Last year I wrote about Jessica Larrew’s book Liquidation Goldand how it helped me make money in liquidation grocery stores. She had another book come out recently – Grocery Goldmine –about finding deals in regular grocery stores and I have to admit, I was skeptical. I had looked around grocery stores before and only found stuff when the store was being remodeled or otherwise having a huge sale. The idea of finding regular priced inventory that I could sell on Amazon.com just didn’t seem possible to me.
I’m happy to say that she and co-author Beth Maus were right. I’ve been buying stuff at my local Albertson’s, Krogers, Wal-mart and Target grocery stores and selling them on Amazon! Yee-haw! Sometimes they are sale priced, but what I’ve learned is that they often go on sale. For example, before Amazon Pantry (see my previous blog on this), I was selling Old Spice body washes of all kinds. I discovered that they are almost constantly on sale in one form or another. The best sale is the two for $7 sale, but I often could find the bottles for under $4 and resell for around $12 a bottle. The two for $7 sale seems to run every six weeks or so. Even though I lost a few to the pantry (and the multi-packs weren’t worth it), I’m still selling some of them regularly and it is so easy to pick them up when I’m in the store.
Some stores are better priced than other stores, naturally, and I’m gradually learning where to go for what foods. I was surprised at the selection and value pricing in Target’s grocery section (even though I shop the other departments all the time). I’ve shopped Sam’s Club, too, but with mixed results. I am not the only FBA Seller shopping Sam’s and so I have some inventory languishing up there waiting for the low-ballers to sell out. One of the things I learned from Grocery Goldmine was what to look for when scouting. In other words, I’m not going to scan all the 50,000+ items in a typical grocery store. As my son often says, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” The book helped me focus my search so I didn’t waste time.
Since I started in grocery stores, I’ve bought and sold body washes and loofas, cake mixes, soup mixes, bread mixes, corn bread mixes, spice mixes, coffee, cereal and those drink powders you put in your water bottles for flavoring. I’ve been pleased with nearly everything so far because they sell relatively fast. Most of my items are gone within the first month which is awesome.
The book is set up like a workbook and there is a lot of math in the examples so you can see margins and how the authors make decisions when standing at the aisle. Once they find an item that is a good seller, they can sell it again and again with no need to buy in huge quantities. This keeps inventory dollars freed up for more high-turning inventory.
I’m still learning and I had to make the Walk of Shame a couple of times as part of my learning curve. For example, even though they warned about it in the book, I didn’t read the fine print carefully enough on a deal. I discovered when I got home that I only got the sale price on the first four of dozens of cake mixes I bought at each store. It was excruciating to return around 60 cake mixes to the harassed young lady at customer service while the line behind me stretched and people fidgeted while trying (unsuccessfully) not to look annoyed as I delayed their ciggy and lottery ticket purchases. Lesson learned: 1) read the fine print and 2) pay attention to the register when you are checking out. I learned the hard way to not get distracted by children, trashy magazines or my own fatigue.
I also found a lot of Moon Pies for $1 a box that were selling great with no other FBA sellers or very few. When I got home it occurred to me that the coating on the Moon Pie, as well as the marshmallow filling are meltables. What was I thinking?!? I was thinking “cookie” more than coated. I’m not the only one who has made that mistake. Two FBA sellers are selling Banana Moon Pies right now. Amazon hasn’t pulled them, but it is very likely that deliveries to the South where it is already in the 90s will be a sticky mess. Marshmallows and chocolate both melt at body temperature. Lesson learned: think meltables before checking out. When I followed up the 60+ boxes of cake mixes with 30 Moon Pies of different flavors, the clerk called for back-up. It was more awful than I can adequately describe to hear her snap at the poor stock boy. Plus, I’ve been craving Moon Pies.
Jessica and Beth also cover things like buying with coupons, rain checks, price matching and more. So far, I’ve not tried any of these techniques as I’ve found plenty of stuff to buy right off the shelf. Once I get a steady group of regular items, I can see how they would save me money. The book also covers expiration dates (unlike liquidation groceries, most grocery items have plenty of time to sell) and how to decode the numbers on candy and other items to learn expiration dates when they are not obvious.
I appreciated learning how the ladies decide to create a bundle and/or add new items to the Amazon catalog. The discussion of multi-packs was also useful because it can be tricky to figure out at what point does a large multi-pack become too bulky and too heavy to sell. I find that scanning in grocery takes longer the first time since I often will look at multiple offers before deciding whether or not to buy something. If an item has a very low rank, the chances are high that Amazon is selling it for an unbeatable price. If I look at a hot item and Amazon is not selling it, my first thought is that Amazon is out rather than Amazon is not selling it. One clue will be the scarcity of other FBA sellers. In those cases, I’ll either pass on the item or I’ll look to see if it is worth selling as a multi-pack.
With the launch of the Amazon Pantry, I’m more cautious about selling solo items. New Orlean’s King Cake Kit? Yes. Those are unlikely to be added to the Pantry. Brand-name Body Wash? No. Look for a multi-pack or bundle.
Something else I hadn’t thought of before reading the book was the huge variety of seasonal items that sell very nicely in the off-season (like the King Cake Kit) and even limited edition foods/packaging that are store exclusives. While I often look for exclusives in Toys, I had never thought about it for food or beauty. This 3-pack below is a store exclusive.
Food and Health & Beauty overall are more work than other categories like Toys. Most items have to be poly-bagged with expiration dates and “this is a set” stickers. It can take a lot longer to scan during a scouting session and there is certainly more to think about like meltables, multi-packs, etc. However, I feel these disadvantages are off-set by the fact that these items are consumables and will continue to sell and sell. Because they can be found in most grocery stores, your supply is always available. Once you find a nice-selling item, you can sell it for a long time.
There are millions of items in these two categories – many of which have yet to be added to the Amazon catalog. The potential for continuous growth in this category is awesome.
Both of these ladies have successful full-time Amazon FBA businesses selling primarily food, health & beauty. Seeing how their minds work and how they approach their businesses was very helpful to me. I’m very excited about this category for my business and can see it becoming a larger part of my overall inventory.
If you are interested in learning more, you can buy Grocery Goldmine HERE or Liquidation Gold HERE. I make a commission if you buy through these links, but you will pay the same price if you go directly to her site at http://www.jessicalarrew.com. I occasionally take advantage of commissions as a way to help compensate me for the time I put into my blog, but I won’t recommend products/services that I’ve not checked out first.