Why We Chose a 2005 Mercedes Sprinter for Van Life

Why We Chose a 2005 Mercedes Sprinter for Van Life

After many moons of research mainly on r/vandwellers, we pulled the trigger on a 2005 158″ Wheel Base Sprinter from Freightliner.

I searched on Craigslist every day for about 3 weeks before we finally found a van that fit in our budget. It was being sold by a used car lot about 20 miles outside of Houston, Tx.

We chose this specific van for 3 main reasons.

Cheap – I’ve not seen any sprinter that isn’t run into the ground for less than $6k. Sprinters can be branded with Mercedes, Dodge or Freightliner. Our van was a part of the Freightliner fleet used to deliver parts. It was so dirty and nasty on the inside.

Miles – It only has 104k miles. We took it to a Sprinter Specialist mechanic about an hour away from our house & they said it as overall in good condition but definitely need a few parts replaced. They wanted to charge $1,800 for the parts & labor but I simply ordered the new parts online & got help from our very handy Brother in Law to install them. The new parts needed were an EGR Valve, Turbo Resonator & air filters.

Size – Being able to stand up in the van was priority #1. Jonathan is 6’1″ so only the tall roof vans would work. That definitely limited our choices. Older Ford & Chevrolet vans don’t have tall enough ceilings for Jonathan to stand up in. The Sprinter comes in 3 different size wheelbases.

144″

158″

170″

The 144″ is extremely small but the 158″ felt good enough for our big bodies. SOLD!

America is Designed for Travel

America is Designed for Travel

Just look at this Beaut.

The National Highway System is hundreds of thousands of miles of (mostly) free roads. The inspiration for this post was a thread I saw on subreddit vandwellers – “America was designed with the car in mind, why live in a house”. This is so true and you can go ahead and throw in Canada & Mexico if you wish but America is truly unique. There is no other country in the world that is as large, as developed, as diverse, as safe as America.

SO MUCH TO EXPLORE.  I love where I’m from but what other reason am I on this earth for but to see as much as I possibly can? Do as much as I possibly can? I don’t want the highlight of my day to be coming home from a grueling commute at 6p to watch an episode of ‘House Hunters’ on HGTV & pretending what it would be like to live in downtown Chicago or in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee or in the dessert in New Mexico. I absolutely want to see the rest of the world but we might as well see what’s in our own backyard first right? Well let’s go see.

Why We Chose The #Vanlife

Why We Chose The #Vanlife

It came down to a couple very simple factors.

  1. We love to travel especially road trips.
  2. We hated weren’t very enthusiastic about our corporate jobs.

Our first road trip was from Houston to Destin in a Toyota Corolla. That’s when we fell in love of just going somewhere & experiencing something new. Kelli had never been to Destin, she was astonished by the sugary white sand & clear emerald green water. Crab Island was pretty slick too.

Our second road trip was from San Francisco to San Diego on the PCH. Freaking gorgeous. Why anyone ever moves away from California is beyond me. We spent 9 days zoomin down the California highways in our 2015 red convertible Sting Ray Corvette. To us, nothing could beat that.

Our third road trip was from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park. HOOKED!

Of course all of these trips were cut miserably short because of our responsibilities back at the office aka tiny little cubicle. Also, even if we could have an endless long road trip, we wouldn’t have the funds for accommodations every night.

Solution

  1. Learn to earn enough money on our own to suit our lifestyle & quit our jobs.
  2. Build a tiny house on wheels to save money & provide flexibility to go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted.

Our van (Vanna White) is nearly complete. We’ve worked tirelessly for nearly 2 months. We’ll have several posts about the build & everyone who has helped us along the way. Stay tuned!

 

Your own Private Label via FBA | Finding a Niche

Your own Private Label via FBA | Finding a Niche

Amazon is currently the largest retailer & also the fastest growing retailer in America. FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) allows you an opportunity sell your own product to the largest customer base in the world. Not a bad gig. It’s much easier said than done but if you do your due diligence and eliminate as much risk as possible, it can be done.

We launched 3 private label products 8 months ago on Amazon & have already sold over 4k units!

 

 

 

 

The very first thing I recommend doing is getting familiar with every aspect of the business. Luckily there are a couple great resources already out there that do a wonderful job breaking the process down & making it as simple as possible.

The Amazing Seller

Jungle Scout

Read the blogs & listen to the podcast from these guys. It will paint a much more clear picture. I probably would have been overwhelmed without their guidance.

I’m going to break down my personal journey & struggles very briefly through a series of articles.

 

Part 1 – Finding a niche.

What the heck do I sell? How do I know what will sell consistently? The beginning is actually the most difficult part in my opinion. Deciding what your first product will be. After about a week of scouring the internet I came across Jungle Scout. The Web App is a necessity in my opinion. The Web App allows you to research the Amazon catalog of products in a completely customized way to find a niche that isn’t already saturated.

Main criteria that is fairly universal amongst FBA Private Label sellers.

 

  • Light weight – less than 3 LBS

 

Because it’s cheaper and easier to ship. Amazon charges more for over-sized products if they are too big or heavy.

 

  • Product costs at least $10 + has enough demand

 

Because Amazon charges a significant fee to list your products on Amazon Prime. There needs to be enough volume for you to sell 40 units per month to justify paying $40/month membership fee.

 

  • No dominant brands + minimal competition

 

It would be awesome to have your own brand of shoes but do you want to compete with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour?

 

  • Able to complement with other similar products

 

The concept of this  business is to eventually scale up and earn money. It’s easier to do with multiple products that are similar or already complement each other.

I spent about a week of research using the Jungle Scout Web App & using the criteria to pinpoint a niche that I felt comfortable with. I had 5 or 6 products that qualified for all of the criteria above and finally decided to go with Muslin bags.

I chose muslin bags because they were the lightest/cheapest and had the most demand on Amazon. Muslin bags are also sold in a variety of sizes so it was easy to launch a bigger sized bag first then eventually add a smaller bag as my second product.
Click here for part 2 – Finding a supplier.