Ramblings: Small Shows Can Be Fun…and Profitable

by Rich Klein

Many of you have been following my adventures at the local Craig Ranch show here in the Dallas area. This past weekend we had another first Saturday event and as usual I set up at the show and again am happy to report that the crowds were back in style and my sales were good again. Last show I made three big sales and that was all for the day, but this time was a bit different.

The dealers now get there for the most part even earlier so the unpacking is easier and to make sure if there is an event held in another part of the facility, they can better Richs Ramblings navigate to the area where the show is. This time there were no other events but two more dealers joined the two of us usually there by 8 a.m.  After set-up there is a brief lull until the doors open. One dealer now says it is a tradition for me to make the first purchase from him each show.

baseball card show Craig Ranch TX

Craig Ranch show (file photo)

The show opens at 10 A.M. and by the time I reached my wife to tell her I was very busy it was quarter of one. Yes my table was 2-3 people deep until then—nearly three hours of steady customers—and it stayed pretty strong until the end of the day. I know that sounds impossible in today’s show climate but that is usual for me at this show. I will also say that there were probably two less tables this month which did not hurt the sales for the dealers.

One dealer commented to me that he had seen every person before and there were no new buyers in the room. Well, perhaps he is not turning over his merchandise or adding to his stock.  I will say that I sold to several people I had never sold to before including a bunch of former Rangers like Nolan Ryan and Pudge Rodriguez.  One collector bought out ALL my 1973 commons/minor stars/high numbers; not bad for people who had seen my stock before if true.

Setting up next to me was a young man and his dad.  What was really neat was the whole family were collectors. The younger man’s grandmother was the one who bought the Rodriguez cards.  He likes Torrey Smith and his dad was along for the ride. They did well enough in buying and selling that they never went into the backup money stash. In addition, and I wish I had asked a few more questions about this, apparently the young man is involved with a really cool trading group that posts whatever is available with scans and send those photos to each other. Trading to the modern max indeed! I bought five “grab” bags from him and there was a Chipper Jones insert card that will pay for the whole lot of cards. Well done!

sports memorabilia show Craig Ranch TexasOur dealer/chef was back with new sauces. He had impressed some local movers and shakers enough that he was hired to sell his BBQ at the McKinney July 4th fireworks event. He said he went from 0 to 60 in terms of learning how to prepare and he had a good time. He was even nice enough to give me a small jar of his spicy sauce as he knows I love spicier the better.  He said cooking has replaced cards as his real passion. He also had a really good selling show so it was a double win for him.

My Reds collector came in and took me up on my offer to let him trade up for my newly acquired 1968 Topps Lee May, a somewhat difficult to find card from that set. He told me he loved the mention in the column.  We chatted and since he is just about finished with his Topps and Bowman Reds project we agreed a good next move would be to the Reds in Heritage. He will not be doing the chrome parallels and the buy backs will be aggravating but most of the collection will be fairly easy. Team collectors like him are really the heart of the hobby.

One of my customers purchased a bunch of 1967-68 cards from me and that transaction went fine. Well I was sure surprised to see him about 2 hours later and he explained he came back for a certain card. Would you believe he specifically came back to buy the 1968 Topps Lee May I’d taken back from the other gentleman?  He explained how long he had spent looking for the card. I told him the story, we had a good laugh and he left with that card and a 1968 BVG Ed Brinkman Yellow Letter Senators card. Yes, I can say for sure, this may the first time I have sold the same exact card on two separate occasions.

I explained to many collectors the advantages of COMC over eBay etc. Many collectors are beginning to understand the concept and why COMC continues to grow. Plus I trust the shipping from COMC a lot more than PWE’s from random sellers.

So, at least on a small level and very local, the show circuit still works and my sales have been consistently good to excellent each month even if I change my stock. By the way for the next stock I just received my latest bulk auction purchase and I will have a ton of new 1951-56 cards mixed condition fairly priced. Remember, you always have to have fresh inventory!

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]