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Small Sizes Equal Big Profits

Mar 1, 2009
by Judi Perkins

The definition of Minimus is: a) a company that has increased in size very quickly and efficiently, b) an item of the smallest size, c) a large selection of individually sized items, d) all of the above

Literally the answer is b, but if you answered d, all of the above, you are also correct. Minimus was started in 2004 with one person, 500 square feet of space, four shelves, and one computer. Barely five years later, they have a private label program, over 30 employees and more than 20K square feet of warehouse space. Their products are individual serving and travel sizes of almost anything you can imagine, with more products added weekly, many of which are their own creations.

Their website,, which went live when the company was created, has over 2,000 items. Product growth is driven largely by both consumer and wholesaler requests. Although they began with existing products, Paul Shrater, cofounder, said they have since created Minimus Products for items they have identified that are not out there, but that need to be available. "We work in partnership with actual manufacturing plants locally, so that we are all together. There are many parts to the end product," said Shrater.

Minimus also assists smaller companies or individuals who have a product they are ready to launch, or one already being locally distributed on a small scale basis. "We provide a solution so they do not have to hunt around and deal with all the different players involved in the process," he said. "We are also talking to a few manufacturers in order to license their name and produce travel sizes for them."

Minimus counts over 200 market segments of considerable variety as their customers. Said Shrater, "There are ones you normally think of, and ones you might not. This includes the obvious like hotel or cruise ship gift shops, or pharmacies, to professional sports teams, event planners, and hospitals. Campers also want to pack light."

The selection encompasses products in the food, beverage, pharmacy, personal care, and domestics categories, as well as, "other products," a sort of catch all for items that do not fit in the above designations. Each of these categories has its own button on the navigation bar. Also in their own category are prepackaged kits.

Seven of the kit choices come in various configurations. One kit is the Carry-On Caddy, created as a result of Shrater wrestling his plastic bag out of his knapsack prior to going through airport security. Then there is the Do-Good kit of flight essentials, for which Minimus is the exclusive U.S. distributor. "We supply national travel stores and others who are resellers of that line," said Shrater. "We were looking for these products, and this company was looking for a U.S. distributor, since it was already popular in Europe and Asia."

Minimus looked at the kit and found both the quality and workmanship done well. And they liked the partnership idea, so they took it on. "For the audience of Web Wholesaler, it is definitely an opportunity, because it is so new to the U.S. but has already proven itself in Europe and Asia," said Shrater. "For those with a travel audience, this is an opportunity to carry a line that is not saturated in the U.S."

There are another seventy or so kits that come in one configuration each, and Minimus also does custom kits. Said Shrater, "Event planners or people looking to do something with their brand on it do not always have the cash or the quantity to have a branded product, but they want their name on a bag of toiletries or food items for an event or their store."

Also available is a military kit that comes in fourteen configurations, although Shrater said those are purchased primarily by corporations for an event or an internal company program. Nevertheless, he said Minimus is, "Probably one of the largest suppliers to the country's two largest military support non profits, plus dozens of other smaller ones." They even have a staff just for military support, and thus know the shipping regulations and what the troops want. "A company may want to do something for the troops, and we will help them make it tax deductible by partnering them with one of our non profits," said Shrater. "They can assign specific troops to send it to, and tell the company what those troops need." Then Minimus builds the packages. "That way, working together, we can provide a full service solution for troop support."

A program created specifically for stores that do not have the floor space for an extensive travel size selection, or to store inventory, is the Spinner Rack program. The rack comes in several sizes or can be completely customized, and since it is vertical, it takes up minimal space. Shrater said, "Since the store is committing to a larger program and we are able to build a relationship with them, we can break cases down into smaller quantities, but offer the full case pricing. There is just the dollar minimum to meet in their initial order, and the display rack is free."

Because the website is retail, wholesale buyers should look for the Wholesale Pricing Box that serves as their link, and is located under the left bar navigation menu. Shrater said there is not likely to be a dedicated wholesale website. "Too much depends on finding out the specific customer need, and then making sure we meet it. They may have part of their conversation for regular goods with one person, and then speak with a specialist about designing a kit to their needs." And if they need a spinner rack, they speak with someone who knows that program. "They are always talking with someone who can help them, so it is a really personalized experience."

At the bottom of the navigation bar is New Products. "They are new to our warehouse," said Shrater. "They are simultaneously in their category and in New Products. We remove them from New Products when others come in, so that section does not become too difficult to navigate." The Sale Items and the blog are geared more toward retail customers. The wholesale price is better than the sale price, and the wholesaler newsletter carries the blog information relevant to wholesalers.

The focus for Minimus is to be there for what their customers need, in all the multitudes of ways those needs appear. Customer service is a priority, which is why customers will always speak with a live person. "It has provided us with a great reputation as a go-to place, especially on the wholesale side, because often our customers need something right away," said Shrater. "If a company calls and says they have an event tomorrow, their other vendor bailed, and they have a list of items they need overnighted, we jump on it to provide an immediate solution. We routinely have wholesale customers thanking us for pulling off something that they expected to be a problem."

MINIMUM ORDER: $250 for assorted products. Spinner Rack minimum depends on rack choice, and ranges from $750 to $1,200. Dropshipping is available for $1.00 per order.

For more information, contact:
914 Tourmaline Drive
Newbury Park, CA 91320
Tel.: 805-480-1415
Fax: 805-480-1471

Topic: Company Profiles

Related Articles: travel items  c-store 

Article ID: 950

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