A Distributor Asks: I recently placed a large purchase order with a supplier for barware, and the P.O. clearly stated that the art would be delivered in about two weeks and the ship-to location was to be determined, as we were waiting for the client to confirm on a location. When the art was ready, we sent it to the supplier and were told, “Sorry, we gave the inventory to someone else as your P.O. was incomplete, so we did not process your order. We cannot hold stock for incomplete orders.” I was floored. I currently have five other items for this same client from five other suppliers. Do I need to confirm with each one that they are indeed “saving” me the inventory that is on my P.O.?


Not many vendors are allocating inventory when a P.O. is received right now. They also aren’t likely to, until not only the art and ship to are received, but also the proof approval as well. I suggest to always call them, and on the rare occasion they say they will hold your inventory, make sure that you get it in writing and attach it to your order when you submit it.

Jessica Minard
Account Coordinator and Finance Manager
Red Promotions
Bellevue, Washington
PPAI 385713, D1

I am a major supplier of glassware to the industry. I work with many great, well-known suppliers who decorate and, I assure you, things have changed. Industry suppliers are not getting the inventory they need as their orders are not always being filled complete. I also guarantee, it’s going to get a bit worse for some. For the last year, I have been warning distributors to find key drinkware suppliers who will be getting product and work with them to ensure they are in the loop. Forget EQP, forget your deals, forget about holding stock. Get a current inventory and educate your customers as to what is going on in the category, and send in orders complete with dates, art, etc., then have a great sales year! Orders are being processed, product is being shipped, but you’re going to have to think differently and restructure your approach to “be in the game.” And your customers will have to plan and be ready to commit to the order when you present. Yes, things have changed for them, too!

Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just trying to help.

Guy M. Achtzehn
The Marketing & Sales Group
York, Pennsylvania

As a distributor, I’ve had too many “orders” that started off with incomplete information like this that just never materialized, especially in this climate of evaporating budgets and canceled events. I would (and have) offered to put down at least a partial payment upfront to hold the inventory as long as I was confident in the client and the order.

Rama Beerfas, MAS, CPSM
Lev Promotions
San Diego, California
PPAI 218331, D1

I don’t know what the supplier’s terms are, but most suppliers have some sort of disclaimer to the effect of “incomplete P.O.s will not be processed,” and they usually give instructions as to what constitutes a “complete P.O.” If you expect inventory to be held without providing a complete P.O., I would, at least, make a phone call.

Aaron Saltzman
Silver Line Promotions
Southfield, Michigan
PPAI 787299, D2

I made a post about a similar situation a few weeks ago as a supplier and almost 60 people responded to not hold stock and to require a deposit for any stock holds. Another 20 or so private-messaged me, advising against any stock holds. I’d definitely suggest checking with your other suppliers on orders with a similar situation.

Justin Lackman
National Sales Manager
AdNArt - CNIJ - Fantasia
Champlain, New York
PPAI 132744, S4

I think it’s time to change your process. We never, ever submit a P.O. without print-ready, vectored, approved artwork. This goes for screenprinting, embroidery and hardgoods. Artwork is the first thing we get approved and out of the way before moving forward in the order/P.O. process.

Kellie Hernandez
Director of Sales and Operations
Dragonfly Apparel & Branding
Segin, Texas
PPAI 717380, D1


A Supplier Asks: When you’re exhibiting at a trade show, what do you use to stack all of your promotional products so they’re not all flat on the table, and where do you find it?


Just use boxes or plastic totes of different sizes and put them under the tablecloth or have smaller pieces of fabric draped over them. That way, you have different elevations on the table. It works great and it’s unusual, and it makes you different from everybody else. I’ve also used different sized baskets and put groups of items that either look good together or go together, depending on the event. So, I may have made a USA-made basket, I may have a golf basket, I may have a pink basket for breast cancer awareness, etc. This also helps to keep people from taking your samples. My self-promos are then usually laid out on the table, so it’s obvious that those are for them to take.

Theresa DeCoursey Zide
ManaTee Promotions
Rockledge, Florida
PPAI 719572, D1

You could make some really great-looking displays just out of crates from the dollar store.

Lori Trafford
iPROMOTEu/Chesapeake Promotion Corporation
Regina, Saskatchewan
PPAI 642288, D2

When I worked on the supplier side and as a rep, I used cardboard risers and got black, non-wrinkle material that was large/oversized enough to cover the risers with material to spare. For smaller items, I used a large, hard-sided artist case and lined the inside with material, and attached the samples to this material. These cases would stand on the table, open, at about a 45-degree angle. When the show is done, just close the case and walk away.

Marcus J. Cohen, MAS
Tropical Promotions and Recognition, a division of Global MultiResources, Inc.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


A Distributor Asks: Fellow distributors, what are some of the steps that you have taken to grow your business from a sales standpoint? Even if you’re not an owner, what has been the most effective way of growing your book of business? Is it phone- based cold calling, in- person cold calling, networking, etc. I know referrals are very important, of course, but what else, besides that, has proven most effective for you?

Email your response(s) to for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.  


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.