When you walk into your local birding store and browse the walls, shelves, and display racks, have you ever wondered where all that stuff comes from? Chances are, that before ending up in the store, it was in a warehouse in Mexico. Not the country, but the town, Mexico, Missouri, home of Gold Crest Distributing.
Last week I loaded my TV, DVD player, and a half dozen Hawk Eye Nature Cams, and headed for Mexico and Gold Crest Distributor's 10th annual warehouse sale and expo.
During the two-day sale, several hundred retailers from across the U.S. descended on Gold Crest's 75,000 sq. foot warehouse to buy birdhouses, feeders, baths, seed, and a seemingly endless supply of bird and garden knick-knacks. I was truly in awe, wandering up and down the endless rows of towering storage racks, crammed with every conceivable birding and gardening item.
Gold Crest is truly an American success story. The center is owned by Mel and Bev Toelher, who started out with an independent bird store in near-by Columbia. From this small store Mel and Bev gradually, over the years, created the nation's largest distributor of backyard nature and wild bird products. Don't know what it is about Mexico that makes it such a great town for distribution centers. It's way out in the country, a good 100 miles west of St. Louis, but it is also home to Brookstone Catalog's distribution center as well. Gold Crest's warehouse is huge, but I bet you could fit a dozen of them into Brookstones, which is right across the stree.
In case you aren't familiar with the chain of retail supply, it goes something like this; manufacturers, like Birdhouse Spy Cam, sell their products . . . Hawk Eye Nature Cam, to distributors such as Gold Crest. The distributor marks up the price a bit and sells it at a wholesale price to local retailers, who in turn mark it up before selling it to their customers. It really comes down to convenience for the retailer. Instead of placing orders with and paying each of the dozens of manufacturers whose products they carry, the retailer simply goes to the distributor's catalog or web site, selects the products needed, places one order and writes one check.
And boy, do the retailers place the orders. The Gold Crest distribution center literally hums with activity as orders are pulled, packaged and delivered into a large semi-truck FedEx parks outside the door.. The Gold Crest crew is so efficient, all orders placed before 3 p.m. ship that day, and if it is for more than $300, the shipping is free . . . a very big plus for retailers.
For all their efforts sending out fliers, mailing newsletters and catalogs, Mel and Bev can't educate their customers about every product they carry. So, each year they invite all the manufacturers they deal with to come to Mexico and show the retailers their products. This year about 100 were on hand to do just that. It's a lot of fun talking to other birding and wildlife enthusiasts for 10 hours a day.