Bet this Oregon sports card dealer can set up his table faster than you can.
You will not find any Babe Ruth bats at Gary Keever‘s table. No rare World Series programs or game-worn jerseys. Not even a Nolan Ryan rookie. If you’re a ‘sophisticated collector’ you probably walk past his table with barely a glance. If you’re an arrogant snob –and there are quite a few of those here– maybe a disdainful smirk. After all, what’s a guy who’s entire inventory consists of nothing but a dozen or so 5,000 count monster boxes of unsorted, mostly modern cards doing at the National anyway besides looking hopelessly out of place?
Making money, that’s what.
He’s a 1990 Donruss in a Honus Wagner world. And loving every second of it.
“The whole idea is really a lot of fun.”
Earlier in the week, he had weighted down his trusty old Cadillac with about 250,000 cards. “We still got 19 miles to the gallon.” He and a partner rolled into Anaheim and set up shop, leaving their vintage collections at home. “I was in the vintage market for a long time but I hated to part with some of that stuff,” he told Sports Collectors Daily. “So I just started buying collections of the newer stuff and just made it ‘dimes and dollars’.”
All weekend, while others scoured the room for vintage cards, the B & G Enterprises table was buzzing with buyers for his unique niche who knew his pricing structure within about three seconds: No price guides. No quarter cards. No 50-centers. Certainly no $5 boxes. This box? “A dime”. That one? “A dollar”.
That’s it. And they were selling by the pound.
In less than three full days at the National, he was easily the show floor’s volume leader. “I’ve sold about 25,000 cards so far,” the Salem, Oregon-based retiree said late Friday afternoon. About eight thousand cheapo cards per day. “That’s a lot of dimes.” he said. “Which eventually become a lot of dollars.”
The National’s 2006 location was a bonus for Gary. Large shows have become somewhat of a rarity on the west coast and Anaheim was teeming with new customers who’d never seen so many boxes with so many cheap cards.
“I came down here with the expectation of making $8-10,000 but I think I’m going to exceed that.”
For some, the boxes are a treasure trove of penny-stock type investing. There are rookie cards of potential Hall of Famers like Craig Biggio sitting in there. Somewhere. Premium cards other dealers might be selling for a half dollar, Gary sells for a dime. There is one 5,000-count box of nothing but Nolan Ryans. Not vintage Ryans. Not for a dime. But the variety was enormous and the quality was often gradeable.
Gary and some dealer acquaintances have formed a partnership. He lets them have the more desirable, expensive cards. They give him a volume price on the remainder and both sides profit.
He had numerous return customers as the show progressed. “There are a couple of guys who have made three trips to my table and every time they spend $30-80. I’ve had kids come by who don’t have any money but they want a card. I just give them one so they can have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
Sunday night, he would pack up and head back up the coast, awaiting the next big show while having a good time on and off the show floor. He’ll replenish his inventory with the stuff no one else wants and laugh all the way to the bank.
The one with the best coin counter.