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Melrose International

A buying trip to Asia…how behind the scenes planning benefits retailers

Traveling to Asia on a product buying tour means retailers get the best product at great prices. 

Secrets of wholesale buying

At Melrose, our goal is to make the best possible product available to retailers, and of course, their customers. This requires an understanding of trends, a lot of planning and several buying trips to Asia. In this blog we want to pull back the curtain and show you how Michael Gingrich- Senior Vice President, Director of Design and Purchasing, Co-owner of Melrose International-takes products from ideas to reality.

As soon as the January shows are over…

When you’re headed home from the winter shows, thinking about the product you’ll be getting in your store over the next weeks and months—Michael and his team of designers are already planning Fall/Holiday for the next year. “This year I started to work with my design team in February to plan Fall/Holiday 2014,” explained Michael.

“We start by creating a trend book that has colors and collection ideas,” he said. The team then uses the book to decide what new items to produce, what should be updated and what will be closed out. This planning process takes a few months and brings together ideas from research studies, the world of fashion and the creative minds of the designers.

Once the trend book is complete it’s Michael’s job to bring it all to life…

For that he heads to Asia in the late summer—usually to 40-50 factories across China, Taiwan and Thailand to finalize the product designs and place orders. Traveling with Michael is his guide, Pauline Chan, who speaks Mandarin Cantonese and acts as interpreter.

It takes about 2 months to place the orders and finalize costs and ship times with the various factories. For instance, if Melrose is planning to create a specific snowflake pattern that will be used on a glass votive and fabric table runners then Michael has to place orders at two separate factories—one that specializes in glass and another fabric. Now add metal lanterns or resin ornaments, and ensuring colors and patterns match can get tricky! This doesn’t worry Michael though; with 15 years of experience he is an expert.

Sound like a lot of work? It’s necessary…

Melrose always aims to bring creative, unique product to retail—Michael’s vision and buying trips are what allow that to happen. “My goal is to put together collections so that retailers can visualize them,” he explains. “And to make that happen I need to work directly with the factories, meet the people who are doing hand painting or finish on product, and spend time to ensure the quality is kept in line with what Melrose customers have come to expect”.

And what happens after Michael gets home from Asia with the Fall/Holiday product ready to go? Why planning for Spring/Summer—and a buying trip for that round of product—of course!

Do you have ideas for product you’d like to see Melrose carry? Share your comments below and we’ll pass them on to Michael and his team.


Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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