There are lots of reasons you might start working with another vendor as a reseller, vintage vendor or market organizer yourself.
Maybe you’re looking to hire help for your shop. Or you call in someone to help you rework your logo. Or you’ve come across a new market in your town and want to sign up.
Working with a new vendor is always a bit of a leap of faith, and unfortunately sometimes it takes a while to learn that they weren't the right fit.
But how can you protect yourself as much as possible from the outset? Here are five tips on vetting a vendor before working with them:
1. Research, research, research. Go beyond their website or their brand social media (that’s what they want you to see!). Check LinkedIn profiles and other personal social media. Google their name and city. Have they appeared in news articles or other websites? You should be able to get a good idea of their background and reputation. Read testimonials. Seek out vendors who have them, and who consistently produce quality material. If they don’t have much of an online presence, ask if they can send you references. Ask your network to see if anyone knows the vendor. Even if you’re signing up for a brand-new market, you should be able to get a good idea who the organizer is before applying.
2. Do pricing comparisons. But not necessarily for the reason you think — going with the lowest price can backfire. If every market in a city charges $200 a table and there's one charging $50 and supposedly offering the same exposure and service, that’s a red flag. If you’re paying $100 for a logo but every other designer in that experience bracket charges $500, you may need to adjust your expectations of what you’re going to get.
3. Communicate with the vendor a little. With markets, you’re often filling out an application form and sending it into the ether. But for less-established events, communicate via email or DM first when you can. See how the organizer handles inquiries and concerns. This should give you a good idea of how they may handle future problems. Whenever possible, meet them in person or via video first. This is especially true if you are signing on with someone for a bigger project — in that case, multiple meetings may be warranted before ever signing an agreement.
4. Review the contract. If they don't have one, ask for one. The contract should outline payment terms, fee/delivery schedules, cancellation policies, hidden fees, refund policies, etc. An application form does not constitute a contract. Contracts protect your business too, not just a vendor’s.
5. Trust your gut. It’s a saying for a reason. If you have a bad vibe or something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is.
For more ways to protect yourself and your shop, attend our upcoming event in the Vintage Sellers Community: Trademarks & Startup Law for Resellers.