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Targeted Product Sourcing Strategies for Online Sellers

Targeted Product Sourcing
Targeted Product Sourcing

A large amount of time is spent by most resellers sourcing items to add to their inventory. For many sellers, it may occupy 20 or 30 hours of their week, while others may spend even more time than that.

For many of the earlier years of my reselling business, I had to do the same as well. I spent the vast majority of my time randomly driving to garage sales, church sales, flea markets, thrift stores, antique stores, and auctions. The hope was to find enough good merchandise to pay for my time, and still be able to make a good profit from the items I found. Some days I did very well, while other days ended up being a complete waste of my time.

It is not just your time that you are losing, but also money for gas, and maybe money for lunch while you are out sourcing all day. It also puts wear and tear on your vehicle – not to mention the mental stress of the daily sourcing grind.

For those who may not live close to any good sourcing locations, you may need to drive a good distance, and that will increase the time needed to source. In some locations there may simply be no good places to source. I have lived and sourced in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, and Ohio, and each location had its own pros and cons.

In Ohio, my options for sourcing are limited. When I sold clothing, for example, I had a large amount of competition for the very limited amount of profitable clothing. I needed to be the very first one in the door for most sales to be worth my time. Even being the first one in the door was not always enough.

Many times I would be the first person in line for a garage sale or estate sale that advertised large amounts of profitable items. But once I got in to the sale, I would find out that someone showed up the night before and was able to purchases most of the best items.

Incidents like these are routine in my local area, which is why I mostly only do targeted sourcing these days. With targeted sourcing I am only going after very specific items from very specific sources. I am not out randomly driving around, but instead already know where I am going, and what I expect to get.

A good example of this is my constant search for bulk lots of vintage 45 and 78 RPM records. Sure, many garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores will have them, but many times they have been picked through numerous times prior to me seeing them. The quantity found at those locations is also usually very limited.

With targeted sourcing, I hunt down places that would have large lots of just records, such as a juke box supply company, a radio station, and local or college libraries. Sometimes a warehouse that was used by a record company or distributor 30 or 40 years ago may still have inventory locked away in the attic or a back room. It only takes someone like me to do the research to find and purchase those sorts of record lots.

Another great example are movie collectibles that we routinely find at closed down movie theaters and drive-ins. Most people would be surprised at how many collectibles can be found at these shuttered businesses. Most of our best purchases were found at these sorts of places.

Local businesses that are closing down can also be very lucrative. Restaurants, for an example, can have both collectibles mounted on the dining room walls and high-end expensive cooking equipment, at the same time. Foreclosure sales or auctions of these types of businesses can be great places to find bulk inventory.

Many times, you will not have much (if any) competition at these sorts of sales. I once went to a local shoe repair store foreclosure sale because I knew they had collectible tools and equipment mounted all over the walls of their showroom, and was able to purchase hundreds of collectibles from both the walls and the backroom. I was the only one who showed up for the collectibles, and most items I was able to purchase at the opening bid.

Targeted sourcing, though, may not be for everyone. If you do not like spending hours researching and cold calling people and businesses, this may not be a fit for you. Some of our best purchases have taken months, or even a year, to finalize.

I spent eleven months of routine phone calls and emails to acquire 500 pounds of antique uniform buttons from a warehouse owner. That was by far our best purchase last year, and will make us far more money than any other sourcing pick up.

I do spend far more time doing research, but I still spend far less time sourcing now than when I was out randomly driving around.

Not all targeted sourcing attempts will succeed, though, and some leads may be a waste of time, but, overall, I have been far more successfully sourcing with targeted sourcing.

Don Heiden on InstagramDon Heiden on Youtube
Don Heiden
Don Heiden
Don Heiden is a 30-year veteran of online reselling going back to the days of Yahoo Auctions. He runs The Auction Professor YouTube channel posting videos and content about various reselling platforms and topics, and he is a member of the eBay, Amazon, Hip, and other affiliate programs where he may earn a commission when linking to products on those sites. He can also be found on most social networks under the same name, including Instagram. He is also a published professional artist which includes works produced for The Walt Disney Company. He holds an Associate Degree in Database Design, Construction, and Network Administration. He also holds a Bachelor Degree and Master Degree of Research & Communications from The University of Toledo.