Stockist: A retailer or distributor that stocks goods for sale.
The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2000), says stockist is “chiefly British,” and the OED concurs: all four of its citations are from British or Irish sources, the earliest from 1922. Recently, though, I’ve noticed that stockist has crept into American retail jargon, replacing the more familiar “store locator” or “where to buy.” A sampling:
Litter, a San Francisco-based wholesaler of “body jewelry.” All but three of Litter’s “stockists” are in the US.
The Hundreds, a Los Angeles-based seller of street wear and skate wear. Its “stockists” include stores in Norman, Oklahoma; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Murray, Utah.
RGB, “a product line dedicated solely to nail color and care.” The company is based in Los Angeles; its “stockists” are mostly in the US.
Mishka, a designer/manufacturer of T-shirts. It’s based in New York City and sells throughout the US (Gretna, Louisiana; Providence, Rhode Island; Chandler, Arizona) as well as in the UK, Europe, and Asia.
Remedy Quarterly, an independent food magazine published in Brooklyn. From the home page: “Want to see Remedy in person? Check out one of our amazing stockists, some of the best community bookstores around.” Those “stockists” are in Maryland, California, Illinois, “Massachusettes.” and other states.
Billykirk, a maker of bags, wallets, and belts for men. The company is based in New York; it does business internationally but most of its “stockists” are in the US.
In January, Ben Yagoda included stockist in his Not One-Off Britishisms blog (NOOB), which tracks British expressions “that have got popular in the U.S.” (“Have got” is itself a Britishism. Americans say “have gotten.”) He cited some examples (crediting me—thanks!), and commented:
I am now convinced that stockist is indeed happening in the U.S. However, it has not yet appeared in the mainstream media, only, apparently, in commercial communication. This puts it in the same category as bespoke: a phony, hype-y word that exists–and one hopes will stay–in the realm of advertising and promotion.
The protest comes too late, I suspect.
I can only speculate about the reasons for the mini-trend toward stockist. Is it an attempt to reach a global audience? Did stockist appear in a cult movie I’ve yet to see? Is the usage influenced by other trendy -ist and -ista words (socialist, completist, gallerist, recessionist, frugalista)? Is there a Hipster Retail Dictionary that I’m unaware of, with stockist on Page 1? Does each of these companies has a resident Brit on its staff who’s paid to contribute (CON-tribute, that Brit might say) across-the-pond lingo to lend a high-toned air to the proceedings? In other words, I didn’t get the original memo, but I’m seeing its effects.