It started 12 years ago with 6,000 leather waste baskets. Marty Shapiro purchased the baskets for $6 each and sold them for $8 at a trade show. He thought he might be on to something.
He was. This year he’s on track for $13 million in gross sales for his one-man company, Going, Going, Gone.
Shapiro is a middle man who “marries” manufacturers, mostly of beauty products, with discount retailers, to get rid of excess merchandise without taking a huge loss through a liquidator.
“Every single company has excess inventory that they would like to move, they just don’t know how, and they don’t want to focus on it until it becomes a real issue and it affects the cash flow,” said Shapiro, who works out of his Corte Madera home.
His business model is very simple, he said.
Say a nail polish manufacturer comes out with a new line of colors for spring and the winter colors start collecting dust in the warehouse. The manufacturer calls Shapiro, who finds a buyer for the nail polish, like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or Dollar Tree. He pays the manufacturer for the polish, marks the price up for his profit and bills the retail outlet.
“It’s a win for the manufacturer, a win for the retailer getting access to products they want at a great price, and it’s a win for the consumer paying less than [full] retail [price],” he said.
Shapiro deals mostly in beauty products because they have a high turnover rate. Nail polish changes with the season, and hair care manufacturers often change fragrance and packaging.
Last year, Shapiro moved 1 million units of nail polish. In an average week, he sells $60,000 in eyelashes, $330,000 in hair-care products and about $20,000 in nail polish.
Going, Going Gone typically has access to 4 million–10 million units of manufacturers’ excess product at any given time. As Shapiro doesn’t pay for the product until he has a buyer, he is not storing it in a warehouse. Rather, units are listed on spreadsheets he keeps in a binder. The retailer picks up or ships the product, and Shapiro never touches the goods.
Manufacturers are not typically set up to sell their own excess merchandise, he said. It takes too much work, and they don’t have the long-standing retail relationships like Shapiro does. And, they are paying their own sales staff to sell the current merchandise to regular customers.
So, the excess either ends up collecting dust in a warehouse, goes into the landfill, or gets sold to a liquidator for pennies on the dollar.
Shapiro knows what price retailers will or won’t pay, and tries at least get the cost of the product back for the manufacturer.
Bob Perry owns Hayashi For Hair in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The company manufactures shampoo, conditioner and other hair-care products.
Perry estimated that over the years Shapiro’s service has saved the small company hundreds of thousands of dollars. His only other alternative would be to sell the goods to a liquidator, he said.
“Liquidators are constantly harassing me. They will give you, literally, 2¢–5¢ cents on the dollar. I would take a real beating. I might as well throw it in the dumpster. Marty comes and saves the day. He’s good at moving that inventory, and we get the money out of what we have in the product,” he said.
Going Going Gone Enterprises
Corte Madera, Calif.