Selling magazines out of my trunk

not the paper kind

In 2012, I was such a hustler.

That year, there was some political upheaval in my home state of Colorado.

Our new rulers did what rulers do, and made some new rules.

One of these new rules changed the legality of owning certain firearm parts.

Gun magazines, specifically.

(It's the part that holds the bullets.)

Well, after the law was passed but before it went into effect, there was a mad dash to buy more magazines before they became unavailable, and prices skyrocketed.

…which enticed some people with extras to sell them at a massive profit.

Enter, the hustlers. Including me.

I discovered that in general, people with extra magazines had a LOT of extras, and wanted to sell them in bulk, not one at a time.

And the people who were buying usually only wanted a few.

This market needed a market maker. Someone who would buy the bulk lots, then split them up into onesies and twosies.

So seeing a hot opportunity, I became a part-time arms parts dealer.

I spent my weekends driving around town, buying up bulk lots.

Then during the week, on my lunch breaks, I’d resell them in small batches to individual buyers.

I was doubling or tripling my money every week, then rolling all the cash into new inventory for the next week.

My favorite transaction of them all, one that epitomized hustle for me back then, happened like this:

I found a local guy on the internet forums selling 4 pistol magazines for $100. I messaged him, agreed to buy them, and arranged a meetup in the Chipotle parking lot on my lunch break.

Without batting an eye, I immediately created a listing on a different forum for 3 pistol magazines for $120.

(This is the magic of “inefficient markets.”)

I had a buyer 10 minutes later.

I scheduled the second meetup in the same parking lot as the first one, just 15 minutes later.

I came back from lunch that day with a free pistol magazine, $14, and a Chipotle burrito.

It was delicious.

That summer, I made a lot of extra money. (And to reiterate, this was all legal at the time I did it.)

When it was all over, my eyes were opened.

I began to see abundant (and less controversial) opportunities everywhere I looked.

Within a year, I was consistently making an extra $1000 - $3000 per month or more by flipping things on Amazon.

(If you're one of the poor souls who paid me $80 for a $20 Yo Gabba Gabba keytar back in the day, I do apologize. Maybe next time don't put off your Christmas shopping until the last minute.)

Taking advantage of price inefficiencies between markets is called arbitrage, and you can make a lot of money finding arbitrage opportunities.

However, I discovered 2 big problems with this business model:

  1. Each opportunity is usually short-term. You must constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities, or the cash dries up.

  2. I felt like an a-hole. This just didn't feel like something I could be proud of. Again, sincere apologies to my keytar customers.

I was making money by finding market gaps and filling them, but didn't actually have an "asset."

It wasn’t until I discovered how to build “email lists”, “audiences”, and “brands” that I finally began building assets.

The power to communicate with a group of people who want to hear what you have to say is quite literally life-changing.

And if I should ever offer you something to buy, I will only do so if I know the thing is far more valuable than the monetary cost.

What is the takeaway from today’s novel? Just this.

  1. Gather a group of people.

  2. Find a gap in their market or a problem they can't solve.

  3. Fill the gap and help them solve it.

Share your thoughts? As long as you're not trying to return an overpriced keytar, I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for sticking with me through this one,