Has anyone got jigsaw puzzles made in China?
January 12, 2015 3:15 AM   Subscribe

Looking to start a small side business of jigsaw puzzles in themes like oriental art, miniature art etc. Need some advice on specs and navigating the Ali Baba process

Looking to start a small hobby business selling jigsaw puzzles in themes that I'm interested in and can find very options from established manufacturers for - mainly oriental art, miniature art etc. Have been looking through Ali Baba to find manufacturers who can do small runs (500-odd sets say) and am both confused and wary on biting the bullet. Would appreciate your suggestions/stories on dealing with Ali Baba safely and any particular recommendations on specs for commercial-quality jigsaw puzzles! Thanks a lot!
posted by epiphinite to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I buy a product (not jigsaws!) through Alibaba to sell on amazon. A few random tips:

* You will want samples to ensure the product in the photo is actually what you'll get 500 of. Typically they will charge you retail + shipping for samples and deduct that from your first order.
* You can hire people on odesk etc to gather a bunch of samples from a few factories and send you one shipment, to save money.
* If you think something is hinky you can also hire inspectors through AB who will visit the factory and see if they are okay, product looks good before shipping, etc.
* Another thing is to be aware of the shipping process. Whether you ship by air or sea, if you will be into customs, if you need a freight forwarder. This was easily the hardest thing for me to figure out. You will probably want to get an EIN if you re importing to the US which you can get quickly and at no cost by contacting IRS.
* You will want to shop shipping - the suppliers quote, DHL, etc. Shipping can double those low costs per unit you see on Alibaba.
* The magic words to get low MOQs are "we want a test run of a smaller quantity", some will buy this, some won't.
* There are companies like FBA inspection that can help with all sorts of importing and packaging things - check out their website.
* Chinese new year is soon (early feb?) and many factories will shut down for a month so the workers can go home. Don't take it personally if salespeople are slow to get back to you as that approaches and you may not be able to get product shipped before march.
* Salespeople on alibaba love Skype - the IM/chat not the video call. Much easier to communicate this way than email.

I hope some of that helps. I found the process confusing but quite fun.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:00 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

This article on BoingBoing was about getting a limited-edition resin statuette made, not a puzzle, but a lot of the info he shares might be useful to you.
posted by jeffjon at 6:45 AM on January 12, 2015

Also not about Jigsaws but a cautionary tale about how a really promising business died suddenly.
BRW story about Bennetts Boots.
posted by stellathon at 2:10 PM on January 12, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the inputs jeffjon, did read that BoingoBoing article and was the inspiration behind trying to get this started actually! Thanks for the detailed answer jamesonandwater! The odesk idea is a great suggestion, will definitely look at getting samples done first before anything else!
posted by epiphinite at 9:18 AM on January 13, 2015

Response by poster: Wow stellathon, cautionary tale indeed! Scary!
posted by epiphinite at 9:22 AM on January 13, 2015

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