This week’s article is all about the sweet stuff. Cotton Candy. Particularly, Dr. Pepper and Hawaiian Punch Cotton Candy. In the group I run on Facebook, I have done small updates on the progress I have accomplished with selling cotton candy online. This article is to open the information doors a bit and let people know more about how I came to be known by many grocery store employees as the “Cotton Candy King”.
The beginnings of this adventure are quite like most other adventures I have had since starting reselling. It started with a bit of luck.
My wife and me realized too late that we were out of a certain ingredient for dinner that night. We had to make a grocery store run.
Most of us have been there at least a few times in life, right?
Well, where we live, we are very fortunate. We have over 10 Walmart locations, 4 Targets, 6 Dollar Trees, 4 Krogers stores, 4 Best Buy’s, and a ton of Dollar General/Freds’/Family Dollar stores within 30 miles of us (driving, not as the crow flies).
To say we had a bit of variety of where we went available may be a slight understatement.
We chose to go to this one grocery store that is nearby. They are not like Walmart or what Kroger is trying to become. They only sell food. No clothes, not even slippers during the summer or gloves during the winter. No clothes. They don’t even have a toy aisle and they only recently added a pharmacy.
Anyhow, this was the location we decided to go to because we were not interested in the time sink that is known as Walmart and Krogers. The Dollar stores around us probably did not carry what we needed so we went with a sure bet.
As we were going to the checkout lanes I noticed a new cotton candy display in the middle of the aisle.
I walked over by it, saw that it was Dr. Pepper and Hawaiian Punch Cotton Candy. There was no price, but I was still intrigued. Surely this stuff was less than $2 a bag.
We were in a hurry, so I did not spend a lot of time on it that night. I did ask the clerk that checked us out if the cotton candy was new. He said yeah and volunteered that it is not selling that well.
Undeterred I keep this on my mind throughout the next day while at my day job. At lunch I look up the listings for Dr. Pepper and Hawaiian Punch Cotton Candy on eBay and Amazon.
I see that on Amazon and eBay there are no listings for Hawaiian Punch Cotton Candy.
Since I am big on the cash flow way of thinking I decided this was worth checking out.
The Cash Flow Method
This is simply finding a reliable source for something at a great price that you can make money on, then listing it. When the item, or items, sell you swing by the store and pick up the item, throw it in the mail, and pocket the difference.
For me, cash flow items must be easily accessible in the store, available at more than one location, are cheap to buy, easy to pack and ship.
The Dr Pepper and Hawaiian Punch Cotton Candy fits those criteria because I found it at a few more locations. Some locations are closer to my home while others are closer to my day job and a post office.
This means I could run a cash flow campaign with it and see how it goes.
Back to the candy.
My first two bags sold within 12 hours of listing. I have them listed for $12 with free shipping on eBay. Two bag sets are the only way the few other sellers had document.write('Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy');Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy listed so I simply followed suit.
That first few days I moved almost 16 bags of cotton candy. All Dr. Pepper flavored. Hawaiian Punch was not moving. This told me to focus on the Dr. Pepper brand if the time ever comes that resources are scarce.
On Amazon sales took a little longer to pick up. I believe it was three days before the first sale came in from Amazon.
A week or so later though, Amazon is leading sales of Dr. Pepper brand and eBay is leading Hawaiian Punch sales.
Diversity is key.
Considering my competition on both eBay and Amazon were only selling Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy, I decided to add Hawaiian Punch as well. It was no more work to pick up Hawaiian Punch as it would be Dr. Pepper so why not?
This lead me to create listings for 1/2/3 bags. Then on top of that, I offer mixed listings for 2 and 3 bags.
The two Dr. Pepper and one Hawaiian Punch bag listing is picking up quite nicely now with repeat buyers.
One customer just bought three bags of Dr. Pepper, three bags of Hawaiian Punch, and a two Hawaiian Punch and one Dr. Pepper listing at nearly $50 total. A repeat customer, they sent me a message thanking me for the quick shipping on their first order (a single bag of Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy) and said that was why they were buying more from me.
Customer service is key. In the sale and in the buying process.
I am all for being up front about my intent for buying product. It is simple. No single person is going to consume/use 20+ of any one item.
If asked I am honest about it. I am not going to try and play off that I am somehow going to eat 25+ bags of cotton candy. I am not going to lie and say I have kids or am donating the stuff.
I simply tell them. I sell it online. I sell on Amazon. I sell on eBay. I sell on Facebook. I sell on forums around the web.
Most people don’t believe me or are just flabbergasted at the fact that people will pay my asking price for this stuff.
Like with the Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy. I was honest with employees at both stores.
The second location, closer to my day job, has been the most helpful. The manager there has alerted me to the fact that they are no longer carrying these flavors of cotton candy due to poor sales. I am apparently one of the few that buys any, and the only one to buy more than one bag at a time.
Same for the original location.
The manager at the first location has even asked me to make an offer on the pallet of Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy he has yet to cut into and open.
That is over 100 bags for anyone counting.
I offered $0.50 per bag and I would take them all. He countered a few days later with $0.14 less than retail.
I countered with $0.75 and he said he was firm on his previous offer.
Now, I would grab them at that price, that is a good $14 to $15 less than I would pay at retail. On one condition.
If I could not get them anywhere else.
Unfortunately, I also would have trouble storing over 100 bags of cotton candy in my home. My day job has a temperature-controlled area I could store it in if I get it.
The thing is, right now, it is not impossible to find so time is on my side with this negotiation.
As with any kind of selling opportunity, that could change in a second.
For now, I view that $0.14 difference as “storage” as I buy what I need as I need it.
Knowledge is power.
My father taught me a powerful lesson. Stores have only so much room, they have product in the back that must go out at some point. They are constantly receiving new product to put out. They cannot do that unless the product already on shelves is either bought or they pay an employee to remove it and dispose of it. Now, which do you think they will prefer happens? This is discussed a bit more in Adventures in Reselling #4.
The manager tipped his hand too soon. Had I not known he had a pallet available, and his position on the candy, I might have jumped on a $0.14 discount per bag (that is 10% off – sales tax for my area).
I am not trying to sound like a jerk to that manager. If my home was setup to store that much cotton candy I would help him out and take it off his hands.
Considering the situation though, it would be a detrimental act on my part to take that pallet off his hands right now.
Maybe if this type of opportunity arises again after we have our warehouse built then I could see taking on the challenge of moving that much candy as fast as possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is, I am in Arkansas. It is nearing 100-degree days and humidity above 100%. This can be extremely dangerous to a consumable product like cotton candy.
At the store, they can guarantee it stays safe and fresh.
Consumables are all about the freshness.
Reselling food items requires that you are delivering items that are fresh and safe to eat according to the use by date on the package.
That is why I am more than happy to let a store carry the product till I need it.
That doesn’t mean I will not keep any on hand. I keep 10 to 20 bags of the Dr. Pepper Cotton Candy and 5 to 10 bags of Hawaiian Punch on hand. This allows me to ship immediately and move older stock out first before replacing it with fresher stock.
Freshness here is measured nine months from the time it was made. That means there is a bit of time to go before I cannot sell the product any longer.
I do the same with Werther’s Sugar Free candies I sell (expiration is a good year out). Little Debbie snack cakes though, those are purchased as needed because the expiration is less than a month away.
I don’t feel bad letting stores carry product like this. They have thousands of customers a day come through their doors. Customers that may be interested in that product as well.
At the end of the day it comes down to good service. Good customer service taking care of your customers. Good service at places of business when you are buying product.
Without good service, you are not going to go far in business. Reselling or otherwise.
Adventures in Ebay Reselling #1 - Just Because the App Says They Have It, They Don't
Adventures in Ebay Reselling #2- The Adventure is Often Worth More than What You Resell
Adventures in eBay Reselling #3 – Where to Find Stock When Your Favorite Store is Sold Out
Adventures in Reselling #4 - Not Paying Sticker Price Works at Walmart Too