New For Me: Garfield New Jersey Baseball Card Show

For My Personal Collection

Keith Hernandez 1987 Drakes - Knock one more off my list!
Keith Hernandez 1987 Drakes - Knock one more off my list!

New Year - New Shows

With the end of 2013 came the end of two baseball card shows near me: the show in the Rahway Senior Center and the show at the Woodbridge NJ Hampton Inn on Route 9. For the past two years, I had been a dealer at the Rahway show. It was not a big show nor was it well attended. However, I had a steady number of buyers and it afforded me the opportunity to see dealers and pick up cards for my collectors that don’t get to shows.

This is an important point. I do several shows a month but I also have several collectors who routinely come to my house because they simply don’t have the time to go to shows or to shop online or in the brick-and-mortar hobby shops we have on Staten Island (I believe there are three, but I only frequent two of them). So working shows is important in order to sell and also to buy.

The Hampton Inn show I went to strictly as a buyer. The promoters wanted way too much for tables (in my opinion) and it didn’t draw an enormous amount of people (though certainly more than the Rahway show). I routinely went to this show to shop and rummage through dine and quarter boxes, often finding great stuff, as well as filling in some missing cards from my Keith Hernandez collection (the picture shown is one of the last cards I got at this show).

Without these two shows, I was limited to the show on Staten island in the Bowling Alley where I am often the only person selling vintage cards (there is usually only 2 or 3 dealers to begin with). I love this show because I have very dedicated buyers at this show. I know who’s coming and what they are likely to spend and it’s literally five minutes from my house. The other dealer at this show handles more high0end modern cards so we don’t clash at all which makes for a very easy separation of customers (though many cross over).

I also do the Holmdel Firehouse show in New Jersey which I’ve been doing for over two years. This is a wonderful show with 25 dealers covering every facet of collecting you can imagine. There are several vintage dealers, a wax and Supplies dealer, modern dealers, you name it – you can find it here. The only problem with this show is that the number of customers isn’t consistent. Sometimes all the regular buyers show, sometimes they don’t. And then some months, inexplicably, a ton of people we’ve never seen show up which is great but it does catch us dealers off guard. There is a great friendly atmosphere at this show and I love doing it even though it is thirty minutes away.

Lots of Cards to Go Through

Baseball and 1970s Non Sport

Derek Jeter 1993 Pinnacle RC
Derek Jeter 1993 Pinnacle RC
Star Wars 1977 Topps
Star Wars 1977 Topps

Garfield Baseball Card Show

So I needed to do something else – I chose the Garfield NJ show because it has a great reputation. It has existed for 25 years and I know some of the dealers who do the show and all agreed I should try it. So I got lost driving there after another snowstorm, went 20 miles too far north and was a bit late, but I got there safely. I set up my table as usual, NY fifty cent box and NY “Good” Stuff boxes on the right with several cards laid out flat in front of the boxes: Derek Jeter RC, Don Mattingly RC, a few Mantle and Ruth inserts, Ron Darling RC, Keith Hernandez RC, Mike Piazza and David Wright Jersey cards and a 1975 Topps Tom Seaver.

On the Left goes the Fifty Cent three-row shoebox and the 50% Off Modern box, again with selected cards laid out flat in front of those boxes: an assortment of modern rookie cards and inserts highlights this area of the table. Laying out flat in the middle of the table are the really nice and interesting vintage cards I have left after wiping out the dead stock (see my other hubs for those stories). I also have a $1 box that I’ve just started to put together with some vintage commons and some modern stars and RCs that aren’t worth enough to move up to the 50% Off category, cards like Cliff Lee RC, Chris Sale RC – cards in the $2.50 range. There isn’t much to this box yet. I also bring with me a box of vintage commons (mostly 1970 in decent shape) that are 3 for $1 and a 1970’s Non-sport box that is also 3 for $1. This box has Star Wars, Mork and Mindy, Charlie’s Angels and various other non-sport cards from the 70’s. Odd as that may seem, cards sell from that box every show.

Soon after setting up, the promoter tells me the table next to me is open as that dealer can’t get here through the snow. He tells me to fill the table, no charge to me. This is great, but what do I fill it with? I decided to take my 50% Off Modern Box, and put everything priced between $4 and $8 on the table as well as other cards that have been sitting around and made myself a $1 table.

EVERY CARD ON THE TABLE IS $1.00

I also put some cards from the $1 box on the table. All the vintage commons I had in there, some of the non-baseball stuff I had with me (I’m almost exclusively a baseball card dealer at this point but I do get other sports from time to time). So I set that up and was ready. The only problem is that I don’t know my neighbors. I’m the new guy. Dealers stroll the show just as much as the buyers, just to see what’s here and make deals. So I started making friends but this is a big show – like fifty tables big, held in a gymnasium so there is lots of room. I also strolled around to see if I could pick up some stuff myself. I immediately found a few vintage cards at $1 that were each valued at $15 cards. I bought five of them and was happy to start off a new show on the right foot.

Bought this for $1 - Sold for $5

Bought and Sold this within a minute or two.
Bought and Sold this within a minute or two.

So What Sold?

I sold a few things off my table, including one of the cards I had just bought for $5 so I made that right back. People came by and went through the boxes and I made some sales (vintage High number cards moved well). People loved buying off the dollar table and I cleared out a lot of stuff that way (though I came home with about 60 singles because of it). The table did have some really great stuff on it and I included many Heritage Chromes and short prints as well as Allen & Ginter Short prints which were a big hit. I had some game-used and autos, some boxing and Olympic cards - I was trying to make it interesting and fresh. Sometimes, you just need to lay out stuff for people to see in order to sell it. Was I taking a hit on these cards selling them at $1? Yes and No. Yes they are valued at $4 and above, but No, I didn’t pay anything significant for them. Almost all of this type of stock comes from larger buys I make where the cards are a dime or less. I’ve said it before, if I can turn a dime into a dollar, I’ll do it every time. Needless to say, the dollar table was a big hit. Other cards sold well too and I made a few more buys and trades. I did not make a huge amount of sales but I did not expect to the first time. Now I know what people are looking for there so I’ll be better prepared for next time.

Bought One but There Were Many

I personally love going through this type of stuff but it takes lots of patience
I personally love going through this type of stuff but it takes lots of patience

Buy #1: What Else? A Dime Box

From a dealer who was clearly trying to clear out junk, I bought one 3200ct dime box for $20 because it had most of a 1987 Topps Tiffany set in it. It also had a lot of 1982 and 1984 Topps commons which my set builders will enjoy. After going through this box, I pulled many Mets and Yankees cards, the Tiffany cards and a small pile of inserts and stars that will go into the fifty cent box. This was $20 well spent.

1975 Topps Hank Aaron - Classic

Tough Card to find in decent shape.
Tough Card to find in decent shape.

Buy #2: Aaron

I also picked up 3 cards from this dealer's $3 table. A 1975 Topps Hank Aaron and two 1958 commons for one of my buyers who is putting together the 1958 set. Another $9 well spent. The Aaron wasn’t perfect but will get $10. The two 1958 Commons are already sold for $5 each. Not a huge turnaround but he’s a good buyer so I try to get stuff often for him.

1969 Topps Walt Alston

He's NOT a Common
He's NOT a Common

Buy #3: 1969 Commons

I may have spent too much on this but I saw an opportunity to start refilling my inventory here. I also have several collectors working on this set. I bought about 220 1969 Topps commons and semi-stars at 3 for $1. I initially pull out 12 cards for one collector working on this set and that will make back $20. Nearly every card in this lot is in excellent shape with a few badly miscut that go into the fifty cent box. Everything else is $1 or more as there were a few minor stars and semi-stars that actually are valued in the $4 to $8 range. Will I get the money out of this lot that I was looking for? Yes, but it will take some time. I will admit to thinking I may have paid too much for these but I know they will sell.

Trading Out of a Bad Buy

1948 Bowman #1 Bill Elliott and 1954 Bowman Clem Labine - I'll trade like this anytime
1948 Bowman #1 Bill Elliott and 1954 Bowman Clem Labine - I'll trade like this anytime

Trade #1: 1948 Bowman for 1954 Bowman

From the dealer right behind me, I traded 10 1948 Bowman cards that I have had now for 3 or 4 months along with a few other vintage cards, for 37 1954 Bowman cards. My strategy changed on this and here’s why. I bought the 1948 Bowman cards thinking my vintage buyers would gobble them up. You just don’t see them often. I had the number 1 card in the set, a few short prints, a few New York Giants cards and a very beat up Enos Slaughter RC. Everyone marveled at the cards but everyone also universally thought they were ugly and didn’t have any interest in them.

THUD (that’s the sound of my head smashing into the table).

So while I had picked them up at a great price, NOBODY cared for them. Too ugly. And you know what, they were right, they are ugly, but I wasn’t thinking that way when I had the opportunity to buy them. So trading out of them, for the MUCH more popular 1954 Bowman cards makes all the sense in the world to me. These 1954 Bowman’s will go very quickly as I have several buyers for these cards. They are all in decent shape except for two of them which I put into the dollar vintage (those will be the first cards to sell I’m sure, even damaged they will be gone quickly).

Final Thoughts

While I didn't make a lot of money at this show, I did have a good time. I made some new friends, got the opportunity to buy new inventory that will sell quickly and I can make better plans for the next show which I will definitely be doing - minus the 20 mile off-course joyride I took into upper New Jersey. Clearly, the Dollar Table idea works well but there were requests for things I normally carry that I just didn't have with me so I'll bring more of it next time. This seems like a great show with lots of regular customers and a wide range of items (not just cards).

So I'll be going back. Hope to see you there!!

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Comments 2 comments

catfish33 profile image

catfish33 2 years ago from Maryland

Excellent! I do enjoy reading about your adventures on the show circuit. I hope to do some myself when the weather gets warmer.


dblyn profile image

dblyn 2 years ago from Staten Island, NY Author

Glad you enjoy it. I like writing about what I'm seeing and doing. I also think it helps clarify how this part of the hobby works for readers who don't ever see the Dealer's perspective.

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