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Dealer's View: A Month of Inventory Chaos

Updated on May 22, 2014

Vintage Star Lot

$4 Total - 10-card Star Lot Was a Great Value
$4 Total - 10-card Star Lot Was a Great Value

Chaotic Month

The shows have been very odd of late and that’s not a good thing.

I like my baseball card shows to be consistent. I like to know, going in, what to expect in a general sense. I know who should be at each show, which dealers will be there, what I’m looking for. It makes it easier to plan.

That just hasn’t been happening. At the last Holmdel show, a show marred by the news that the building we were having the show in had been sold, many regulars didn’t show up due to that very piece of news which was in all of the local papers. That left many dealers light on business, myself included. There are two ways to handle a bad show: Buy your way out or Trade your way out.

Vintage Card Auction Wins

The 1958 Combo cards were damaged but cost me $3 total, the Koufax Leader card cost me $1.50 total and the 4 card 1955 Bowman Lot was $4.50. Simply Amazing...
The 1958 Combo cards were damaged but cost me $3 total, the Koufax Leader card cost me $1.50 total and the 4 card 1955 Bowman Lot was $4.50. Simply Amazing...

Handling a "Bad" Show

If you aren’t making sales, it’s very likely others aren’t either. Look for deals from your fellow dealers and take advantage of the fact that everyone wants to at least make the table fee. I was surprised by one of the dealers who suggested a trade. He’s a good guy and I’ve done some minor trading with him before. He has a very good selection of vintage cards but also keeps a fifty cent box and he also had a dime box with him. A 5000ct dime box, that contained 500 off condition or inexpensive vintage cards as well as lots of newer type stuff with many inserts and parallels. He offered to trade me the dime box and I jumped on it.

3 Separate 1960 2-Card Lots

Each of these 2-card lots cost $1.22 with free shipping.  The Vern Law books for $25 by itself.
Each of these 2-card lots cost $1.22 with free shipping. The Vern Law books for $25 by itself.

Trade It if You've Got It

Now, we know our customers. I know I have several customers who love off-condition, inexpensive vintage cards. He knows he has several Yankee collectors. He wanted quite a bit of Yankees stuff and I had no problem trading it away. I get tons of that stuff anyway. We made a quick trade that led to another offer to trade for the fifty-cent box. There’s better stuff in there and it includes more vintage so I said why not. I had a stack of 58’s I did not need and could not sell easily so I traded them for the 2-row fifty-cent shoebox. I had a lot of fun going through this stuff. He pulled a lot of good stuff, but very replaceable stuff by my standards; Mantle inserts I had doubles of, Jeter cards, a Babe Ruth Trophy card from 2012 Topps Update. It’s all useful and sells well but I can get that stuff again in a heartbeat. The vintage stuff, good and off-condition together, was far more useful because I CAN’T get that easily.

Buying Four Lots from Same Seller

77 1974 Cards, 22 1971 Cards, 4 1971 High Number Cards and a 5-card 1964 Lot that I paid about $9 Total - Just Awesome
77 1974 Cards, 22 1971 Cards, 4 1971 High Number Cards and a 5-card 1964 Lot that I paid about $9 Total - Just Awesome

Trading, Buying and Surfing Auctions

We kept trading and I wound up with more vintage and a stack of Griffey cards including 6 rookie cards. This combined would give me a lot of work to do (which I love) and lots of new inventory. I then proceeded to make sales to other dealers late in the show that made it a winning show all around. It wasn’t ideal, I make more selling to customers than to dealers, but I didn’t mind so much this time.

So I’ve got lots of stuff to go through. Probably 700-800 vintage cards, lots of dollar cards and cards for my 3/$1 book along with some better modern stuff. What I don’t have is supplies to handle that kind of inventory. I hadn’t thought of it at the time. I did have supplies to handle the better stuff but I knew I would soon be out of top-loaders and even soft sleeves were low. I took care of the best stuff that Sunday night and figured I would pick up some supplies on Monday.

On Monday, I visited one of my local hobby stores and they had put together home-made dollar packs that included lots of 2013 Bowman Platinum cards. If you know this set, you know it has all of the top prospects, printed on foil-board and chrome so it looks amazing. For some reason, they had loaded these dollar packs with rookie cards, lots of them. Not just the nobody rookie cards either. I pulled several Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts cards. Many other great rookie cards were included along with various color parallel cards. I had pulled so many choice cards that I created a Rookie/Prospect box and filled it over half way. With so much product coming my way, I really needed to figure out how to present it all.

In addition to all of this, I was picking off items from eBay, If you’ve read any of my other sports card hubs, you know I like to buy extremely low on everything that makes sense. I have a saved search called “Cheapie” Stuff that essentially looks for any Baseball Card Auction priced under $1.99. I further refine that search using Post-War Era and the Product Type Lot. What I am left with are inexpensive lots from the 1950s-1980. I can always use these types of cards but I tried to find modern cards this time since I had already traded for so much vintage. That really didn’t work the way I had wanted it to since most of my purchases wound up being for vintage cards. I've included lots of pictures of my auction wins with what I paid in the caption beneath each picture. If it says "Total" that price includes the shipping charge I paid.

9-Card Derek Jeter Lot

For $4 adding Jeter cards back into Inventory makes sense
For $4 adding Jeter cards back into Inventory makes sense

12-Card Serial Numbered Lot

More Newer Stuff-Cost?  $3.21 Total - the Nomar Card is worth $10 by itself
More Newer Stuff-Cost? $3.21 Total - the Nomar Card is worth $10 by itself

6-Card 1955 Topps

They were all in VG Shape and they cost all of $4.82 total.  How did I get this for under $5??
They were all in VG Shape and they cost all of $4.82 total. How did I get this for under $5??

Binders, Collections and Know Your Customers

I solved the presentation problems by creating binders full of cards. I had a 3/$1 Vintage book, a 3/$1 Rookies & Prospects Book and I already had a 3/$1 Inserts, Parallels and Stars Book. I created a Vintage $1 Box with 300 cards. The 3/$1 book had over 450. I called all of my regulars for the Staten Island show and they all showed up. It went really well as I sold a lot of vintage cards making my regulars very happy.

It may seem weird to jaded collectors but as a dealer, I really am happy when I help you complete your Jim Kaat collection or the 1975 Topps set or whatever it was you were looking for. I really do enjoy it as much as you do. These guys couldn’t believe the amount of vintage I had, and that it was affordable.

I personally have issues with really expensive cards. I don’t have the clientele that is into buying that stuff on a general basis. When I have expensive stuff on the table it usually sits around until I get angry enough to blow it out to one of my better customers. I appreciate having more of the lighter stuff though I’ve been pulling in lots of semi-star type stuff lately.

From this show, one of my former trading partners shows up with no time to look but wants to meet during the week. He’s got all types of stuff, vintage and modern and lots of autographs. He wants what’s left of the vintage Dollar Box, about 250 cards. I pulled all of his vintage stuff (including 1950 Ralph Branca, 1959 Topps Robin Roberts), some newer prospect autographs (including Henry Owens), a few USA team autographs, a few regular autographs (1997 Donruss Signature Jim Edmonds) and a bunch of other stuff. I didn’t really want to trade off the entire Dollar box, but the guys I wanted to see it, got the chance to at the Staten Island show. That stuff likely wouldn’t do much business at the other shows I did.

So what’s going to happen at the show in Holmdel now??

I'll come back next week and let you know how it went!!


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