NORTH LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) --
If you are still seeking the one special Christmas gift that nobody had the insight to buy you, it's possible you might find that coveted goodie through a North Las Vegas company that specializes in "reverse logistics."
One of four national warehouses operated by Liquidity Services is in North Las Vegas. The company is the leader in the growing field of handling major retailers' return and overstock items, known as reverse logistics. By one estimate, there will be $63 billion in returned and overstocked merchandise this year, up 37 percent from a year ago.
"We have contracts with seven of the 10 largest retailers in the country," said operations manager Mitch Robinson. "They ship their overstock and return items straight to us, we unload the semis, test the goods, grade them and either sell them one item at a time via our secondipity.com
website or bundle them into like items at liquidation.com
and auction them at for starting bids of $100 per lot."
It is possible for a winning bidder to buy four large flat-screen televisions at $100 for the entire lot, Robinson said.
The testing process for electronics is part of what has been making business grow for the company, Robinson said.
"Retailers that used to handle their returns had large clearance aisles and all of the merchandise was marked with huge red and yellow discount stickers and all of it was as-is for the buyers," Robsinson told News 3. "Customers never knew the quality of what they were buying and the process became a big money-loser for the retailers. Now they can make some money and not have to handle the process. And our buyers can get a great bargain in the process."
Merchandise carries a full description, grade of quality (from store quality to salvage quality) and even pictures so the potential bidders can be fully informed of what they are buying.
Robinson said the company's busy season started shortly before Christmas and will continue through April as retailers process their returned items and overstock.
The warehouse staff of 50 during much of the year will swell to 100 or so as the volume of returns increases. Robinson anticipates hiring 20 to 30 more associates to handle the peak volume that can see the warehouse selling up to 9,000 to 10,000 items or more per day. The current crew operates from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week, but a second shift is being considered, Robinson said.
About 80 percent of the buyers, Robinson said, are small businesses that bid on anything from clothing to bathtubs or from small consumer electronics to large flat-screen TVs.
"If they (retailers) sell it, we can get it in their returns or overstock," Robinson said.
Although the warehouse keeps UPS and FedEx shippers busy, it also has a robust customer pick-up operation.
"People come from all over the West after winning their bids," Robinson said. "They get to spend a few days in Las Vegas and take their items they purchased home with them."
The 110,000-square-foot warehouse was relocated nearly two years ago from Fullerton, Calif., to be more centrally located for shipping and customers.
Robinson said the company is in final negotiations to sign a contract with one of the world's top online retailers. As a result, nearly a third of the warehouse is empty with floor-to-ceiling racks ready to receive merchandise.
It appears as if business continues to grow for Liquidity Services Inc.