In preparation for the show I coordinated on Sunday, one of our synagogue’s members wanted me to look at some of his card collection so he would know what to bring to the Beckett Grading Services booth at our show. In some ways, he is a typical collector who has had stops and starts through the years. He collected as a child a few decades ago, putting his cards into a laundry bag and thus, most aren’t exactly mint.
When I went to his house, I was happy to see he owned so many cards but very few of them were really worth very much. The oldest ones had condition issues while the newer issues weren’t of the rare insert variety. However we kept at it and eventually he brought out a box of cards which had been separated from the rest and many of those cards were worth consideration.
Once we got to his better cards, we were able to identify about 20 total items he needed to submit. He had some really nice 1968 Topps cards as well as some decent Stan Musial cards. He also had autographs I wanted him to get authenticated including Cardinals he acquired in person such as Curt Flood, Red Schoendienst and Big Johnny Mize. Needless to say he is a huge fan and even trekked to St. Louis for the final two games of the 2011 World Series. I was shocked to see him interviewed on Fox 4 TV during the series as a Dallas native rooting for the Cardinals.
But I started thinking this morning. What if he did not know me? What if he had these cards and wanted to sell them? If this were the 1970’s, he would have probably brought these cards to a major dealer on what was called a “buying trip”. These dealers would get a hotel room, advertise in local papers and buy up collections collecting dust in someone’s attic. Today we call a collection like that a “find” but back then those types of instances were commonplace. Would my friend have been happy with the price received from a single dealer? What would he have brought with him to sell?
Fast forward to the 1990’s when this collector did bring some of his better cards to the extant hobby stores of the time. Who knows how many cards he traded, but in those days, eBay was just beginning, COMC was a decade away from getting off the ground and the old hobby model still worked.
Now, in 2014, there does appear to be a small gain in stores and shows. I spoke to a person in Kansas recently who owns a building and is making a small storefront for his card collection. He remembers what a good time he had as a youth and wants to bring back those days to his area. The good thing for him is he does not have to deal with rent or electricity costs above and beyond what he is already paying so the fixed costs do not change. Thus he will be able to basically have cards where he can make money on a profit and loss basis. In many ways that is a return to the past as when my hobby mentor Tom Reid opened up his very first shop his hours were 6-9 PM Monday and Friday and 10-1 Saturday. I suspect this man’s hours may be a bit limited as well but heck, to be open some of the time is better than not at all. Plus, my series of show articles has convinced at least one person who lives in Minnesota to start his own card show there.
But what if no stores or shows want his cards? The beauty of the world today is he has plenty of options to sell what he has. Those options include just setting up a local garage sale and hoping the right person comes along. Placing his inventory on eBay and pricing them in a way that he might sell his cards or even placing them on a site such as Craig’s List. Or, he could join an online message board and offer them through a buy/sell/trade area.
In today’s world, the sellers have more flexibility than before and actually have more control over their card sales than before. And getting this man’s cards graded by BGS also enables us to help his wife (on the chance something happens to him) sell his cards easier and that takes one thing off his wife’s plate on such a circumstance.
My friend is lucky that I was willing to help him in return for a few really bad off-centered off-quality 1970’s cards but one of the purposes of this site and all the posting we do on Facebook and Twitter is to help collectors fend for themselves. And not to pat ourselves too much on our back, we do a great job as the Facebook page is fast approaching 40,000 likes which is an amazing number for the hobby.
Enjoy the journey and enjoy your cards old and new and remember we can always help you with helping you in guiding you to the right way of selling your cards and memorabilia—or better yet, get back involved in collecting.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]