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There are several ways to find sources for most products right in your neighbourhood. One of the most simple and most overlooked is the Dick Tracy method.

The Dick Tracy method involves you becoming a sleuth. You put on some comfortable clothes and start by visiting one or more stores that offer the type of goods you are interested in handling. You can prepare yourself by having something to use for taking notes and also your phone or MP3 player with a camera.

Act as if you are comparison shopping and find products you are interested in. Then look at the packages they come in and make note or photograph the names of the suppliers. Some may have foreign addresses, but many will list distributors within your country.
Sourcing agent China
You are on your way, you now have a working list of companies to contact. Of course, some of these companies many not care to deal with a start-up or someone who cannot give them a decent amount of sales from the start. So, you may have to move on to the second phase of the Dick Tracy method, the “stakeout:.

Again, be comfortable. Have a few snacks and your 12 volt tea kettle and settle in with your car in the parking lot of some of those same stores. Many shops get deliveries a number of times through the day. Some come by couriers, but many come by supplier owned trucks, with the company name and address on the side.

These are the trucks you are looking for. As above, note or photograph them for future contact. Many shops are supplied on a scheduled basis, for instance, a pet food company may only stop once a week at each pet shop. So, it’s important to not just sit for several hours and think you have done your duty. Would Dick Tracy give up so easily?

As for the items delivered by courier, you can also do a bit of investigation there. Often the driver will leave them near the counter of the shop, or just inside the door. With a quick trip inside, you may be able to read some labels or names on the sides of the shipping cartons. Remember, we are detecting here.
China sourcing tips
This is not Sherlock Holmes mind games, this is down and dirty sleuthing going on.

You may have to stretch yourself a bit to get into the role, but your future may depend on how well you complete the process. Done properly, you may even trip over the stack of boxes just delivered and then offer to right them as you apologize for your clumsiness.

Another investigative technique is the Bursting Bladder method. Many retailers do not have public restrooms, simply one on the farthest reaches of the store in one of the back corners. Again, putting modesty aside for the greater good, act as if you are ready to leave a puddle on the floor where you stand and beg a clerk to allow you to use their restroom.

Naturally, in your current state of distress, you may have misunderstood the directions to the restroom and are now stumbling up and down the aisle in the stockroom. And just by chance, you might also be taking note of suppliers that you can contact. Naturally, you will want to visit the restroom and at least flush in order to carry through on your little deception.

Be sure and return to the front by an alternate route, if possible. You are scouting out your future competition, so be as thorough as possible.
How to sourcing
One further thing to keep your eye out for when in the shops is any trade publications. Again using the pet store these might be Modern Pet Store, Pet Retailers Monthly, Pet Accessories Digest, things of that nature. If you should happen to see some out in the open, pick one up and begin to scan.

Many of these publications have what are called “Bingo Cards” inside. These usually are there for 2 purposes. One is to offer new readers their own free  subscription and the other is to allow readers to enter or circle code numbers included in the advertisements within the magazine that will result in “further  Information” being sent by postal mail.

Snagging some of these cards and subscribing to the publications and entering some numbers for further information will establish you as a merchant and get your name on mailing lists and often invitations to trade shows. These can be of great value, so don’t pass up the chance to snag and use them.

You can make up a business name if they demand one and use your home address. Many salespeople have a copy sent to their homes.

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