How to Avoid Getting Into Legal Trouble with Retail Arbitrage

If you’ve ever wondered how a new Gucci bag listed on eBay costs significantly less than the same bag offered through a Gucci store, the reason may include retail arbitrage.

In many cases, the practice is questionable and can land you in a lot of trouble.

What is retail arbitrage?

Retail arbitrage is defined as buying trademarked items, usually in bulk, from a retailer and then reselling those goods at a lower price.

Typically, the reselling is performed through online shopping sites such as eBay or Amazon; however, it can also occur on the reseller’s own website- or even at a yard sale he is having.

As opposed to retail arbitrage (RA), traditional retailers typically sign purchasing contracts with the manufacturers of the trademarked items before they are allowed to sell those items. In this way, the manufacturer is guaranteed a given percentage of profits from the sale of the items.

Also, the manufacturer works with the retailers to ensure that the items are presented a certain way, and any promotions that are launched are in compliance with the manufacturer’s desired brand image.

When a reseller purchases from a retailer with the intent of reselling, that reseller becomes, in effect, a wholesaler. Selling items as an unauthorized wholesaler is rife with legal landmines, including possible trademark dilution, selling to prohibited territories/countries, and inducement of breach of retailer contract (known legally as “tortious interference with contract”).

Retail arbitragers have even been accused of passing off used goods as new by manufacturers. This is because technically, a purchased retail good, even if it is still in the original wrapping, is legally defined as used.

Is retail arbitrage illegal?

If you currently engage in RA, and even if you don’t touch your inventory because it is all being handled by Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or some other drop-ship company, don’t think that, one day, a manufacturer won’t contact you. This post was published on an Amazon discussion forum after someone received a cease-and-desist letter from a popcorn manufacturer:

Retail Arbitrage issues

What makes these letters really scary is not that they ask you to cease and desist, which simply means taking down your listings and/or deactivating your store. What makes them scary is that you may have just purchased thousands of dollars of said inventory. Unless you quietly sell your merchandise at a yard sale or on Craigslist, you stand to lose your investment.

This is why you need to be especially careful when engaging in RA.

Luckily, if you follow the following “rules of engagement,” you are less likely to incite the anger of both manufacturers and retailers, and to get into legal trouble.

How to play it safe with retail arbitrage.

  1. Purchase non-trademarked bulk items. While it may be a challenge, you can purchase bulk items that are not branded with a major label like Gucci, Prada, Jimmy Choo, etc. Designer items are especially prone to surveillance by their respective manufacturers, so choose lesser known brands or even generics.
  2. Don’t sell knock-off or counterfeit goods. Even if you purchased them from a major retailer like Wal-mart, selling counterfeit goods will land you in legal trouble. Manufacturers and business can sue you for trademark infringement or, at the very least, notify marketplaces like Amazon and eBay of your activities. This will result in your accounts being suspended.
  3. Understand the first sale doctrine. In the eyes of the law, the first sale doctrine means that any good that you have procured legally, and which is authentic, can be re-sold by you. This is a law that you can cite should you receive a cease-and-desist letter in the mail. Check the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Kirtsaeng ruling for more information.
  4. Understand retail contracts. Having just pointed out the first sale doctrine, know that it applies more to copyrights than to trademarks. When it comes to trademarked goods, many manufacturers have their own trade agreements in place with select “authorized” wholesalers and retailers. If you aren’t one of those authorized distributors, expect a notice to appear in your email or mailbox.
  5. Don’t make it obvious. If you frequent certain stores, especially small stores, the merchants will probably call you out if you are routinely buying hundreds or thousands of dollars of merchandise there on a regular basis. This is because manufacturers often stipulate that retailers not sell their items “at wholesale or otherwise for resale.” Due to the terms of their contracts with manufacturers, retailers may eventually refuse to sell to you. To prevent this problem, vary your purchases at select stores and frequent a wider range of stores.
  6. Create your own private label products. Although some individuals manage to make a good income from RA, the journey is often rife with legal hurdles. To avoid these issues, you are best advised to start generating private label products (PLPs). This is performed by working directly with a manufacturer and having the factory generate bulk items for you to sell. I talk more about this selling approach here.

Can retail arbitrage work for you?

While my personal opinion of RA is that it has limited potential to make you a steady and full-time income, there are resellers out there who make a good living by using this approach.

Jessica Larrew is one such reseller who has made it in RA; Cynthia Stine is another.

The key to success in this field is to do everything by the books and not incite the ire of major designers and manufacturers. It also helps to know something about trade law and how to cite it in case you are flagged as a reseller.

I’ve Tried That Reviews Tribe Writers 2.0

This past Wednesday, I introduced Jeff Goins and his free e-book It’s Not Too Late.

In this e-book, Jeff defines a tribe, explains why every writer needs a tribe, and lays out the process of finding and growing that tribe.

Jeff bases his e-book on his personal journey to find his own tribe, which he succeeded in doing, but only after first quitting his blog of four years and starting a completely new one.

From 100 to 100,000 subscribers in 18 months

Jeff had maybe 100 subscribers when he started his new blog. Yet, within just 18 months, he went from 100 subscribers to 100,000. Six months into his new blog, he was being asked to sign a book contract.

This didn’t happen by accident or sheer luck. Jeff followed a methodical process of getting readers interested in his blog by first having them subscribe to his email list. Once subscribed, his followers received regular content chock full of value. Jeff also involved his subscribers in content critique and editing. This tactic not only provided Jeff with valuable feedback from his readers, it also provided those readers with a sense of pride in and ownership over what was being published.

By the time Jeff published his first book, he had amassed a loyal audience of over 100,000 readers who were more than happy to refer his work to their friends and family members. This prevented Jeff from experiencing the all-too-common problem of new authors- finding interested readers beyond a handful of close friends and relatives.

After all, the whole point of publishing is to actually publish, or to declare something to a wider audience.

But how does an aspiring author go about gathering this audience, or even declaring something worth hearing?

Welcome to Tribe Writers 2.0

The process of finding and growing a tribe is a bit more involved than what can be summed up in a single blog post- or even 10 blog posts.

To this end, Jeff developed a course called Tribe Writers that illustrates how one can go about finding, growing and nurturing a loyal base of followers.

Tribe Writers was so successful in its first launch that Jeff added even more material to the course and is now launching Tribe Writers 2.0.

I recently had the privilege of looking over this course and its materials. Jeff had granted me with full access behind the scenes and what I discovered has inspired me to pick up where I left off in my own journey to be an author. In brief, Jeff’s course was the kick in the pants I needed to get back in gear and finally publish my novel.

Tribe Writers 2.0 contains four learning modules comprised of the following subjects:

1. Honing Your Voice

In the first module, Honing Your Voice, you learn how your voice fits into the overall scheme of things. You learn that what you say isn’t as important as finding an audience with whom your message will resonate. And there is an audience out there for your message, so don’t worry about that.

Jeff describes how good writing is the kind of writing that some people will get, but not necessarily all. That’s because, in Jeff’s words, “If you’re writing for everybody, you’re writing for nobody.”

Also, good writing is brief and to the point. Finally, all good writing is actually copywriting, which is defined as writing with an outcome in mind.

2. Establishing Your Platform

In this module, Jeff states that you need to establish a platform in order to amplify your voice, communicate regularly with your tribe, and attain a level of legitimacy with your message. To this end, Jeff recommends starting a blog and, by association, a website.

Jeff identifies five different blogging platforms that you can choose from to identify your unique platform personality. After that, he discusses the process of finding your platform’s focus- in other words, what subject are you going to blog about?

The module finishes with Jeff teaching you how to write a blog post and how to craft a great headline.

But wait!

Before you leave this module, Jeff introduces his course-with-a-course, called Intentional Blog. Here, in a completely separate set of modules, Jeff offers valuable blogging lessons on topics like how to set up your autoresponder, write cornerstone content and guest posts, find and interview experts, and find photos.

This course alone spans five modules and 33 total lessons, plus four recorded coaching calls.

3. Expanding your reach

At this point, the assumption is that you’ve created your blog, chosen its focus, and have written a few posts. Now it’s time to build your email subscriber list.

Jeff goes over the email newsletter services that are available, how much they cost, and how you can use sign up forms on your website and blog to grow your list. He also talks about creating a unique incentive for people to subscribe, such as an e-book.

Granted, creating an incentive such as an e-book is a time-consuming process. Also, you have no guarantee that people will even want your incentive. How do you create demand for your promotional item?

By getting your fans involved in the process of generating it. This way, your fans are emotionally invested in your incentive and have a sense of ownership. Also, because they’ve helped you create this item, you’ve had to do a lot less work as a result.

4. Getting published and paid

The end result of all the time and effort you’ve spent setting up your blog, growing your subscriber list, creating your incentive(s), etc. has been to get published and paid for your book, article or other piece of content.

Jeff provides a process for doing this, including contacting editors at publications (e.g., magazines) and pitching them. If you want to publish a book, such as a novel, Jeff outlines how to create a book outline (i.e., a book proposal).

If you are unclear about whether you should self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, there is a full segment devoted to the pros and cons of either approach. Likewise, Jeff talks at length about literary agents and why having one is a good idea, especially as you start out in book publishing.

That leaves you with the final step- launching your book. However, you should not leave your tribe out of this phase. In fact, going to your tribe and involving it directly in your book launch (which is actually a three-phase process) is one of the best moves you can make in terms of successfully launching your book. Jeff outlines how you can approach your tribe for help- and turn your tribe members into your book’s best advocates.

What else does Tribe Writers 2.0 offer?

In addition to the 4 modules and 34 lessons provided in the Tribe Writers 2.0 course, and the course-within-a-course Intentional Blog, there is yet another meaty bundle here- a complete WordPress 101 course, which is divided into 4 modules and 23 lessons. This WP 101 course teaches you everything you need to know about setting up your WordPress-based blog and even integrating a custom Tribe Theme into it, which Jeff uses on his own website.

Add to this a member forum that is divided into separate discussion areas based on the individual modules provided by Tribe Writers 2.0. And finally, there is a separate resources area packed with interviews, additional lessons, free e-books, and product discounts and offers.

To keep everything straight and measure your progress through all these lessons and exercises, Jeff also provides Tribe Writers members with a downloadable workbook.

The Tribe Writers 2.0 tally

So, what do you get with Jeff Goins’ re-vamped Tribe Writers 2.0? Here’s the final tally:

Tribe Writers 2.0: 4 modules, 34 lessons total

Intentional Blog: 5 modules, 33 lessons total, plus 4 recorded coaching calls

WP 101: 4 modules, 23 lessons total

32-page Tribe Writers Workbook

Interviews including:

– Tim Grahl: Results-Driven Tribe-building
– Corbett Barr: It All Starts with Passion
– Brandon Clements: Using Amazon to Get Found
– Daniel Decker: Getting Published — What Does It Take?
– Joe Bunting: Living & Working as a Full-time Writer
– Marion Roach Smith: How to Get Published in Magazines & Get Featured on NPR
– Tor Constantino: How to get 12,000 Likes on Your Facebook Page
– Mary DeMuth: Managing a Fiction & Nonfiction Platform
– Paul Angone: Self-publishing Like a Pro
– Randall Payleitner: An Insider’s Perspective on Publishing
– Carol Tice: Freelance Writing & Building a Blog-based Business
– Sean Platt: Finding a Fan Base to Support You
Bonus interviews with Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Michael Hyatt

Live Chat area

Tribe Writers Forums area

Learn more about Tribe Writers 2.0 here

If you would like to get a taste of Tribe Writers 2.0, Jeff Goins offers his e-book called Every Writer Needs a Tribe. This e-book provides a great introduction to his course. Best of all, it is completely free.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by reading this inspirational e-book, which will help you launch your own plans on how to become a successful and published author. Download it here.

Why Does Every Writer Need a Tribe?

Are you an aspiring author who has always wanted to publish a novel or non-fiction book but are scared about receiving negative reviews? Maybe you’ve already written and published a book…only to be disappointed by its lackluster sales and lack of interest on sites like Amazon.

You’ve perchance wondered why a certain someone earned $95 million for fan-based fiction riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, not to mention a ludicrous storyline concerning 50 shades of a certain color. You may have even asked yourself how this person has so many followers when her writing isn’t even that good?

Whether it’s fear of criticism, lack of popular interest, or just a lack of understanding about how to create the right platform for your book, something  has been amiss in your campaign to become a published author. As a result, that great American novel gets put on the backburner for tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Never today or right now.

Meet Jeff Goins of Tribe Writers 2.0

Jeff Goins is a self-published and traditionally published author who believes that every writer needs a tribe if that writer is to be successful and actually sell his books. In fact, Jeff believes so strongly that every writer needs a tribe that he developed a multi-lesson course on building one; this course is called Tribe Writers.

The Tribe Writers course was so successful that it is now undergoing a re-vamp and is about to be released in 2.0 format.

What is this ‘tribe’ stuff all about?

So, what is a tribe, at least according to how Jeff views it?

“A tribe is a small group of people that share a common interest,” he says. However, “a tribe is not everybody.”

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin defined a tribe as a small group that has a leader, a message and a way for members to connect to one another.

As a writer, you need to establish yourself as the leader of your own tribe, hone your message to that tribe, and empower your members so that they have ‘social currency.’ In case you’re wondering, social currency is a kind of psychological parameter that’s measured in how smart or popular or interesting your members look to those people they are influencing.

However, the idea of having a tribe isn’t just so you have some online fans. Publishers work with authors based not so much on their content but on the following that they have. Literary agents also look at how much marketing they will need to do after taking you on as a client. If you’re not well-known in the social media and blogging world, and you have no followers, who exactly is your book audience going to be?

The measure of a tribe isn’t what you think.

Your tribe isn’t defined by the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have. It isn’t even defined by the number of comments on your blog posts.

Your tribe members are actually defined by your email list.


Because email is personal, and thus it’s still the best way (outside of postal mail) to reach people directly.

As marketers say over and over again “The money is in the list.” Likewise, the people who are most likely to support you, to recommend you, and to inevitably buy your book, are your email subscribers.

Jeff notes that one of the first questions he was asked when discussing marketing strategies for his upcoming book was, how big was his email list?

In other words, how many tribe members actually subscribe to regular messages from the tribe leader? How many tribe members are available to recommend the tribe leader’s published book, or even the leader herself? Without referrals and recommendations from loyal tribe members, it’s unlikely that people unfamiliar with a book are just going to buy it.

How do you find and grow your tribe?

Jeff talks about how writers need platforms in order to legitimize and to amplify their message. In today’s age, that platform is a blog.

Jeff Goins describes how he reluctantly quit his 4-year-old blog, a blog that had maybe 100 subscribers. He then started a completely new blog.

Within 18 months, Jeff’s new blog had amassed over 100,000 subscribers and several book publishing offers.

How did he do it?

In a nutshell, this process involved the following:

  • Targeting a small, defined community of readers with a similar mindset.
  • Not just operating a blog, but operating a blog that provided value for its readers.
  • Pursuing passion, not profit or popularity.
  • Creating and offering an incentive for readers to sign up to the blog’s email newsletter.
  • Offering readers a sense of involvement and ownership in the blog and its content.
  • Establishing personal expertise by selectively interviewing other experts.

Jeff describes the process he followed in Tribe Writers 2.0, which is launching this week; he also outlines the principles in his free e-book called Every Writer Needs a Tribe.

Take your next step today.

If you have always wanted to publish your novel, short story or non-fiction book, what’s holding you back? Time waits for no one. If you have doubts about being “good enough” or finding an audience that shares your passion, then Jeff’s e-book Every Writer Needs a Tribe is for you.

Download it today.
Read it.
Find your tribe.
Write your passion.
Publish your work.

How to Earn Extra Cash as a Senior Move Manager

If you’re good at household organization and like to socialize, becoming a Senior Move Manager (SMM) might be for you.

What is an SMM?

An SMM helps older individuals relocate and (usually) downsize their belongings. Oftentimes, this involves helping a senior citizen move into an assisted care facility or other senior residence. The issue faced with such an undertaking is that there are a number of logistics involved, including the following:

  • Consolidating/reducing current belongings
  • Packing and transporting current belongings
  • Cleaning, repairing and staging the current residence
  • Finding a realtor and selling current residence
  • Finding a suitable new residence
  • Organizing movers and moving remaining belongings
  • Unpacking belongings and organizing belongings in new residence

Oftentimes, the family of the senior citizen undertakes such tasks; however, that is an ideal situation where family members live nearby and don’t have extremely tight schedules. When such a situation is lacking, the senior citizen may delay moving, or not move at all. This is not always ideal, especially if that senior has physical and/or memory issues that progress with time.

To this end, there are SMMs who step in and take care of house staging and selling, estate sales, moving, etc. They are paid by the hour and can specialize in a very discrete area of the move, such as consolidating belongings, or they can get involved in all aspects of senior moving.

Your actual SMM tasks may not be what you imagined…

You might be assuming that, as an SMM, you’ll be involved in a lot of back-breaking labor like moving couches or cleaning behind refrigerators. You may also be assuming that, as an SMM, you’ll be spending long weekends away from your home organizing knick knacks and pricing items for an estate sale.

In actuality, the role of the SMM is more of a manager of movers, cleaning crews, realtors, etc. Your primary goal as an SMM is oftentimes to simply convince the senior citizen that it’s in her best interest to move. Alternately, the client you are working with may be ready to go, but simply can’t decide how he will part with his extensive collection of art prints or trains or antique teapots.

To this end, your best work will often be performed by simply listening to your client and offering helpful suggestions. Remember that, as an SMM, you are not the POA or the family of the client. Thus, the hard task of consolidating precious heirlooms or keepsakes will not be for you to complete. However, in coordination with the family or the client, you can offer suggestions such as donating some items to charity, placing them into storage, or taking photos of the heirloom collections and displaying those photos instead of the actual items.

For many SMMs, the work is more a calling than just another job. You will be called upon to be not only a manager but a listener and even a counselor. You might form close friendships with some of your clients or their families. As with caregiving, the clients you work with will depend on you for guidance and assurance as they transition from homes they may have been in for over half a century. Thus, it pays to have a caring heart and a sympathetic ear.

How much money do SMMs make?

In some states, SMMs are able to charge from $40-$125 per hour. If you choose to work with an established franchise, the basic starting rate is $9/hour but quickly increases with training and experience. Overall, you’re better off starting your own franchise and hiring people as you advance in experience and number of clients.

Where can you learn more about being an SMM?

Just like with most work-at-home professions, SMMs can undergo training from a variety of organizations on the nuances of getting started, networking, marketing their services and pricing services accordingly. There are at least four well-known online resources:

NASMM– The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a trade association that offers not only education and training on becoming a SMM, but even a yearly conference. The NASMM also operates an accreditation program that reviews other SMM companies and accredits them accordingly.

Caring Transitions– This outfit operates in 35 states and has 116 franchise locations in the USA and Canada. With CT, you can launch your SMM business in just six weeks and start marketing to area nursing homes, hospitals and senior centers. Best of all, the training and work can be conducted from home.

Smooth Transitions– The ST organization operates offices in 26 states as well as Canada and New Zealand and is both a training center and license provider for people who are starting their own SMM businesses. With Smooth Transitions, you can get a head start with your SMM business, download workbooks, learn about setting your rates, and lots more. In exchange for this know-how, you’ll pay a start-up and licensee fee to ST. You can also purchase your NASMM membership at a discounted price on their website.

eSMMART– This organization conducts training of new SMMs, as well as certification of SMMs who have been in the business and conducted at least 40 invoiced moves. eSMMART offers lots of useful courses on topics like dementia, hoarding, aging in place, and the senior living industry in both the USA and Canada.

How much does it cost to get trained?

The training sites that specifically state how much training and licensing will cost estimate around $5,000 total. While this is a pricey sum, keep in mind that the senior population is booming, and there is a very real need for people to help seniors.

Summary: Should you consider being an SMM?

If you like working with seniors and consider yourself to be a good negotiator, you will likely thrive in this arena and make a decent living too. In time, you might even outsource your tasks to employees and function in a more business lead generator role. While being an SMM does take some training as well as patience, the rewards (monetary and otherwise) can be worth it.