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Buying Wholesale: Online vs. In-person

The LA Fashion District is home to thousands of wholesale showrooms, both designer and fast fashion or “fast fashion.” Buyers from all over the world come to Downtown Los Angeles to source merchandise for their stores and boutiques. Traditionally, sourcing had to be done in-person but the internet has changed everything. Now buyers can source merchandise online from wholesale marketplaces, but are they paying a premium for the online services? We partnered with online boutique to find out.

Andrea Sager, owner and buyer for, was planning her first-ever trip to the Fashion District when we connected with her on Twitter. She started her business while in law school (she is still a law student) and had up until then sourced merchandise for her boutique exclusively online. caters to professional women and offers causal and business-casual clothing. Andrea’s goal is to maintain the quality of her products while providing options for women of all shapes, sizes, and budgets.

In her quest to provide the best possible quality and price, Andrea booked a flight to Los Angeles and spent two days researching wholesale pricing and style options in the Fashion District. As part of our partnership she let us tag along to take photos and reported back on her experience. She concluded that wholesale merchandise in the district is in fact more affordable when compared to the major online wholesale marketplaces.

While many of the wholesalers in the LA Fashion District do not have a website, they are still dedicated to building strong relationships with buyers. As Andrea learned throughout the process “there’s no better way to build a relationship than face to face.” Many of the wholesalers encouraged Andrea to call if she saw similar items on other websites, as they would give her a better price. For new buyers, Andrea recommends spending at least two full days in the district, as there is not enough time to see everything the area has to offer in one day!

Insider Tip: Many wholesale LA Fashion District vendors sell online through third-party wholesale marketplaces. The online platform acts as the middle-man between the wholesale vendor and the buyer. When you shop directly from the vendor, it eliminates the middle-man and any of the costs that would have otherwise been incurred in the process.

Additional benefits of buying wholesale in-person include knowing the quality and fit of the product at the time of purchase.

To see Andrea’s finds visit

So now we know, making that trip to the Fashion District WILL save you enough money to make that flight worth it!

And for all our first-time business owners, we asked Andrea to share her top 5 tips for starting a fashion business.

  • Be persistent. It does not happen over night. Andrea started her business in August 2015 and continues to do everything she can to market her store including social media, Instagram giveaways, reaching out to influential bloggers, and staying involved in her local community.
  • Be financially savvy. Andrea saved-up to start her boutique and continues to finance her own business.
  • Know your audience. Always remember that you are buying for your customer, and not for yourself!
  • Believe in yourself. Self explanatory, right?
  • Make sure you buy (wholesale) ahead of time. Create a timeline to buy the merchandise for your store. Make sure allow yourself enough time to take photos, edit them, and upload them to your site. Remember that the product still needs to be “in” at the end of this process.

If you have any questions about buying wholesale in the district, please contact us!

*Andrea did most of her sourcing on the eastern side of the district, in the San Pedro Wholesale Mart and surrounding area.

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