The flip flop sandal is a ubiquitous and perennial footwear favorite all over the world. The countries of the Orient are the source of most US flip flop sandal imports today, followed by Brazil and Mexico. For the US importer of flip flops, particularly, the small businessman, the importation of wholesale sandals from China can be fraught with difficulties, particularly if the sandals are to be customized with your own designs or logos.

Here are the top three things to avoid when importing wholesale quantities of flip flop sandals from China:

  1. NEVER order directly from a Chinese flip flop sandal manufacturer via their website - the website is oft-times a total mis-representation of the actual factory and facilities. Photos of large, sparklingly modern, well equipped factories on a website may in actuality be ramshackle cottages on a hillside. Factories must be compliant with the stringent production requirements now required for US imports.
  2. NEVER try to negotiate or place an order directly with the sandal factory - use an intermediary who speaks Chinese and has associates on the ground in China to navigate you through the intricacies of sample ordering, fine-tuning and production, and quality control and shipping. Of course, pay at least one visit yourself, or employ someone to be your representative.
  3. NEVER underestimate the value of an experienced customs broker in guiding you from the early stages of the production and import process, so as to avoid problems with clearing your shipment upon arrival in the US. Your broker will advise you on the labeling, packaging and packing of your container to avoid undue difficulties with the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency.

Large importers of cheap, generically designed flip flops such as some department store and value shopping chains have the advantage of huge volume discounts, years of experience in navigating the China trade and the manpower to smooth the process of importation of wholesale flip flops []. The small business owner attempting to obtain a customized sandal product must beware, and be prepared before attempting to navigate the sometimes treacherous minefield of US-China imports.

Anne Marie Cumberland of new Caribbean flip flop sandal company, JAMFLIPS, designs fun, comfy flip flops with indigenous island motifs.

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