As many of you know, I’ve been known to set up at card shows for a good deal of my life. Having experience behind the table, helping out at card shops and working with card dealers, I usually love to take the side of the under-appreciated card dealer/store owner in these Ramblings. But sometimes, the problems that arise are the card dealers’ fault. I saw several cases of this when I set up at a baseball card show over the weekend here in the Dallas area.
Often, the issue occurs with newer cards when a player who was very popular at one time fizzles out for one reason of another. The first example was I had a 2011 Topps Heritage Jose Tabata pulled when he was very popular. Every dealer uses a different thought process when it comes to separating the popular cards from the commons. I use a $10 Beckett price pull to place a card into a semi-rigid holder instead of just a soft plastic.
Yes, Mr. Tabata was a $10 card when Beckett originally priced that Heritage product, in part because he was a single print but also on the basis of his promise as a player. Well. this month Jose Tabata was designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates and needless to say his once bright future now has him heading to a different team for 2015.
Clearly Tabata isn’t a $10 card anymore but if you don’t pay attention to the transaction wire or to market trends, you might still have this card priced at that level and many dealers never adjust their prices. It’s the type of situation why many dealers prefer not to participate in the new card market, because you have to pay constant attention to the sport. But if that’s what you’ve chosen to sell, you’d better have some concept of which players are still worthy of being called a real prospect and which need to be considered a swing and miss.
Of course, there are the more extreme examples of Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. Unless you have living under a tree for the past month, these two football players have become persona non grata in their sport. Rice is best known now for that infamous punch in an elevator while Peterson has probably ruined his Hall of Fame career with the allegations he is facing. I wonder if any dealers even still display cards of either player in their showcase? I found a numbered card of Peterson while going through my modern football card set-up and realized the only way I would ever unload that card was to pay the customer to take that card with him or her. If you are displaying cards of either player at this point, I would hope they are massively discounted.
The other example of how sometimes it is the dealer’s fault has to do with pricing on vintage cards and this is for both shows and eBay. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read stories online about dealers with seemingly insane prices from which they will not budge. Sometimes that may be because they paid too much money and sometimes they frankly do not care. It makes you wonder why they set up. The point, it seems, is to sell and to do it, you have to compete with reality.
Then there is the situation where the card is priced too high for the condition. How many times have you seen a sign half off Beckett prices for a card which in reality should be a 10 percent card? Me too. That is not something any dealer should be proud of. Now mistakes do happen, especially with surface creases or damage which can only been seen if cards are tilted certain ways but the overpricing is not cool when condition is involved.
Those are some examples of how dealers are missing the boat. We’d love to hear some of your stories as well.