When it comes to finding suppliers for products to sell online, most people look towards China and other Asian countries because the price of labor is far cheaper than the United States.
But working with Asian vendors vs USA wholesale suppliers comes at a cost. For example…
- You have to deal with language barriers
- You have to adapt to cultural differences
- You have to pay import duties on your goods
- You have to pay a high cost of shipping from overseas
- You have to contend with longer lead times for production
- You have to communicate in different time zones
In contrast, working with wholesale vendors in the United States is much more straightforward.
There is no communication barrier. The minimum order quantities tend to be lower and the cost of shipping is significantly less.
In addition, there are no import duties.
One of the biggest mistakes new importers make is not taking into account the tariffs that are imposed on certain raw materials. And depending on the product, these extra taxes can significantly increase your cost of goods.
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USA Wholesale Suppliers Vs Sourcing From China
First off, there is this misconception that everything is cheaper in China. But that is actually not the case.
In fact, the cost of raw materials is very similar between the US and China.
For example if I want to create plastic products and I already own my molds, the cost of plastic is more or less the same whether I produce my products in China or the US.
The primary advantage of sourcing from China is the cost of labor which is more than an order of magnitude less than the US.
As a result, any type of product that involves a high percentage of human labor will almost always be cheaper in China. This includes wood working, sewing, stitching, packaging, assembly etc…
But if you are just getting started in ecommerce or if you are terrified of high tariffs on certain materials and products, then you may want to consider sourcing from the United States.
Often times if you factor in the extra cost of shipping, import duties, material defects and the headaches of dealing with Chinese vendors, going with a local US vendor might actually make sense.
In any case, I’ll let you be the judge.
Here are some articles that I’ve written about sourcing from China.
Feel free to compare them to the methods described in today’s post on sourcing from the United States and come to your own conclusions.
- The Best Way To Find Wholesale Suppliers, Vendors And Products For Your Online Store
- My Guide To The Canton Fair – China’s Largest Wholesale Supplier Trade Show
- Importing From China – How To Avoid Common Mistakes And Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid
- 10 Tips On Importing Wholesale Products From China Using Alibaba Or GlobalSources
- How To Find China Wholesale Suppliers And Import Direct From Chinese Factories
- How To Approach A New Wholesale Vendor Or Supplier When You Have No Store, No Site And No Sales
Anyway without further ado, here’s are 9 ways to find wholesale suppliers in the United States.
Method #1: ReferenceUSA (Now DataAxle)
ReferenceUSA (now called DataAxle) is a subscription-based service that provides access to detailed information on more than 24 million U.S. businesses and 310 million U.S. consumers.
ReferenceUSA is 100% free when accessed from a public library and it’s the best and most comprehensive database available in the United States.
What is ReferenceUSA?
ReferenceUSA offers the most up-to-date data on businesses in the United States and it can be used to…
- Locate any type of company nationwide
- Research business executives of any company
- Find business opportunities and suppliers for your ecommerce store
- Find manufacturers to produce your products
But there’s a small catch. ReferenceUSA can only be accessed at your local library but most libraries support it.
Here’s how to get access…
Step 1: Call Your Local Libraries And Ask Them If They Have Reference USA
ReferenceUSA has a handy library locator online here
Step 2: Get A Library Card
Most of you probably haven’t set foot in a library since the dawn of the Internet, but you’ll have to physically go in to get your library card.
Library cards are free and you can actually rent movies, videos game and books in addition to ReferenceUSA
Step 3: Access ReferenceUSA From The Library Website
Most likely, you will be asked to type in your library card number and a 4 digit pin to access ReferenceUSA
How To Use ReferenceUSA
When you first login to ReferenceUSA, it will ask you what you want to search. Click on US Businesses. Then click on “Advanced Search”
From here, I click on the following
- Include Unverified Businesses – This tells Reference USA to include smaller businesses in the search
- Keyword SIC/NAICS – This allows you to search by keyword or topic
- City/State – This allows you to search by location
Then I enter in what I’m looking for along with the geography. For example, let’s say I want a plastic mold company in Santa Clara, CA.
After I click on “View Results”, I’m presented with a list of plastic mold manufacturers in my area. It’s that simple!
Overall, ReferenceUSA is a great way to find contact information for any business in the United States. The only downside is that ReferenceUSA also returns retail businesses as well.
As a result, you’ll often have to sift through the results to find real suppliers.
Method #2: ThomasNet.com
ThomasNet.com is a database of US suppliers that primarily caters to industrial and commercial suppliers. What’s nice about ThomasNet compared to ReferenceUSA is that ThomasNet only includes real suppliers and not retail shops.
As a result, you won’t have to do as much sifting through the ThomasNet results. The downside of course is that ReferenceUSA is infinitely larger than ThomasNet because it has access to every business in the US.
For all practical purposes, I like to start on ThomasNet and then use ReferenceUSA if I can’t find anything good.
Using the same example from ReferenceUSA above, let’s look for plastic mold manufacturers on Thomas.net.
As you can see, ThomasNet returns very specific plastic suppliers categorized by their specialty. Then, you can limit the results based on your geography.
Once again, ThomasNet is more geared towards industrial suppliers so you probably won’t find general consumer products on there. But if you are looking to fabricate your own designs whether it be clothing, plastic or metal, then ThomasNet.com is an excellent resource.
In addition, you can also find CAD designers and clothing designers if you want to create your own custom products from scratch.
Method #3: WorldWide Brands
Worldwide Brands is a service that aggregates light bulk and dropship wholesalers into a searchable directory. They also pre-vet these suppliers to make sure that they are legit.
Now I’ve had a Worldwide Brands account since 2011 and while I don’t use the directory much these days, it’s an excellent resource for finding light bulk and dropship suppliers in the United States.
What does light bulk mean exactly?
A light bulk supplier is a term coined by Worldwide Brands for suppliers that require a minimum buy of $500 or less. As a result, you can get started for a much lower cost than going with a traditional factory.
While this sounds great for beginners, the reason I haven’t used Worldwide Brands in ages is because I no longer dropship and I don’t sell other peoples products at all.
In fact, long time readers of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com know that I’m pretty anti dropshipping in general. But I get enough questions about dropshipping that I feel compelled to address them.
First off if you are considering dropshipping, please read the following posts
- Private Label vs Retail Arbitrage vs Dropshipping vs Wholesale – 8 Ecommerce Business Models Compared
- Why Dropshipping Isn't As Easy And Simple As You Think
- Dropshipping Vs Carrying Inventory – An Inside Look At The Financials Of Two Live Online Shops
In any case, here’s what the interface for WorldWide Brands looks like when you login.
By entering in a product, WorldWide Brands will return a list of suppliers. By clicking on the “See Full Details” button, you can get that supplier’s contact information, minimum order quantity and vendor website.
If you are struggling to find dropship vendors in the United States, then WorldWide Brands can save you a lot of time.
Method #4: Makers Row
Makers Row is a directory of over 10,000 US manufacturers across over a dozen different industries. And similar to ThomasNet, you can search by location and capability.
Makers Row is considered a premium service and it comes at a monthly membership cost. But their interface allows you to easily get estimates, book consultations and reach out to real US manufacturers.
Here’s how it works.
Once you sign up you can browse their directory of manufacturers.
What’s nice is that Makers Row presents you with a beautiful view of the factory including reference samples, pictures and videos. There you can learn about the manufacturer, make contact and book a consult.
Once you’ve selected a factory, Makers Row has project management software built in to allow you to provide product details and manage your production.
Keep in mind that Makers Row is tailored towards businesses looking to manufacture their own products from scratch.
And similar to ThomasNet and ReferenceUSA, you will have to do most of the heavy lifting in contacting and interfacing with manufacturers.
Method #5: Wholesale Central
Wholesale Central is a website that helps wholesale buyers find wholesale suppliers and products from the United States. Their service is 100% free and they have a large directory of wholesale vendors in the US offering goods at bulk pricing.
In fact, Wholesale Central is like the Alibaba of USA wholesale suppliers.
They also offer a trade show search engine where you can easily locate a wholesale show in your area that carries the products that you want to buy.
Here’s how it works.
- Go to WholesaleCentral.com and type in the product you are looking for.
- WholesaleCentral will display products that match your query along with wholesale suppliers that carry the product.
- WholesaleCentral provides the phone number and contact information of the supplier so you can reach out directly.
Method #6: Faire
Faire is an online platform that connects retail customers with local makers and artists that sell wholesale in the USA.
Customers can browse through a variety of products, ranging from home goods to jewelry, and purchase items directly from the makers at wholesale prices.
Faire was founded in 2016 by Max Rhodes. The company is based in San Francisco, California and their mission is to support local economies by connecting customers with makers and artists.
Faire does not charge wholesalers any listing fees. Instead, the company takes a percentage of each sale.
Faire also hosts pop-up markets in select cities. These markets allow customers to meet local wholesalers, and purchase products directly from them.
Here’s how it works
- Go to Faire.com and sign up for a free account.
- Enter in a search for the products you want to buy.
- Browse each company, shop for what you want and make a purchase.
- The minimum order quantity is displayed for each vendor on the upper right.
Method #7: Shopify Handshake
Shopify Handshake is a B2B marketplace where you can buy products from Shopify based wholesalers at no cost. All wholesale suppliers on the Handshake platform are based in the US and handpicked by Shopify.
The Shopify Handshake platform is free to use for both buyers and sellers and the platform is easy to use.
You simply open a free account, buy what you want with low or no minimum orders and there are no fees whatsoever.
Here’s how it works
- You must register on Shopify Handshake as a retailer and be a US based business. Note: You can not sell on 3rd party marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy or Ebay.
- Browse the Shopify Handshake listings and pick what you want.
- The supplier’s minimum order and wholesale pricing is clearly displayed.
- You get free shipping on your first order over $100.
Method #8: Spocket
Dropshipping is a business model where e-commerce entrepreneurs sell products without having to carry any inventory. When a customer places an order on a dropshipping store, the store owner contacts the supplier, who then ships the products directly to the customer.
This allows store owners to run their businesses without the hassle of managing inventory.
Spocket is one of the leading dropshipping apps that offers wholesale suppliers from the United States and Europe.
The Spocket app also offers a wide range of features to help store owners run their businesses, such as automated order fulfilment, product customization, and real-time tracking.
Here’s how Spocket works.
- You sign up for a free account at Spocket.com.
- You install the Spocket app onto your ecommerce platform. Only Shopify is supported at the present time.
- Browse thousands of reliable suppliers in the US.
- Pick and choose what to carry in your online store.
- Shipping fulfillment is automatically handled by the Spocket app.
Method #9: LA Fashion District
If you are looking buy wholesale clothing, the LA Fashion District is a great place to find wholesale suppliers in the United States.
The entire LA Fashion District spans roughly 100 square blocks in the heart of Los Angeles and is known for being the creative capital of the fashion industry.
Some of the most popular wholesale clothing suppliers are located in Los Angeles which include…
- Tasha Apparel
- LA Showroom
- Wishlist Apparel
- Lush Clothing
- Bloom Wholesale
Read my post on wholesale clothing vendors in Los Angeles for a full list.
The Top USA Wholesale Suppliers For General Merchandise
If you don’t have the time to search for USA wholesale suppliers, here’s a vetted list of the top 8 wholesale vendors in the US for your review.
DollarDays is an online marketplace that connects businesses and nonprofit organizations with over 150,000 suppliers of wholesale goods.
They offer a wide variety of products, including food, clothing, toys, and home goods. Suppliers on DollarDays are carefully vetted to ensure that they offer quality products at competitive prices.
Businesses and nonprofits can create an account on DollarDays for free and browse the marketplace to find the perfect supplier for their needs.
WholesaleMart is a national distributor of wholesale products, carrying over 50,000 items in stock. Their products are available in both small and large quantities, and the company offers a wide variety of payment options to make buying wholesale easy.
WholesaleMart also offers a low price guarantee on all of its products, and the company ships orders quickly and efficiently. There are no membership fees or minimum order requirements.
Kole Imports is an online retailer that specializes in selling closeout merchandise at below-wholesale prices. Their product selection includes items from a variety of categories, including electronics, home goods, toys, and more.
Kole Imports was founded in 1985 with the goal of providing small businesses with access to the same low-priced, high-quality merchandise that larger businesses enjoy. They have since become a leading closeout retailer, serving customers all over the world.
They offer fast and free shipping on all orders, and they have a team of customer service representatives who are available to answer any questions you may have.
Bargain Wholesale is one of the leading suppliers of general wholesale merchandise in the United States.
They offer a wide variety of products including health and beauty, electronics, housewares, and more.
They are a family-owned and operated business for over 25 years and they are best known supplying the thousands of 99 Cent Only Stores in the US.
AEWholesale is an online wholesaler specializing in the sale of giftware and home decor from the nation’s leading retailers.
AEWholesale offers a wide variety of merchandise, including home goods, electronics, art prints and more, at deeply discounted prices.
AEWholesale was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in Florida.
All Time Trading
All Time Trading is one of the largest online wholesalers of general merchandise in the United States.
They sell a wide variety of products including clothing, cosmetics, toys, and housewares. All Time Trading offers low prices on bulk orders and offers over 200,000 wholesale products for sale.
Purchases must be made in case packs of 24 units or more.
Wholesale Interiors is a leading furniture wholesaler in the United States, specializing in modern and contemporary designs.
They offer a wide range of furniture products for both residential and commercial use, including bedroom sets, dining room sets, sofas, chairs, office furniture, and more.
In addition to their extensive product selection, they also provide custom furniture solutions and design services to meet the unique needs of their customers.
Wholesale Interiors has been in business for over 20 years and is headquartered in Illinois.
Blue Star Empire
Blue Star Empire is of the largest wholesalers in the United States that sells a variety of products, including clothing, accessories, home decor, and more.
There are no minimum order quantities and they offer over 10,000 products for sale.
You can buy Blue Star Empire merchandise by the case or by the truckload depending on the size of your business.
Choosing From The Different Supplier Research Tools
When it comes to sourcing products to sell in the USA, the 9 tools described above serve different purposes.
ThomasNet.com and Makers Row are much more useful if you plan on creating and manufacturing your own product from scratch. As a result, you won’t find many suppliers on either service that sells other people’s branded products.
ReferenceUSA is a directory of every business in the US which makes it much more versatile than ThomasNet. However, you will have to go through the results of your searches more carefully to find a supplier that matches your needs.
If you are looking for wholesale vendors, try including the keyword “wholesale” alongside of your search keyword terms. But websites like Faire, Shopify Handshake and Wholesale Central will allow you to quickly find wholesale suppliers of all sizes.
Finally, Worldwide Brands is a directory of pre verified dropship and light bulk wholesale suppliers in the United States. There, you’ll find suppliers who are willing to dropship their own brands.
When it comes to sourcing in the US, it pays to do a full cost benefit analysis with an equivalent Chinese manufacturer. Get a quote from a Chinese factory and be sure to factor in costs such as…
- Cost of inspection
- Cost of freight forwarding
- Cost of import taxes and duties
In addition to pure dollar costs, be sure to factor in a small amount which I call the “mental anguish” tax.
After all, dealing with Chinese vendors will often take away a piece of your sanity because they are always trying to cut corners and save on costs.
When all is said and done, sometimes it’s worth using a US manufacturer even if the cost is a little bit higher. After all, the lead times will be much shorter which will allow your business to be more nimble.
In addition, it’s also nice to know that you’re only a short flight away from visiting the factory floor.
Related Posts In How To Find Products To Sell
- 7 Best Places To Sell Jewelry To Start A Jewelry Business
- Top 17 Alibaba Alternatives To Find Wholesale Suppliers
- How To Buy From Alibaba Safely (Without Getting Scammed)
- Importing From China – How To Avoid Common Mistakes And Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid
- Best 17 China Wholesale Websites To Import Direct From Chinese Factories
Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.