Recently there was a short thread on the Blowout Cards forum about a few things sports card show dealers did incorrectly. While in some ways I agree with was posted, there is also the point that many of these issues are caused just as much by customer viewpoints as by the dealers. So we’re going to detail some of the items in that thread as well as a few other salient points.
The first item which was mentioned was that the dealer tables look the same at each show. Well, especially if the show is run fairly often, that is certainly true. Let’s face one logical fact. If you have one six-foot table to each show, and use a showcase, then your table will pretty much look the same each show. And if you put your best material into the showcase, you very well may have many of the same cards displayed each show.
For example, if you have several Mickey Mantle cards, those are going to be the ones you display, instead of a Hank Aaron or Willie Mays from the same general vintage. And yes, the tables can look the same. Sometimes, unless you are selling unopened boxes and get some new or updated products between one show and the next, even that can look the same.. I know back in the day, Mike Gordon sketched out on paper where he put each item on his table. That way he knew how to maximize his space but even his table could look the same each show.
The second item discussed was the refusal of some dealers to negotiate. Well at the last show I did at the Addison Garden Inn, I ran into several of those “collector-dealers” who believed they should be one to make money on every card they purchase. I think, on top of the slow attendance, those customers also aggravated me even more. After I basically shooed one of them away when I was taken aback by what he said next. The discussion with me went something like this:
Customer: How did you get to your price?
Me: The card books in Beckett at $60 and thus I marked the card at $50.
Customer: Do you take Paypal?
Me: Yes I do.
Customer: I’ll give you $25 for that card.
I silently put card back and say nothing more and conversation is over
He then goes to another dealer’s table who has a Bo Jackson signed card in his showcase. For what seems to be a good 15 minutes they discuss it. The dealer says “Well Bo is popular, and this card is selling for about $175 on eBay. The customer offers $100 and neither side budges. What the customer keeps forgetting is the dealer pays for the table space and has already taken the risk of either opening the product that may have yielded the Jackson card or purchasing it for re-sale.
In many ways, it’s a hard concept for collectors or customers to realize but mot of them are still suffering from what fellow and former Baseball Hobby News columnist Richard West titled E.A.D.S. (Everyone’s a Dealer Syndrome). In those early and mid-1980’s days most of the EADS usually carried an album with them which included a page of Bob Horner and Joe Charboneau rookie cards for sale, among other items. What those “dealers” did was offer you their merchandise while looking for re-sellable material. And let’s understand, we all want to do that as customers. But customers such as that remind me of the last time I ventured into Nick’s Sport Cards. Owners Nick and
Debbie explained to me that they have occasional customers who ask about quantity discounts from their $2 jersey and autograph box. They laughed and said: “Well, we’ll ring you up since the cards in that box already have an average value of $14 each.”
Nick and Debbie understand that they should work with their best customers if they can. But the funniest note for them is that their highest spending clients never even ask for a discount. We were laughing as I explained that if you aggressively ask me about discounts, you will find yourself getting almost nothing off, but if you just let me come up with the prices you will usually be very satisfied.
At another local show, one of my regular customers brought his wife who collected Cowboys cards. The customer knows I have always worked with him, but his wife did not. Some when she pulled something like $16 of Cowboys cards and I said “Well just give me $12”, her response was “are you sure?” She was shocked that anyone would just take care of her on pricing without having to ask. And frankly, I was happier helping someone who did not ask than those who feel as if they deserve a rock bottom price and will talk your ear off to get it.
A few months ago, another collector asked if I had any “wiggle room” on a card which booked for $40 which I then marked at $30. I said of course, but when the customer offered $10, I laughed and said, “Well wiggle room I have, but bend over room I don’t have.”
So my whole point is that this is not always the dealer’s point when it comes to working with the client. Sometimes customers are so aggressive at asking for prices that they actually insult the dealers who won’t work with them going forward.
This isn’t meant as a rant against anyone looking for a better deal. Believe me, I know full and part-time dealers have issues too when it comes to pricing. Dealers should endeavor to treat everyone the same within reason. And when I’m a customer, I never stop or ask a price at a dealer’s table. If the card is not priced, I don’t want to know about the card because I then wonder if that is truly the best dealer price. Pricing your cards is to me a mandatory part of the business.
Have any comments on dealers and show-goers? Let me know.