Question from a customer– job lots, job outs, what is this stuff?

Question :
I am reading your guide and need a few definitions –
What is a Job Lot and what is a Job Out.
What is the difference between a Jobber and a Liquidator (if any) and a Distributor.


I probably use the terms job lot and job out interchangeably. Possibly. I don’t always remember what I was thinking when I said something.

As far as the other question, that’s easier for me to answer. A jobber is someone that sells off price apparel. Jobber is also used in other industries as well, like fabric, but I’m not sure if it’s used outside of the apparel industry. A jobber is someone who buys overstock, overruns, excess production, possibly irregulars, whatever, and sells it for much less than regular wholesale. Like fabric jobbers buy the leftover fabric after production has taken place and sell it at a discount. Same deal with apparel jobbers, though fabric jobbers generally sell to the public whereas apparel jobbers do not.

A liquidator is someone who buys distressed inventory and sells it for a profit. Typically a liquidator will buy and sell anything as long as there is profit to be made. Some liquidate clothes, shoes, electronics, housewares, furniture, groceries, you name it. There is not much technical difference in what they do, just that a jobber sticks to one thing whereas a liquidator will tend to sell anything because they specialize in helping companies get cash for their inventory.

A distributor is someone specific in the food chain. No one in my guide is a distributor. Here’s an example: there is a brand of lingerie made in Europe called Lise Charmel. Very expensive stuff. Well Lise Charmel does not have a US subsidiary or office or presence. So in order to sell in the US, they normally need to have someone here to handle retail accounts because teeny tiny retailers don’t want to import that stuff and have to call Italy all the time. So Lise Charmel contracts with a company called Miltex Group (if I remember correctly, I could be wrong) that is a distributor that represents several different lingerie lines. That distributor buys in enormous quantity, imports handles all customs and duties and services small retail accounts. Some distributors stock the merchandise, some do not and serve as a go-between, but they all typically handle the importing.

With a big company, like Gucci they have Gucci of America that handles the US distribution.

Now these distributors ONLY sell to normal retailers and do not sell to off price retailers, BUT a jobber (or a really big chain like Loehmann’s) can come in and cut a deal with them and buy their excess stock and many do just that.

Now normally fashion companies based in the US don’t have distributors, because they are here to distribute their own stuff, but they will have sales reps and those reps will service the retail accounts. But the company itself usually processes and ships all orders and holds all the merchandise, the rep is just a sales person.

So, that’s one term I am finicky about because too many people ask me for a distributor of XYZ. If you wanted to buy a designer American brand like Juicy Couture or Seven Jeans or Tommy, and you are a regular retailer, you deal directly with the company or their rep, they have no distributor for their merchandise. There is no middleman company that “wholesales” a bunch of designer apparel lines. If you’re not a regular retailer and are looking for off price, then you are looking for a jobber.

In other industries, like computers or electronics, distributors are very common, even with US based companies because it allows the retailer one-stop shopping for being able to get a variety of brands from a single source and not have to deal with multiple minimums. But apparel is not like that because designer companies like to be in control of where their stuff goes and some don’t want too many stores in the same area carrying their merchandise.

Hope that clears things up for you