For a company as big as it is, International Wholesale of Southfield, MI still operates with the mindset of a mom and pop operation, and that’s a good thing for its customers. “The company started 30 years ago when my father-in-law, Sam Konja, had a small convenience store,” says Michael Sheena, operations manager. “His candy distributor came in one day and told him prices were going up. But he let Sam place one final order at the old price, which he did, he then stockpiled the goods in his back room.” Konja then resold that stock at a small profit to his friends who had similar businesses. “Whenever his reseller had special deals, Sam stocked up again, eventually filling up the storage room and then stockpiling the goods in his basement at home,” Sheena recalls.
Eventually Sam Konja sold the store and went into wholesaling himself. He started out with one storage unit, about 1,000 square feet total, and soon was paying rent on ten of them, all filled with stock. Realizing he needed to expand to keep growing, he made a big decision. “Sam eventually bought a 20,000 square foot building, and from there went to 40,000, then 60,000, then to his present 132,000 square foot warehouse,” Sheena says.
Today, International Wholesale carries between 4,000 and 4,500 items, with new and different stock arriving daily. “We sell to brick and mortar stores, dollar stores, discount outlets and mom and pops,” says Sheena. “Candy is still a big part of our business, so much so that the business is broken down into two divisions, dollars stores and wholesale,” he adds. Sheena says the company is currently seeing strong interest in food and disposable items, cleaning supplies and HBA, all at remarkably low prices. The company also carries a wide variety of general merchandise, which accounts for a full 25 percent of inventory.
Continuing the expansion that Sam Konja started 30 years ago, International Wholesale is now starting to make appearances at trade shows, to better spread the word of the company’s high diversity and low prices. “We now take a booth at Midwest Market Days, part of the Regent Products Trade Show” Sheena says. “The show invites some 300 customers from dollar stores, chain stores and bigger stores, puts them up at area hotels, and gives them important one on one time with the vendors. We feature a good assortment of our mainline items, and let new customers get to know us,” he says.
Keeping up with the times, and in a nod to today’s available technology, International Wholesale has built-up a comprehensive website, where customers, new and old, can see what’s available on a daily basis and place orders online. “Reaction to the site has been really good,” Sheena says. “We’re getting a lot of traffic from it.” New customers need to go through a simple registration process online, and if qualified, they’re approved within 24 hours. “I personally screen them myself to make sure there’s no conflict with our present customers,” Sheena adds.
International Wholesale has a $1,000 minimum order FOB, and Sheena says his prices and service speak for themselves. “As we always have been, we’re a very customer oriented, family owned company, very easy to deal with,” he notes. “We usually ship orders within 24 to 48 hours.” Just to make sure things are running as they should and everyone is getting the personal service and attention they deserve, Sam Konja is still there, serving as president of the company and showing up to work every day. “Like I said, a ‘family business’ in the truest sense,” Sheena notes.
For more information:
International Wholesale Inc.
21170 West 8 Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48075
Toll Free: 800-337-7565