After I thought the DFW area would avoid any winter weather this year, we finally got hit several days ago. While if the same amount of icy precipitation had hit the New York area where I grew up, we’d have considered it a mere inconvenience, this type of event can shut down the entire Metroplex area. My wife works at a local school, which announced a ‘snow day’ the evening before and she went to bed knowing she could sleep late. I know everyone associated with the school from the employees to the parents and even to the kids appreciated the early notice. As kids, how many of you stared out a window, hoping you would get a day off because of bad weather and thinking of all of the fun things you would do? Yep, me too.
There’s even a good lesson for card collectors and dealers to learn from all this and it has something to do with anticipating and being prepared. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met collectors at shows who say they are working on a set and when I ask what cards they need, the response is “I don’t have my want list with me” or “I don’t know what cards I need.”
Now, I can understand that if they’ve just started piecing a set together and only have a few dozen. In that case, what you are better off doing is looking for a nice lot or grouping of cards to get you to the want list stage. But when you are down to your last 10 cards or so, it seems like finding them would be a priority when you go to a show. Having the list handy is never a bad idea, even if the odds may seem long.
Stick an extra copy in your glove compartment or fold it up and put it in your wallet if you don’t want to carry a notebook everywhere. These days, some collectors keep their want lists on their phones in case they run into a card show or store they may not have originally planned to visit.
It also helps to be prepared financially. Today, you can often use cash, credit card, personal check or even Paypal at a show but having a budget will help you focus on what you need but I’ve found it’s always good have something set aside for an unexpected ‘must have’. One of the great things about going to shows is sometimes you can find really good deals outside of your want lists which may be ancillary to your collection or something you can flip for a profit. Again it helps to be ready in case you walk into that one great deal you weren’t expecting.
Dealers should also take time to be prepared. That means having your show inventory set up in a way that collectors can find what they need. Frankly, at times I’m as guilty of having material in too many different places as anyone. One of the reasons I like to set up early at shows is to do some work into putting my recent acquisitions into the various boxes where they best belong. I will sometimes lay out my material a day ahead of time so I can make the best presentation possible…sort of a card show ‘dry run’. Sometimes, if a show is slow, dealers bring cards to sort or price as time ticks away. At least they are using the down period to prepare for the next show or to post those cards online.
And even as a promoter, my goal is to always be prepared. Sometimes dealers cannot attend your show even at the last minute for various reasons. There’s a local guy who sets up at shows here but works in a hospital and if they tell him to show up for duty there, obviously the card show takes a back seat to caring for the sick. And other times, unexpected life events force folks to cancel. If the show is sold out, you can then contact dealers on a waiting list you should be keeping.
Every show I run has a different time frame but I’m learning the first hour or two on the Saturday shows is usually very popular and so it’s important for dealers to be set up and ready to converse with their potential customers. Sunday’s biggest crowd often shows up after church.
So as the old boy scout motto goes, “be prepared”. And if you know you are getting a snow day, dig out that list of hobby-related things you’d like to accomplish with the bonus time off. It’s the one good part of nasty winter weather.