Dead Media Is Not Dead, It’s Selling On eBay. Interview With Jason T. Smith

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Transcript:

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Rob: [00:00:00] All right guys, today, we are super excited to have Jason T. Smith with Jason Thrifts, to talk to, give us some great pointers about his reselling business.

Melissa: Thanks for being on here with us.

Jason T: Thanks for having me. What’s going on, guys?

Rob: Not too much. We’re super excited to talk to you. Love to get a little bit of your background, kind of how you got into reselling, and start with that first.

Melissa: This is fun too, because we actually were on your show, it’s probably been two or three years now. It’s been awhile. And now we’re doing a podcast, we get to have you come on here, so it’s a lot of fun. Thanks for doing this with us.

Jason T: It’s always fun to be on the other side of the desk. You know, I love hosting and interviewing, but yeah, I love being a guest every once in a while too. I got started when I was six. My mom, well, my mom and my grandmother drugged me to flea markets and garage sales. And my mom lost me at the big flea market in our town. I just wandered away and she found me talking to the vendors, asking them what they were selling and why were they selling it?

I was a very [00:01:00] inquisitive little kid, and I didn’t really fully grasp it till I was about 10. And so this is back in the late seventies, early eighties. And I realized we, when we went to a community garage sale where the entire front yard of the school was, everyone had their table, there was a lot of toys, and I realized at that moment I can buy twice as many used toys as I could new toys, and I’d rather have more stuff than new stuff. So at that point I understood the value of used items, but I turned it into a career.

I lost my job in March of 2000 and I was kind of despondent. My wife and I were newly married, and how are we going to pay our mortgage with one of us out of work? And you know, like a lot of people do when you’re feeling depressed, you do a little retail therapy. So I went down to the local record store and I saw they had a table of dollar CDs. And this is April of 2000, so online selling was brand new and I’m like, these CDs have to be worth more than a dollar.

So I picked 20 of what I [00:02:00] thought were the best CDs, and I went home and I sat down, and I taught myself how to sell and I just kept on selling from that point on. It wasn’t a full-time gig cause I didn’t think it could be. So I, I finally went and got a job and I would sell in the evenings. And then about 10 years ago, I got an infection in my arm, spent five days in the hospital. We fought my life and the unhappiness at the real job I had and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a reseller since that full-time and also full-time teaching others how to do it.

Rob: I love it. I love it. And the cool thing is, I think that’s a misconception for a lot of resellers. It’s like, you can’t do this full time. I had to tackle the same thing for me. It’s like, you can’t do this full time and you can. You can absolutely do it full time. So that’s very, very exciting that, that was your realization. I thought I was the only one who had that realization, but now talking to you, I’m like, yeah, that’s how it is. That’s how it comes to be. So that’s really cool.

Jason T: But sometimes tragedy makes you have that rethink your life realization. I had this infection in my arm, stuck in the hospital for five days, had two life-saving surgeries to clean this infection out of my arm, [00:03:00] and in those five days I just sat there and thought, man, I hate my job. I hate going to work, and what am I going to do? Let me hustle hard at reselling and make it a full-time career. And here we are hanging out today.

Rob: That’s awesome, I love it.

Melissa: So what platforms are you mostly active on and did you start there?

Jason T: Yeah, so I’ve been on eBay for 22 years, and back then I was also on Half.com. That’s where I sold a lot of my CDs. Unfortunately, eBay bought Half.com, so that’s for you old timers out there. And then they ruined the brand and then just dissolved it. And then I got onto Amazon. I’ve been selling on Amazon for about 17 years. And as of the last, you know, five or six, I’m pretty big on Mercari and I use Etsy and Poshmark and Depop and Bonanza, and TrueGether, and Facebook Marketplace. So, I have about 10 that I’m currently on, at all times.

Melissa: Wow.

Rob: That’s awesome. That’s huge. I mean, 90% of our sales are on eBay.

Melissa: But we don’t really try to crosspost that much.

Rob: That’s awesome. That’s totally awesome.

Melissa: You mentioned CDs, so is that your favorite thing to still [00:04:00] resell?

Jason T: Oh, yeah. My two big things are music, so CDs, cassettes records, eight tracks, reel to reels. And then I collect a Tiki mugs. And if you don’t know what a Tiki mug is, when you go into a Tiki bar, you often get a cocktail in a ceramic vessel, and then you take it home. And then, so those are collectible, the old ones, the new ones, and then you can resell them. So I’ve also perfected essentially drinking cocktails for free. So you go to the bar, you get the cocktail with the take-home mug, and then you sell the mug on eBay. And the money you make on the mug is what the drink costs with the mug. So in an essence, the cocktail was free.

Rob: I love it. I love it. That is awesome for sure. A great thought process.

Jason T: Did that make me sound like an alcoholic? I hope not.

Rob: Another question that I’m thinking of while you’re talking so, I’m assuming you are a music buff. This is something that you enjoyed before you got into this? Talk a little bit about that cause that’s one of the things that we try to tell people too, is the best place to start reselling is definitely in something you enjoy or a hobby. So how did you get started in the music industry?

Jason T: My uncle threw me on the back of his [00:05:00] motorcycle when I was 10 years old. It was 1981 and we went and saw the Charlie Daniels Band at the height of The Devil Went Down To Georgia and I had seen the Donny & Marie Show when I was younger, but this was my first big, full concert, 20,000 people. It blew my mind. I was hooked from that moment on. And when I started selling those CDs, 22 years ago, I had always been collecting music. I still do. It’s 2021 at the recording of this, and I still have 4,000 CDs alphabetized into my house. Those are my personal collection, so I still love collecting music, but I realized right away that not everyone is everywhere where music is plentiful. You know, people who live in other countries, remote, remote parts of this country, don’t have the access I live in Vegas. I can go to LA, I go to Phoenix and so I’ve always collected it. Plus I worked for a chain of CD stores. The one I got laid off from was a stores in Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

So I worked throughout those three states and then I went to work for one of the biggest independent CD [00:06:00] stores in LA called Fingerprints. And then I moved to Tower Records back in the early 2000s. So I was a night manager at Tower Records in Hollywood. And so back then, if you wanted music or movies, you couldn’t, I mean, you could order online, but it was very, very in its infancy.

So if you were a celebrity, you just had to come to Tower. So all day long, I’m helping like Don Henley and Paul Stanley of KISS, and B.B. King and Meg Ryan. And so I got, you know, I, I got used to the used stuff from the used stores, but I also got, I understood merchandising and selling better from working for a big corporation, like Tower.

Melissa: So are the CDs still selling now with all the new downloads out that you can stream?

Jason T: That’s my wall of CDs for sale on Amazon. This week, I’ve shipped a $200 CD, $115 CD, $100 CD that was just a one-song Christmas CD.

Rob: Wow.

Melissa: That is a niche.

Rob: That is a niche.

Jason T: And that one I bought online on one website for $15, and then sold it on Amazon for a $100.

Rob: That is awesome. [00:07:00] So if you don’t know anything right now, this is an amazing business to be into, definitely the music industry.

Melissa: I had a question back when you were talking about how many platforms you’re listing on. So are you using a cross-posting tool to do that?

Jason T: Yeah. So I’m using a Chrome extension called cross-listed and that cross lists between eBay, Etsy,

Posh, Depop, and Mercari, and then some things like some of the high-end CDs, you know, there isn’t a hell of a lot of customers that are willing to pay $500 for a CD. There’s a few just not a ton. So I can put that on multiple platforms at the same time, with not any fear that there’s going to be a run and it’s going to sell in three places at once. Ten dollar CD, sure. $500? It takes a while for the customer to figure out where you are, but that’s why I use all these platforms. And that’s what people need to learn, especially when they’re new. Not every customer is on eBay. My last assistant who just moved, she had never been on eBay and she’s 44 years old, until she worked for me. Never.

And so, [00:08:00] but she’d been on Etsy and she’s sold on Etsy. She’d never shop on eBay, never sold on eBay, so you have to realize your customers aren’t in one place. So you’ve got to go find them because if you’ve got it listed on Amazon for two years and it hasn’t had a bite and you put it on eBay for one day and it sells, okay, that’s where that customer is. So you gotta figure that out and, and keep doing where they are.

Melissa: And start listing some more.

Rob: Yeah, that’s a great point, guys, he just pinpointed your customer might not be on the platform you’re at, especially if that’s your hobby. Whatever your hobby is, mess with those different platforms. You got to go and find where your customer’s at and like Jason is doing, he’s cross posting it. So you’re constantly doing research in your business to find out the best place for that. That’s a huge key point in this business, for sure. So, we’re not even doing that for sure, but now you’re encouraging me get out there and do that. That is a great takeaway for sure.

Jason T: The other thing that’s good about selling music as opposed to many other items, with some rare exceptions, when you list the CD or sell a CD, they’re all the same shape, size, and weight. [00:09:00] And so once you know how to ship one, you know, a pair of jeans, a pair of jeans can be for a little toddler, or it could be for a giant man like myself. Those are greatly different sizes. CDs are all four ounces and they’re all square.

Melissa: So how many hours right now are you putting into your reselling business and what, what is your average monthly income from that?

Jason T: So I put it a lot of hours. I don’t really keep track. I definitely, and this is what you need to know when you’re going to do this for yourself, you will work longer and harder than you ever have, and it’ll be way more satisfying and enjoyable.

And you can move about the country, especially if you have help. I do have two people helping me right now. And in the next seven days, I’m going to be in Cleveland, Vegas, Phoenix, and LA. And so I couldn’t do that at a regular job without saying I need the whole week off, boss. I’m the boss. So I put in long hours and I work at night when, my wife and I are watching TV, but we get to spend time together, I keep working. But I probably put in 60, 70 hours a week, but it’s stuff I love. I love finding these rare CDs. I love selling them. [00:10:00] And I do, you know, on average this year, I’m doing about $9,000 to $10,000 in sales a month, of my used product.

Rob: That’s no joke. That’s awesome. And it’s like you said, you highlighted, this is what you love. You’re not going to an office every day. You’re not punching on a keyboard. You’re actually out. You’re about, you’re visiting music stores. You’re sourcing, you’re selling, so it’s something that you absolutely love, and that’s how we feel too. It’s like, you’re not really working. You are working and there is work to add there’s aspects of work, but it’s still stuff that you love so you can continue to do it and grow, which is, it’s an amazing part of this business for sure.

Jason T: And you do get addicted to it, to the point where every once in awhile, if you have a spouse that doesn’t do what you do, and they’re like, can we have a little break, because we’re flying out tonight to see our folks. We have not seen our folks in two years and we’re flying tonight and I have all these pictures of CDs, preloaded. I’m getting wifi on the plane and I’m listing the whole way home. So, because I know the next couple of days we’re gonna be with my family and my wife’s family, so those days will not be any work will be done. I’m stuck in a plane seat for four hours, might as well list some CDs.

Melissa: We [00:11:00] try to do that before trips too, like, get as many pictures as we can so that while we’re

Rob: on the road, get them listed.

Melissa: Get them listed. Do you have a flip that, I don’t know if it’s a CD or something else that is like one of your more memorable things that sticks out in your head? A cool flip that you did?

Jason T: Well funny, I’m trying to ship it right now, but the shipping store next door, did me dirty yesterday. So after we’re done talking, I got to go pick up a box from another store. I picked up 14 chairs from a casino that was going out of business here in Vegas. They were 1970s, Herman Miller office chairs, and here’s a little tip. They hadn’t seen them yet. The people who are running the liquidation sale and of the 14 chairs, 13 looked about the same condition and one was just beat to death. So I took a picture of the beat to death one, and I walked back to the front of the liquidation sale, and I said, how much were these chairs? And he goes, how many are there? I said 14. He goes, ah, $50 each. I said, sure, so the one I’m shipping [00:12:00] today, I sold for $1,200.

Rob: Herman Miller is huge.

Jason T: I average about $1,100 a chair and I spent a $50 a chair because I was smart enough to show them the crappiest one.

Rob: Wow. That’s crazy. I know we, one of the auctions that we have down here sells those chairs. It’s actually, yeah. I don’t know where they come from, but I know. Yeah. That is one of the brand names that you want if you’re in, definitely office chairs, that is the name brand to go with so.

Melissa: The funny thing is we’ve bought them before and sold them. And, but we don’t keep that stuff because I’m like, why can’t we just keep the nice stuff because we gotta make money on it. We did the same thing with the strollers forever. We wouldn’t keep one of the Bob jogger strollers cause I’m like, oh, I can make $300 or I could keep it. I don’t know. I think we’ve got to sell it.

Jason T: Yeah. As much as I like music, when something comes in that Iwanted, and then I’m like, oh man, it’s a $300 record. Okay. I’ll just get the music in my computer and I’ll sell the record.

Melissa: Can you think of a, like maybe a flipping fail or one of an item, a flop?

Jason T: Well, you know, I, I made money, [00:13:00] but this is when I learned the lesson of time is worth money too. I bought 6,000 records out of a dude’s garage when I lived in Long Beach with my wife. We had a two bedroom condo and it took over our dining room for a year. You know, two bedroom condo, it wasn’t that big. It was like 1,200 square feet, but we lost a whole room for a year.

And when I looked back at the money that I made, it was money. Compared to what I spent to, what I made. I made thousands of dollars. But then as I grew in this business, I realized, oh my God, the amount of time I spent digging through those 6,000, because there wasn’t a ton of home runs and amount of time I and gas, I spent driving all over LA trying to trade in the stuff that wasn’t worth the time to sell online.

I think I lost money because I didn’t value my time back then, so it was a good learning experience. Everyone has to go through that, but yeah, that was a fail. Like I could have made the same amount of money, much smarter.

Rob: That is a great, great point in learning that, and then growing from that.

Melissa: Time is valuable, very valuable and to know your, what your time is worth.

Jason T: When you see people on Facebook going, you know what this customer is trying to screw me.[00:14:00]

I’ve been on the phone with eBay for three hours. I’ve posted my complaint in 12 Facebook groups. And I go, how much was this item that you’re spending three hours, $20. Look, no one wants to get being taken advantage of, but you’ve got to evaluate. Okay, am I going to piss and moan and try and figure out how to get this $20 back? Or am I going to list for three hours and sell a lot more? Yeah, that’s what you should be doing. It’s a $10,000 purchase. Okay. Fight for that one. $20, let it go, let it go.

Rob: That is, that is great advice. Do not tie yourself into this and screw yourself time-wise on something that is not worth it. And you’re right, if it is an expensive item, then, you know, go after it, do it. But if it’s not, don’t mess with it. And the other thing is mentally your brain gets sucked into negativity when you’re going after that. And it just screws you mentally, and you can’t straighten it out. If you just walk away from it or no, okay, let me go with two items and replace that $20, it’s one of those things that you have to know in the beginning. So I was going to ask you a story, I know you just told us recently that you actually did a trip and you, you visited [00:15:00] record stores or music stores while you’re on the trip and you were able to pay for the trip, which is pretty exciting. That’s cool. Can you tell us a little bit about when you do go away if this, if this is something that you live out, while you’re traveling?

Jason T: Unbeknownst to people who don’t collect music in 2021, there’s still 1,400 record stores in the United States, so they’re everywhere. So when I travel on my Google maps, I pinpoint all the record stores, especially if I’ve not been there, the ones I want to go to. And I lucked out, my wife is not in this industry and she used to get that glazed look when we’d be in a record store for longer than 20 minutes where I could spend hours. But I got smart at one point many years ago and I gave her a printed out list. Okay. Go to the soul section, go to Prince and look for this CD. It’s worth a $100. And so it was like a treasure map. And if she found one or two within that map, within that list, she goes like, cool, we keep on going and then I could work the rest of the store. So when we travel, she’s really enjoys it.

She knows how to scan and read it and everything. So we hit all the record stores cause she knows that what I bring home from those record [00:16:00] stores will pay for, if not all of it, at least part of our trip, because I can find those $100 CDs in any store. And people might say, don’t the stores know what they’re doing.

They do to a point, but also they only price for the customer who’s going to walk through the door in Phoenix. I price for the entire world because I ship worldwide, and so I can, I can command a higher dollar amount because I don’t have that small of a potential customer pool. So yeah, every trip has paid for, and it’s not just music.

I do some clothing stores too. Like we’re, we’re going to Phoenix for two days, next week. And I’ve got all the CD stores and like Buffalo Exchanges, the used secondhand clothing stores, all mapped out. I got my trades of my crap cause I take my junk in, they give me some money and then I buy better stuff.

Rob: That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s really, really cool. So being able to go on vacation and do this, and not only that, it’s not like a drag to you, it’s not like you’re really working. You’re actually out there having fun, doing this stuff you love, so that is so exciting.

Jason T: But the key, especially for [00:17:00] a spouse you find the things where you can source next to a fun place to eat or an amusement park or whatever you guys like, because as soon as you’re done, you just waltz right into that thing that the whole family’s going to enjoy. And then they’re like, oh, yay, cause they can see the prize. They can see the prize coming. Oh, dinner at our favorite restaurant is right next door to dad’s favorite thrift store.

Melissa: At the flea market, our kids get slushies or whatever they have icees in the middle it’s right in the middle. So they know if they make it halfway through, then they can get one.

Jason T: Exactly.

Rob: If you can tell, Jason has been in the business for a while. He’s got this thing planned out, how to intertwine it in his family, how to make money on vacation. I love it, man. That is awesome. That is so exciting for sure.

Melissa: What would be two or three tips that you would give to somebody who has you know, dabbled in reselling or they want to take their business and grow it?

Jason T: I would definitely start with what we already talked about. Start with what you know, but then the, the, the other half of that is you must expand.

Once I go into a thrift store and found out there’s no Tiki mugs and I’ve already [00:18:00] combed through the media, there’s still a whole big thrift store left, and so I can leave with bras, and purses, and dresses. I don’t wear any of those, but I’ve taught myself the good stuff, and while I’m in this store, I might as well grab all the good stuff and not just the good stuff that I love.

So that’s number one. Be prepared to fail and not sit in the corner and suck your thumb. Once you do, definitely learn from it. I host a weekly YouTube show inanda segment I had from the beginning, is my duds of the week. I show things that haven’t sold that should have, and I’m, or I shouldn’t have bought them and things that sold, like last night I share showed a CD.

I paid $6 and I sold it for $5.95on Amazon. So with Amazon fees, I lost a lot of money, but I want to show it to people who are new. I’m doing this for 22 years, I still make mistakes. And the mistakes come typically with, all suddenly people don’t care about that piece of music anymore. I bought it when they did, by the time I listed it, they don’t. So embrace your mistakes and really [00:19:00] learn from them.

And like, we kind of talked about prepare your family. If they’re not together and doing this, you know, I feel bad for those people go, my husband or my wife or my significant other hates my eBay business. And so you, you know, you got to have a supportive family, and so figure out a way if your, if your profit or slash death piles are taken over everything, maybe find a way to move them.

You know, but you’ve got to have a supportive family. If they’re not, you’ve got to have that sit down, say, this is, this is mommy, daddy’s, whatever’s busy. Here’s how it’s going to work. You can all help me and it’ll be better. And guess what? We’ll go to Disney World if you help me. See, got eye on the prize, always eye on the prize.

Melissa: Yes.

Rob: Or get a slushee if you go to the flea market, for sure. For sure. No, I get it. Those are great, great points for sure. And that’s something that everybody can learn.

Melissa: Personally, I was not into flipping whenever we got married. So it was something that I learned and it wasn’t, it’s not a real passion of mine. I enjoy it now. But I think the biggest thing for me is [00:20:00] once I saw what he could make. So like, like, oh, okay, well, we’re spending this much, but we’re making this much now. I’m like, okay, I could get into this making money thing.

Rob: And we adapt on your vacation as well. That’s the same thing we try to do. We try and find those items on vacation when we’re traveling that will pay for the vacation. So, that’s one of those things that she’s happy about making money on vacation, even if it takes a little bit of our time to pick something up.

Melissa: Yeah. An extra 30 minutes detour to go pick something up, off of OfferUp or whatever.

Rob: But happy happy wife, happy life.

Jason T: I’ve been with my wife since 1990.

And so, yeah, I understand that. We were in Maui once and it rained more than it’d ever rained in Maui, in the history of Maui. And it rained so much, she looked at me while we were just stuck in our room and she goes, let’s go thrifting. Now for my wife to say that in Maui tells you how bad the weather was, because she doesn’t mind going a little bit, but for her to suggest it is totally, totally next level.

I would like to add one more little tip is about the goal thing [00:21:00] where I’m talking right now is a house that I do not live in, but I do own, and it houses my entire business. And I realized at a point that our business, my business taken over our house and I understood the family, my wife, we don’t have any kids just was tired of it.

And I went to look for a commercial space and by pure luck, the house four doors down from us was for sale cheap and the owners wanted gone quick. And so I invested in this property to house my office and I’ve since gained a lot of equity in this property in just two and a half years. So it was the smartest business move I’ve ever made because at the end of a rental space, all you have is cashed checks. At the end of this, when I leave this, I’ll have made a lot of money on just the, the office, basically.

Rob: That’s very smart. That’s awesome. And a great tip too, for sure. So when your business is taking over your house, exactly. Go buy the house next door.

Jason T: And I mean, just the timing. It was amazing, but my wife just told me what the house is worth yesterday, compared to what we pay. And I’m like, yay. [00:22:00]

Rob: That is super exciting.

Melissa: You can’t sell yet though. Cause you got a lot of stuff.

Jason T: Oh no, no, no. I’m not going anywhere yet, but down the road, I’m like, yeah, this will be a nice, you know, because what, what the mortgage is, is what I was going to pay for in rent.

Rob: Exactly.

It’s the exact same. So boy, if you can pull it off and I didn’t tell people for a while, cause I thought people would be like, oh, he’s bragging, he has two houses. I’m like, no, it was a smart business investment, that’s going to pay huge dividends at the end. So if you can pull it off, do it.

Melissa: That’s what we’re renting. We just a year or so ago started renting a warehouse.

And I, I told him like, we really need to just get property and get a warehouse of our own. Then we own it and it makes so much more sense down the road. So that’s on the goal eventually.

Rob: Well, that’s good. I like your mindset too, though. Instead of going into commercial property, you got a house that can do the same thing,or you that you could move into whatever. If you move into it or use it as an office, I like that. I like that thought process a lot, and that’s a retirement for you. One day, you’re going to get a nice chunk of change when you go sell it and you’re ready to just, you know, [00:23:00] travel or do whatever with your wife, whatever your passions are, at that point.

Melissa: Back to Maui in better weather. So, where can everybody find you today?

Jason T: So my name is Jason T. Smith. I do have a business page for my Jason Thrifts on Facebook, but my big group is The Thrifting Board, it’s ,about, we’re about to hit 60,000 members. It’s a free group. Come on on, come on over. We have, resellers of all shapes, ,sizes, ages, brand new today, been selling for 30 years, whatever. And I do two YouTube shows every week. And my channel is just my name. Jason T. Smith. Thursday nights is thrifty business, have a guest expert on something every week. And then Sunday, I host one with my mom who is 78 years old.

Her and my dad are both 78. They sell on eBay and they kill it. They make a couple thousand a month, part-time at 78 years old. So when you say I can’t do this, I can’t do this, my folks can do it. They’re 78. You can do it too. So my mom and I, co-host a show, she co-hosts a [00:24:00] YouTube show with me on Sunday nights called Selling Past Your Expiration Date, Being Thrifty Over 50.

Melissa: I’ll check that out.

Rob: Yeah, that is awesome for sure. And you’re a busy man. You got a lot of stuff going on, but I’m glad you got all those different avenues that people can connect with you, so it’s very, very exciting. So, Jason, thanks for doing this, man. We appreciate it, that you jumped on here and gave some of your time and awesome, awesome tips on how people can be more successful in the reselling business. So thank you so much.

Jason T: Oh, thanks for having me. I love what you guys are doing and I love the energy you guys put out. So I am around anytime you want to do something. I think I have unlimited energy, then I watch you two, and I was like, I’m a slacker. I am, I am a slacker.

Melissa: That’s all him.

Jason T: It definitely bounces off of you too.

Melissa: I try. Sometimes he’ll just start talking and I’m like, I can’t, I just can’t.

Rob: Well cool. Well, thank you so much. Like I said, we’d greatly appreciate you, appreciate your friendship and all the great information that you’re bringing out to the workplace and the flipping industry for sure.

Jason T: Thanks, guys.

Rob: Thank you.

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Robert Stephenson

I grew up in Central Florida and have lived here my whole life. I first got into buying and selling items when I was 16 years old, and have been hooked ever since. It has mostly been a hobby that makes some extra cash, but sometimes it serves as my main income as well. I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I find too many fun toys for my family (or myself), and just love the whole process.

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