It's been a great 8 years for us. We are deeply grateful to all our loyal customers worldwide who supported us in our pioneering efforts to sell Bear Family products online. We couldn't have done it without you!
Unfortunately we are at the end of the road with Bear Family because their intransigent attitude has left us no choice but to stop selling their products. We returned all our remaining inventory to them and no longer have any Bear Family items in stock although we may occasionally offer a selected boxset or two. As a possible alternative supplier, we recommend Caiman.com - probably the best of the remaining online sellers.
We were simply no longer willing or able to compete with other online retailers to whom Bear Family sells for 10% less - margins in this business are small and 10% easily means the difference between profit and loss.
Please check back soon as we revamp the website and replace Bear Family with other great music, such as the Repertoire and Ace labels. Until the relaunch, check out our items on eBay.
The long version for this step::
We are the proverbial Mom-n-Pop business - no employees, just the two of us, and occasionally one of our children or a neighbor when business is really heavy, mostly during the Christmas season. We started selling Bear Family's international products online in 1999, first on eBay, then on this website, on Amazon etc. We started out ordering maybe 20 to 50 CDs every 3 or 4 months, only to ramp up to 1,000 or 2,000 CDs every week or two. At one point we accounted for over 20% of Bear Family's US shipments of some items (e.g. the Johnnie & Jack boxset). We literally sold well over a ton each of the Bob Wills and Carter Family boxsets. We actually kept everything in stock so when we received an order we were able to ship right away instead of trying to find the item somewhere, somehow and shipping days or weeks later, as our competitors are doing even now.
All along we were told repeatedly by lower-level employees as well as by Richard Weize and Hermann Knuelle, the founders and heads of Bear Family, that Bear Family charged all dealers the same prices ("alle bekommen die gleichen Preise" = everybody gets the same prices). We kept hearing the "Same Price, Same Price" mantra over and over when we occasionally inquired about a better price due to our vastly increased volume. We had no reason to doubt those statements as our competitors' listed prices were mostly consistent with these claims. In fact, for the first 4 years we barely had any competitors at all as we were probably the first ones seriously selling Bear Family products online.
Then, in September 2006, we received a letter informing us that Bear Family was raising prices for all customers by 10% effective Dec 2006. Although it seemed to us a very bad time for a price increase as the Euro/US exchange rate was already dropping rapidly, and we had already had to raise prices for that reason, we initially accepted their stated reasons of higher materials costs and licensing fees. Imagine our surprise 3 months later when we found out that Bear Family had lied to us and that these costs and fees apparently only increased for US retailers like us while wholesalers and European retailers, even Bear Family itself, magically escaped those higher costs and fees and were able to hold on to their old prices.
We don't make any effort to compete with European retailers and also have no problem with wholesalers enjoying lower prices as long as they are wholesalers only. Unfortunately, the two largest Bear Family wholesalers in the US - Super D and Infinity - now are also the three largest Bear Family online retailers apart from Amazon: Super D runs Import CDs, and Infinity owns both Deep Discount CDs and Collectors Choice. Their performance and customer service, as evidenced by their Amazon Marketplace feedback, is quite poor. 92% positive may sound good at first glance but that really means that 1 in 12 buyers was unhappy enough to actually post negative or neutral feedback - would you want to be that 1 in 12? However, the 10% price disadvantage imposed by Bear Family is insurmountable and puts us in a breakeven situation at best. We have soldiered on for over a year anyway but it just doesn't make sense anymore. We regret having to take this step as we continue to believe in Bear Family's excellent products and we believe that Bear Family itself will have much cause to regret their pricing policies in the near future, but it seems to be time for us to move on to other opportunities.
Comments can be directed to Bear Family at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.