by Mike Vogel
Yosef Martin is the guy to see in Miami if you want 200 bottles of Loreal nail polish, a pallet of 193 digital cameras or truckloads of other goods that he’s bought and plans to resell.
Martin owns Merchandize Liquidators, which he started in 2003 as a way to put himself through college. An Israeli immigrant, he says his goal was to find an existing business model that worked and come up with a plan to make it better.
He began the company with $375, relying on search engine optimization to build the business. Most of the merchandise for his Miami Gardens company comes by the truckload from department, discount and drugstore closeouts and overstocks — “my cash cow” — though he also gets manufacturer overruns. He says he assures himself a steady stream of goods by buying from a wide range of store chains — not all chains can get inventory levels right all the time.
He also doesn’t bother with specializing; he at present carries clothing, shoes, jewelry, food, cosmetics, tools, toys, lingerie and electronics. “You get the right goods, you’re going to sell it, no doubt,” Martin says.
Approximately 80% of his sales are to the Carribbean, Latin American and elsewhere abroad. “One of the reasons we skipped the recession is because we sell internationally,” he says. He sells to established businesses with multiple retail outlets and their own warehouses, and he sells to “newbies” who resell at flea markets or on eBay.
He sometimes has to walk rookie buyers through how to get their purchases shipped back to their home countries from America. He has warehouses in Miami Gardens and North Carolina. His company in 2012 hit $9 million in annual revenue and employs 15.
His advice to would-be entrepreneurs: “Just do it. Don’t be scared of failing. I had so many ideas. I tried and failed. All it takes is one. Make a plan. Be organized. But don’t be afraid to do it.”