Today on the Full-Time FBA Podcast we’re going to be talking about how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon, even if you have no money. By listening to today’s episode you can find out what your different options are if you don’t have any sourcing money. We discuss strategies that are simple to accomplish as well as strategies that may require some more time.
On this episode, we specifically discuss 10 different places where you can source free inventory to sell on Amazon. So stay tuned as we discuss these different options!
It’s our goal that, by the end of the episode, you can pick and choose which strategies work best for you. Let these ideas help you avoid the temptation to take out a loan.
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Key points from episode 17:
- Ten different places to source free inventory to sell on Amazon.
- Simple and easy places to find inventory that can sell on Amazon at no cost to you.
- Some strategies that will take some time, but can provide an endless supply of free profitable inventory.
- How to be wise when getting all this free inventory.
- Why free inventory is not always the best inventory (and how to know the difference).
- And much more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
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Episode 17 Transcript:
[0:00:01.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part time hours into a full-time income, selling almost anything on Amazon. Now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
[0:00:21.4] STEPHEN: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. I’m really excited that you’re here today. We’re going to talk about the topic of how to find profitable inventory to sell on Amazon, even if you have no money. With me is REBECCA and I’m excited to talk about these strategies of finding inventory with no money.
[0:00:40.3] REBECCA: I know you’re excited about this. This is something that you have done really well over the years. When we first met, this was something that you were doing on a regular basis. You had very little capital to source with, and so I can vouch for the fact that you are an expert in trying to find inventory without having a lot of money to spend.
[0:00:59.7] STEPHEN: Yeah. Some of them are really easy to do, some of them require a little bit more time. You can listen to today’s episode, pick and choose what works best for you, and not be tempted to take out a loan, because there’s so many people who say, “Well, if I’m beginning, I should probably just take out a loan.” We don’t think that’s a good idea to buy inventory to sell on Amazon with someone else’s money.
[0:01:19.0] REBECCA: Right. We’re going to go over this today, how to find free inventory, places where you can find inventory that you don’t even have to pay anything for. Then in the weeks ahead, we’ll talk some more about how you can move up from free to spending just a little bit of money to get really good, quality inventory without having to go into debt, or take money from some other purpose to allocate it towards your Amazon inventory.
[0:01:46.7] STEPHEN: All right. Let’s talk about that today.
[0:01:51.5] REBECCA: All right, so today we have 10 different ways that you can source for free inventory. 10 different places that you can look to find free inventory to sell on your Amazon FBA business. Get us started talking about that list, Stephen.
[0:02:06.5] STEPHEN: Well, the first is going to be definitely the easiest. That’s just looking around your house. I mean, there are certain things in your house that you might not need anymore and could be profitable to sell and you could be approved to sell. Go take a look at your bookshelves, see what books are profitable. Scan those barcodes. You might have items in your closet. Maybe there’s some board games that aren’t opened, or maybe that they’re just barely opened and you can sell them as collectable condition on Amazon. There’s opportunities for you around your house to find profitable inventory that you’ve already paid for, so it’s basically free and you can send that to Amazon.
[0:02:41.5] REBECCA: These might be things you’ve already paid for, or even were given to you as a gift. A lot of times, people have things that they were given as a gift that they either don’t really need, or just never get around to opening and using. This is something we hear over and over again from people when we ask, how did you get into selling on Amazon? “Oh, I was just decluttering my house.
I was going through cleaning out the kids’ closets, or whatever, cleaning up the garage and realized hey, I’ve got a lot of stuff that is a little bit more valuable than say, things that you would want to just donate, or throw out. I looked into selling it on Amazon.” It’s a really great way to clean up the house and make a little bit of money selling those things through an Amazon FBA business.
[0:03:27.8] STEPHEN: Absolutely. If you’re a beginner, this is a great way to test out some different categories that you might be interested in selling without the risk of putting any money into it. Good opportunity for you to get some inventory for nothing.
[0:03:40.9] REBECCA: That’s right. Okay, so that was the first one; looking around your house to find inventory that you’ve already paid for somebody else has given you. Absolutely free inventory that you can send in to FBA. What’s the next one you’ve got, Stephen? Number two.
[0:03:55.5] STEPHEN: This next one, I used a lot back when I was first starting with Amazon. It’s a website called Freecycle. It’s combining the word free and recycle to come up with Freecycle. All you do is sign up for an account, which is free and you put in your zip code and you start getting notifications of people in your zip code that are just giving stuff away for free.
Sometimes it’s things that can’t be sold on Amazon, but every once in a while there are opportunities where people will offer up just, “I’m getting rid of my bookcase. Come get all my books.” Or, “I went through my game room and these are the games we don’t play anymore.” You can go and get those items for free and you just get little e-mail notifications and other notifications that you can set up to be notified when something is free in your area. Then all you got to do is go pick it up.
[0:04:41.7] REBECCA: Isn’t this the one, if I remember correctly, Stephen, where people generally just put it out on their porch. It doesn’t even require human interaction. This is different from Craigslist or something, where you have to come up with a time to meet the person and meet them in a location and make sure that your schedules match and you’re not sure who you’re going to be meeting up with. No, it’s more like, this is going to be on my porch, come get it, kind of a thing.
[0:05:07.2] STEPHEN: Right. This is why I used it is because yeah, it just was a lot easier to get the items, because people would either just put it on their porch, or put it on their driveway, or put it by their mailbox. You can just drive by, pick up a bag of stuff and then leave and have that stuff in just seconds.
[0:05:23.7] REBECCA: Okay. That’s a really good one, that not a lot of people know about. Okay, what’s number three on our list here of places to get free inventory?
[0:05:32.5] STEPHEN: Facebook has a marketplace, where most of the stuff on Facebook Marketplace people are selling. Again, sometimes people just offer things for free, just because they want to get rid of it. They don’t want to deal with any money situation, changing hands. You can go through and have a filter where you only see the items that are free. Again, in your zip code and the place that you live and places nearby and you can get free inventory that way as well.
[0:05:57.5] REBECCA: All right and the next one that we have on our list is along the same lines as the Facebook Marketplace. There are also free groups that you can join giveaway groups and buy-sell trade groups, things of that nature on Facebook. Talk a little bit more about that one for us, number four.
[0:06:14.3] STEPHEN: Right. If you go to Facebook and you of course have an account, you can sign up and join these groups that are location specific. Maybe it’s a zip code, maybe it’s the city that you’re in, maybe it’s a neighborhood and you can get access to people that are trying to buy stuff, trade stuff, sell stuff and then again, there are opportunities for people just giving things away, and so you can have those notifications set up to ping you on your digital device whenever there’s a new post in that group. You can try to be the first one to say, “I’ll take that stack of CDs,” or whatever you’re trying to get rid of and have the opportunity to sell those on Amazon as well.
[0:06:52.2] REBECCA: Okay, number five, we’ve got Craigslist.
[0:06:56.0] STEPHEN: Yeah, Craigslist is a great opportunity. There’s an entire section in the selling section of your particular town of people just giving stuff away for free. Again, books, games, kitchen appliances that are still unopened and things like that where you can have an opportunity to get for free. As we talk about these places where you’re actually going to meet up with a person, Facebook has gotten in the news more a long time ago, not anything really recently. Just be smart when you’re meeting somebody in-person.
You want to meet a person to make this transaction, or pick up something. Meet them in a public place, maybe have a friend come with you, maybe be on the phone with a friend if you can’t have a friend come with you, just so that you’re protected. You want to be safe, you want to be smart while you’re getting that inventory that people are just giving away. Most of the time, if you’re getting free stuff on Facebook, they’re just going to put it out on their front porch.
[0:07:56.1] STEPHEN: Are you talking about Facebook or Craigslist?
[0:07:58.0] REBECCA: Craigslist. What’d I say? Sorry.
[0:07:59.5] REBECCA: You said Facebook. I mean, the same goes for Facebook Marketplace, or these buy-sell trade groups. The difference between getting stuff from Facebook and Craigslist is that Facebook is tied to a person in your area, who you possibly even have mutual friends. In order to be on Facebook, you’re going to have for the most part, people have friends and acquaintances, Facebook friends that they’re connected to and they’re going to be a little bit easier to find if something happens, or to vouch for themselves if something happens. As opposed to Craigslist, which is completely anonymous and it’s hard to track somebody down and figure out who is this person.
Whereas on Facebook, if you see oh, this person that I’m considering going and picking up this stack of books from, they actually know my third cousin, or whatever, that you can look in your mutual friends, or look in their bio and see a little bit more information about them where they work.
It’s not foolproof, but it gives you a little bit more information about who you’re actually dealing with, that it’s possibly a more reliable person than just some random dude on Craigslist that you have no idea who you’re going to be meeting up with.
[0:09:10.7] STEPHEN: Right. If you’re trying to get somebody from Facebook to give you something for free and you see they don’t have a profile picture and they don’t have any friends, just use your best judgment and stay away from those people.
[0:09:22.8] REBECCA: All right, so we’re at number six on our list of 10 different ways that you can source free inventory for your Amazon FBA business. What have we got for number six, Stephen?
[0:09:32.6] STEPHEN: Number six is your local recycling center. The reason I say that is because you would never believe the things that are dropped off at a recycling center. Most people think, “Oh, people just drop off cardboard boxes, or metal, or something like that,” which is true. People will just drop off almost anything. A lot of times, these local recycling centers will instead of just taking them to the trash because some of the things that are dropped off to be recycled are not actually recyclable, they try to sell those items.
Sometimes they’ll try to sell books. A lot of times, they give away books as well. Sometimes they just want to get rid of that stuff and people will drop off things that are not recyclable, but will just give it away to people. That’s an opportunity for you as well.
[0:10:14.0] REBECCA: Okay. Number seven, there’s another website here called offer up. Talk to us about offer up and how that is the same or different from some of these other ones that we’ve already covered.
[0:10:25.0] STEPHEN: Right. Offer up is very similar. In fact, we’ll go ahead and talk about number eight too. There’s a website called let go. Offer up and let go, you can sign up for free accounts, again, put in your city, or your zip code and there are people that are offering up things for you for free, or they’re letting of items that they don’t want anymore and it provides an opportunity for you to find those items and sell them on Amazon. Offer up and let go, we’ll combine number seven and number eight right there, because they’re very similar. We’ll be putting the links to all these items in the show notes, so don’t forget to check out that, fulltimefba.com/17.
[0:10:59.6] REBECCA: I’ll just say as we’re listing all of these things out, I know we’re talking about how to get free inventory, but these are also ways that if you have things that you’re trying to get rid of, like if you need to clean out the garage to make more space for your business, or you’re buying up inventory from your garage sale or something and you have a bunch of excess, you can also use these websites yourself and possibly, even strike a trade with somebody if you come across the right person who has something that you need.
These are great websites and apps that you can start to use and see what you can find on them, but also see how you can free up some space in your own house, or your own place of business.
[0:11:38.8] STEPHEN: Yeah, if there’s something that doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it.
[0:11:41.3] REBECCA: Right. We are big believers in the KonMari Method. Okay, where are we now? That was number seven was offer up, number eight was let go. Number nine, talk to us about library free book boxes or shelves at the library.
[0:11:57.9] STEPHEN: Right. A lot of times, your local library, or even libraries that aren’t too local but you don’t mind driving to will have bookshelves filled with books they’re just trying to get rid of. This provides an opportunity for you to find books to sell on Amazon. Sometimes maybe they’re books that are not very popular, they’re not being checked out, maybe that library is too small to do a book sale, or maybe they have too many books for their book sale and they just want to get rid of some just really easily. They’ll have a box or a shelf of free books. Anytime you go to the library, just look around, ask someone to help you if you have any opportunities to get those free books, be sure to take that.
[0:12:36.9] REBECCA: All right, so we are at our last source for free inventory to sell on Amazon FBA. This last one is one that I think is just genius. When I first met you, you were doing this and I was just amazed at this whole model that you had going here of how get inventory, not just for FBA but for other ways that you’re selling stuff too. In particular, this was all trying to get inventory for free to feed into your FBA business. Talk to us about this number 10 we have on the list, garage sale leftovers. What do you mean by leftovers?
[0:13:13.5] STEPHEN: Well, I remember back when I was doing garage sales and thrift stores is my main source of inventory to sell on Amazon. I always remembered that most garage sales are Friday and Saturday and sometimes there’s Thursday, Friday, Saturdays. Usually, toward the end of the day of Saturday when most garage sales are starting to pack up, I started realizing there are people who are just going to say, “Take whatever you want. I just want it gone.”
I actually put together some business cards, so when I went to garage sales on Thursday as a shopper, Friday as a shopper, even Saturday as a shopper, I would leave them my card and I’ll say, “Hey, if you want me to come by and pick up your leftovers, I’ll come by and pick them up for free and take them to goodwill.” This is usually what people do anyway when they’re done with the garage sale, they take it to goodwill and just get rid of the stuff.
I was offering the service for them. Now I wouldn’t do it for every single garage sale. I wanted to make sure that there were things at that garage sale that were profitable for me to sell on Amazon and maybe that person just had their items priced too high. I would go back at the end of the day on Saturday to a few selected garage sales and pick up all their stuff, put it in my minivan and take it all back to my house and then I would start to go through it, see what is profitable to sell on Amazon, see what would be good to sell on eBay and then put the rest of the stuff – I would probably just put it in my own garage sale in the future and then donate the rest of the stuff.
I was able to get a lot of inventory for free, just because they weren’t able to sell it. Most of the time, it’s from people who had a garage sale where they were pricing things too high. It’s a great opportunity to still get lots of inventory. It’s a big time investment, but it is a great opportunity.
[0:14:50.0] REBECCA: It’s a time investment and it also requires talking to people, developing a little bit of a relationship. This isn’t going to be a long-term relationship that you have here, but it requires talking to the person having the garage sale. Being friendly. Just building a type of rapport with them and not just coming in and being business-like. Anyway, it requires talking to people and being able to negotiate a little bit, which isn’t – it’s not something that everybody is good at, or even wants to do.
I would not want to do that at all. I don’t enjoy talking to people, trying to negotiate stuff out in person like that. If you are of that mindset and that personality, this is a really great way to get the inventory that you can sort through and figure out like, “How can I make the most of this inventory? Is it something that I can resell on Amazon? Is it something that I can resell on eBay, or whatever?”
All of these things that we’ve been talking about, I just wanted to bring it back and point out, these are not necessarily things that you’re going to be doing long-term with your FBA business. The point of all of this is when you’re just getting started, you don’t have a lot of startup money, you need to get inventory to sell and build up this profit snowball, so that you have more and more profits from FBA that you can reinvest into buying more FBA inventory. These are just a few ideas of places that you can get inventory for absolutely free. It requires a little bit more time and effort than if you have a lot of startup money that you’re ready to invest. It’s something that can get you going.
For most people, I would say probably 99% of the people who do FBA, this is not something they’re going to want to do long-term. They’re going to be looking for ways to grow their capital, so that they have more money to invest. Eventually, you’re going to get to the point in your FBA business, or at least it’s always been our goal, where you have more money than time. When you’re getting started, a lot of us have more time than money. If you’ve got more time than money right now, these are really great suggestions for places to get free inventory that require a little bit more effort.
[0:16:55.7] STEPHEN: Yeah. We’d also like to hear from you. If you have ideas for finding inventory with no money, then be sure to comment on the show notes page. If you go to fulltimefba.com/17 not only will you see all the links that we discussed today, but there’ll be a comment section and we’d love to hear your ideas on how you can find the inventory with no money.
[0:17:15.6] REBECCA: Another thing that we need to be sure and cover on this topic is that just because an item is free, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good item to sell on Amazon. The price that you pay for an item is important, your buy cost is important when you’re looking at whether or not an item is going to be profitable, but that’s not the only factor that goes into whether or not you should send something to an FBA warehouse. Can you talk to us for a second, Stephen, about some other factors that you need to look into? Say you’ve got some potential inventory that you’ve picked up for free. How do you decide, “Oh, this is something that would work for Amazon FBA, as opposed to another place that you could sell it?”
[0:17:54.8] STEPHEN: Right. As we all know, Amazon charges fees. You want to make sure that even though you’re getting this for free, that the price that you’re going to sell it for still makes you money after Amazon takes their cut. Be sure to check the profitability, because there’s Amazon fulfillment fees and then if your item sits in the warehouse, you have monthly storage fees. If it sits for over a year, you get long-term storage fees. You want to make sure that you’re still profitable in the end and that’s something to think about.
Another thing to do is to check Keepa Graph. If you don’t know Keepa, it’s a service that tracks every price history and sales rank history for almost every item on Amazon. You can check to see what you can expect when it comes to the price and what to expect when it comes to how soon it might sell. If you want a free training on how to use Keepa, if you’ve never heard about it before, fulltimefba.com/readkeepa is a link on how to learn Keepa.
Another thing you want to be sure to do is double check the condition very carefully. If you’re wanting to sell something as new, be sure it’s absolutely new. I remember buying at a garage sale one time an electric razor to cut my face. I would actually bought it to not to cut my face, but –
[0:19:03.8] REBECCA: That sounds awful.
[0:19:05.0] STEPHEN: Yeah, it does. To sell on Amazon for the end-buyer to –
[0:19:09.6] REBECCA: Shave their face.
[0:19:10.7] STEPHEN: Shave their face. Then when I got home, I shook it a little bit and then some whiskers started coming out. I’m like, “Oh, I can’t sell this as new. I don’t even want to sell it as used. I’m going to throw up now. I’m going to throw it away.” Be sure to check the condition very carefully. As we always say, if you’re ever in question, round down when it comes to the condition, rather than rounding up.
Then again, we talked about this before, understand the time involvement that it takes. If you’re going to spend an hour doing one certain strategy and it makes you a dollar, well you just made a dollar an hour. Be sure you understand the profitability and the time involved with that, so that you make good choices and you can grow your business over time.
[0:19:49.5] REBECCA: All right, well I think that just about wraps up our topic today of how to find free inventory to sell on Amazon FBA. What are we going to be looking at for next week, Stephen?
[0:20:00.6] STEPHEN: Well, so since this week we talked about how to find inventory with no money, we’re going to talk about some strategies for how you can get some money to sell items on Amazon.
[0:20:09.1] REBECCA: Legal and ethical and smart ways to get some money.
[0:20:13.8] STEPHEN: Yes, legal, ethical, smart ways for you to get some funds to be able to purchase inventory to sell on Amazon and I’m excited to look into that and talk about that with you.
[END OF EPISODE]
[0:20:28.0] STEPHEN: If you like some of the things that we talked about today, we have more for you in our Facebook group. If you go to fulltimefba.com/facebook, it’s a free group of people helping each other grow their Amazon businesses and we want you to be a part of the group as well. Fulltimefba.com/facebook. All you have to do is answer three questions that prove that you’re not a spammer, or a robot, because we don’t like robot spammers. You can come in the group and it’ll be fun.
[0:20:51.9] REBECCA: Yeah, and it’s a great community, a place where you can ask questions. People in the community are going to be able to answer those questions for you, help you to find good resources and also just encourage one another, because we’re all at different places in our journey. Stephen and I have been selling for several years now. We’re a lot further down the journey than other people might be, but we’ve got that experience and there’s other people that you’ll find in the group that are at the same place as you, whether you’re a beginner, whether you’re just thinking about selling on FBA, or you’re a couple of years down the road.
[0:21:23.4] STEPHEN: Yeah, we have something for everybody.
[0:21:25.0] REBECCA: All right, so that wraps it up for us today. Be sure and check out the show notes for this episode to get the transcript, if you need to look at that, or if you want to look up any of the links that we’ve discussed. You can find those show notes at fulltimefba.com/17. That’s the number 17 for this episode. We will see you next week, or I guess you’ll hear us next week on our next episode of the Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:21:50.0] STEPHEN: Have a great day, everybody.
[0:21:54.2] ANNOUNCER: That is all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimefba.com/podcast, where you will find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources. Now, take action on what you have learned today so you can find success at turning part time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.