If you sell variations of the same item, such as a shirt that comes in different sizes and colors, master stock items will make your inventory easier to manage.

Master stock items work in conjunction with substock items, with the master item functioning like a heading for the sub items. The master stock item is never bought or sold, and you won’t see a quantity on hand for it. But it links together the substock items, which are all variations of the master stock item. The substock items function like stock items, in that they track cost, quantity on hand, etc. And those are the items that you will buy and sell.

When an item comes in several variations, master stock items control the variations that are offered (called attributes), they simplify the process of creating substock items with each of the possible attribute combinations, and they make your item list more manageable during data entry.

To create a new master stock item, go to Maintain > Inventory Items. Enter a new Item ID. This ID will be used in the ID for each variation of the master stock item. Next enter a description. For the Item Class choose Master Stock Item. Everything on the General tab is handled just like it would be for a stock item. But unlike a stock item, the Item Attributes Tab is accessible.

On the Item Attributes tab you’ll see a section to define the primary attribute and another for the secondary attribute. That means you can have two different characteristics that can vary on each item. For this example we’ll use size and color as the two attributes.

In the Primary Attributes section, enter Size for the name. Then enter SM for the ID and Small for the Description. Click the Add button or press the Enter key twice to add that attribute to the list. Repeat that process each size you offer. Next enter Color as the name of the secondary attribute, then enter an ID and description for each color. IDs can be up to 4 characters.

Below the attribute lists you will see that Sage 50 automatically builds a list of substock items for each combination of the two attributes. The ID for each substock item consists of the ID for the master item and the IDs for that item’s two attributes, separated by dashes. For example WIDGET-SM-WH and WIDGET-SM-GR.

Click the Save button at the top of the window to save your new master and substock items. You have just created items for all combinations of size and color, or whatever attributes you chose. If some of those combinations are not used, you can check the Inactive box next to those items in the list of substock items. You can come back at any time and add to your list of attributes, such as adding new colors. However if you initially only used a primary attribute, you can’t add a secondary attribute once any of the sub items have been used in a transaction.

Not only do master stock items make it easier to set up new items, they also make data entry easier by reducing clutter in the item look-up. When you are entering a transaction such as a sales invoice or purchase order, and you open the drop down list for item ID, the substock items don’t immediately appear in the list. The master stock item will appear in the list with a folder icon next to it. When you click it, or type the ID of a substock item, the folder will open and you’ll see folders for each of the primary attributes. Click to open one of those folders and you’ll find the items with that attribute, for example, all colors offered in that size. This keeps the look-ups shorter so they are faster and easier to search.