Based in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Valley Supply is a full-service novelty company that has been supplying everything from sunglasses to lighters to plush for 32 years. Mark and Mary Crippen have been running the company together for the past 24 years, with a focus on customer service and building relationships. “We want people to go online, but also to give us a call and speak to us in person while looking at the website,” Mark Crippen says. “We like to see what type of establishment they have, and if there’s something we might be able to show them.”
“We’ve worked with some customers for over 30 years,” Crippen notes. “Companies change and people come and go, but we have been here the whole time.” Crippen attributes his customers’ loyalty to being flexible with his product offerings. “I’m still in business because I have been willing to change what I sell.” The firm offers direct delivery to about 800 stores, and keeps an eye out for trends. “I also have a lot of really good suppliers who keep me informed across the country, because what’s selling in Ohio might not be selling in New York City. Typically, what’s big on the coasts will hit here 18 months later.”
Crippen reports that people can’t live without charging products for electronic devices. “Whether it’s cell phone chargers or tablet chargers, everybody these days has at least one electronic device, and when they’re traveling they have to be able to charge it. So if they’re in a car they’re going to stop and buy one.” One of the most enduring products the company supplies is plush. “It never goes out of style,” Crippen says. “It’s always a perfect gift for grandparents to give.” The brighter the colors, the better, and neon is hot right now, as well as traditional creatures like monkeys and frogs, offered in box and floor displays.
Valley Supply participates in a number of regional shows in the Midwest, as well as the M-PACT show, which is geared toward the convenience store industry, the company’s primary target. The web portal requires a $200 minimum order, but displays only suggested retail, and retailers should call for wholesale pricing. Everything Valley Supply sells is 100 percent guaranteed.