Looking back at my 9 years of selling online, I want to share my worst sourcing mistake. While this mistake didn’t cost me money, it cost me the potential of making money. You see, there was a product called blister stick, which I believe was by Band-Aid. It could be used to keep from getting blisters from shoes. Later, I found out it was widely used by large women to rub on their thighs to reduce friction. This product was discontinued and was selling for about $35 on eBay. You could sell it on Amazon too.
I found at a local flea market, and the lady there was buying skids of liquidation and putting them on the shelves. I kept finding these packs of blister sticks, but generally, they were pretty beat up because they were shelf pulls and weren’t in the condition that I could sell them on Amazon. But I could easily sell them on eBay, and every time I listed them, they would sell very quickly. I would go to the store and find four or five, and then the next time I went, I’d find more. I kept doing that for quite a while.
Then one day, I asked the lady if she had more. As a background, I sort of knew who she was because she was the wife of a physical therapist my wife had gone to after her stroke. She told me she had probably over a thousand of those in the back. This is where I made my mistake. I was very excited and told her I would buy them all. I was very excited about buying them and she hemmed and hawed about it, telling me she didn’t have time that day to go find them and to come back the next week.
I showed up before the next week and asked her if she had found them, and she got rather upset with me. I showed up on the day she told me to do it, and she gave me the story that she hadn’t had time to go find them. What I actually think happened was that I clued her into the fact that they were worth a lot of money by being so excited about buying them. I don’t believe that she had a thousand back there. That would be a lot of product. She probably did have a lot back there, but I don’t know how much.
I think that she looked them up and found out how valuable they were and decided not to put them out on the shelf and sell them herself. To this day, I still go there and look to see if some show up on the shelf in the rare chance that she was telling the truth and just never found them and put them out there. But I believe she sold them herself on eBay.
My failure was that I should have just kept buying four or five at a time. I got greedy and approached her about it. I should have just kept buying them like I was doing and possibly caused myself maybe $20,000. The moral of this story is sometimes don’t show your hand when you’re sourcing. You might want to leave some on the shelf. You might just want to buy at random times. You might want to figure out a different strategy on how to get the product without drawing a lot of attention because every time you feel like carting up a product, you’re going to draw attention to other customers, the owners, or the staff. If they know about online selling, they may just take and look it up themselves and keep you from buying them and profit themselves from it.