelling here, I am emphasizing, there is a difference. Gentlemen, a new season is upon us. Worry about your own work, labor to make it your best product year ever. Send Xmas Cards to all the suppliers who work so hard to put all you desire between two greasy slick covers on those catalogs they give away for FREE! Without them, most of the folks who like to call themselves taxidermists would be so far in the dark, they couldn't find paper to wipe with.....


This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 10/21/01. ( )

Fingers, they were a flying and a typing, and a pointing, and a who knows what, on this one. But, I'll bet Curs fingers have just about got to be worn off since he found this site. lol, rw

Not yet

This response submitted by Len on 10/21/01. ( )

Cur, Having taken business management classes myself, your info above is very good.This is the proper way people should be running their business. You do have a markup on all the costs involved with your business plus profit. Maybe I'll change my question. Why can people off the street buy the same materials for taxidermy that I pay through suppliers. No body has answered the question of why we are the only business that goes that route. If you own a hair salon, the materials are bought by each business through wholesale suppliers.A person off the street can not buy from the wholesaler. They must pay the market ( or sale price ) from the retail store. They figure out their costs the same way and charge accordling.
My only question is,( maybe I'm too thick skulled to understand yet) why the person off the street pays the same as a taxidermist running a business. Please answer this question.

I Guess I should type in CAPITOLS

This response submitted by George on 10/21/01. ( )

Listen closely, now Len. TAXIDERMISTS AIN'T PROFESSIONALS. I don't know how else to say that. They refuse to "have anyone tell them what to do", don't join the national organizations, price according to dhe whims and mentality of the pbactitioner, and HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PROFESSIONAL STANDARD TO UPHOLD. Hair dressers? ASE Mechanics? Doctors? Taxidermists are, at best, artists who buy their supplies just like painters and sculptors do. Kindergarten kids can by acrylic paintc from the big suppliers for the same price as Bill Gaither does if they just look around for the catalog (Bill probably makes his own and that wasnt a fair example I suppose. LOL) And it just goes back to what I wac saying. This is an OLD ARGUMENT we've fought before and there's always someone picsinandmoanin over the suppliers selling to everyone at the same price. That's because they are supplying the CONVENIENCE of one stop shopping. Also, sole source $istributors of certain items find it easier to sell to these giants at wholesale prices in lieu of having to advertise and market their goods individually. Many a good product has gone down the tubes simply because the inventor/vendor/manufacturer refused to use good business sense. I buy from the big suppliers so that I can consolidate freight, have a single invoice, and have a viable point of contact to gripe if the product fails to meet my expectations. I buy most of my diorama materials from a place called Sullivans. Sullivans refuses to sell to private individuals and require copies of your business license and tax ID number before they talk to you, as you would like, but their materials are top of the line and their prices are premium. I decide WHICH itmes to buy from them for those discerning customers who are willing to pay for quality. As far as the manniken suppliers, I just look at it as the cost of doing business.

Len, George beat me to some of this...

This response submitted by CUR on 10/21/01. ( )

The reason is simple, or so it seems to me. Your answer is centered on three influencing factors. (Since you took that BMC, you will have covered "influencing factors".)

The first influencing factor is demand; There aren't many taxidermists. The second influencing factor is the small quantities used by individual shops and persons in our field. The third influencing factor is that many items we use are peculiar to this field and are not offered on a multi-level tier marketing system since total sales volume is too low to support such a system.

These three limiting factors require that distribution be done through a form of vendor that is unique to similar fields, such as art studios, jewelry shops and other specialty industry. Artists have always had to purchase their supplies from vendors (Artist's suppliers) because they seldom have need for quantities that will meet wholesale order standards.

To that end, goods such as art supplies and taxidermy supplies are contracted for the large part via a sales network that includes manufacturing reps, distributors and retailers. Taxidermy supply houses are just like the retail art stores, with exception being that some do sell a number of proprietory goods that are sold directly to the taxidermist.

You can buy goods at wholesale. I do it all the time. The difference is that I buy from dozens of different suppliers in quantities that meet amounts required to secure price point breaks. We purchase either directly from the maker or their wholesale distributor. The only glitch is that you have to buy in specific amounts to meet the requirements.

At times, there are items needed that come from catalog vendors such as Van Dyke's or WASCO. I am sure that I could get the material much cheaper in bulk from the same source they use, but don't bother when only a pint or a quart or a few ounces of the material is required. At those times it is much easier to pick up the phone and order the small lot without regard for the price. If I need a mannikin produced by one of the vendors, it is ordered without concern for the price they charge. (I figure that they have to make a living too.)

Taxidermy supply catalogs are just paper-backed retail stores. Some have proprietary goods such as videos, mannikin styles and the like, but they pretty much just provide a service to the buyer. There isn't room in the selling price for much negotiation where wholesale is concerned. When it comes to any catalog vendor, every purchase is from "people off the street". If a "professional" discount is offered, THAT is your wholesale break. If you want a "wholesale" catalog, Len, you are going to have to compile it just as I have over the years, by contacting various makers and manufacturers and negotiating a price and quantity structure.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the "Professional edge" isn't just cheaper source goods, but in the presentation and design and appearance of the finished work.

This is why the lower quality and lower priced

This response submitted by John C on 10/21/01. ( )

Taxidermist go through divorces and are married to thier shop.

Why you have the attitude that you have to be lower priced to get the business, you will never make enough to buy a box of Kleenex without having to watch the pocket book, you will always be living from deposit to deposit, spending the customers deposit for your bills and always be behind getting mounts out.

You can starve to death whille working yourself silly, or get paid for your time and troubles.

Its up to you where in the food chain (or line) you want to be. Myslef I like being able to pay cash for a truck, eat Prime rib instead of McDonalds.

How about you?

I'm done

This response submitted by Len on 10/22/01. ( )

I'm sorry John C. that you have assumed that I am trying to lower my prices to get more business.( it seems to be a automatic reaction )
I'm past that stage.
Thanks for responding CUR. I only wondered what you mean by very few taxidermists. We know that there are over 50,000 license taxidermists just in the US, plus at least that many unlicensed people. Maybe its not a lot to sustain the supply industry but with all the advertising they do and the "instant" taxidermist schools out there now its seems like it is feasible. There are double the supply companies and taxidermists now then there was fifteen years ago. Maybe I'm wrong, but don't the other supply companies in the other fields of business do the exact same thing taxidermy supply companies do when purchasing items in bulk, to break down into smaller amounts and for resale. They don't just do it as a favor for us, but to also make a profit.I agree with you on looking around for cost savings, buying in quanity so to receive a discount, and making items yourself if need be.I have been following these practices for a number of years now and I am happy with my profit. Times are changing very quickly in this industry and we have to change with them.Maybe the problem right now or has been is not enough taxidermists to sustain the supply companies at a good level, but I believe that is changing. I also believe you can either voice your opinion and ideals to advance an industry, or you can stand by and let it go no where. Its been a pleasure discussing this issue with you, but my fingers are getting tired and I think we would be going round and round for awhile. I will look into this issue some more and if I come up with anything worthwhile I will let you know. Thanks again everybody.

I think

This response submitted by Shane on 10/22/01. ( )

I have a headache from reading so much so I finally quit at some point and probably missed something or may be about to make a statement that has already been made. I by no means am a business wiz, although I do have a degree in Engineering that I put to little use, and by the way engineering is a profession.

Well darn! Now that I did a little boasting,my head really hurts and I don't even feel like responding. Quit whining about prices from the supply companies. They are the driving force in the promotion of what we love to do.
It sounds like a customer complaining about me not giving him a discount "because he brought me a deer last year also".

Len 50,000 Taxidermists

This response submitted by CUR on 10/22/01. ( )

ain't much in the numbers racket. In a nation of 280,000,000 people, that constitutes .000179 % of the populace. When I mentioned that we are few in number, I meant relative to the huge numbers that make up the consumer industries that support large wholesale programs. (That also means that there are potentially 5,600 customers for every licensed taxidermist......!)

My father was an engineer and a very good production control and flow expert. We used to visit Tennessee often when I was young since my mother was from there and we had a lot of relatives in the volunteer state. At one time, there were mom and pop grocery stores every five miles down each back road in the state.

My dad asked a fellow in one tiny grocery there why on earth he stayed in the business when obviously his inventory was low and the lack of customers was evident. The old boy looked both ways like folks do when they are about to divulge a secret.....He told my dad, "Wal, hits lak this ya'see, me 'n th' wif' got eight young'uns. how else can we buy food so cheap." As a retail grocer, he could purchase his stores and family food cheaper than he could by shopping for it in a super market. (I'll bet, though, he had more than one supply account.)

The catalog folks are just providing a service. A service at a profit, albeit, and probably a fair one at that. I have been around this business long enough to know how to source just about everything in one of the catalogs and have a pretty good idea of the actual cost of the goods. I could start my own catalog business, it doesn't take an Einstein or Henry Ford to do so, but then I would have to give up a lot of fishing and hunting and other important events.

Len, why don't you start a wholesale business? You might be surprised at how small some of the margins are in the business, and how little some of those 50,000 taxidermists actually bought.

Let me break out some numbers for you that represent a segment of the 4.5 billion dollar decorative gift industry in this country. The average retail cost of the little doo-dad your wifey brings home to collect dust on a shelf has a retail price that is roughly 700% the CIF (Landed Freight) cost of the import goods on direct wholesale from an importer. the CIF cost of goods is pushed up around 350% to the wholesale selling price. The wholesale price is designed to keysone at retail (double).

Your fifty dollar porcelain trinket actually cost the importer around seven dollars landed at his dock. The FOB price from, let's say China, may be a little more than half the delivered price. Wholesale jewelry prices are one third the average retail and sometimes one fifth the retail price. I make jewelry. I have a countertop catalog that lists retail prices for the little love birds to look at. I order from my standard catalog which is roughly one third the price listed in the retail "countertop" catalog. Where end markets are concerned, Hallmark alone, a single giftware chain, has more than 50,000 counters and store fronts in the USA.

The concept of wholesale that applies to many industries does not fit such a small numbers business as is ours. Let's say that WASCO buys polymer resin from a maker in reasonable quantity and then sells you the small amount you want. I may be wrong here, but by checking the catalog, I figure they are working on around a 30% mark up on that type product. So they buy at their numbers, mark it up 30% and send it on to you, or whoever orders the product. It is cheaper than you can buy such small quantity from a maker directly. Factor in shelf loss via aging, leakage or clutzy employees and the high cost of catalog assembly and publication and their warehouse and motion overhead, and their 30% margin becomes around a 15% commission for selling you the product. An amount you could easily eat up sourcing the goods from a supplier.

Finally, Len, other industries have wholesale contracts with multitudes of suppliers. The wholesalers that I deal with are pretty much single line makers. I have a wholesaler for wooden bases, one for resins, one for tools of one kind or another, one for packing, one for cartons, etc, all the way to the small components needed for jigs and assembly. I know of no industry that has a single wish book for all their component needs.

Last, but not least, John C, you need a financial advisor. Any man who owns a business and pays cash for a pickup is throwing a lot of money away. CUR's Investment Counseling......CHEEP!

Front load with Washington Mutual

This response submitted by John C on 10/22/01. ( )

Small investments, but fairly secure ones, sure there is always a risk. With other investment mutual there have been very good returns per dollar invested.

I never had the pleasure of being able to go to college and know I would not have done well there. But I do know at $300 for a deerhead is way to little. Wheres the BEEF (profit)?

After watching for many years what many taxidermist are doing, I see

1. "Lack of Business knowledge"

2. Being afraid to charge what is needed to make a living.

3. I also see many many cheating on income taxes, a few charging sales tax and keeping it for thierself.}FELONY CHARGES for sure!

4. married to the shop.

All the new taxidermist should look at the older guys on this forum, see where they are at. Few have a lack of work, fewer charge less thanb $400.00 for a deerhead.

Shop roof get his prices and has plenty of work, Shop Yox does too. Studio Cur, has lots to do and time to enjoy life. A few young taxidermist are getting thier price and theirs is where it should be. Business is business and whats left at the year end is what ya'll should look at. Adjusting the pay/fee system each month until you are there.

Front load with Washington Mutual

This response submitted by John C on 10/22/01. ( )

Small investments, but fairly secure ones, sure there is always a risk. With other investment mutual there have been very good returns per dollar invested.

I never had the pleasure of being able to go to college and know I would not have done well there. But I do know at $300 for a deerhead is way to little. Wheres the BEEF (profit)?

After watching for many years what many taxidermist are doing, I see

1. "Lack of Business knowledge"

2. Being afraid to charge what is needed to make a living.

3. I also see many many cheating on income taxes, a few charging sales tax and keeping it for thierself.}FELONY CHARGES for sure!

4. married to the shop.

All the new taxidermist should look at the older guys on this forum, see where they are at. Few have a lack of work, fewer charge less thanb $400.00 for a deerhead.

Shop roof get his prices and has plenty of work, Shop Yox does too. Studio Cur, has lots to do and time to enjoy life. A few young taxidermist are getting thier price and theirs is where it should be. Business is business and whats left at the year end is what ya'll should look at. Adjusting the pay/fee system each month until you are there.

It Doesn't Matter...

This response submitted by Old Fart on 10/22/01. ( )

...if we are getting a wholesale price from the supplier. If you use CUR's logic and KNOW your expenses, and charge accordingly. You WILL make money. Don't do it and you will be married to your shop, working 18 hour days and making less than minium wage. It ain't brain surgery, it's BUSUNESS. You have to make a PROFIT an your expensed AND a DECENT HOURLY WAGE. Those two things are not the same and if you don't consider BOTH you will not succeed in the taxidermy industry.

PROFIT On your expenses

This response submitted by Old Fart on 10/22/01. ( )

Taking time to proofread your resposses is a valuable tool,too.

I'll take some

This response submitted by Jamie on 10/22/01. ( )

Cur I enjoy your responses its good to get a little reassurence to know there is money to be made in this business. Also George where can I find Sullivans. Thank-you

I always like good business advice

This response submitted by Jamie on 10/22/01. ( )

I've enjoyed your responses and I am very happy to know that there is money to be made in this business. Also George where can I find Sullivans?

...and, the number one reason why ...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 10/22/01. ( )

As I see it, the reason why taxidermy is the only profession that doesnt buy their supplies wholesale is...because the whole field of taxidermy isnt big enough. Hell, we borrow tools from other professions, as very few are made just for taxidermy. Again, Ill go right back to sitting in suppliers meetings, planning meetings, and sales. You guys would cry if you could only see how many innovative parts and supplies are being developed, yet not being made available due to cash flow for R+D. You guys keep asking for small medium and large deer, mule deer, elk and caribou ears. Ive got news for you, even when the guy makes his own steel molds and owns his injection molder, its just not happening. The money just isnt there, guys. You frustrated few can take cheap shots at me saying I stick up for these suppliers for the freebies I get, but thats not it. The explanation I gave you IS it. MOST of my customers have bought supplies and tried their own mounts. Thats how the found out how tough it is! I personally have never really worried about all of this, and it STILL amazes me that some of you are so hung up on it! Guys, use that energy to look at positive ways to boost you business to make that extra money. Be creative, not destructive and negative. Those su[ppliers could really sock it to you if they wanted, and you couldnt really do much about it. Walmart sells staples, caulk, and bondo, and you can get salt at the feed store, but go see about earliners and forms...


This response submitted by Len on 10/22/01. ( )


One last thing

This response submitted by Len on 10/23/01. ( )

After rereading this section, I found out that CUR,Bill,George and a few others didn't read my first note thouroughly. I never once said anything about reducing prices for myself or the suppliers. As a matter of fact, I had mentioned a way for them and myself to make more profit. Apparently you are so dead against this that you just started responding in the way you had in the past.Its looks like everybody just started feeding off each others remarks.If I upset you guys, I'm sorry. As much as you guys have helped advanced this trade, ( not considered a profession by many )you can also unintentionally hold it back.Feel free to e-mail me if you like, this section is getting rather long. Any suppliers willing to e-mail me, you are welcome too. Bye


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 10/23/01. ( )

You sure havent upset me. I dont mind reading others opinions, and my disagreeing isnt really supposed to upset you, either. Its just an exchange, thats all. Im not too sure how much Im advancing anything, but Im sure as hell not holding it back either. A few of us had an interesting "gab" about this subject, you and some others, and this post the other night. I guess we just dont see it the same way. By the way, I DIDNT say anything about getting material for less, just echoed what was said about wholssale price for "real" taxidermists. I seriously doubt that any suppliers will be emailing you, though. I enjoyed the exchange with you, though, and Im sure we will talk about another subject here soon.


This response submitted by Len on 10/24/01. ( )

Hi Bill, It's been good gabbing with you and everybody else and we always keep on learning.Bye the way, I was at one of your seminars at the World Show and it was really good.

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