A rack jobber (also known as a rack merchandiser) is a company or trader that has an agreement with a retailer to display and sell products in a store. The outlets for the products would be ones that traditionally don't stock such products such as gas stations, grocery stores and others not traditionally associated with the products sold. Often the products are of a budget variety.
Etymology of the phrase
Rack Jobbing began in the 1930s with the Music Dealers Service with their music sheet racks which they operated. The rack jobber retained ownership of the products, reducing the potential loss incurred by the retailer from lack of product sales. The proceeds of the sale from the product are then divided/shared by the rack jobber and retailer. Historically, possibly, one of the main products that have been supplied to stores in this fashion are record LPs. Other items rack jobbers have supplied include beauty aids, greeting cards, hardware, paperback books and toys. The display, maintenance and stock rotation of the merchandise are the responsibility of the rack jobber who must periodically come into the store.
The first LP rack jobber in the U.S. was Elliott Wexler (1913–1966) who started Music Merchants in Philadelphia in 1952.
One record label whose catalogue was sold via rack jobbers was Sutton, founded by Bob Blythe, the former president of Tops Records. The label launched in 1963 with 225 records in its catalog, which was sourced from labels that included Music Craft, Omega and Tiara. Another record label that found its way into the racks was Crown Records, a budget label owned by the Bihari brothers. In the 1960s, one third of record sales were from records sold via rack jobbers. Eventually the rack jobbers moved into more traditional department stores by making arrangements with the retailer in various ways. One of them was asking the retailer to allow a certain amount of sell-space and the rack jobber deciding what goes in the space. Also there could be a verbal guarantee that all of the products would be sold and if not, the next time around, the rack jobber would bring back merchandise that would.
- "The Role of the Rack Jobber," by James J. Sheeran, Journal of Marketing Vol. 25, No. 5, July 1961, pp. 15-21; ISSN 0022-2429, OCLC 5791363994
- Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, (Vol. 1), "Rack Jobber," by Dave Laing (born 1947), Continuum (2003), pg. 562; OCLC 276305981
- "Rack Jobber," Cambridge Dictionaries Online
- "Rack Jobber," TheFreeDictionary.com
- Distribution: Planning and Control, by David Frederick Ross (born 1948), Chapter 2: "The Distribution Management Environment: Defining the Logistics and Distribution Environment," Kluwer Academic Publishers (2003), pg. 46; OCLC 851248881
- Solid Gold: The Popular Record Industry (4th printing), by R. Serge Denisoff (né Ronald Serge Denisoff; 1939–1994), "The Cop Out" (chapter), Transaction Publishers (1995), pg. 191; OCLC 917115787
- "Bob Blythe Starts New Name Talent Low-Budget LP Line," Billboard, March 2, 1963, pg. 6
- "Yorke Completing Staff Before Moving," Billboard, November 28, 1964, pg. 3
- "Budget Record Makers Bullish, Expanding Market" by Bob Rolontz (né Robert Rolontz; 1920–2000), Billboard, August 24, 1963, pps. 16 & 18
- "Jobber Tells All: How To Rack Up Super Disk Sales," by Ralph Freas, Billboard, April 28, 1958, pg. 16