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Card Show Review: Staten Island Bowling Alley – January 4, 2015

Updated on January 5, 2015

Jeter RCs Always Sell

About the Show

So I do this show about 10 minutes from my house. It’s held the first Sunday of every month. There are typically 2-4 dealers and that’s it. One dealer, Vinny, handles high end modern cards and also has a 5000 count box of quarter cards. He and I anchor this show and have for several years.

Of the two new dealers (one of whom wasn’t at this show), Pat has some choice modern cards as well as unopened boxes and supplies while the other Vinny (an older gentlemen who is just starting to work as a dealer) carries a mix of vintage and modern though almost exclusively New York Yankees.

I carry a mix of Vintage and Modern though all of it is mostly low-end. I certainly have cards above the $20 mark but almost everything on the table falls below. What can I say? I don’t generally spend a lot to get really expensive cards and my clientele is used to working the many boxes of cards I set up for less-expensive stuff. On the off-chance I pick up really expensive stuff, it usually sits because my buyers just don’t spend a lot of money on one card.

That’s generally fine by me.

Vintage 1960 Topps

What's Available

So I have 3 4-foot tables to fill. On one table goes my 2-row shoebox of Vintage cards, essentially anything 1980 and before. The Middle table gets the 2-row shoebox of Modern cards and the third gets the two row shoebox of New York baseball cards and the various quarter boxes I have brought with me. I usually take out a nice selection from each box and lay them flat on the tables so people can see them. Some people like to look through boxes; others never do, so it helps to display as many as possible.

This particular show, something happened that almost never does. Some of the buyers, who exclusively look at Vinny’s cards, actually turned around and went through mine too.

Modern Inserts Common in My Boxes

I Bet This Sounds Ridiculous, Right?

Because Vinny and I handle very different parts of the hobby, many customers never cross over which is silly since most collectors don’t specialize in only one part of the hobby. That said, Vinny never has Vintage cards and I almost always have 200-400 Vintage cards that can run from $1 to $20 with a few that go way above that (depends on the show – I had a 1960 Topps Clemente and a 1967 Topps Willie Mays on me at this show which were way above the $20 limit). If you want Vintage, you’re coming to see me. If you are looking for the latest hot rookie autograph card, you go to Vinny because I won’t have it (unless I pull it from a pack).

Vinny’s customers routinely go through his quarter box but never get to mine because they never come over to do so. I know it sounds nuts but it happens nearly every show. However, at this show, several customers did their buying with Vinny, turned around and introduced themselves to me (I see them every month so I know they are regulars). They sit down and go through the quarter boxes and are surprised, astounded even, to find themselves pulling lots of cards out.

In this, Vinny and I are different as well. Vinny busts lots of new product whereas I accumulate lots of older products. His box has tons of Bowman Chrome rookie cards and inserts, the newest box breaks, that sort of thing. My boxes have older inserts, parallels stars and rookies like Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion, Bowman Gold, Topps Heritage inserts, Allen & Ginter Minis, all sorts of weird stuff. I recently busted a 1979, 1980 and 1975 Topps sets and threw lots of minor stars into the quarter boxes. If I were buying, it’s the type of box I would love to go through myself.

So my regulars attack the boxes and have a great time pulling out all sorts of stuff. The boxes take up one end of my display so I have three people sitting at one end of the table sifting through this stuff, while other buyers are looking at what’s laid out on the table and sitting in my two-row shoe-boxes. I even had a completely new buyer who was spending a lot and would just ask on prices on any card he saw. He’s a dealer so I give bigger discounts to dealers.

2006 Bowman Heritage Kershaw

Rookie Card Valued at $10
Rookie Card Valued at $10

Understanding the Numbers

The key to this is understanding how much you spent, how much the card is worth and what you can expect to get from a collector or a dealer. I generally sell any card on my table at half its book price. I can do this because I spend money buying up huge lots of cards. My recent purchases look something like this: I‘m spending $100 on say 5000 unsearched cards from some collection. So each card is essentially 2 cents. I go through the boxes and separate everything. Anything priced $4 and above goes into a top-loader and into the NY or Modern boxes. The stuff that is valued from fifty cents to $3 goes into the quarter boxes (though $3 NY themed cards go into the NY box – this encompasses many David Wright and Mike Piazza inserts). The rest of the cards, the commons as we call them, get boxed and resold to my collectors who love that stuff. Yes, I sell the commons too. I keep almost nothing unless its Mets related.

So out of the last lot I pulled a large amount of 2006 Bowman Heritage short-prints and the key rookie cards like Evan Longoria and Clayton Kershaw. The Kershaw rookie card has a value of $10 which it’s marked with a label on the top-loader. When I go to sell it to a collector its $5 when a dealer asks its $3.

I bought it for 2 cents. I just sold it for $3. I am all too happy to do that all day long.

1967 Topps Willie Mays

So What Happened...

So this dealer picks and chooses his way around the table and I’m essentially selling the cards at 25-30%. Just fine with me. He gets to the 1967 Topps Willie Mays which is in very nice condition and I have it priced at $80. This isn’t something I spent 2 cents on, I actually spent some money on this so I asked for $30. He passes on it telling me he can get it for less on eBay. That may be true but I don’t want to hear it. I’m not eBay and he already knows my view about eBay. We move on and he winds up spending a nice amount of money, with a promise to keep coming back for more.

The customers that have finished with Vinny’s quarter boxes, for some inexplicable reason, sit down to go through my boxes and have a great time pulling cards. Now, I like to talk to my customers. These shows are as much a social outlet for me as a way to make some extra money for bills. Most of my customers are good friends too and we’re all big sports fans and collectors. So these guys start telling me they always come here and see me but haven’t really thought about crossing over to take a look. All I can do is shake my head.

My regulars spent their usual and these added sales really made the day.

So you may ask; What did you buy at this show? Unfortunately I only bought two cards and I did well on one and bad on the other. First I picked up a Sweet Spot Dual autograph of Al Kaline and Willie Horton, serial numbered out of 50. I spent $20 and it’s valued at $80. The second card was a 1940 Play Ball Demaree cards graded PSA 4 for $20. Though I absolutely love Vintage, this card wasn’t worth the $20 I spent on it. It’s just not an expensive card. I still like it but if I sell it, I’ll lose money on it. It may become a present to another collector, we’ll see.

Conclusions and Other Thoughts

So I had a great show. For such a small show, my regulars make it worthwhile but the added business from new customers who are just discovering me was really the icing on the cake for me - you know, I've only been doing this for about 30 years now...

My suggestion to all you show-hoppers is to not get hung up on one dealer. You can't spend money with everyone but the next time you go to a show, take a few minutes to go through the items from a dealer you don't normally do business with, you may just find some great deals (and people) that you were missing.

On the Collectability of the Hall of Fame Likely Inductees:

Randy Johnson: All of Johnsons rookie cards hail from 1989 products. The only one to look for, in my opinion is the 1989 Upper Deck RC which has a current value of $8 which could double quickly. All of the others are grossly overprinted and may enjoy a spike but nothing serious.

Pedro Martinez: Pedro has only one official rookie card in 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition. While this is a mass-produced year-end set, many people do not have it. The Pedro card is valued at $8. If you can find this set, likely for under $10, grab it. You will also find another fantastic bonus in this set, Jim Thome's rookie card is valued at $6 and he's a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer in a few years too. The Pedro could instantly double or triple.

John Smoltz: Smoltz has 6 official rookie cards all in 1989 products (like Randy Johnson above). His best is also in the 1989 Upper Deck set and is currently valued at $5. This should also jump in value should he be inducted into the Hall.

Craig Biggio: Biggio has XRC (Extended Rookie Cards) in 1988 products and regular rookie cards in 1989 products. The 1989 Upper Deck is the one to grab but if you can find the 1988 cards, they are better deals. Unfortunately, the 1988 Score Rookie/Traded Glossy has jumped through the roof to $60 already based on it's very short print run of only 3000 sets. I could see this moving up but not much more. The 1988 Fleer Update and regular Score R/T should double in price over the next few months.

Mike Piazza: Piazza has only 2 rookie cards and they are both relatively expensive already 1992 Bowman is $25 and 1992 Fleer Update is $40. Both are low-print run products. Seeing as Piazza's career takes place in two media rich cities, he has a huge fan base and these cards could move up quickly.

If anybody else gets in, it would be a surprise. If they do, pick up those rookie cards quickly. The most movement is usually seen on cards of players who surprise us like Goose Gossage. His rookie card was $10 and jumped to $30 due to his election a few years back.

Well I hope you enjoyed this Card Show Review. It was a fun show all around, I hope it's a good omen for all of this years shows.


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    • dblyn profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      I completely forgot to mention that the 1989 Topps Tiffany set, with Randy Johnson, Smoltz and Biggio becomes a much more interesting set now. The regular set is way over-produced, but the Tiffany set is not. It's a tad pricey, but I bet this set starts moving now that there are 3 Hall-of-Famers rookie cards in it.


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