Bottled Water Experiment – Part Deux

During my first bottled water experiment I learned how to setup shop and shamelessly sell a product. The next item on my agenda is to delegate that task to others while I do nothing.

During the first experiment I met a homelss guy named Barry. He has a can-do attitude and also likes to make money. What he does NOT have is Capital and transportation.

Well I do.

I recently tracked Barry down and gave him a proposal. If I set him up with several cases of ice cold bottled water and a couple of ice chests, he could sell the water all day (instead of simply begging for money) and we would split the revenue down the middle. Obviously at first I get the sour end of this because I will be paying for everything…..but I also don’t do a fraction of the work he will have to do.


The previous day I went to Walmart and loaded up my car with 5 cases of water and one ice chest.

120 bottles of water cost me $19.80 + tax. The cooler cost me $18.86 and tax.
Total Spent so Far: $40.22
Even if he sells all 120 bottles, I will barely make a $20 profit on the first run.

I then brought all the products home and began cooling them:

Each 24 pack case had 3 gallons of water and packaging:
1 Gallon = 8 lbs.
1 Case = 24 lbs.
5 Cases = 120 lbs.

I could only fit 3 of the cases for cooling overnight. The rest would be cooled in the ice chest later.

The next morning I met near the selling corner where Barry and I agreed to meet at exactly 10:00am. He showed up exactly on time (Seriously, the SECOND my watch hit 10, he showed up riding a bicycle). Unfortunately for us, it was gloomy and under 70 degrees (I’m in Texas approaching summer…what the hell!?!)

I gave him another shirt I made that said “Water $1” on both sides. I forgot to take a picture but it looked exactly like the last one I made:

Barry then immediately started selling the already-chilled bottles of water while I made an ice-run (I didn’t buy ice in case he didn’t show up). I went to 711 and bought 40 lbs. of ice, a sandwich for Barry and a spare box (box was free). The total came to $9.22 . Total cost of experiment so far: $49.44. The chance of making a profit are pretty much gone now.

We loaded up the ice chests with water and ice, Barry did most of the work.

I had got the spare box from 711 upon Barry’s request. He had an idea where he would place the box saying “Bottled Water $1” further down from his starting point, informing drivers of the approaching vendor.

Before I saw what he wrote he said, “Damn, I spelled ‘bottle’ wrong and I misplaced the dollar sign.” It was too late to change the spelling, and we both agreed the comedic value would probably increase sales!

Before I left for class, we took a pic together. A guy in a wheelchair took it. I accidentally had the camera on black&white mode. I only sold one bottle of water, and that was on accident. A taxi driver saw me carrying the “Bottel” box, smiled and pulled out a dollar. I sold a bottle before I even reached the median, without trying! Keep in mind the purpose of this is to delegate the grunt work.

Barry tried his best to look clean, I even brought him an old pair of shorts I no longer use.

I came back after he had been selling all day. He sold exactly 60 bottles, meaning we had 60 bottles left. The combination of cold + gloomy weather + Tuesday = not a great day to sell.

The fact that you can sell 60 bottles of water on a cold day made us look forward to the upcoming sunny, swealtering days!

We split the $60 in half.
Barry got $30.
I got $30.
So in the end I LOST MONEY. 49.44

BUT ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST. This Wednesday Barry will sell the remaining 60 bottles. It shouldn’t cost me anything as the bottles are still being chilled with the same ice in the coolers.

We also want to give Barry a “brand name” by making him the “Water Guy” that everyone knows and trusts. People are more likely to give money when it looks like you are working for it.

This water experiment might actually turn out to be a decently lucrative side income for me in summer. I will be in Austin over the summer, and Barry is willing to work everyday. I will keep posting updates on the progress!