I have a small retail store catering to women’s apparel and apparel related accessories such as handbags, scarves, hats, and jewelry. All of the clothing comes from three wholesalers and I have a few sources for the clothing accessories. I would like to expand my inventory to include name brand cosmetics. I am having a tough time finding distributors for name brand makeup. I have noticed sellers on eBay selling what appears to be large quantities of makeup; brands such as Maybeline, Max Factor, and L’Oreal. Where can I get my hands on stock like this?


Hello, and thanks for the question! I’m glad to hear your store is doing well enough to consider product expansion; I think cosmetics and makeup related products will do well with your current mix of merchandise.

It’s hard as a small retailer to find actual wholesale sources for cosmetics, especially well known named brands. There’s an abundance of non-branded cosmetic suppliers, but finding and dealing with large, well known distributors of nationally known brands is almost impossible. Even if you did find a source, they would want product orders larger than you could handle.

Purchasing wholesale cosmetics within the liquidation industry will prove to be your best bet. You can start small ordering a few hundreds pieces at a time. I want to go over a few things you should be aware of:

Discount store brands versus higher-end brands – I think the single most sought after product within the wholesale liquidation industry would have to be cosmetics, at least from my perspective. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked for sources that sell brands like Mac, Clinique, Bobby Brown, Estee Lauder, Smash Box, etc.. Be very careful when sourcing the higher end brands due to the insane amount of fake, knock-off makeup being sold within the wholesale industry.

There are factories overseas that produce top designer brands made to look authentic. The two biggest tip-offs should be where the product is being shipped from, and the low price factor. Use logic when buying name brand cosmetics. If the deal sounds to good to be true…it probably is!

While reselling discount store cosmetics, such as Maybeline, L’Oreal, and Max Factor, might not bring a large profit, you can rest assured knowing that brands like this are well known and should sell consistently.

Who to buy from – There are several wholesale liquidators who carrywholesale cosmetics shelf pull and overstock makeup on a regular basis; two of the largest wholesale liquidators can be found within our program, Liquidators Guide. One of the suppliers is on the East coast, and we also know of a West Coast wholesaler. Order from the supplier closest to you and save on freight costs.

What to expect – When purchasing shelf pull and overstock cosmetic lots, understand that each purchase will be a mixed assortment of items. The ratio of lipstick to eye pencils will vary with each order. Some wholesale liquidators will advertise wholesale lots as having a specific ratio of products, for example 20% foundation, 30% lipsticks, 20% eye pencils, 10% eye shadow, and 20% nail polish. If you are overly concerned with receiving too much of one item, but from a supplier who offers ratio-based lots.

What to pay – Pricing will vary, but expect to pay fifty cents up to a couple of dollars for brands like Max Factor and Maybeline. Higher-end brands like Mac and Clinique will set you back at least $5-$8 per item.

How to merchandise – My recommendation would be to sell the cosmetics in the same way you purchased them, as liquidation merchandise. Advertise a liquidation sale within your store selling cosmetics in bulk bins.

 

Our 2017 Liquidators Guide chronicles 12 years of wholesale product sourcing experience and includes my personal black book of direct source contacts! As an industry expert, I'll share the success I've enjoyed along with the mistakes I've made buying and reselling liquidation merchandise.

If you are thinking about buying pallets of liquidation merchandise from a liquidator, broker, or direct from department stores, you need to check out The Liquidators Guide