Justin Starnes, general manager of Eagle Eye Wholesalers, is still young but possesses more experience than many retail veterans. "I was selling at the swap meet when I was 15 years old," he says. "I'm 28 now, and I've never gotten out of the business. This is the only thing that I've done. I go to the ASD trade show every year, and I talk to some of the biggest suppliers in the world. We buy from one of the largest supply chains on planet earth. I've seen it from all the angles that you really can in a 12-year span, so I want customers to know that I probably know where they're coming from."
Starnes sold products to individual shoppers, but now buys from the biggest chains. "We buy out drug stores and grocery stores," he says. "Our main product line is cosmetics. We usually buy out large quantities of name brand makeup. We repackage it into boxes of 100 or 200 count. We make sure it is clean and not broken, box it up and wholesale it out to our customers." That explains the extremely low prices he charges, as well as the consistent quality he offers. "The reason we're able to do it is because we buy 100,000 pieces of cosmetics at a time. We've got it down to a science. We'll get a manifest, and we can pick and choose. When I get a lot of 100,000 pieces, I can break down the ratio of how many pieces of mascara there are, how many pieces of nail polish, how many pieces of this and that. Say a shipment of 100,000 pieces is 38 percent mascara. If someone is going to buy 200 pieces from us, I can say that they're going to get 76 pieces of mascara. I keep the ratio exactly the same from when I buy it as a big buyer, to when I sell it to people who are smaller buyers."
Starnes' consideration for independent retailers is also clear in the company's ordering policy. "We don't have a minimum order. We would like to see a customer buy something just once. And if they want to start off with a 100 or 200 count lot, and they get it and like it, great. And if they want to come back and put together a large order, they can certainly do so," he says. Starnes' ability to empathize with his customers makes him a hard bargainer on their behalf. "With the recession, there are actually some good things," he says. "Huge corporations have lots and lots of product that they have to get rid of, that they have to move. As a buyer, that puts me in a very good position."
Eagle Eye's customers include a wide range of store types. "We've got little mom and pop shops that are just run by a husband and wife with one store," says Starnes. "We've got some people here in Phoenix that have little chains of three or four stores. We've got people from Mexico who will drive five, six or seven hours. They'll come up and fill up the trunk of a car or a Chevy pickup truck, just to go back down and sell it all. It ranges all over the board. And with the Internet, it can be anywhere in between. We have boutiques back east. We've got people who buy from us in Australia and the United Kingdom that sell at their small shops all over the world now, so it's really awesome."
Although his customers may be using the Internet to do business with him, Starnes is the first to admit that his website is less than impressive. "Our website is pretty simple," he admits. "We try to concentrate more on product quality and keeping the costs down. There are a lot of better websites. We try to keep it simple for our customers; nice pictures, good descriptions, and keeping our prices down." Eagle Eye Wholesalers openly offers its wholesale pricing online to any web browser. Actual offers featured on the home page range from $29.99 for a 20-piece Maybelline Shine Seduction Lip Gloss Lot, to $400 for a 500-piece Covergirl Wholesale Makeup Lot with a free 100-piece Styli-Style wholesale makeup lot.
The pricing and consistent product mix keeps customers coming back. "We have a lot of return customers," says Starnes. And that has led to phenomenal growth for the company. "Three or four years ago, for us to buy 200,000 pieces of makeup in a given year was a pretty big deal," he says. "This year we'll do well over a million pieces of makeup. We've had an incredible year. We're on track to do better this year than we have in the past two or three."
Eagle Eye has won praise from customers for its fast turnaround. "We have a great relationship with FedEx," says Starnes. "It took a lot of shipping that we've done with them over the years." The company offers discounts for large volumes. "If somebody wanted to put together an order that was a couple thousand pieces, and give us a call, we could probably give them a little bit better of a deal." The company employs Spanish speakers, and is glad to do business in any language.
For more information:
Eagle Eye Wholesalers
811 N 13th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85007
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