Sourcing On The Go
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Sourcing y’all. I know each one of you love the thrill of checking out new thrift stores when you go out of town, but what about traveling specifically to thrift and find new inventory?
Traveling to thrift is probably one of my favorite things to do as a full-time reseller. It gives me a chance to get out of town, see some new scenery, find brands I don’t normally find in my area, and have a bit of “me time” as well.
I’ve traveled to several different locations, including Los Angeles, Nashville & Atlanta to source inventory, and today I’m going to tell you how I plan out those trips, whether it is financially beneficial to my business and some tips I’ve learned to make it worthwhile.
Planning Your Sourcing Trip
Okay, you know you want to head out of town, but where should you go? How far should you travel, and should you go for more than a day?
There’s a few ways you can get your feet wet with traveling for inventory.
- Day trips
- Travel to where a friend or family member is
- Overnight trips
If you aren’t comfortable with taking a couple days to travel out of town, then maybe a day trip is for you! I frequently take day trips to Atlanta when I’m unable to go overnight. I’m not able to hit up as many thrift stores, but I can usually get to 2 or 3 locations and find a good amount of items.
So, what about going out of town for more than a day trip?
Sourcing Overnight Trips
For lodging, I usually check out sites like hotwire.com, Priceline.com, and Airbnb (click this link to save $30 on your next Airbnb stay!). I don’t usually book an expensive hotel, but I find something decent for around $80-$100/night. This price range seems to be affordable enough that I can recoup my costs still once the inventory starts selling. Also, keep in mind that hotel/travel costs are a tax write-off when you travel specifically for your job, and I’ll talk about that a little further into this post.
I have driven out of town, and I’ve flown across country. For me, traveling to Los Angeles to thrift was entirely worth it. However, I was able to cash in airline miles for that trip, so I ended up only having to pay for Hotel/Rental Car while I was there. I mean, I found Gucci shoes at the bins.
And Mansur Gavriel.
The shoes alone that I sold from my bins trip in LA nearly paid for my trip out there. I spent 3 days sourcing every store I could get to, and I loaded up with brands I’m never able to find here in Tennessee.
If you decide to fly, look into cashing in airline miles, or check out sales on Southwest.com (which is a bonus because you get to check 2 bags for free). I flew Southwest to LA, packed lightly in a carry one, and checked a large suitcase with another suitcase inside of it. On the way back, I fit the majority of my finds in those 2 suitcases. Items I wasn’t able to fit in, I shipped back home. While there, I rented the cheapest car I could find so that I could have my own transportation and go wherever I wanted without dealing with Uber etc. Otherwise, check out name your own price on Priceline, or Hotwire’s cheap deals for flights.
If you choose to drive, don’t forget to use an app like Intuit Self Employed to track your mileage so you can deduct that on your taxes as well. Driving to a city a few hours away is sometimes easier, especially if it’s your first time traveling to source, because then you have your own car and feel more comfortable with getting around.
Planning Your Sourcing Attack
You get to the new city … now what? Where should you go?
I like to plan out my thrifts before I arrive. One of my favorite things to do is look for specific local charities — the more specific, the better items you find usually. AIDS Research, Autism Awareness, Humane Society — all of these causes have people who believe in their mission and want to support them with their donations, and people who donate better items will often travel to donate to their preferred cause, regardless if the store is located in a good part of town or not.
I sometimes reach out to other resellers in the area I’m going to and ask if they have recommendations. Please note, not every reseller will be willing to give away their honey holes, but they might be able to tell you which thrifts to avoid. I also just google “Thrift stores near…” and start making a saved list on my Google maps of thrifts I’d like to check out. I look at the store photos on Google, reviews, Yelp etc.
Sometimes the thrifts in the nicest part of town are a gold mine, but sometimes it’s the thrifts in the sketchy areas that you find the best treasures. There may not be as much competition from other resellers at those fringe thrift stores, and they still receive donations from the main city, but aren’t as picked over.
I try to plan out my days by grouping thrifts that are near each other together. I don’t want to spend hours driving in a strange city, so I look on Google maps, check out which thrifts are near each other, and in the morning I start at the furthest thrift and work my way back towards my hotel.
Making It A Worthwhile Sourcing Trip
Sourcing better brands is great and all, because it brings higher sales prices etc….but how do you make a trip out of town worth it?
I work with my accountant, Nicole, to make sure that I understand what I’m able to write off on my taxes when I travel.
Here is a quick list of most typical write-offs:
- Plane/Train/Bus tickets between your home and the destination
- Baggage fees
- Laundry & Dry cleaning during your trip
- Rental cars
- Hotel/Airbnb costs
- 50% of eligible business meals
- 50% of meals while traveling to and from your destination
- Inventory items
- Mileage if driving
I use Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed to track my expenses (click here to sign up and save 50%). I’m also able to track my mileage on this app, so I use it on a regular basis.
If you can keep your travel expenses low, which means having a flexible travel time based on when flights are cheapest etc, then once you deduct the expenses from your taxes, you can come out ahead for a couple reasons:
- you spend focused time sourcing
- you can often find much better brands than you usually find in your area
Now It’s Your Turn
Tell me in the comments where you’d love to travel for sourcing. I have a list of dream locations — Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, and obviously back to Los Angeles.
Don’t forget to look for discount codes for hotels or Airbnb to help you save money. Hit up airline sales, or try to find someone you know in the city that will let you crash with them.
Sourcing out of town can be a very fun adventure. You get to eat a real meal without kids hanging off you, you get to sleep in a little bit, you get to put on normal clothes and go get a cocktail.
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and give it a try! I can’t wait to see what amazing things you find.
Don’t forget to get your free copy of my BOLO Brands list that sell for $50