Today I went to the local card show.  I go every time its in town, mainly because there are almost no local card shops around me in Durham.  However I also go because I want to support the hobby community.  Lately though I’ve had limited funds to go to these shows.  So when I told my wife that it sucks that I have to pay $5 to even walk through the door, she asked why they even charge?  She asked why is their an entrance fee if the promoter charges the dealers. I thought about it and decided to run some numbers:

  • Promoter charges $75 per table and there are 175 tables (all were filled) = $13,125
  • Rental for the building is $2000 per day (figure comes off of their website), 2 days = $4000
  • Entry fee is $5 for adults (nearly 150 when I got there) and kids under 15 are free. = $750, $1000 by the end of the weekend.
Just from that I’m seeing that is still $10,125, now there are things I am not including like promoting the show, food at the snack bar (although they don’t lose money on that end).  In short, I want to be a card promoter!  He has to clear close to $10,000 a show.  Now throw in the fact that were are 11 shows a year and it’s a pretty good home based job.  The whole point of this crazy post is why the hell charge the patron five bucks to get in when you are already charging 75 bucks to the vendors.  The vendors should also be pissed because it’s potential money being pulled out of their wallets.
On to the next gripe, dealers.  Now this was a toy and sports card show, so I don’t know how the toy dealers were, but the card dealers, holy cow they don’t understand the idea of negotiating.  Out of the 30+ dealers that were there for the sports card part of the show, TWO were willing to deal, and guess what? Those were the only two I got cards from.  Almost every dealer insisted on using the book value for pricing.  I freaking hate this, especially since no one there even knows that the values in the book mean.  High value is retail,  low value is wholesale price.  At a show, throw out the high value and start negotiating with the low value.  If you think I’m wrong go to eBay and check it out.
I would dig though the $3 autograph and jersey box, find 5 or 6 I want and ask for a dollar off per card. Nope! Each time I would put back the cards and and thank them while walking away.  I’m sorry but you have to be willing to negotiate if someone buys a few cards from the shit box.  Or how about the guy who has a 2007 Just minors box for $40, I offered $30, he didn’t counter.  I’ve seen these go for $35 on eBay and I was willing to even to go $35, but no negotiations, come on.  If you are ever going to be a dealer at a show follow these rules:
  • Cards behind the glass are your most expensive and negotiations are minimal.
  • Put prices on the cards – ALL OF THE CARDS! I can’t tell you how sick I get asking dealers, how much for . .
  • If you have a one, two or five dollar bin, offer discounts for volume purchases.
  • Just because a card is graded does not mean it’s worth twice as much.  I can’t tell you how many cut autograph cards were graded and were marked up waaaay to much.
My final gripe goes out the JSA authentication, who was at the show.  Just because I walk up to your booth and don’t have cards for you to grade, doesn’t mean you should shove me off with one answer words to questions.  Of course he perked up when I told him my order might be over one hundred cards, but it was too late, they pissed me off, there is no way I will EVER get anything authenticated by them.  Note to JSA Authentications, treat every person like they could be a big customer.
Other than that, I did get some great cards and I will post them up on Monday.  Thanks in advance for reading my gripes had to get them off my chest.
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10 responses »

  1. Anthony Hughes says:

    I feel your pain, and I’m right there with you.
    I used to think they’d put the high book value there on the card, so as to start the bargaining off high, I mean if you’ll settle for $30, you don’t put $30 on the card, you put $50 or something.
    But I have seen people, no shit, who just do not seem to comprehend the idea that things like ebay or check out my cards and so on exist. A guy had a glass case full of 70’s rookies, like ’75 Yount, ’75 Brett, a ’78 Eddie Murray, and a ’80 Rickey Henderson. Those cards can all be bought for, oh, around $40-50 each online, sometimes less, sometimes more. And that price is for a nice crisp, centered, good-looking card. Lower your expectations and you can easily get them for mid $20s. Anyway, the guy has the Henderson with a sticker for $275.00 and the Murray with a sticker for $225.00. I didn’t pick up and look at either card, but one was off centered, badly, and the other was a little haggard. He said he was willing to bargain. I said I’ll give you $50 for both. He turned around and wouldn’t talk to me again.
    I can’t figure out if some dealers think the card is worth as much as they’re asking, or they themselves paid too much for it and can’t go lower or they’ll lose out. Or do they just not know that we can buy cards on line?
    Anyhow, I don’t want to complain about everyone. There are still guys out there with dollar boxes full of 60’s goodies and they always get my card show allowance. The last show here, the guy saw me spending time in his boxes and he came over, said “for every 10 you spend in those, I’ll give you $2 off.” He got my whole $50!

  2. Paul says:

    I agree with your gripe about dealers who refuse to price their cards – I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even look at them unless they are marked.

  3. Rico says:

    Wow. What a joke. The sad thing is I remember the days before ebay and internet stores when local card stores and card shows were the only places to see new material or find that certain card(s) you wanted. Card shows were an event to be looked forward to. Great point about the entrance fee (scam) taking money out of the vendors pockets. As far as not being willing to deal thats BS too. After all, you would think that these vendors/promoters were or are collectors too and would want a good deal just like anybody else. I’ll bet you’ll think twice before you go to another card show too; and if you felt that way you can bet others walked out of there unhappy also. Cards shows around here (Sacramento) are few and far between these days. Hey promoters and vendors!! WAKE UP!!

    • baseball dad says:

      I went to a card show yesterday too. Only it was at a mall. Other than the Nationals, that’s the only kind of show I go to anymore. The guys and gals that do the mall shows around here,Sandusky and greater Cleveland, do a nice job and most will give a good deal. Many have book prices on their cards but will deal or have signs saying 50% off. There is only one reasonably close card shop in Medina, Ohio. That’s about a 45 min. drive. Book prices are really crazy sometimes. If something new comes out, I just wait a couple years. Unless it’s Pujols, the price wil come down.

  4. Jay says:

    All the local card shops here went away long ago. The big card shows at the local trade center are just the same as you mention.. I left that scene due to like frustration and now I only card shop online. I never liked Beckett .It is only a basic idea of what a card is worth. Dealers still selling by Beckett are simply greedy and out of touch with reality.

  5. Michael says:

    Here in the twin cities (MN), you get maybe 1-2 card shows a month. You’re lucky if it’s over 30-40 tables too. I’ve been to three this year, and it’s always the same dealers with the same outrageous prices. I’ve only purchased one card from my three visits. One good thing though, they’re almost always free to go to..

  6. Brian B says:

    These dealers gotta crack out the laptop, head over to The Bay of E, and get their pricing there. Sure Im standing there cash in hand and want to go home with something, but when I can go home, click, click, click, and wait a week for the mail, and save close to 50%, whose the fool. And Im with ya on the $5 to walk in, coming from CT, where I could drive 45 minutes to big shows at the westchester county center and admission is $10, it kills me, and those dealers are paying $350-$450 for the weekend, and there is 300 dealers, come on guys, $10 bucks, bring my son Im at $20 to get in, hour and a half round trip drive, $10-15 in gas, a couple sodas, $50 and I havent gotten anything, I do have a great show here at Dania Beach Jai Alia, great dealers, promoters, but this is the last monthly show as they are turning it into a casino, next month at a local hotel, not sure how that will change it, but its reallly been a great show to go to. Things sure have changed, and the dealer nit willing to bargain, counter offer, uuuuggghh, drives me bonkers, hope they sit on there inventory fir months, u got me all fired up Chemgod!!!! I feel ur pain buddy

    • I go to the show at the County Center when I have the extra cash. It is $7 to get in, $4 to park. My son gets in for free (for now). They do get a few autograph guest, which each day, one is included in the price of admission (at least you get something for the $7 like Gene Michael or Denny McLain).

      After a while of seeing the same vendors each time, you know who deals (the heavy set guy in the center isle on the right who has the boxes to look thru and will discount) and who to avoid (like Evolution Sports Cards and the old guy with the vintage stuff at the corner table, who are both rude to their potential customers). Makes walking the show floor that much quicker.

      When buying, i always keep this rule in mind: ebay will be the cheapest (they don’t have to make back $450 when the doors open), the local hoppy show will be the most expensive (they have rent so double ebay prices), so i expect to pay in the middle (don’t care what Beckett prices at). For a $15 ebay item, i would pay $20 for I have it in hand. If you expect to pay ebay prices (which is most likley where they get their inventory), then you have unrealistic expectations and will be very disappointed.

  7. jj says:

    I’ve acually got kicked out of a card show about a year ago for arguing on prices that dealers were putting on the cards. The first table he had a 1952 Topps Dom Dimaggio, price was $100.00, the thing was when I took another 52 to see the comparison, the Diamggio was trimmed, when I told him he looked at me and said, what did I know I was not a grader, so I offered him $20.00, he basically told me to get away from his table, the next guy had a box of 1987 Fleer missing 2 packs with a tag of $70.00, told him I give him 40.00 for the box, if he could replace the cards missing, again I was told ” there might be a Bonds Rc in the box. How I got kicked out, the last dealer I asked if he had any of the Donruss elite cards from the 90’s any years, he told me no he only dealt in vintage cards that everything pre 2000 was not worth collecting, I asked him how long was he a dealer he said since 85, so I said you had no problem selling the cards in 90’s do you have any, he got the mall security and said I was harrassing him, and the first dealer was behind him and said the same thing I was starting trouble, have not been to a show since. The dealers you are seeing at shows are old brick shop owners looking to recoop any loss they have had. But don’t relize they are there because of the same stuff there doing now, going on old information and not coming into the 21st century

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