Distributor Profile: Take Five Trading
** This interview was originally featured on CUT & SHOW on 03 February 2010
This week, we chatted with Garry Bone from the distribution company Take Five Trading (and also from the sneaker retailer Livestock). He told us about his new company, his predictions for 2010 and why he's buying Alife sneakers for this spring.
Q: So, Garry, how did you get into the distribution business?
GB: I got into the business via Livestock -- a lot of the brands that we were working with didn't have distribution and were growing to the point where they needed it. They would all call and ask me who they should work with as far as distributors go, and I kept on denying most of the Canadian distributors; as a retailer, I didn't like dealing with very many of them. And the ones that I did like dealing with were too big to take on such small brands. It came down to me helping [those brands] pick accounts and helping some of those accounts import the goods because they didn't know how yet. The it came to the point where both the Hundreds and Keep asked me if I wanted to just start a distribution company. So I met up with Tara and Wu, my partners, and started [Take Five Trading].
Q: What is the mandate behind Take Five?
GB: Right now, we're definitely at a learning stage because I am so new to [distribution], so we're trying to build structure and a good foundation on how a distribution company is supposed to run. Because of my retail background, I'm really taking into consideration how to deal with it so that [the experience] is positive for the retailer -- ultimately you need you need your brands to sell at retail to become a successful distribution company. Our whole M.O. is to really focus on making sure that things move at retail.
Q: How have you found the transition from retail to distribution? Has it been a smooth one?
GB: It hasn't been that tough -- I've had 15 years of retail experience and so I've dealt with a lot of distributors. I know what they did that was good, and I know what they did was not so good, so I was able to implement that. The two sides to [distribution] are cash flow management and staying organized.
Q: What is the brand list for Take Five?
GB: The Hundreds, Keep, Alife footwear and apparel, G-Shock for Casio, Addict and Huf.
Q: How are you feeling good going into 2010?
GB: I'm going to because I have to, but I definitely think it's a year you better to go into really, really prepared. I think it's going to be another [weeding out] year, and people who don't run a good business are going to go by the wayside. The ones who do [run a good business] will be able to pick up market share and hopefully start to grow. At the end of next year, Canadian retail is going to be a lot healthier than it is right now.
Q: That's an interesting point of view, because many people I've spoken to in the industry say they feel very optimistic going into next year.
GB: I think it's going to take a little bit of time. Being a retailer, I've lived through the boom -- the really big boom -- and bust of skateboarding. With Livestock, I'm obviously living through [the bust], with the sneakers and the streetwear, right now. Retail wasn't that hard for a lot of those [past] years, and it's a low barrier entry into the industry. I think people need to get more organized, do more cash flow forecasting and more forecasting on product. There was a point when you could run a distributor like Take Five off of PDF only, [but] no one's going to buy off PDFs now. You have to have samples, you have to get them in front of customers. That's kind of what I'm saying here: you have to earn every penny you make next year. I'm not going to be so pessimisstic to think there's not money to be earned next year -- there totally is, or else I wouldn't do it -- but I think the people who make money will earn it.
Q: Will you be picking up any new brands at Take Five?
GB: Yes, there are a couple more brands in the works, which we'll hopefully have organized for the beginning of selling season.
Q: Any trade shows on your agenda?
GB: We were at the KNOW?SHOW in Calgary, and I'm going to check out some of the American trade shows just to see what's going on. Out east, it's been a bit quiet with trade shows. The east coast is a lot more of a challenge, but it can also be because we're from the west. It's always easier to do business in your own backyard.
Q: You've been in the business for a long time now. What keeps you here?
GB: I started off with one skateboard shop in White Rock. It was, I think, 600-square-feet, and in the first year of business did about $120K. Now it's four retail stores and a distribution company, so it's growth that keeps me here. It's a lot more of a challenge to run all of these companies than it was to run that single store 12 or 13 years ago.
Q: Is it an industry you'll ever leave, or do you feel that passionate about it?
GB: I'll leave it when I don't feel passionate about it anymore. I think it's a labour of love for the most part and making money is a by-product of doing a good job. You have to be stoked on what you're doing to do a good job. When the day comes when I no longer like the product or no longer like the scene that's around , then I'll move on. I'm not strictly here to make money -- if I was working just to [do that], then I would have been a stockbroker and would have just worked in the money industry and cut out all the middle steps!
Q: I'm sure you own a killer collection of sneakers. If you could buy one now that you don't already own, what would it be?
GB: You know what, Alife actually has some really, really good shoes for this coming spring -- they were the only shoes I actually booked for myself. I've haven't been feeling all the clean stuff [coming out lately], which is why I like the Alife footwear for spring. They did canvas, and I love canvas shoes.
Take Five Trading
1523 E. Pender Street
604 569 1223