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Quartzsite 2017

After getting off the cruise ship and picking up Irene’s car, she drove me to a liquidation business nearby. I signed up with them as a reseller and we got a tour of their warehouse. I could have signed up online but business is about relationships so I wanted meet the account rep they would assign me and get a better feel for what kind of items you can find through them and how the items are handled.  It was well worth the trip. There were several flea market vendors there picking up pallets of goods as well as small Mom and Pop stores picking up. I get how that works now and see how many of the Quartzsite vendors are getting their wares. These lots are from major stores as customer returns, overstocked items, and shelf-pulls to clear space for new items or eliminate slow sellers. The warehouse had all kinds of goods, anything you could want. I did have to laugh a little when the rep proudly showed me a pallet of shoes and when I opened one box, there was an old worn out pair of boots in it. Obviously, an unscrupulous customer had done a fraudulent return and it had not been caught at the store. Some people! I couldn’t buy anything at the time since I had flown out and would not be home for over a week but the trip there was definitely worth it.

After a quick stop for groceries, my friend dropped me off at CruiseAmerica to pick up my rented motorhome. I had checked out other RV rental companies but despite having badly designed RVs, they still have the best deal in town. Before long, I was on the road (or rather in the Los Angeles traffic) to Quartzsite, AZ.

It was late at night when I pulled into Mayflower County Park in Blythe, CA to see old friends and get the park gossip before heading on. As it so happened, the spot I chose to park in was right next to one of my friends and she came out to help me park. She was surprised to see me after 4 years and unannounced! She helped me out with a sleeping bag and pillow since I wouldn’t have those until I met up with my sister the next day. I took my time the next day to visit several of my old friends and take a walk around the park. They finally got new bathrooms built and closed the old ones. The park was fairly full but still had plenty of sites for us wanderers. It felt good to be back. I used to winter there and always found them very friendly and fun.

In the afternoon, I left and headed on over the state line to Quartzsite to meet up with my family for a week of fun, shopping, and pranks. I also had serious reporting to do for my other website, RVQuartzsite.com . I found them at the La Posa West LTVA behind the Big Tent and we circled our wagons. I did goof and forget to bring exact change for the LTVA permit. I had to borrow $5 from my brother-in-law to pay for my campsite. Thanks, bro!

My Quartzsite Family

We had a good week in Quartzsite. I found some goodies to buy, tried Silly Al’s pizza (very good!), had ice cream every day, enjoyed the campfires, played lots of cards and dominoes, and got plenty of exercise walking around. There were some open booth spaces which I hope is not going to be a trend for the future of Quartzsite. The Progressive Insurance booth did not have their golf game this year but was still giving away great prizes so we hit them up every day. My insurance agent whom I met at Quartzsite was there again this year so I stopped by her booth to tease her a bit and get a hug. I managed to get another hug at the Escapees booth. Hey, single people take them where they can get them! I enjoyed the pretzels at the dip booth again this year and finally gave in to buy the grater dish and garlic roller you see there every year. The food booths were good though expensive as always. In the evenings, the local radio station was playing a perfect 1970’s mix for us old fogies. It was delightful.

Quartzsite Big TentProgressive Insurance Quartzsite boothMy cool wood carving

Quartzite RV show food boothSilly Al's pizza

One day, I stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce to meet the person I had been speaking to for so long about Quartzsite activities and to get information on current local changes. It helps to put the face with the name and voice. Very nice woman and while short, the meeting was helpful.

Getting out of town to return the RV to Los Angeles and hop another plane at LAX was not fun at all due to traffic. Aargh! I’m glad I left a day early to get closer to L.A. to be sure I didn’t miss my flight. It also gave me a chance to camp at Fisherman’s Retreat in Redlands, CA. Very nice campground I will probably stay at again. The food in their restaurant was very good and they have a nice clubhouse and store.

Fisherman's Retreat lakeFisherman's Retreat poolFisherman's Retreat play area

Fun on the High Seas

Time for another cruise and being able to combine it with both business and a trip to Quartzsite for the annual RV and Sportsman’s Show was too much to pass up. This time I sailed on the Carnival Imagination out of Long Beach with my childhood pal, Irene, who lives near there. This was her first cruise so we opted for a 3 night quickie to see if she likes it.

I broke my own first rule of cruising and flew in the same day of the cruise. Please don’t follow my example. Flying the day of a cruise is very risky. Your car could break down on the way to the airport or the flight could be delayed or even cancelled. Fly in a day ahead of time. I broke the rule because every day I don’t work it costs me a lot of money and I was already going to be gone for two weeks. To me the gamble was worth it even if I missed an inexpensive cruise. I still had business in the area and Quartzsite to go to.

After picking me up at LAX airport, we drove down to the pier in Long Beach. The terminal area is actually rather pretty and there is a restroom located away from the main building which makes it easier to use. Once we got in line, we felt like royalty as we were immediately ushered past the rest of the line thanks to purchasing Faster to the Fun. Talk about fast check in! They rushed us through and got us on the ship within minutes. Woohoo!

We dropped off our carryon luggage in our interior room and headed out to explore. The Imagination is the smallest ship I have been on yet and a little bit of a disappointment. The ship itself was fine but it has fewer pools and hot tubs than I am used to and not as much to explore. There is a small water slide area at the back of the ship and it does have a Serenity adult only area though it is very well hidden.

Carnival Imagination shipCarnival Imagination waterslide

The food did not disappoint though traveling with a vegetarian was certainly a new and interesting experience for me. Thank goodness my carnivore nature did not bother Irene but she did have a harder time finding food she could eat. She never complained though. We did both enjoy the mushrooms and carmelized onions at Guy’s Burgers and raided them a couple times during the trip. For the Main Dining Room, we did anytime dining and the food was good there as well though a bit different again from what I am used to due to changes in the menu fleet wide. We did make a point of going to the Dr. Seuss breakfast to eat green eggs and ham with the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2, and George. Of course, Irene did not eat ham and I chose steak instead of the ham but we ate green eggs! Sam I Am!

Me and the Cat in the HatMe and George ThingsGreen eggs and steak at Dr. Seuss breakfast

Our cabin was great! I wanted Irene to have an excellent first experience so rather than reserving “just” an interior room, I got us a porthole room for only a few bucks more. We got sunlight in through the windows to lighten the room up and could see out a little. It was cheaper than an oceanview room and still gave us the main benefits of one. I recommend them highly. It was smaller than oceanview with no couch but it was fine for us.

Porthole room

While waiting to test drive the pizza shop on board late one night, we ran into the piano player from the Piano Bar. He was an interesting young man who had been called in quickly to replace someone and had a big world tour gig coming up with another cruiseline. We joined him in the Piano Bar for the rest of the evening for some fine music and every night after. Oh, the pizza was pretty good this time. Better than on previous ships though Dominoes and Pizza Hut have nothing to worry about.

The Piano Man

There was a very large group on board of radio station fans of a particular Tejano music band. They partied every night and the music was terrific! One night the band performed by the pool on Lido while everyone danced and another night they performed in the theater. That was a nice unexpected perk.

Tejano band and fans

Our first stop was at Catalina Island. I was a teenager many moons ago when I was last there. It has certainly changed a lot since then but it is still a nice place for a weekend getaway from Los Angeles. We rented a golf cart to tour the island on our own and took turns driving. You can easily tour it in 2-3 hours as it is a very small island. We made it more fun by geocaching along the way with my phone. We found several caches. Couldn’t find one. After dropping off the golf cart, we hit the shops and found a cruise ship and a sail boat charms. I had hoped to find a charm of the Sea Smoke catamarran I sailed on with the Girl Scouts the last time I was on Catalina but struck out. I knew it would be a long shot after so many years. It was a a beautiful day on the island, though, and I look forward to going back again.

Avalon Harbor, Catalina, CACatalina IslandKissing a Catalina seal

Our next stop was Ensenada, Mexico. We went on the tour to La Bufadora Blowhole. It’s an area where the waves enter a gully, crash on the rocks, and explode up into the air. It was worth seeing once. This is also a huge tourist attraction with numerous shops along the path to the blowhole. While they promote the shopping a lot with coupons, there is no time to do any shopping while there. They really need to add more time to this excursion. We had just enough time to see the blowhole, use the restroom, and quickly eat some excellent fish tacos before being shuffled back on the bus. They could at least eliminate the wine tasting at a historic building on the way there. I liked the building and once upon a time many famous people went there to enjoy it as a casino but it is not a big deal now.

Ensenada, MexicoLa BufadoraLa Bufadora market

I know I enjoyed the cruise very much. Any cruise is a good cruise. I still don’t know how Irene feels about cruising but hopefully I can convince her to go again. We did discover that we are both gimps. We both had issues with our legs onboard. Like an idiot, I failed to bring my cane since I have been working out and walking so much better. Um, that does not matter when one is walking all over a ship, an island, and a blowhole. Lesson learned. I bought another one as soon as we got back to Long Beach for the rest of the trip.

Workamper Selling Online

I have started selling on Amazon and Ebay using a wonderful thing called FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon). What makes it so great is that rather than trying to store a ton of merchandise in your RV and cart it around with you, you send it all into Amazon’s warehouse and not only do they store it for you for a fee, they also market it, sell it, take payment, ship it, and handle the customer service afterwards including returns. They will also ship to customers who order from you on other venues like eBay or your own website. This system is great for RVers! Before you get too excited, it is also a lot of hard work and while you most certainly can start with little investment, you will need to keep reinvesting in inventory and tools to grow such a business. How fast you grow depends on the decisions you make, time you put into it, what you sell, and many other factors. Amazon does not make it super easy. They love to change the rules and throw up roadblocks here and there. You will need to be flexible and determined. Their support people are incredibly frustrating and unhelpful. So why do it? Because you can make a huge amount of money selling online, at flea markets, swap meets, out of rented storage lockers, etc.

Most folks start with retail arbitrage which is catching items on sale or clearance at regular stores and thrift stores as you travel and then reselling them at the normal price or a slightly discounted price. Online arbitrage is the same thing except you you do it through your keyboard from home. You would not believe the kind of deals available out there and you can make them even sweeter by using rewards credit cards, rewards sites like Ebates.com, and gift cards purchased at a discount online.

To create an easier, lasting business you want to move to wholesale as soon as you can get accounts accepted by wholesalers though wholesale prices aren’t always that great. You can also buy wholesale pallets of new overstocked items or returns that stores have gotten rid of and get them at steeply discounted prices. Not every item will be in new condition and some may only be good for parts but there are good loads out there and ways to sell most anything for a profit.  Eventually many sellers move into private labeling items purchased overseas and imported to create their own brand and lessen competition. Bundling is another option where you take two or more different items that go well together and bundle them to form a new third item others can’t easily duplicate.

There are lots of books on Amazon and blogs online on the subject to read. Many tools, both software and physical, are also available to make it easier to find products to sell with a good return on investment, find the discounts, make listing easier, track sales and expenses, print labels, package items, ship items, etc. Many tools are free or a one time payment. Others involve a monthly fee and should only be considered once you have tried selling online, met some success, and decided to keep at it.

If you like making things, Amazon now has a handicrafts department and Etsy is good for that. I have sold crocheted items on eBay.

I’m just starting out but have had some success. It took some effort and expense but I managed to get permission from Amazon (known as “ungating”) to sell in their top 3 categories which are closed to new sellers. They make you jump through a lot of hoops and most folks have to repeat the hoops numerous times to get ungated and some give up. I got in on the first try. It pays to do your homework. 😉 These categories have a lot of items that people buy over and over (replenishables) so they are very important for sustaining a business.

Right now I sell anything I can buy low and sell higher but I am forming a direction or niche for my business to capitalize on my current websites. I already have a tax resale permit and business entity which are necessary to not pay sales tax on purchases, remit sales tax collected, be taken seriously, and unlock business doors. I got inexpensive business cards for meetings and trade shows. Today I got business insurance which is a must and not expensive so it is all coming together. A better business bank account is next.  I am also branching out to other marketplaces for items Amazon won’t let me sell and to cross-sell to other audiences. A lot of folks are also using local Facebook groups and Craigslist to sell when in an area for a long enough time or not RVing.

Next year, I am going to a tradeshow in Las Vegas to meet wholesalers and manufacturers. Woohoo!

It’s an up and down ride like a roller coaster so bear with me as I post updates.

Desperately Seeking…

Are you happily traveling on the open road right now or sitting at home already with the RV winterized and out of commission for the winter? Are you looking for somewhere to go or something interesting to look at or do? Maybe you feel it is time to start seeing and collecting photos of “The World’s Biggest…”. There are so many cool things to see and do all around us. How do you find them? On the internet, of course! For a good time call… oops, wrong wall. For a good time browse to http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/ and http://www.roadsideamerica.com . I guarantee you will find something there to have some fun and maybe earn some bragging rights. Don’t forget to check online for discounts if tickets are needed and bring your camera or we won’t believe you really saw the World’s Biggest Frying Pan, toured a cool cave, ate lunch on an aircraft carrier, found an island where cars are banned, or drove a bathtub. LOL

World's Largest Frying Pan, NCWorld's Largest Frying PanDesoto Caverns

Lunch in Charleston, SC on aircraft carrierMackinac Island, MIDesoto Caverns, AL