T Nation

Import/Export & A Living?


OK all looking to you all for well some advice, insight, whatever. As you may know I am in Thailand. Came here for at least a year after graduating from Grad. School to just try and take a break figure some things out. Find my nitch in the world what I want to do. Looking at teaching here, maybe children, but not sure. Im keeping it open and just want to find something I truly enjoy and allows me free time etc. to well live life.

Anyhow to get to it. In this search I have been doing some test runs with exporting goods to the states to sell with my brother. To put it lightly the small bit Ive done has been VERY fruitful and seems like there is a TON to be made on both ends mine and the other. I mean the amount and variety of stuff here is amazing and can be had CHEAP!!! Think Peir 1 Imports PLUS, Walmart, plus designer furniture, glasses, watches (both real and copies) just TONS of stuff.

It is working great going small scale and a great way to start but to make a living out of this I will have to step it up a bit. Ultimately with everything available here I could stock a whole damn imports store in the states, etc or drop ship to other people who tell me what they need/want etc.

I had thought Ebay but that is good and bad. The problem with it is that most of the things will go to someone in the states and that all well and good and shipping is not a prob. BUT it?s the cost factor. You pay a nice little basic cost for even one item just to ship something. Where as say you ship 10 or 100 items then its that initial cost and goes by weight etc from there making the cost spread out and very minimal per item. So really the Ebay thing I think would be better for the other state side end to do. Not sure.

I was also thinking maybe a site where I can post different items available and then also have a request option. Say someone wants a new pair of Gucci sunglasses or a Rolex watch. They can request it I can track it down. In both those cases I could give options of the copy and the originals etc.

I mean hell I could ship anything out of here that is Legal. Im not even going to walk the line of going to Thai jail so no marijuana, or adolescent children, etc. Anything I can legally buy here though I can legally ship not a prob.

Another thing thats kind of cool is I was thinking with the tons of people and place im seeing and meeting and learning on a daily basis I could do trips planning for people. For instance say someone on T-Nation or fitness minded wants to come here on vacation for a few weeks. They could contact me. Give a date what they want to do etc.. I could then make ALL the arrangements aside from the flight and get it cheaper usually than even the online deals and they would have someone on this end that could see what they would be staying in etc before they got here. I could get a hotel, transportation if they wanted it, have the gym and any thing they wanted lined out. Any tourist crap they want to visit booked and ready so they just show up and enjoy.

You could also have say sales people on that end that go to commercial store see what they need/want and sell the stuff in quantity. Or do printing work, t-shirts, hats, shoes, etc.

The possibilities seem endless just need some input to kind of get me headed in a direction here. Im allready trying to go further and get other friends involved etc.

So I guess just looking for maybe some pointers, your thoughts etc.. Fire away and feel free to PM me if you like.



Just bumping to see if I cant get some post/input etc.


As regards to the import/export side of things, if you are looking to ramp it up and turn it into an actual business you need to look at the tax and customs duty implications prior to purchasing and shipping the goods. I am not sure about the US but here in the UK the only way to avoid these is if the goods are provided free of charge by the customer for rework and reshipment back out of the country.

One of the main reasons you are able to get the goods so cheaply compared to back home is the lack of import tax and indirect sales tax involved in you making the purchases.

You will also need to look at the storage and distribution costs involved as if you do not sell the goods on at a sufficient rate (timespan) then your storage costs increase as you are using up the space for a slow moving item instead of clearing the space for new items coming in ready for quick resale. The 500pairs of designer glasses may seem great at point of purchase for $2 per pair but if you have 300 pairs stuck in your warehouse for six months any margin you make will soon be eaten up.

If you decide to go ahead and enter into it full scale remember that cashflow will be the most important factor for you hence the not having already purchased items sitting in a warehouse when you could have used the cash you spent on them for a faster moving product. A lot of this will come down to seasonal variations etc (sun tan lotion to Alaska in January etc)and the rest will come from experience and learning from your mistakes.

If you want to look into it further and need any advice on a business plan etc feel free to PM me and I will gladly help where I can.



Phill that is great that you are able to live in Thailand and are currently searching for a way to make a living there permanently.

Your idea is a great one on a small scale but once you decide to grow this business you will find many roadblocks along the way. There are some great threads about this on thaivisa forums, you should check them out.

But then again, its Thailand. You dont need to make a huge bundle of money to get by. If you can do what you are currently doing and bring home about $500 - 1000 or so every month in addition to your teaching salary, you will be just fine.

I have yet to find a way to make enough of money for myself and my family in Thailand. This is why I am staying here with my job in the US with plans to move to the Land of Smiles when I have built up enough security through savings and investments.


Thx guys for the info. Ill take it and keep looking into all of it. etc. Im just trying to like you said just make enough to get by which isnt a ton here.

It has to be able to be done its just finding the right avenue etc.

Keep the idea. info. and heck any interest coming Im all ears.

Oh and if you have some links (yes being lazy just there are so damn many Thai forums) that would be great on the ones you suggested I check out.

Thanks again,



I have a small share in a business that does try something like that so here it goes:

-If you use e-bay it should be on the American side of the deal. Is there e-bay in Thailand?

-You have to be able to deliver constantly. That is a problem, because you can either have it (whatever IT is) delivered by plane which is fast but expensive or by ship which is cheap but slow.

-Combined with you having to be able to deliver more or less contantly and given that it will take 10-12 weeks to ship a container to the US (should be about right, don?t take my word for it)you can either go by plane and have a small margin or you have to have the money to have at least 3 containers going to the US constantly.

The shipment alone is around 2000$ a container + whatever is in it. So, in order to use the higher profit margins of sea delivery you need to be able to finance at least 3 containers constantly which could become a cash flow problem if you don?t know how to deal with this stuff.

-All of this does of course not apply if you sell luxury items, because they are usually small so the air fare won?t kill you.

  • Local jewelry? That could actually work with you sending it from where you are...

  • Artsy stuff? Hand carved elephants?

That is what I would go for: Stuff that is unique to Thailand and can be shipped to the US or wherever easily per plane.


if your shipping large quantitys to aemrica i'd find yourself a good shipping agent. these are people who buy space and weight on aircraft / ships and fill it with as many packages as they can.

i import a lot of musical vinyl from america / caanada to the uk (which is heavy) and have found a shipping agent to be the most viable option.

you could also do something like i do, i have a record shop that sells the records i import and my shop is also a distribution center as well to sell to other record shops in europe. so you have two pricing structures and more ways of getting rid of units, which is at the end of the day what your trying to do. generaly the heavy the weight of the goods your shipping over the cheaper the price break down will be per item. you need to work that out straight away to see how viable it is, i made the mistake a few years ago of estimating on some shipments and found i was barely break even.

as for the getting stuff through customs without getting flagged there are many ways but its probably best to do it the legit way. a way used in the uk is marking up the packages as 'promo items, no resale value'



look at the tax side of things...

If you have two businesses dealing with each other in two differenet countries you can decide where the actual profit will be and thereby minimize your taxes.


Thanks all Ill reply to all this when I get back headed out right now.

I will say on the shipping thing that seems to be and has not been a prob and is MUCH MUCH cheaer than that $2000 as well as faster. Were talking in the $300 range or so for a cubic meter crate and the time has been sometimes less than a week.

Also many of the larger supliers will ship direct for you package it etc. you come in pick and pay for what you want and ship away.

I do agree on the ebay thing. Seeing as most of the sales will be in the states it far more cost effective to ship LARGE quantitie of goods over and then ebay from there as opposed to doing it from here and having to pay Large (in relation) shipping on a per item basis.

Thanks again and Ill read over these better when I get back. Keep it coing every bit is helping me in this study.



Now Thats BEAUTIFUL and one aspect I hadnt thought of thanks.


This is much what im thinking. they way in which you do both wholesale and retail sales.

I was thinking have for lack of better words salespeople. say 5-6 of thenin different locals. They then say open stores or even better go to stores as a wholesale buyer with a dedicated purchaser in Thailand. Easch of these salespeople could get say 5-6 stores and also individuals ordering from them doing like jewelry parties, etc.

The great thing is there seems to be enough profit margin and due to me living here I dont have to mark it up so much do to cost of living. They get together bulk orders the stores that order large quantites them selve I can ship direct to them. It doesnt even have to be under my name it can be shipped like you were talking about through a shipping agent of sorts direct thorugh these LARGE outlets. Then for the individaul like orders they get together what groups of people want. I put together a large order and ship away.

Then I thought I could also set up a website. With lists of usual items available here and also take request for items. I could then get a price etc and ship away once again.

One thing that would be EXCELLENT but takes a bit of an initail investment or a dedicated purchaser prior is the furniture here. There is a TON of beautifull hand carved wood furtiture for VERY good prices and it shows they are selling it FAST even with the shipping cost it has to be in the cost range here of about 1/4 of what it would sell there.

I think it will boil down to just being smart and testing the waters and various route see what items have the best return etc. Bound to get the SHAFT a few times but such id life.

Thansk again for all the info so far all. any more thought etc would be great,


Yes this is a LOT of what im looking into as well as everything else, but wood work, carvings wood vase', Thai silk, jewelry, TONS of intricate bead work by the buddhist that is DIRT CHEAP.

All of that is small light weight etc.

Then there is things like jackets, back packs, dvd's, video games, glasses, mail order brides (LOL), really its endless and depends on what people want. Thats where the people on the "Other" end come in find what is wanted/desired.

Thx again,