Warehouse151, a wholesale cash-and-carry warehouse in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, hosted an open house for retailers on Mon., March 15. The event drew a store full of buyers eager to stock their shelves as spring weather and declining COVID numbers are bringing customers back to in-store shopping in greater numbers.
The warehouse opened in August in the middle of the pandemic. With so many wholesale shows closed because of COVID, owners Bill and Carolyn Heimerl found that they were meeting a big need for storeowners. Retailers could not only fill their shopping lists, but do so on their own schedule, as the store is open year-round on weekdays. At the warehouse, they get the benefit of a show, in that they get to touch and see the products, but unlike a show they don’t have minimum orders. Retailers can visit frequently, buy as little or as much as they like, and take it home themselves to avoid costly shipping fees. Business has increased steadily since opening. In just six months, they’ve built a customer base of 600 retailers.
The Heimerls have a combined 57 years in the gift industry as manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. With their vast experience, they understand what retailers need and have leveraged their years in the business to the benefit of storeowners. They offer a wide array of vendors and quality products at affordable price points.
While the warehouse sells both imported and American-made goods, they emphasize made-in-USA products, which helps American makers and local economies, and makes it easier and faster for retailers to receive their products. COVID has dramatically slowed the import supply chain, and in some cases, the products just aren’t available. As retailers look for alternatives here in the U.S., they’re finding quality products at attractive price points with much faster fulfillment times.
One of the ways the Heimerls bring in new vendors is by hosting small, affordable “incubator booths” in their Handcrafted Haven section, so even small craft businesses can get a start in the wholesale market. They currently host about 15 of those booths.
Not all their warehouse booths are permanent. The Heimerls warmly welcome temporaries as well. Among the permanent vendor booths at the open house were vendors who came for just the day. They’re working on expanding their options. Warehouse 151 manager Stephanie Addison said they’re planning on doing quarterly temporary days.
Temporary vendors at the open house included Sabrea Kuderer, owner of Simple in Nature skincare products. She appreciates the convenience the warehouse provides. “Retailers from as far as six-plus hours away drive here, which is awesome because it’s so challenging for people to be able to get stuff in a timely manner when they’re ordering online with everything that’s going on,” she said. Sabrea was pleased with the sales that she had already made that morning at the warehouse. “I got a nice sale from a woman who is getting ready to open her own brick-and-mortar store and another woman who already owns her own store. She had depleted a certain body product and she wanted to try something new, so she started with my salts.”
Retailer shoppers were excited as well. Theresa Frinzi, owner of Twin Flowers & Home Décor in New Berlin, Wisconsin, said of Warehouse 151, “I love it. I think it’s a great place for small retailers to come and to shop, grab their giftware, take it, price it, and put it up and hang it in their store, or use it to decorate their store. I find this is so convenient. It’s only an hour away from my store, and I can come here and fill my store with all kinds of new giftware.”
Kate Petersen, owner of Hattie and Elsie Home Decor, sells home décor, gifts, chalk-painted furniture, and antiques. Kate comes to Warehouse 151 about once a month. She appreciates being able to add to her inventory immediately, see products in person, and the ability to buy small quantities so she can test out merchandise. She also loves the friendly, helpful customer service. “The ladies are wonderful here,” she said. “They’re very welcoming.”
Warehouse 151 is located in what was previously a Shopko store and hosts more than 50 permanent vendors, and they’re adding new vendors weekly, so shoppers have a lot of companies and merchandise to choose from. But the warehouse still has space for more vendors. Those who are interested in getting a booth can call for more information.
Retailers must be credentialed but can easily preregister online, submitting their business license and/or sales tax number along with a picture of their storefront and/or website or show booth.
While the warehouse’s regular hours are 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, it’s also open by appointment on weekends.
For a behind the scenes peek at the Open House, with a walkthrough tour of the warehouse, view the video at http://bit.ly/Warehouse151OpenHouse
822 Park Avenue (former ShopKo building)
Park Village Shopping Center
Beaver Dam, WI 53916