Interview with a rogue Amazon seller doing five-figures in monthly sales while traveling. The secrets of running a six-figure FBA business from the road.
Video: How Danny does five-figures a month while traveling
You can follow Danny on Twitter
Pre-Interview: Danny shows up unannounced with car of FBA inventory
I’ve known Danny, an Amazon seller friend, for awhile. He lives several states away, so we don’t exactly cross paths that often.
I call him an “Amazon seller friend,” but really, my impression was that he only periodically dabbled in Amazon. I had no idea he was doing it full time until he texted me out of nowhere in November to tell me:
- He was on a road trip.
- He’d just scored a car full of FBA inventory from a mom & pop discount store one state over from me.
This story was missing a lot of details, but I don’t ask a lot of questions. But it was clear Danny had ramped up his Amazon business much more than I’d realized.
That night, Danny sends this text:
I lost count of the how many times I’ve sprung myself on friends last minute while on an FBA sourcing road trip. So this was a familiar scenario, only now I was on the opposite end.
Danny arrived with a car (literally) full of Amazon inventory. He immediately turned my living room into an FBA shipping and receiving center. One night turned to seven, as he left with a car of FBA shipments every day, and returned with a car of fresh inventory every night. He was a sourcing and shipping machine.
The cross country FBA rampage that followed
What happened over the next 100 days was kind of insane. Danny kept driving, kept sourcing, and kept building his Amazon revenue.
Every couple days I’d get a text that was either 1. A screenshot of his sales. 2. A photo of his car overflowing with inventory, or 3. A weird anecdote from sourcing on the road.
Shortly after he left. he let me know he’d just hit $10,000 in sales for the month. Shortly after, he let me know that had increased to $10,000 profit. And since then, he’s had two more five-figure months – all from the road.
So I got Danny on a call (from Boise, Idaho) to talk about his formula for running a massively profitable FBA business from the road.
Begin Interview: His history selling on Amazon
Peter: Let’s walk back. Tell me about your Amazon selling history because I don’t feel like I really know this. I know you started out with books. And you’ve since branched out to other categories. But tell me about your Amazon history leading up to when you showed up at my front door.
Danny: Okay, so I actually got into FBA because of you. In 2020, everyone has to take forced vacation. I’m out of work. And all of a sudden, I get a check for $1,200, right? So everyone around me is running around. And they’re all like, “Oh, my God, what am I gonna do with only $1,200? How am I gonna pay my bills?” I decided to turn it into more.
So I just like immediately just went whole hog into the FBAmastery.com site, I read everything that I could, I watched all the videos.
I started just manually sourcing for Amazon, just grabbing all the books that I could, and immediately just turning those around. I was all books for maybe about a year or so and just kind of did it kind of like as a side gig. And I kind of fell out of it for a while.
And then for a minute, I started doing eBay. And eBay is cool because you can make a lot of money really quick. But it’s really annoying because you have to send all of your own orders. And I’m just not about that. I’m trying to ball and you cannot be a baller when you’re spending like four hours a day at the post office just out of habit.
So anyways, back to March 1st. I started sourcing for FBA again, and I just went out looking for things outside of books and slowly just growing it. It’s so weird now because you know, I remember at the time, I think I spent like $200 to $300 on that first FBA shipment when I came back. And I was like, This is crazy. Then when I showed up at your place, I had spent like just south of $900 on all that inventory. Today I just finished dropping off what was a $1,600 my first shipment. So just the way that it scales. It’s insane.
How he starting his nomad Amazon seller life
Peter: Okay, so you were doing books and then you sort of branch out. And so you mentioned March 1st, so as of the time we’re recording this that would be about 11 months ago. And so you made a ton of ground in the last several months so bring me up to the point where you showed up at my door. I don’t even think the trip you were on at that point, I think it turned into an inventory-sourcing trip after or like right when you arrived. It didn’t start out that way, right?
Danny: I was like I think like a week into my trip at that point. And literally, I was a couple of hours away for just like a convention that I was going to. After that just being on the road noticing just I can hit all these sources throughout the country. And I kinda just figured why stop? Why go back now, you know?
How hitting the road exploded Danny’s Amazon business
Peter: So the lifestyle you’re living right now had its start, impetus either like a couple of days before you got here or while you were here or something but this is like relatively new.
The reason I’m emphasizing this is I think your story is very relatable because even though you’ve been selling on Amazon for a minute, it really didn’t kick off until like the last 90 days. Is that fair to say?
Danny: Kind of. I just posted a thread on my Twitter, because I recently passed over $100k for the last 12 months. Which is insane because being that I started March, was really more 100 grand in about 10 months. But in that, I posted my graph for the last year and you can very clearly see, you know, there’s the point where it’s kind of going up and then we get to where I’m on the road and it just goes vertical.
Peter: So you’re doing, again, when I say on the road, like you’re not going home and then going back out. Like you are on the road, right? You’ve been gone for 100 days at this point.
Danny: Yeah. So I live basically out in like the Great Lakes. And I’m currently in Boise, Idaho.
Peter: I want people to understand rather, that you’re not playing it safe. Like, “oh, I’m gonna stay within a three-hour radius.” You are in the woods half the time when you text me.
Walk me through a day in the life on the road.
A day in the life of a nomad FBA seller
Danny: All right, so day in the life. I wake up, I get breakfast, and then if I don’t have to ship right, I start sourcing. Usually I like to get in early. So I’ll sleep in the parking lot. And I’ll just go in right when they open up. And I just hit everything. And I basically try to fill up as much as I can in my car and I go straight to the UPS store.
I like to prep and ship from the UPS store. So prepping in the UPS store is not for the faint of heart. If you’re thinking about doing this, okay, you need to approach this with a warrior mentality. So when you go to UPS, you will spend about an hour and a half prepping goods. And in that hour and a half, you will hear approximately 3000 people come in and say the words, “Hi, I have an Amazon return.”
And so I have this constant mental image while I’m prepping. I feel like you see those videos for the D-Day where like the guys land and the thing comes down, they start running out like same front ride. Everyone in front just gets shot by all the Nazis, and just have to keep running through it. That’s how I feel prepping at UPS. I just know, half these are probably my products coming back right now but I just have to go for it. Get rich or die trying. So I do that. I am a glutton for trouble.
So after I’m done shipping, I sometimes just go back out and source. Sometimes I don’t.
I’m really big on the National Park Service app. So I’ll find cool stuff to do. People don’t realize outside of like the national parks, there are also just like, parks units, historical parks. Places like that. And you can just find a lot of really cool stuff, to check out wherever you’re at.
So I do that. Maybe if I run out of time, or I just go find some like new weird place to source. I’m always just…anytime like I run out of stuff I’m just kind of like, I kind of look around. And I’ll find some like weird place where I’ll just be like, oh, like, you know, weird like Mom and Pop Musical Instrument Store. And I’m kind of like, “I wonder what it would be like sourcing there.” And I’ll just go hit it and see what it’s like. See what I can find. And sometimes you find really cool things in really weird places. But yeah, I do that till I just pass out and wake up and do it again the next day.
Peter: So after you’re done sourcing you usually go to the hotel. would you say you stay in hotels most nights?
Danny: It really depends. So I started staying in hotels when I was somewhere in Alabama. Because mostly like, you know, originally, I planned to do like a bunch of camping on this trip. So I looked for like cool areas to camp. But for whatever reason, I have this like weird mental block where I only like to do hotels, when I know that I’m making at least two grand on the shipment. And I feel like that’s a ridiculous number because you can make a hotel worth it with way less than two grand. I get hotels when my car is just super full of inventory and it’s super late at night and I just don’t want to deal with it.
His sources (nothing special)
Peter: You and I talked before this interview, and we talked about, I said, is there anything off limits? And you said, maybe don’t divulge my specific sources.
So if I’m watching this as a viewer, I’m sitting back and I’m like Danny’s doing amazing. He’s racking up baller revenue right now. He must have some secret source that we don’t have access to. And that’s why he’s doing so well. So I just want to clarify for the viewers, I know your sources, Danny. This is not a slight against you at all, you have amazing sourcing skills. however, where you’re going is nothing special, okay? Can we agree on that? You’re going not going anywhere that lots of other people aren’t going.
Danny: Every town has the same sources I’m going to.
Peter: Okay, so I just want to clarify that. So with that said, you’ve got your secret sauce really is not what your sources are. Your secret sauce, which we can talk about is your negotiating skills. Now, I want to just kind of give you room just to like talk here. But I just want to let people know watching this. You don’t pay sticker price for basically anything, right?
Danny: Absolutely not. Never.
The secret to his success: Negotiating
Peter: So you have no problem walking up to store managers and it’s going, “Hey, I know the sticker price is this but I want to pay this so let’s work out a deal.” Is that basically how it works?
Danny: I don’t myself an extrovert. It’s definitely a learned skill, something that I had to build up. I am not a superhero. I learned how to do this. I picked this skill up. I grew this skill. If I could step into this, you could step into this, I don’t care if you’re nervous. I don’t care if you’re self-conscious, you can pick this up.
So it’s super, super simple. All you have to do is just walk up and go to the customer service desk, say “Hey, I’d like to speak to your manager. I’d like to be someone in charge.”
For a smaller place, you can probably find the owner. And just let them know, you know, “Hey, I know you’re trying to move inventory. I would love to help you out. I would love to take this stuff off your hands. But I need to know, you know, how far in down.”
And when I do this, you know, there is very specific language that I like to use. And you can actually get that, I mean, it’s super simple. I can tell you right here how it all works. I also post some stuff on my Twitter, which is at @FBADanny. You know, if you’re curious you can go check it out there.
But basically, you do not have to sell to people, okay, you do not have to sell. People sell it themselves. So I walk up and I always try to frame it in a way that makes it positive for that.
Danny’s two-sentence negotiation script
Danny: So I say typically all I say it’s like two sentences, kinda run-on sentences, but still two sentences. I just say, “Hey, I know this is all clearance. I know you’re trying to get rid of it. I would love to help you out and take it all off your hands. I just have to know how far are you able to come down on it.”
When we do that, what we do is we’re reminding them, “Hey, you want to get rid of this. This is all stuff that you are pushing out the door right now.” You know, frame that into their mind. Let them know, you know, they are already trying to take a hit. They just want out, right?
Then when you say you don’t say, “Hey, can I get a deal? Hey, can you help me out here?” I say, “How far are you able to come down on it,” right? You’re putting it into the question that they are able to come down. It’s not a question of are you able to come down. It’s just how far are you able to come down. You can really build them up, prime them. Let them know that they have that power to come down on it. Let them know that they can get all this stuff out the door right now.
The psychology of negotiating deals on FBA inventory
Danny: I think, what is it, persuade, “Influence” by Bob Cialdini is probably a great jumping-off point if you’re looking for little things to say, little ways to weasel in there to help. Because, you know, even though we’re buying you have to remember you’re constantly selling. Everyone is selling something. Usually, we’re used to thinking of selling as we are selling products or services in exchange for money. Here you’re selling money in exchange for product and you have to pump them up so that that money is worth more products than what they’re used to.
So get into that sales mindset, get into that warrior mindset. Look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I am on a divine mission, right? I have been given this righteous mission from the gods to just profit at all costs, and just steamroll over this retail store and take all their clearance, and just ball hard.” And, you know, with God on our side who could be against us, come on.
The job that taught him to negotiate like a master
Peter: I love what you said about anchoring them and like framing things in terms of like asking the right questions. It’s like, “how far are you willing to come down?” You’ve already established they’re willing to come down. That’s not negotiable. It’s embedded in the question that they’re willing to come down.
Danny: I cut my teeth in sales working in nonprofits. I used to run teams of canvassers which when you go to like large cities, and some guy with a clipboard, jumps out from an alley and asks you want to give money to starving kids in Africa. I was the ayatollah of those people. I would always tell people, “Hey, do you have two minutes?” And that’s the thing, it should never take longer than two minutes, two minutes is a stretch.
So [with Amazon] I just sat down and thought, what’s the simplest way I can frame this? Because I mean, even like I said, it’s two sentences. It probably takes me maybe 15 seconds to say. And even then, I mean, I’ll get halfway through and I’ll see these managers, you know, start nodding and pulling out a book, pulling out a scanner, pulling out something because they already know where this is headed, right? So don’t overdo it. Just let them know why you’re there. Let them know what’s going on and let them do the rest.
Peter: I think you said at one point that you pay full sticker price, like less than 10% of the time. Is that right?
Danny: Oh, definitely.
You only get the inventory you ask for
Danny: I remember all that stuff I showed up at your place with. So it was just a small little Mom and Pop discount store in the middle of nowhere. I was literally driving down the road, I saw a sign and it’s U-turn in the park lot. And every single item, I was able to go to the owner and I was like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And he’d be like, “I’ll take 70% off.” Every single thing.
Peter: That’s how life works, right? It’s like, you get what you asked for. There’s this old Anthony Robbins video that I’ve seen, where he talks about how a homeless man approached him and said, “Hey, man, do you have $1?” And Anthony Robbins pulled out a billfold where you could clearly see there were many, many hundreds of dollars, this giant roll of bills. Anthony Robbins said, “Are you sure you just want a dollar?” And the guy goes, “Yeah, man, just give me a dollar. Give me a dollar.” And Anthony Robbins was prepared to give the guy like, $1,000, you know, as he tells the story, but the guy asked for a dollar. So he gives him a dollar. So, lesson in there, right?
Why paying full price for FBA inventory is never a option
Danny: Quick. Before we go into anything else, I just want to say for everyone, you know, Peter pointed out, you know, my sources, for the most part, are nothing special. You know, a lot of these places I go to I mean, it’s Walmart, it’s Big Lots, Dick’s Sporting, whatever. I would guarantee 1000 other Amazon sellers in this country are sourcing the same place, that I’m sourcing, seeing the same exact products I’m seeing. But they’re seeing them at sticker price, they’re seeing them at that appearance price, and they’re passing.
What my technique does is it gives you access to products at margins that other people don’t realize are there. So this is why, you know, there are certain things I’ll see and I’ll grab and the next week the price tanks 40% because everyone else jumped on it. When you get things like this when you break that price down for yourself, so many people are passing on those items. You end up being one of two, three sellers maybe selling it. So that’s a big thing to keep in mind is you’re really, you’re protecting yourself.
Could he sustain these Amazon revenue numbers at home?
Peter: Negotiation is like an unfair advantage you have over all other sellers. This seems to be what you can credit to your success first and foremost, and the fact that you’re hitting the road.
That’s kind of the next thing I want to ask you: do you think you could do this and sustain these numbers if you were just staying within a 40-mile radius of your town? I mean, I feel like what’s going on here is you’ve got a couple of unfair advantages. You’ve got your negotiation skills, but then you’ve got the fact that you’re on the road. So you’re hitting sources you have not hit before. Do you think you could do what you’re doing right now if you stayed in one place?
Danny: So I’m curious to see that myself. The thing is what I’m doing right now because I am on the road, I mean, I don’t want this to entirely be a sourcing trip. One of the reasons we do this, one of the reasons we sell, and we work for ourselves is because we want that freedom.
Peter is, probably the only person I know who hates the idea of being employed more than I do. So I don’t want to just let this consume me as much as this is kind of what I do. And so, in order to keep myself from doing that, while on the road, I really whittled it down by like, two or three favorite sources. And for the most part, I only go to those places.
So with that in mind, if I stayed at home in my place, I can maybe do the same numbers because I’d be going to a lot more sources. But I’d be curious to see because right now, I’ll send in literally $5,000 or $6,000 in profit every week. So I don’t know if I were only going to the sources I’m going to in one city, how long it would take them to accumulate that much inventory that I can grab. But I think if I went home and I just had access to all my other sources, it could be just as profitable. It’s something to check out. I think everyone, you know, should go out and try it. Let me and Peter know what happens.
His goals: How far can he take this FBA road trip?
Peter: My next question for you is do you have goals? Like, do you have sort of like milestones that you’re trying to hit in your business? Are you just like going full force, whatever happens, happens or what’s the next level for you?
Danny: At first like, I remember you and I were holding up this like, five-figure a month, you know. Hit 10k a month. That’s all that matters. And then I remember like texting you, I was sitting in a Whole Foods parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico when I hit 20k a month for the first time. So I think maybe getting through a sustained rate where I could do 100 grand a year just in profit alone, which would be 8,000 and some change profit a month. At the end of January, I checked and I had like $9,970 in profit or something. 10k profit a month would have been so cool.
There’s that Bukowski quote or whatever. “Find what you love and let it kill you.” And I kind of touched on this a second ago when I was talking about just being consumed. But at the end of the day, anything you’re ever gonna be successful in life you got to do for the love of the game. And I’ve noticed that, every time I finish sourcing, I ship everything off. And then I’m kind of like looking around the town. And I’m kind of like, “Well, maybe I’ll go source again…”
Because the fact is, my bills are paid. I could take the rest of the year off, and I’d be good. I don’t really have need anymore. I’m not being driven so much by necessity or fear or any of that. I think at this point, I’m kind of just seeing, like, how big can I make this thing? How far can I push this? And I’m just curious and I just want to build it out to see how far I can go off of random clearance items as one guy, riding around the country in a hatchback.
Peter: My two cents it would be to get enough money in the bank o you could hire people and kind of scale this thing and just duplicate your efforts and train people.
Danny: I tried to hire my little brother. And it didn’t go too well.
I actually had this weird moment the other day. Basically, this store manager told me “I can do 90% off all this.” So I kind of looked at her and I was like, if I just want to go through the store and just raid all the clearance in the store, could you do 90% off any clearance item, say if I took the entire stock? And she was like, “Well, maybe not 90, but at least 75. And maybe 90 depending on the item.” So, you know, I go, I round everything up and she’s putting it all in and figuring everything out.
And I’m sitting there on my notebook just doing math trying to figure out how many boxes I need send in for the goods. I tell her what’s going on. She’s like, “You’re really organized.” And I thought it was really funny. Because Peter has seen me prep, and he knows I’m not really organized. But I had this realization, in reality, I am just a guy riding around the country, buying clearance items, putting them on the internet. But on paper, and also in reality, I am a guy who’s sold six figures in the last five months.
How success just means higher quality problems
Peter: It’s crazy the difference between what these businesses look like on the outside looking in, and what they’re actually like on the inside, right? Like, I mean, I remember when I was running my old online arbitrage tool called Zen Arbitrage, and I had my Amazon business going, and everything was like, numbers-wise, seemed insane. I never advertise my numbers but they looked insane. But I remember one night I walked to buy groceries. And I have this snapshot image of myself like holding two bags of groceries walking on a freeway, and the bag breaks. And I’m picking up like cans of refried beans off the freeway in the weeds. I just remember thinking “no one has any idea.” This is really how life is. It doesn’t matter how successful you get like, you’re still just an idiot picking up groceries off the side of the freeway.
Danny: Yeah, I mean that’s a Tony Robbins thing. He talks about, you’re never gonna get to a point where you don’t have problems, you just have bigger problems, better problems.
Last time I had like a regular hourly wage job, I quit it to play blackjack, which may or may not have been the best idea ever had. But I remember getting to this point where I was still super stressed. But now I was stressed about needing to buy a safe because I needed somewhere to put all my cash. And I feel like that’s a great problem to have.
The tools he uses to run his FBA business
Peter: You want to just talk really quickly about your stack like your software stack your tool stack, like what does it take to run this business?
I gotta say this. Right after you left town, I wrote a blog post on FBA Mastery essentially mocking people that don’t have barcode scanners. And I said if you see someone out sourcing in one of your sources, and they don’t have a barcode scanner, they’re not a real seller and you can instantly dismiss them as being in any way a threat to you. And you texted me and you’re like, “Dude, I don’t have a barcode scanner. I did 10 grand this month,” It’s like, I was like, oh, wow.
So how simple are you keeping it right now? What’s your tool stack?
Danny: Okay, so I have InventoryLab, which, if you’re doing volume is a God-send. Basically you punch in all of your numbers. How much did it cost? How much am I listing it for? And it’ll print out labels for you. If there are expiration dates they’ll print the expiration dates right on the label. And then it just it tells you what’s going where, how to pack it all, and that it saves all that information. So it’ll tell you, you paid X amount for this shipment. Your profit is this much on it. Then it stores all that. So at the end of the year, you can actually see, you know, 30% of my profit came from this supplier, you know, to keep going back there, all that jazz. You can also put in like mileage and other expenses.
That comes with a sourcing tool called Scoutify. And I use Scoutify for all my scouting.
The other thing that I use is Scoutly, specifically for books. Scoutly is awesome. It shows you basically sales rank, average sales rank, which if you’ve been following Peter, you understand the importance of average sales rank over regular sales rank, it is essential. It’ll show you other sellers, and then you actually have access to Keepa charts on there. It’s awesome.
I think asides from that, the other thing that I use is Label Resizer for my shipping labels.
Peter: That’s insane. That’s like 20 grand a month. And, you know, your fixed expenses are… I forget what InventoryLab costs but like 50 bucks a month.
Danny: 50 bucks a month. It’s 50 bucks and then I think for the tier of Label Resizer that I’m on, it’s like 10 bucks.
Peter: You’ve been on the road for 100 days. Do you have any anecdotes from the road either defeats or successes, anything you want to share?
FBA road trip stories
Danny: So I was in Louisiana. And I decided I was done with Louisiana, going to Texas. So on the way, I stopped at a Walmart. And while I’m there, I am going through just checking up the clearance section. And I see some guy, he’s got the phone out. He’s doing the thing and I walk up to him and it’s like, you know, “I’ve been on the road for about a month now. And I think you’re the first person I’ve seen scanning Walmart clearance.” He goes, “Oh, well. I’m actually an Amazon third-party seller.” And I was, like, “I know. I noticed. It takes one to know one.” And it was cool we were just hanging out talking. He starts telling me about some like crazy score that he has some crazy replen, wouldn’t tell me where he gets it though.I had done like $1,500 in sales that day.
And I get out of there and I’m driving to Houston. And I got like an hour from Houston and I realized I have no idea what to do in Houston. I have no idea where I’m going. I literally set the GPS for Houston. So I pull over real quick. And I’m looking at what’s in Houston and I just set my GPS for this vegan bakery. It’s called Sinfull. If you’re ever in Houston.
And I wake up at like 8:00 a.m. the owner just tapping on my window asking if I’m okay. Because everyone just showed up and there’s some dude sleeping in his car in the parking lot. I’m kinda like “this is what making $1,500 in one day looks like.” Sleeping in your car in the parking lot at a vegan bakery in Houston. It was a good day. I’ll always remember it.
Peter: Danny, any closing words?
Danny: Who dares wins. Comfort zones are where dreams go to die.
Peter: Thank you. Everyone’s going to follow you on Twitter. So get prepared to drop some more threads. And thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.
Danny: Hey, my pleasure.
You can follow Danny’s FBA journey on Twitter.