Jobbers Good. Retailers Bad.

July 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following article appeared in the New York Times some ninety years ago.

Salesmen who call on the jobbing trade have a whole lot easier time of it than those who travel for concerns that sell to retailers, according to one of the former. In the first place, this salesman said yesterday, the sales run into money rapidly, which affords an extra stimulus for hard work. In addition to this, only the larger cities are ‘made’, which means that better train and hotel accommodations are available. Still further, the jobber employs traveling men himself and appreciates the value of a salesman’s time. Consequently, he or his buyers keep the appointments they make, and do not expect the salesmen who call on them to wait on every little whim.

On my last trip, the salesman continued, a buyer for one of the big retail stores in a city I make asked me to sell him our goods direct. As he bought as much as many jobbers, I got in touch with my concern, and was told to use my own judgment, although this house was not keen about putting any retail accounts on the books.

I decided to take a chance, and called the buyer up and told him of my decision. He apparently was very pleased, and said he would come over to the hotel at 5 o’clock to look over my samples. I called on the jobbers I was to see and got back to the hotel just before 5. At 6:30 the buyer had not shown up, so I had my dinner. Then I came back and waited until 8 o’clock, but he did not come.

I was due to leave town about noon on the following day, so, early in the morning I called the buyer up and made an appointment for him to see the line at 9:30. Again he failed to appear on time, and I called him up at once. He gave me a complete set of excuses, and then asked me to wait over, and he would surely be in at 3 o’clock. I stayed, but he did not show up. I called him up again. He made some further excuses and said he would be at the hotel at 6. He got there at that hour and found me in the lobby. Well, he asked where are those samples? On the way to the 6:45 train for Chicago, I replied, and I am leaving for it in a few minutes myself.

The buyer went off like a bomb and asked me what I meant by wasting his time. He threatened to write to my concern, and I told him to go ahead. He wrote and so did I, explaining the circumstances. As the concern did not care especially about selling him anyway, it simply backed me up and let the matter drop. The experience, however, cured me of wanting to sell goods to a retailer.

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