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Treasure Hunt

Hit the mark when you're hunting for products to sell.

Q: How do I find products to carry in a catalog?.

Name withheld

A: There are many ways to find products to sell in direct-mail catalogs and on Web sites. But first you need to identify the specific types of customers who will be apt to buy from you. They'll be the market segment for whom you select products. With your customers firmly in mind, your search will be much easier.

The following Web sites can help you identify various suppliers and their products:

  • The Industrial Resource Network (http://power sourcing.com) is a service for contacting suppliers of products and services. The service is free to buyers and sellers alike.
  • Thomas Register, a top resource for finding manufacturers, is now available at www.thomasregister.com as well as in book form at your local library. Another product from Thomas Publishing Co. is Product News Network (www.productnews.com), which provides information on new industrial products.
  • Worldbid.com supplies trade leads from companies and government organizations around the world in 1,100 industry categories.

To locate smaller companies that produce products but may not have made it onto sites like those above, use search engines like Google and Yahoo! Also, check eBay and other auction sites regularly for closeouts of products that suit your customers.

Offline searching can be productive as well. New products often get their first public exposure at invention shows, craft fairs and swap meets. Sometimes, product producers are testing public reaction and will incorporate changes based on feedback and requests as they roll into production. You can find shows in your area by searching the Web. For example, for arts and crafts shows, check out http://artsandcrafts.about.com/cs/tradeshows. Enjoy your treasure hunt!


Paul and Sarah Edwards are co-authors of 15 books, including The Entrepreneurial Parent. Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.com or in care of Entrepreneur.

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This article was originally published in the December 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Treasure Hunt.

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