Singular Sensation

It's your best product. Actually, it's your only product. But you can still get big retailers to take notice.

You've probably heard that big retailers tend to shy away from one-product companies. Fact is, chain stores feel that with the large amount of internal paperwork required to add a new vendor, it's not really worth their time to bother with a one-line company.

But that doesn't mean it's impossible to get the attention of big retailers with only one product. Case in point: Christopher Carter, 38, founder of Storm Master Corp. of Parker, Colorado, whose Gutter Pump has successfully made it to the shelves of Home Depot stores. It was certainly a lucky break-penetrating large retail stores, even on a regional basis, is big business. Carter expects 2001 sales to hit $400,000, and 2002 promises to be even better, as Home Depots in several other regions are expressing interest in carrying his product.

How'd he do it? Before his big break, Carter sold his product mainly to independent hardware stores in the Northwest. Home Depot took notice when shoppers familiar with the Gutter Pump started asking for it by name in the company's stores. If there's one thing big retailers hate, it's losing the business of customers ready to buy. But more on that later.

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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Singular Sensation.

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