Wind spinners have come a long way from their origin. In the Thirties, they were called wind twirlers, and were similar to a vertical windmill, in that a single twisted piece of metal was angled into the wind. Any small breeze caused it to rotate about its axis. According to Ray Zajac, President of Dakota Steel Art (DSA), other early spinners were made of cardboard and used as Christmas tree decorations.
Today, DSA's wind spinners are made of stainless steel, preventing them from rusting, which is not true of every wind spinner on the market. In fact, Zajac said their first wind spinners were made of cold rolled steel, which is what many spinners are still made of.
The design is laser cut and then powder coated. "Everybody thinks that because it is powder coated, it is supposed to be a good paint job; it is supposed to last a long time. But after the first winter of selling spinners, I had one come back that was rusted." Zajac exchanged it, and then sat down with his laser cutter and powder coater people to figure out why it had happened.
What they found was that because the laser cutter performs in such detail and leaves extremely sharp edges, they were not covered well enough during the powder coating stage. Zajac compared it to keeping paint on the sharp edge of a knife. "There were microscopic holes in the paint which allowed it to rust. Now that we are using stainless steel, we have not gotten a rusted spinner back yet."
Although the company began in 2003, their first website did not go up until 2005. That site, www.DakotaSteelArt.com, is still their primary website. Although it is retail based, it provides wholesale buyers with the ability to see the products and to register as a wholesale buyer. After that, they receive an information packet in the mail. Said Zajac, "It comes with a catalog, a price sheet and an introductory pamphlet for our starter kit, which is $210 and a one-time only offer."
From there, they are given the URL to an interim wholesale website, which provides access to the wholesale prices, even though they also have a printed catalog. If they choose to order, their first order must be a minimum of $200 and be placed by phone, as this wholesale website has no shopping cart. "Then," said Zajac, "you are classified as a wholesaler in our system, and you are eligible for the dropship program, as well as our dealer discounts."
The final step, now that an order has been placed, is to choose a password that is coded into the system, and receive access to the third website, which provides for online ordering. If this seems a little over the top, there is method to Zajac's madness. "The purpose is to give our dealers access to our wholesale site so they can order direct," said Zajac. "It is also to make sure if there is a special, the first people we give it to are those on our password site. They are our main customers, our bread and butter." Beyond that, they use the second site also as a qualifier and a means to keeping their list pure. "After a year, we remove those who have not purchased."
DSA has over 300 designs that come in six diameters, and they add more designs each month. The spinners are laser cut from 400 series, 18 gauge stainless steel to prevent rusting, and painted with a special baked on, powder-coated paint that gives a high gloss finish. They are all made in America. Additionally, each spinner has an unconditional lifetime rustproof warranty.
Their customers range from flea market vendors to ceramic stores. "We sell to pet stores. We have 60 dog breeds on our spinners," said Zajac. "Wind spinners are a natural add-on for anyone who wants to make extra money and attract more people into their store or booth. They are attractive, bright and they move. They create something that people want to investigate."
Since 50 percent of Zajac's customers do flea markets or weekend craft fairs, their Top 15 Spinners program is extremely helpful to a buyer who does not have a lot of room for product. Said Zajac, "The top 15 selling spinners are 50 percent of our 12" spinner sales. If sellers carry these, that will satisfy 50 percent of the customers who walk by the booth. This means they do not need a lot of inventory, because for the other 50 percent, they can use our catalog, and we will dropship." This is especially helpful to show vendors, he said, because they can hang the spinners in the unused space over their displays.
Yet another reason retailers, especially weekend show vendors, love to buy from DSA is because of their large inventory. "If they order by noon, we ship the same day," said Zajac. He said Mondays are a big day because of the number of orders that come in. "They can order for the next show, and in most parts of the U.S., it will be there by Friday.
MINIMUM ORDER: $200, which earns eligibility for dealer discounts and dropshipping. Volume discounts for any order are as follows: over $500 - 2 percent, over $1000 - 4 percent, over $1500 - 6 percent, over $2000 - 8 percent and $2500 or more at one time is 10 percent. Online orders receive a 2 percent discount, which is applied prior to any volume discount. Dropshipping is $7 per order, plus shipping; no discounts apply.
For more information:
Dakota Steel Art
405 County Road 25
Mantador, ND 58058
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