I’ve been collecting cards for over 25 years, but one thing that I haven’t done often is set up at card shows. I can only remember three times before this past weekend.
The first was in 1999 at a mall show in Bridgeport, WV at the Meadowbrook Mall. I was in college at the time and since I was working while attending West Virginia University, I had to take the weekend off to do this show. I wish I hadn’t, as I lost money on three fronts. For one, I didn’t sell more than the table cost. Secondly, I didn’t make money working that weekend. Also, even though I had a display case, a couple of my Randy Moss rookies were stolen. I have to believe it was when I had a friend watching my table and he was probably more concerned about his cards than mine. Ah well, lesson learned.
The second time I set up was a couple of years ago in Indianapolis. Jason made a drive out and set up at the table beside me. I can’t recall how he did, but I do know that I once again didn’t sell enough to even pay for my table. This was despite good attendance at the show. What I do recall is that there were more tables than at most other shows, so there was probably more competition.
Shortly after I moved to Texas last year, I set up at the monthly show in Plano (Texas) at the Southfork Hotel. I knew this one was going to be a challenge, as it was a relatively new show that was starting up. Once again, I didn’t sell enough to even cover my table. In the last year, though, that show has grown by leaps and bounds in attendance. That weekend there was a second card show in the area which pulled some attendance away.
As you have probably noticed, there is a trend there. I never cover the cost of the table. When you factor in time, effort and other miscellaneous costs, I lose a lot of money setting up at shows. I believe there are a couple of reasons. One, I am just a collector. I don’t buy items with the intention of reselling. This leaves me with a very limited inventory and because I’m not buying my items in bulk, my prices aren’t as low as many others setting up. Also, in the case of the last two shows, I probably just don’t have much of what people are looking for. I collect hockey cards for the most part, so that’s the “inventory” I have to set up with. Neither Indianapolis or Dallas are big markets for hockey cards.
I set up at Rich Klein’s show yesterday at the Adat Chaverim in Plano. Knowing that I couldn’t compete with others that buy and sell on a regular basis and also that there weren’t likely to be many people looking for hockey cards, I changed how I set up my table. The only things on my table were boxes with either dime, quarter or dollar cards. When I attended shows in Indianapolis, there were guys set up with nothing but dime boxes and their tables were some of the most visited ones. I can say that having those hasn’t proven to be as popular here. I also had those boxes at the last show I set up at and only sold a handful of cards.
After a slow start the first couple of hours, the traffic definitely picked up in the late morning/early afternoon. It died off mid afternoon and many of those with tables started tearing down before the “close” of the show. I was one of the last ones to start tearing down and still started just a little before it ended myself.
This was the first show that I’ve set up at where I did sell enough to cover the cost of my table. I didn’t make much over that, but considering the results of my first few experiences, I considered it a success. Rich also posted on Facebook that it was the most successful for the Men’s Club so far.
Rich has mentioned that they are always taking donations for future shows and that they are starting to run low on cards for the grab bags they give to everyone when they enter the show. I haven’t been feeling well the last few days so at the end of the day, I donated five 5000-count boxes and a 4000-count box of cards for them to use for future shows. I just didn’t want to deal with loading them into my car and honestly, I don’t see myself setting up at shows going forward and was very happy to contribute to a good cause. If you live in the area and have items you’d like to donate, let me know or you could contact Rich on Twitter. I can tell you that anything will be appreciated.
I only made one purchase on the day and it was totally by happenstance. Someone was walking around and I just happened to notice the card on the back of the stack he was holding. I thought it was one of the Mountaineers from the 2015 Panini Contenders Draft Picks set and turns out I was right. It wasn’t something he was keeping and I asked him what he wanted for it. When he said $2, I couldn’t get him the cash fast enough!
People way too often talk about what they can get something for on eBay and it’s enough to make me want to kick a kitten. Maybe I could “get” this card on eBay for less than $2. I haven’t even looked so I can’t say. What I do know is that I’d likely pay at least $2.50 shipping for it, so I have ended up with this card at a better price for me, and he got a couple of bucks out of a card he didn’t want. There is good about eBay, but too many don’t think things through. I can’t understand why people will buy stuff on eBay (or any other online forum), but not even attend a card show in the area. Whatever, though.
I didn’t end up selling nearly what I was hoping to, but you will have that. People would have had to take the time to go though cards and it seems a lot of people don’t want to make the effort. In my dollar boxes, there were some game used and autos that people never even saw. However, I did have a couple of gentlemen that went through the cards comment on how good the stuff in there was. It didn’t translate into money that I could put into something else, but it did make me feel good knowing that I was offering good value, even if people weren’t there to go through it, or were there and didn’t take the time. I just need to find another outlet to move some of these cards.
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I think I came back with about $100 after spending about $50. But, I had mostly baseball cards. It was definitely a show where your best bet was to have $1 (or less) type boxes.