Test Before You Leap
New items and categories are the lifeblood of any small retailer. In a highly competitive environment where customers are precious commodities, selling your existing customer base additional items is usually far easier than attracting new customers. But not every new item or category that you try is going to be a winner, no matter how much you believe in it.
Vendors take the same approach to new items and categories. To hear them tell it, they've never sold a dog. "You need to make a statement with this, it's going to be huge!" Really? How much have they sold so far? To who? Have there been any sales at retail to date? Have they taken any reorders? If they believe so much in this, will they take back any you don't sell?
Before you leap, test. Stick your toe in the water before you jump in. As much as a sales rep wants the big initial order, I've never known one to turn down a well thought out test order. If it's a winner, you'll know quickly, and then it's a question of managing risk as you try to determine how high up is. And if it's a dog, your downside is modest, and manageable. It's your cash, after all.