Confessions of an FBA seller who bought a DVD rental store: I share the lessons I learned after reselling thousands of DVDs to resell on Amazon
Recap: I made thousands reselling DVDs from a closed rental store
I’ve already published the (long) story of the time I bought nearly 3,000 DVDs from a shut down video store. Here’s the recap:
- Drove several states to view the collection.
- Paid $1,800
- Total size of the collection was just over 2,900 DVDs
- Drove all 2,900 several states back home
- Lost an entire box of hundreds of DVDs on the highway, among other mishaps
- Profited over $15,000 reselling the DVDs on Amazon
Now, let me share the lessons I’ve learned after reselling most of these DVDs on Amazon.
Reselling DVDs, lesson #1: Expect the unexpected
Of the Rolodex of perils when making a big buy like this, the biggest obstacle ended up being something I never anticipated: The DVD cleaning. And it almost ruined me. Expect the most unexpected obstacles.
Lesson #1.5: Don’t attempt to clearn 1,000 DVDs by yourself.
You need professional help.
And if you’re an Amazon seller and are ever in this situation, get in touch. I’ve got a guy.
(His name is Brian Freifelder of Philadelphia Media Exchange, but saying “I got a guy” sounds much cooler.)
Reselling DVDs, lesson #2: There are used DVDs to resell everywhere
All you have to do is look.
Of all the lessons here, this is the one with the broadest (and most profitable) implications. Amazon sellers, pay close attention…
The sellers of this video store in Iowa had this DVD collection on Craigslist for two months. I want to scream at the entire Midwest right now. A $15,000+ DVD collection, on Craigslist, for any Amazon seller to see, for two months.
No buyers. None.
And let’s just set aside the Amazon sellers in Des Moines being totally asleep at the wheel. I’m going to call out Amazon sellers in Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, St Louis, and several other massive cities I can’t think of now who are in short driving distance and also totally missed this. I was twice as far away from Des Moines as all of them, and I still made the trip.
To recap: In two months not a single Amazon seller from Chicago (population: One bazillion) bothered to look at the Des Moines area Craigslist. Not one Amazon seller in Minneapolis bothered to look at the Des Moines area Craigslist. Same for the Amazon sellers in St Louis, Omaha, and so on.
Would you drive 6 hours for $15,000? Apparently, this math is not appealing to people in the corn belt. Insane.
Take note: Your Amazon FBA seller competition is so incompetent, they can have $15,000 dangled in front of them and not even see it.
This should be an extremely empowering lesson for all Amazon sellers.
Reselling DVDs, lesson #3: There’s money in the leftovers
Even in your “trash,” there is a lot of money to be made reselling DVDs (and anything else).
First, I negotiated getting $1 cleaning credit for 700 DVDs (that had no value on Amazon) with my DVD cleaner. That’s like getting $700 from my own trash, right off the top.
There were about 200 no-value DVDs he would not take, which I divided by genre and sold as lots on eBay. That was another $100+.
And I did the same with the DVDs that had no cases. Those brought in another $100+ on eBay.
Reselling DVDs, lesson #4: DVDS are a volatile Amazon category
Volatile, but in a good way.
In my previous story about buying this DVD collection, I mentioned that I priced the DVDs arrogantly high. And after observing my Amazon sales in the time since, I can report a useful observation.
I watched a lot of DVDs get under-priced on Amazon by other FBA sellers, to the point that my FBA offer was often 5th, 6th, or 10th down the list. Then later – sometimes many months or a year later – that DVD would sell.
I noticed DVD prices are a lot more volatile on Amazon than book prices. When I see an Amazon FBA seller underprice one of my Amazon FBA book offers, I usually lower my price to match it (high-ranked books excluded). With DVDs, I find those lower Amazon FBA offers sell out at a much higher rate. This all depends on demand for a particular title of course. But the point remains that a much higher percentage of DVDs on Amazon sell at a high volume than books.
This is somewhat of a complex point, but stay with me: There are just over a million DVDs (&VHS) for sale on Amazon, and nearly all of them have sold at least a single copy. Compare this to books, where there are 50 million product pages on Amazon, and only 15 million (less than 1/3) have sold at least one copy.
Prices simply fluctuate much more wildly with DVDs. Meaning if you don’t have the top FBA spot on Amazon, you can rest more soundly knowing you will reclaim that top FBA spot again before long.
Because of all this, I learned to have a largely a “hands off” approach to repricing and reselling DVDs on Amazon with a Sales Rank better than 150,000. And I think my bottom line is much better for it.
Reselling DVDs, lesson #5: A good goal is better than a good plan
I had no solutions for all the obvious problems that come with buying a DVD collection of this size (chief among them, that I had no idea how I was getting thousands of DVDs back home). But my goal trumped all of the obstacles.
In other words, when you have a strong enough “why,” the “how” takes care of itself.
Lesson #5.5: Driving all night with no plan is good for business
In other words: Big risks, big rewards.
I drove to Iowa pretty much blind.
- There was no offer for the DVDs on the table.
- I had no specifics on how many DVDs were for sale.
- I had no direct contact with the sellers.
There was only a flimsy hope this would pay off. But I knew the potential payoff was huge, so I took the risk. And I got the reward.
Bonus: Gangster negotiating tip
When you’re about to make an insultingly low offer on a huge DVD collection, have the cash visible when you spit out the number. It’s like casting a spell.