Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Your Route?

"What's your route?" is  a question I get a lot. While it's easy enough to answer, the problem is my answer doesn't apply to anyone but me. Every area is different, every store is different, every person is different, that makes answering this question with any value almost impossible. I will do my best to give you my thought process as I built my route.

I started by going to every store I could find within an acceptable driving area. I live about 40 miles from Savannah, Ga, so for me what I determined as acceptable was one hour's drive time. I hit all the grocery stores, drug stores, retail stores, discount stores (TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Big Lots) that I could find. I finally settled on the few that seemed to have a decent turnover of the kind of items I felt comfortable with that I thought best allowed me to utilize my time.

The next step was to group those stores together by location. After all, when it takes up to an hour to get to a store to start sourcing you want to go to as many stores in that area as possible. I have 3 main routes that I hit weekly or every two weeks. There's the Target Route, usually I do Target on Tuesday or Thursday because of their markdown schedule. Then I have my TJ Maxx Route, usually on Wednesday, and finally my Local Route on Friday. Depending on what I find where I don't actually hit every store every time I go.

Here are the stores included in each route:

Target Route: Target, Dollar Tree, Staples, Big Lots, Sam's Club, Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Walmart. Yes, I realize I listed 2 Targets and 2 Walmarts, it's all based on location. If I don't get to every store (which I normally don't) I will hit the stores I missed during my TJ Maxx Route.

TJ Maxx Route: TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, Homegoods, Big Lots, Walmart, Dollar Tree, Dollar Tree.

Local Route: Walmart, Big Lots, Bealls Outlet. This is my short Friday Route. Bealls has 15% off your  entire purchase on Fridays, so that's always a good day to make a quick stop.

This is what works for me, adjust your route to fit your area. In reality I end up hitting most of these stores about every two weeks because there's not enough time to hit them all every week. Some I only go to once a month. I also occasionally look at Publix grocery store and Kroger grocery store. CVS and Walgreens I source when funds are low and I am couponing. That usually happens on the weekend between my disbursement and when the funds actually lands in my account.

You will notice Garage Sales and Thrift Stores are not in my route. I have had very limited success with both of these, so I have decided to no longer go to these places and I instead use that time to work on other parts of my business. That doesn't mean they are not great options for you.

As always, I hope this information helps. Thank you for reading my post. Please comment below with any feedback or questions you may have.

~Duane Malek

5 comments:

  1. Duane, Great work. This is amazing and very helpful. It is a great motivator to get mine figured out. Thank you

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    1. Thank you, Sydney! I truly hope this helps. :)

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  2. Duane,

    You and I are doing similar things, but I have found I never have the time to hit everywhere I set out to hit, and with working a regular job and two teenagers, time is one of my issues. I always worry that I'm not going to have a good sourcing week, but so far every time I start thinking about it, I'll find some stuff that will save the day. Have you ever had a bad sourcing week, or is the amount of places you source, enough to keep you rolling in inventory? I see some on the FBA Facebbok board talk about wholesalers and although I have done that, the dollar value of return, dosen't for me equal the initial capital outlays, so I have stepped back from that for now, although a regular, reliable source of products is a comforting thought. Is that something you explored yet, or is your regular sourcing trips keeping you enough inventory?

    Robert

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    1. Robert,

      I have definitely had bad weeks sourcing. Luckily I have not had any bad months. I usually am able to find enough products through retail arbitrage that I can produce 5k-7k in sales per month. I don't currently have any wholesale items. I have looked at many, but I haven't found anything with decent margins, yet. I do use some other techniques to find products that I can easily replenish so I am not completely reliant on the clearance aisles at retail stores. I those items as my base and the retail arbitrage becomes the "gravy".

      ~Duane

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  3. Duane,

    Thanks for giving us the grand tour behind the curtains of your business. I have realized the same with garage sales and thrift in my area so my focus is now turning towards retail sourcing. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and look forward to perusing the rest of the site this weekend. Cheers,

    Gil

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