It seems as if every time I visit Robby's store he's standing out front, to the right of the glass door entrance, chuffing on a cheap cigarette and spitball musing with one or two guys about music, motorbikes, and good food. From there, it always goes down the same way with our initial greetings. I park and get out of my red Honda Civic, and he gives me the same look every time as welcomes me to come inside and take a look around. It's a half suspicious, half knowing, look that says to me clearly without saying anything out loud: I hope you've come here buy something expensive today... but you're probably just here to hassle me and buy a pack of strings again.
Robby is short, squat, has wavy, indifferently quaffed salt and pepper old guy's hair. He also has the sort demeanour that belongs to a guy who's played electric guitar for most of his life and has been a buyer and seller of them for just about as long. Robby knows music, knows music gear, and is seemingly good at using both kinds of knowledge to make a decent profit buying and selling vintage music gear in the store he owns near where I live. So, I swing by his shop regularly to pick up gear for my own musical endeavours, and when I do that, I usually ask him questions about what it takes to do what he does. You know, because I fancy the idea of flipping guitars every now and then. And one of the best pieces of advice Robby has given me about buying and selling goods was as follows.
Robby told me he had spent some time working on the floor of a Harley Davidson factory ages ago, and that while there, he had an interesting inclination to calculate the value of the individual parts of an whole Harley. Do you what the total cost of each individual item was when I added them up? He asked me. I said I didn't, so he gave me the answer. About two hundred thousand bucks. He let that sink in. Then, he asked the follow up. And guess how much the whole bike was selling for brand new? I said I didn't know (again). About twenty thousand bucks. So, I responded as most people would to this little gem of commodity wisdom.
Really? That doesn't make sense I suggested. Sure it does, Robby said. That's capitalism at its finest. Sometimes the parts get you more profit than the whole. So, next time you buy a guitar to turn it around and sell it. Take that thing apart and sell each individual piece. You'd be amazed what a guy would be willing to pay for one part because he's trying to complete his custom guitar.
What are you selling in its entirety that is more valuable to others in parts? It doesn't have to be a guitar (although it could be). Just think: maybe you can increase your profits and/or impact by breaking things down just a little bit more than they are right now.