This is a loaded question that has many contributing factors, but I want to touch on some personal experience and see if we can better understand this.
Anyone who has been in this game since the 90’s or even early 2000’s knows how much things have changed in the last 20 years. I remember in the late 90’s early 2000’s seeing the classified type ads in the back of the muscle mags selling gear. They were a little disguised, but anyone who know what they were looking for could find them there. I remember mail ordering some gear way back then, you’d just send off your envelope with some cash in it to the address provided, and the gear would show up (if you were lucky) shortly after. Fast forward 20 years and you can do all of this online now. With the addition of online advertising on the forums etc, it has attracted a lot of sources. Some of them are as solid as a rock, running their business professionally and playing the long game. Others pop up with great prices and customer service for the first few months, then seem to fade away.
I think the competition from the many competing sources is great for the customer. They get more choices, and generally, a better ability to buy what they need. The sources are forced to provide better customer service, better pricing, better security, etc. to stay in business. When we first started operating I had a scarcity mentality, it scared me every time we saw a new source pop up as I thought it would take away our business. After a few years I realized there is plenty for everyone and it was best to play the long game and build up a good following and treat your customers right so they will keep coming back. So why do so many of these sources pop up one day and go bye-bye the next?
Most of you know it is not hard to start brewing your own gear, slap some labels on it, and call it a new lab! Anyone who has done some home brewing knows it is pretty dang cheap to brew up a few grams of Test E into a bottle. I believe a lot of these sources get into this line of work thinking “Hey, I can make a bottle of Test E for $12 and sell it for $60!” This is true if you’re doing it all yourself, ordering the raw hormones and chemicals to your house, brewing in the basement, and selling it to a guy at the gym, or mailing it off. Any gym rat can get a few buddies together and do this, as it’s not hard. There are new forums that will let someone like this advertise on their board so long as they pony up the cash each month, and all the sudden they’re a ‘source’!
This is where most get dollar signs in their eyes and think they are going to be rich. They just order a bunch of raw hormone, glassware, and chemicals and open up shop! They read an article online and think they know how to ship anonymously and jump right in. Here is what begins to happen immediately: the new source thinks they will undercut the other sources by charging less. They get a bunch of orders from guys looking for bargain prices and realize they need to order a lot more raw hormone to keep this up. So for the first month things go smooth, but as soon they run into issues getting their raws, maybe a pack gets seized, or they spend their working capitol on BS and don’t have the funds to keep product coming in the door. At this point you start to see some turn around issues, guys are wondering why the order is taking longer, or any other excuse that the ‘source’ comes up with. The source has some excuse and they offer some extra gear to shut them up. This works for a little while then we start seeing guys online say they have PIP, abscess, or the product is not potent/effective. The source will stop taking orders for a short time trying to get things under control but soon things continue to go down hill. We see forum admin get involved, customers pissed they have not received orders for months, and the source will give excuses or just go MIA.. Soon enough we see the inevitable post “hey guys, we had a death in the family and are taking some time off” or “we have decided to retire” or sometimes you don’t hear anything at all and they just go MIA.
If you’re interested to know what happened behind the scenes while this is going on I would venture to say its something along these lines. Once the orders came rolling in the source was swimming in cash, they buy some fun shit, and order some more raws…. But a raw pack gets seized, so they order to another address. They try to keep producing as they have some big orders to fill. Soon they run into issues collecting money- W/U or MG won’t let them collect payments anymore so they start doing some CIM (cash in mail) payments. Soon enough one of these things happens that lead to their demise.
– They get a controlled delivery and LE busts them.
– They have internal issues and disagreements between the guys running the source, someone wants more money, someone is stealing, someone is lazy. Same shit that happens with every partnership.
– Someone narks them out as they have been running their mouth to friends about their new found success.
At this point they either work with LE to lessen their punishment and set up others or they go down on their own; either way they are done for and on the public side on the forums people will see the list of excuses start to come up that make absolutely no sense like “we had a death in the family and are stepping away for a short time to deal with it” or “we have decided to retire” or a number of other BS excuses before their account goes dark. In the time I have been in this line of work I have seen over a dozen sources I know go down. The reasons for their demise are all different but the common denominator in them all was they were not running their business with any kind of strategy for the future. I will be the first to say its not easy to get out of this line of work once you are in it, but you have to have some idea of what you will do if and when there is an issue so you’re not scrambling to play catch up.
We have been doing this for over 13 years and have learned a lot in that time frame. Here is a list of the common things I see in sources that go down.
– Brewing, taking orders, and doing all your own shipping in one location. You can’t be brewing your own gear and selling it. You have to pick one or the other, you either specialize in brewing, or you specialize in the sales. If you do both, you’ll get busted eventually. We don’t brew any of our products in-house, I leave that up to professionals in their field who have the facilities and background to do this.
– Lack of operational security. You need to do extensive research on privacy and security, and continue to check yourself often to make sure your methods are always up to par. This accounts for the majority of sources getting busted. I look on many of the forums and there’s so much ‘low hanging fruit’ for LE to go after because sources are not putting the security of their customers and business before profits or anything else; this is a recipe for disaster.
-Recreational drugs being sold or used. This accounts for a large portion of why many of these sources get busted in the first place. If you’re selling recreational drugs, chances are you’re going to be a higher priority for LE. Many times the thread that unravels the sweater is recreational drugs being used. A few years ago we had someone emailing every week from the dark web reaching out to us tying to sell us Xanax, Percocet, and a host of other recreational drugs like this. It got out of hand as I told each of them we were not interested, but they just kept asking over and over. Then there was a series of huge busts on the dark web and I got a chance to see what was actually in those pills they were calling Xanax, etc, it was small amounts of fentanyl! Lord knows I am grateful we never entertained any of those offers as I would feel horrible if someone was hurt or God forbid killed because they took a product from us. Just another reason to not mess with the recreational drugs in this line of work.
– Partnerships going south. Generally this is caused by greed as someone thinks they deserve more, or someone see’s an opportunity to push someone else out. This is a more common reason and generally leads to the person who’s getting pushed out to retaliate against others and potentially gets LE involved.
– Under capitalized and/or not having enough reserve cash to withstand a downturn in the market or an unforeseen loss. Just like any business, shit happens. In this line of work, if you have packages seized or issues with inventory loss, it can spell the end if you have little or no cash on hand to inject t0 correct the problem. If any of you guys remember about 2 years ago we had to destroy the majority of our inventory on hand due to a supplier under-dosing it and pulling a fast one on us. It ended up costing us about $500k, but we destroyed the inventory and brought production to another facility/supplier, greatly improving the quality and consistency of our products.
There are some great long time sources out there that have been in the game as long or longer than us, and I commend them for their efforts! It’s not easy to have over 10 years in this space. They sell great gear, they have good customer service and they take their business serious. Anymore, if you see a source on the forums for more than a few years they seem like veterans as so many come and go in less than a year. Then there are the guys who have been here over 10+ years and I can’t help but commend them for their efforts and I hope they keep up the good work going forward. They are the backbone that holds many of the forums together and provide a great trustworthy service for the guys who order from them.
I wish I could share more detailed info in this article as I feel I could write a novel on this topic if I could speak freely, but I hope this provides a little insight into the inner workings of some of these programs and what goes wrong when they end up folding up shop. We take this business serious and live by a simple motto here that has never done is wrong, we simply treat the customers how we would want to be treated. I remember what it feels like being on the other side of the computer screen ordering from a source spending my last $500 on a cycle for an upcoming show only to not receive anything or receive garbage, it is extremely frustrating to say the least! Having that happen to me several times is what got me into this line of work in the first place and I vowed I would remember what it feels like to get screwed over. We run a very professional program here and we’re proud of the products we sell and extremely grateful for the customers that continue to come back to us year after year for their orders. Thanks guys!
Thanks for reading,
G and All of Team GearDepot