One Chicago area dealer has had it with show-goers who don’t have a clue.
a column by Tony Gordon
I sell cards every weekend at several different regular shows. My smaller show, Show B, has few customers and lots of time for dealers to discuss the issues relating to the hobby. In general, at Show B, the dealers refer to the customers as "Mopes." The word is fitting because so many of these guys are mopes who go through your stuff every week, don’t buy anything and usually leave you with some other reasons for aggravation. Here, then, are 16 ways not to be a mope.
1) Spend some damn money. How can you go to a card show with dealers who offer everything under the sun and not spend any money? At Show B, dealers are generally really inexpensive and nearly every price is negotiable.
2) Don’t complain about pricing — negotiate!! If a dealer is for some reason not willing to lower a price there is no need to call him names, claim you can get it cheaper on eBay etc. Just move on to another table. You will find a dealer who will work with you as long as you are not a jerk. If I have a card on my table tagged at $100 and you ask me "What’s the best that you can do?" I reply $75, don’t storm away. Counter offer 60, 50, something because nine times out of ten, I’ll let you have the card with your counteroffer.
3) Handle the dealer’s cards as if they are fine china, a precious child, a piece of ancient literature, or something you care greatly about. Avoid dropping cards by not grabbing too many at once. When a dealer has cards in a binder DON’T BEND THEM!! Turn the pages carefully. And while this particular dealer loves children and is, in fact, a father of two, please keep your very young kids away from the cards (or at the very least, instruct them to take care when looking at them).
4) Do not walk around card shows with a can/bottle of soda, beer, cup of coffee, any liquid of any sort. Someone recently spilled a can of root beer on my binder of ’58 Topps. If you do happen to spill your root beer, the proper thing to do is to offer to pay for the cards you ruined!!
5) When viewing cards at a table, don’t place your bags, boxes, backpacks on top of a dealer’s display case. Put your stuff on the floor. The worst is when a customer is viewing a dealer’s table next to mine and places his stuff on MY cases.
6) If a dealer tells you one week that he doesn’t trade, please stop asking to trade every single week thereafter. How else can the dealer make it more clear to you then to tell you he doesn’t trade. Why keep asking?
7) When the show is ending, please leave. Most dealers have some sort of life outside the hobby and when it is time to go, it is time to go.
8) If you’re going to sit there and talk to me for an hour, it’s a good idea to buy something. I’m not your shrink. I need to make some money.
9) If you are eating a messy kind of treat, like an ice cream cone, finish eating and wash your hands before touching items on a table. I had some mope at one of the large major shows who had hands wrapped around a dripping cone proceed to fondle a nice old All Star game program. I really appreciated the added vanilla ice cream fingerprints on it.
10) If you are selling cards to a dealer don’t expect to receive book value in return. Dealers are not there to collect. We’re there to sell and have to make a profit on anything we’ve brought– or at least just cover our costs – table fees, transport, time and effort. I’m not going to pay book price for your card when I can’t even sell it for book — nobody buys anything for book. Hello?!!!
11) This one is directed more toward other dealers — DON’T OFFER TO BUY ME OUT!! I’m not going to sell you my $15,000 table for a grand. I’d rather let the guy grab my stuff with ice cream on his hands than get these "offers". Really, it is insulting and you’re just a scumbag when you offer me next to nothing for my cards that sell regularly and for nice prices. I also love the customers that offer me a 100 bucks for a binder full of cards worth more like $1,500. "But you’re turning down $100 cash money!"
12) This item is related to Number 11 — eBay sellers, please stay away!! I’m not going to sell you my cards at 5 percent of book so you can sell them on eBay at a much higher profit.
13) Look the vintage card over for wear, creases, wrinkles. Don’t buy my card and bring it back the next week and demand a refund. Find the crease before you purchase the card. In my case, I price the cards to condition. So if a card has a wrinkle, I price it at 10 to 15% of book. You’re not getting ripped off when you buy a creased card from me, you are getting what you pay for. I also try to make an effort and alert the buyer to a crease prior to taking the buyer’s money. But I have 50,000 or so cards on my tables and I don’t have the condition of each card memorized. However, the price should be a tip off. For example, I have tags on all my cards. If my tag reads: Book Price $100, Sale Price $15, this card has a crease!! I’m not going to sell a MINT card that books $100 for $15.
14) If I’m negotiating with a customer who has brought me some cards that I would like to buy, please mind your own business. If I don’t want the customer’s cards then feel free to make an offer. But if I’m negotiating, go away, don’t hover around pretending to look at cards.
15) If you have never bought cards from me before, don’t demand big discounts. If you regularly buy cards from me, I am more than happy to discount. The more you buy, the larger the discount.
16) Don’t steal cards. Many of us dealers are cops and prosecuting attorneys. We know what you’re up to and we’ll make sure you get a nice bunk with a roommate named Bubba who is going to want to get real friendly.
Sorry to be so harsh but it can be frustrating week after week dealing with mopes. Luckily most of my customers are great and I look forward to seeing them every week. But the mopes…
Tony Gordon is a former newspaper writer, author and occasional contributor to SportsCollectorsDaily.com. He’s usually in a better mood.