Scanning and Texting. Texting and Scanning.

I was at a local bookstore this past weekend, scouting books with my BlueTooth scanner, and my wife sent me a text to remind me of the incoming rain storms. I went to text her back to let her know I’d be heading back soon, and I couldn’t get the virtual keyboard to come up on my phone. I quickly realized the HID setting on my scanner was replacing the keyboard input so the software deemed the virtual keyboard completely unnecessary.

What I didn’t know at the time was that one can flip back and forth between HID input and virtual keyboard input by double clicking on the scan button. Of course, that wouldn’t be as fun as trying to figure out how to otherwise respond to my wife’s text.

Usually, if I was busy, I’d just reply with a thumbs up emoticon. Since that emoticon weren’t available, I had to improvise.

My Homemade Thumbs Up Emoticon

So, I took a couple moments to take a thumb selfie, and was able to get back to scanning.

I managed to pull almost a dozen books which may not sound like much, however, they were pretty nice books. Some books, such as certain text books, medical manuals, science, and engineering and math references, can sometimes be found, used, quite inexpensively and provide a good profit margin. Finding books like this would usually be preferable to trying to get the same return with a bunch of “less valuable” books that take more space and shipping costs, eating up the profit margin. Of course, I take them all. The “lesser” books will also sell quicker, generally, and earn their way into the box.

So, remember, if you ever find your self scanning with an Eyoyo 1D scanner and your significant other sends you a text, you can simply double click on the scan button to toggle between the scanner input and the virtual keyboard. Other than that, you can always make your own custom emoticon with the camera on your phone and make them wonder about you.

Keep the momentum! Happy booking!

I got yelled at…twice.

Yes, I knew running around in public with a Bluetooth scanner scanning used retail books would eventually get me in trouble, but it just happens when you least expect it, and by the most unusual suspects.

Alright. The first time was last week. I was going to a library sale, not the regular sale, but the preview. Ya know, the early sale that people pay an extra five or ten bucks to attend by purchasing their annual “Friends of the Library” membership in order to have first dibs at the most profitable books.

I arrived early, in typical early-bird-get-the-worm mentality, and ready to go. In fact, I showed up way early. The sale was supposed to start at two in the afternoon and the organizers and volunteers were madly rushing to set up tables. I asked if I could go ahead and pay someone for my membership (my entry ticket) so I could start scanning as soon as the starter gun went off. The lady behind the counter told me not to worry, I had plenty of time. The sale didn’t start until three. I was like “Cool! No problem. I thought it started at two but I’ll just hand around and browse and wait.”

Well, now she was curious as to how I possibly could have thought it was starting at two. When she asked, I simply took out my phone and showed her the online ad….”Preview Sale: 2:00 to 5:00” Well, that was simply the wrong thing to do. I could see the veins in her neck swell momentarily before the blood reversed and drained her face white, and she responded through gritted teeth. “I submitted that ad myself!”…as if that were the final say in the matter and nothing po…O.K., yeah. That WAS the final say in the matter. I said “thank you” and went to wait in my car.

Then, a week later…this evening, in fact, I was scanning in the back of my local Goodwill store and after about half an hour, this guy comes in and starts scanning with his phone. He looked over and saw me with my Bluetooth scanner setup and, again, the veins in the neck thing. He was visibly upset.

“So now YOU’RE here.” He said, as if we had met before. “I’ve been coming here and scanning for fifteen years and now everyone with a cell phone is in here!”

I hadn’t realized that Amazon had a reseller program fifteen years ago, but, even so, time passes and things evolve. Things that make money tend to become popular and, eventually saturated. We live in the DFW metroplex and there are about eight million people here. I imagine a few of them hit up this particular Goodwill store from time to time.

I said “Nice ya meet ya!” And, I have to admit, I momentarily considered going to wait in the car again, but I immediately thought better of it. I figured, I was here first, it’s a public space, and I’m not doing anything wrong. He had obviously intended to intimidate me but I DID get a chuckle out of it…and kept scanning.

He left in a huff and, figuring the store had already been recently scanned by someone who came before me, I decided to go ahead and check out as well. The girls at the register were talking about the angry guy who just stormed out and wondering what happened.

“I’ve never seen him get angry like that!” One of them said. I laughed and said “Are you talking about that guy that just stormed out?”

They looked at me as if I may have some juicy dirt to share, so I shared. “Do you know what he does? He scans books to sell on Amazon.”

I held up my scanner for them to see. “And so do I. Apparently, he’s been coming here for fifteen years and I just started scanning last month. I am infringing on his territory.” The cashiers and everyone in line all had a good laugh. I suppose they were relieved that he wasn’t some kind of psycho with some other issue, not to say that he wasn’t.

Anyway, it initiated a quick discussion about how the scanner worked and the software I used and how the books were transferred to Amazon. It was very educational for them and the discussion helped by means of introducing my self and making me a familiar face they can be comfortable with when they see me walking around scanning, instead of some angry guy, sulking around thinking he owns the place.

So, we all had a good laugh, I got a few books, and I went home to fix some fresh coffee and relax. Some times you have to put aside the hustle and just get out of the way. Not often, but tonight, it seemed warranted. LOL

I’m Jumpin’ In

I haven’t posted in a few days but I haven’t been resting on my laurels. I’ve been busy researching all the retail arbitrage videos on YouTube and listening to Gary Vaynerchuk (which keeps me both hyped up and in touch with reality at the same time, which is very unique) and preparing to jump in to selling on Amazon.

A Bluetooth scanner is on the way and I am now able to scan with my phone in the mean time. I was going to wait until the scanner came in before I went out and tried finding stuff to sell, but I decided to go ahead and get familiar with the software and the process so I would be ready to go when the scanner got here. That turned out to be a really good idea.

Hittin’ the Road

First, I mapped out a couple nearby places and headed out. One of my immediate concerns was what it was going to be like walking into a place and scanning and how people would react. Both locations had people who didn’t appear to mind at all. So, I’m thrilled with that. I was experiencing a bit of paranoia about someone walking over to me with an angry glare and asking what I thought I was doing and telling me to leave before they called the police. It never happened. Good deal.

Next, I managed to scan a few bags of books. Score! I came home to load them all into my seller account and get them mailed off to Amazon, but my seller account is apparently still going through some clearing process. I created a trouble ticket and sent it off to the fine folks at Amazon to see what I may have done wrong in my endeavors to load my books, and then I headed on to the next thing on my list.

My List

  • Shipping Boxes
  • Shipping Tape
  • Printer Labels (various sizes)
  • Goo-Be-Gone (for removing stubborn labels)
  • Plastic Scraper (for removing stubborn labels)
  • Dog treats (morale boosters for the store mascots)

Ok. ‘Got all those ordered.

Now, I’m getting ready to drag a folding table out of my garage and set it up in the spare room at the end of the house. (It’s really my aquarium room, but now it’s my book processing room with a huge aquarium against one wall.) I have good lighting in there and I will be setting up the room to get my books from car to computer (for scanning) to printer (for labeling) to boxes (for shipping) and out the door to my car to drop off at UPS. Get a system in place and USE it!

If you can’t tell, I’m a little excited.

I hope you are planning on pursuing your dreams or at least thinking about it and letting it stew in your subconscious. It is important that you make some effort to achieve YOUR goals every day. Do what’s important to you. Trial and error. More trial than error will eventually lead to success.

Shoot for the moon.

Keep the momentum.

Humble Beginnings

If you’re familiar with Gary Vee (Gary Vaynerchuk, Head of VaynerMedia), then you have probably seen one of his numerous social media productions called Trash Talk. It’s a series of videos about Gary running around town on a Saturday morning and checking out garage sales. Now, if you know anything about Gary, you know he’s one of those people you could drop off at any street corner in any city with empty pockets and he would end up owning a business by the end of the month and making a comfortable living. He just does it. It’s in his nature. So, he hits up these garage sales and he knows what to look for.

He has an eye for rough market value and trendy items and, more importantly, he does his research. On one trip, he found a collection of Olympic pins. The seller wanted a dollar each. Gary offered him twenty bucks for the set. The seller took it. When Gary went back to his car, he had over two hundred and forty pins and he ended up selling them, individually or in small sets, for a total of several hundred dollars. He bought a box of matchbox cars the same day for forty bucks, researched them online, and sold them individually or in small sets for a total of over a thousand dollars.

A Few Items which Tend to Do Well

  • expensive text books
  • name brand sneakers, NIB (new in box)
  • certain collectible toys and plush dolls, in great shape, better with original tags
  • name brand watches, NIB

These are examples of some of the mark down items you may want to seek out for resale. The idea is simple. You are taking marked down items from a local market and placing them on a global market for a higher price, where there is a much larger audience and more of a likelihood that someone will pay your price for it.

Now, Gary Vee doesn’t need to be doing this for income. He has already built quite the empire and substantial wealth. He does Trash Talk for the same reason he does all his social media. He is always trying to help people understand that building a business can be done from scratch if you just get up and do it, if you just do the research and dig in and make it happen. And his basic tenants are that you build a brand and everything else is built around it. Build a good brand, reputable, reliable, honest and understand that you work for your employees, not the other way around. You are there to give your employees everything they need to their job and they will take care of your business for you. It sounds fresh and simple, but if you live it like Gary lives it, you can really see the results. I mean, check out Gary Vaynerchuk. You’ll see what I mean.

So, What’s the Point?

Having said all this, I come to say: It appears a certain portion of Gary’s followers have followed Gary’s Trash Talk idea and extended it to their own purposes in their own territories. You should see the number of YouTube videos there are out there of people with Bluetooth bar code scanners connected to their phone out there scanning merchandise in any kind of store from GoodWill to Ross’ (Dress for Less) and Target, Belk’s and J.C. Penny. They wander through the aisles with bar code scanner and bar code scanning rings, hooked wirelessly to their phones, and checking the results in anhy of a number of apps designed to let them know what that items is currently selling for on Amazon. Closeout on on Nike’s in Wal-Mart? A quick scan will let you know whether to go grab a shopping cart and fill it with boxes and head to the check out. And, yes, they do it with books.

There are folks who do their own fulfillment and others who pay Amazon for fulfillment and ship all their product off to them. Be careful if you pay a third-party like Amazon or anyone else to do fulfillment. If your product doesn’t sell fast enough, you are left with storage fees which could eat any potential profits.

Be Aware…

That amazing array of unique coffee mugs you acquired from years of estate and garage sale hunting? You may have some winners in there but don’t let that inventory sit if it doesn’t sell. It will cost you. Make wise choices. Do your research. Know that what is selling right now may be a dead item six or even three months from now. Expensive text books tend to be profitable. Trade paperbacks are typically not.

At any rate, I mention it here just to let you know: It is one more of the myriad of means by which people make ends meet. It can be fun. It can be risky. It can be quite profitable. And it can break you bank if you don’t pay attention. So, it’s basically just like any other entrepreneurial experience.

Have a great weekend and, as always, keep the momentum.

#keepthemomentum

Finding Books for Retail

It’s been about eight months since Baker & Taylor announced they would no longer be providing wholesale distribution of books to retailers. Ingram Books is the only remaining major wholesale book distributor. Yesterday, I received an email inviting me to The Bookshop. I haven’t thoroughly checked it out, but it’s apparently a new wholesale book distributor, opening on January 28th, with a prerequisite of having a membership with the American Book Association. (Edit: It turns out The Bookshop is in conjunction with Ingram books and the A.B.A. membership is optional, but membership gives the bookstore 25% of the sales it makes versus 10% without it.)

That required A.B.A. membership will set one back two or three hundred dollars (dependent upon the level of membership) so, no small consideration for the average small business bookstore, however, membership has its privileges. There are many benefits to a retail bookstore for having a membership with A.B.A. including discounts for insurance and other things a store would typically use. Having said that, one could also use Ingram books as a distributor with no such membership requirement. Depending on the type of bookstore one has, they could even go directly to publishers. Many specialty stores do exactly that.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I initially thought there may have been another competitor in the running, something to keep Ingram Books from being the only major distributor out there. As it turns out, it’s another Ingram option for booksellers just getting started or already established and looking for alternative venues for book selling.

All very interesting! I will post an update when I find more information on the launch and how everything goes. In the mean time, there are always new ways to get into the booksellers field and less of an excuse for anyone pondering it. Always do your research, find out what’s best for you and get started on your journey. Keep the momentum!

Hustler vs. Hassler

Marketing and branding and advertising are all hard to get right and we don’t get them right when we first start out. It’s practically impossible because determining whether we get it “right” depends on feedback and results from our earlier efforts. Hell. Quite a few of us can’t even define a distinction between marketing, branding, and advertising. (There is a difference.)

But what’s on my mind at the moment is a equally important distinction: The difference between the Hustler and the Hassler.

First, what’s a hustler? There are plenty of perceptions of a hustler. It’s someone who gets up early and works hard, works late, and makes thing happen through sheer effort and motivation. Alternately, it’s someone who shirks “real” work to try to con other decent, hard working people out of their own hard-earned money through questionable and downright despicable methods. Which one of these is correct?

I don’t know that either of these descriptions is correct but I know their is enough of a disparity in the conception and use of the term “hustler” to make it inaccurate and unusable in most discussions. I once, years ago, described someone I met as a hustler because they were working hard and getting bills paid. I meant it as a compliment. They were slightly offended and let me know right away they were legitimate and a completely upright business. That little discussion was an example of the different perceptions of the term “hustler”.

So, while I used to think of a hustler as someone in a positive light, I now keep it open-ended when I hear the term in a conversation, until I know more about the speaker’s interpretation of the word. Honesty, there’s no telling where a comment is going until they clarify it with some form of compliment or disparaging word about their subject. The English language is funny like that in a lot of situations. Something can be “cool” and “hot” at the same time. Something that is amazing is “sick”. You know…the slang that makes people like me sound like an old man when we talk about it.

So, while I keep hustlers and hustling open-ended, I will say there is a third category with a more distinct meaning to everyone. A hassler is someone who tries to be a hustler but is just spinning their wheels and annoying people. Hasslers like to talk a lot and may believe they are making a difference to their prospective client and their bottom line, but has no actual idea of any real effect of their efforts.

A hustler, whether they be upright or scandalous, still manages to get things done. A hassler is simply turning a crank handle which isn’t attached to anything. They make a lot of noise, which people try to block out.

I say all that to say this: is your marketing targeted? Are you reaching those targeted people with a specific message? Are you running at least two or more campaigns to see which one works better…and then ditching the low one and replacing it with a third one to compare to the winner…and then repeating the process…continually?

You want to know your message is effective. You need feedback. Feedback, by the way, is NOT your friends or your mom telling you you’re doing great. You need actual analytics to act upon with your marketing and advertising. These are easily obtainable, and often free, depending on the form of online advertising you’re doing.

Make sure your message is reaching your intended audience. Make sure your message is clear and precise and specific. Get your clients interested by association and by relating to them. Make it local. Get feedback. Build on your positives. Cut back the negatives.

Be a hustler, not a hassler.

Keep the momentum.

Considering Arbitrage (Fancy Word for Selling Used Stuff)

So, the new year is just about 4% over and what have you done so far?

I’ve spent a good bit of my Sunday afternoon looking into the intricacies and pros and cons of being an Amazon Pro seller. Of course, I have been doing all of my research on the second largest search engine in the world: YouTube.

Oh, so many options!

Now, I am NOT going to make this a post where I try to teach you how to get started in Amazon reselling or how to create a Pro seller account, or anything of the sort. There are plenty of good YouTube videos for that. I’m just letting you in on a little bit of my personal thought process.

So, if I understand correctly, there are

  • monthly seller fees (~$40 per month)
  • additional per-item selling fees (a few bucks, depending on the item)
  • optional third-party app fees (~$40 per month)
  • the cost of a hand-held BlueTooth scanner (optional, about $50)
  • packaging and shipping costs
  • and, of course, the wholesale cost of the product)

Again, the third-party app fees are optional but they apparently can make short work of the otherwise pressing decision as to whether an item is a worthwhile economic investment. It checks Amazon to see how many of that item are for sale and what the prices are and does some additional calculations to consider fees and shipping so it even calculates whether it would be profitable for you to invest in the product.

I just don’t know…

I believe, if I wasn’t already working a full-time job and had time to commit to going out every day and searching for product, well…I’m still not sure it would be sustainable for me even then. LOL I suppose it would depend on the items I found to sell.

Again, I am not experienced in this process and I’m not trying to convince anyone out there into trying it, or into shunning it. I am just not convinced it would be the right solution for me. Apparently, there are people making good money at it, and I commend them for their effort. At the moment, I am going to sustain a wait-and-see attitude towards this.

One more third-party app…

There are even further third-party apps which will re-price all of your existing merchandise several times a day depending on what other sellers are selling and the prices they charge, all in an effort to be constantly competitive. When you consider there are other sellers out there using the same services to automatically re-price their inventory, I imagine it’s kind of like vetting the A.I. against itself in a huge war game for a race to the bottom, price-wise, kept reasonable only by the sellers who refrain from using the third-party apps and manually price their products. If it weren’t for that, pricing may get quite scary for sellers.

Aaaand, we’ll see…

I would love to be competitive on Amazon. With all the stories of under-priced bootleg books from pirate publishing houses and other stories about…well, that’s a whole other blog post…I think I need to really know my stuff before I delve into it. I need to do my research. Does anyone out there have any experience in the realm of Amazon Pro selling? Let me know what you think!

As always…Keep the momentum!

Row books and white background. 3d illustration

Why Aren’t You Reading?

I made beef stew last night. It is thick and warm and hearty. I made a fresh pot of coffee and found a day-old loaf of olive bread for ninety nine cents. I just had a bowl of stew, a chunk of bread and a mug of coffee. We are set up in the living room with our books and our laptops and a fire in the fireplace. We can watch the snow melting on the lawn with the security cameras. Life is good.

This morning is perfect for reading…or writing…or both. But little distractions can wheedle away at my time. I’ve made sure the dogs have been fed and let outside for their morning breather. I’ve cleaned up the dishes and stoked the fire. Now, the television and the radio are off, my coffee is refreshed, and I’m down to the business of reading. Yes, it’s a pleasure, a luxury, AND a necessity for our modern life, but sometimes I need a little push.

I have to physically and mentally prepare for the hours ahead spent absorbing amazing stories and plot twists and facts and news articles and such. I have to consciously and purposely eradicate as many potential distractions as I can. It’s the difference between getting it done and just dabbing around the edges of what I intended to do.

It’s a pleasant thought that we can have a leisure-filled morning, but it’s far less likely if we don’t make an effort and prepare for it in advance. Help achieve your goals by preparing in advance to achieve your goals. Get rid of those upcoming distractions. Put the phone on a charger in another room. Turn off the television. Get some needed chores out of the way first. Make it happen.

You have books to read.

Keep the momentum.

I’m in Paradise!

I truly am. I’m in a Paradise Bakery in Dallas at the moment with a coffee and my favorite proprietary Paradise muffin: The Mandarin Orange muffin.

Alright. Apologies for the clickbait title. Technically, it’s true…and it is a damn good muffin.

The purpose of this post is to tell you of an opportunity for World Market members. If you are a World Market member and have not checked your email yet today (I really am limiting my readership for this post, aren’t I?) then you need to catch up and run down to your local World Market for a free cookbook.

I made the trip to pick up a couple items and also redeem what I figured would be a pamphlet-style publication but turned out to be an actual hardcover book with some actual hardcore favorite recipes. It is the Original GreenPan Everyday Healthy: 40 Family Recipes.

The four categories in this GreenPan cookbook are Soups & Sides, Pasta & Rice, Maine, and Desserts. An example of some of the sturdy and delicious concoctions are fennel and bacon soup, spinach and feta pie, and strawberry rhubarb compote. They have pasta carbonara, veggie chili, chicken curry, zucchini quesadillas, and ratatouille. Top it off with zabaione, cheesecake or lemon tarts, or any of the other amazing, simple and hearty recipes and you will not want for anything but a nap.

Anyway, it’s today only! If you have a World Market near you, check’em our.

Keep the momentum!

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

I’m reading The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell, a conglomeration or anecdotes and adages about bookstores and their owners. Each of the stories averages two a couple pages but they are all quaint and entertaining. The content of this book meets or exceeds the minimum criteria for quaint bookstore anecdotes which make the reader want to get out and visit their local bookstore.

Within this book is the explanation of the origin of the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

If that isn’t enough to make you want to read the his book, I don’t know what will. Seriously, though, it’s just a plethora of peeks and previews of little book shops, mainly in Europe, but all over the globe. You will imagine yourself with a croissant and an Americano in a street side cafe across from the independent book shoppe where you just purchased the copy. (I used the classic olde English spelling to add to the already supersaturated quaintness up to which I’m trying to build.)

Its like watching You’ve Got Mail bundled up on your couch with snow on the window and a hot chocolate and a puppy on your lap. Yeah. Just about like that.

Ok, I’m going to leave you with that. I need to get out and pick up a few items today. I’m braving the quarter inch of snow we received here in Texas which melted when it hit the sidewalk. Only the flakes agile and smart enough to land on the grass was able to survive. Tomorrow, it will be nearly seventy once more. ‘Gotta love Texas.

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