Just some random notes from our weekend show at the Southfork Hotel here in the Dallas area. Every time we have a show, I either learn something new or get an old hobby lesson reinforced.
Our scheduled guest was Doug Donley, who played receiver for both Ohio State in the late 1970s and then for the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1980s. Like all of the guests we have had so far, he was excellent with those who came for an autograph. And here’s a great piece of trivia: As a Buckeye, Donley was the intended receiver on the ill-fated pass versus Clemson in the 1978 Gator Bowl that resulted in the inglorious end to Woody Hayes’ career. If you watch the clip of that play, you do hear Keith Jackson intone how Donley was the target of quarterback Art Schlichter. You might be able to win a lot of bar bets with that information.
You know the show went well when you leave at 5 PM, an hour after it was supposed to end, and several dealers are still in the process of closing down. That means they were doing well enough and enjoying themselves enough to stay until the end. We do appreciate how hard it can be for dealers to set up and pack out. At a show the customers only see the finished product of the set-up not the actual hard work which goes into it.
Afterward, one of our dealers proudly announced on Facebook he had again spent more money than he took in. The previous month it was something akin to “I took in $900 and spent $1000.” This month it was fairly similar in those terms.
Every time he mentions doing so, I’m always reminded of dealer/promoter John Broggi’s comments from back in the 1980s. He would always say a perfect show was one in which he took in $10K and spent $10K, meaning he was making a profit on what he sold and then using that show money to buy more merchandise for resale so he could continue making money. John dealt in a pretty large volume and he knew by instinct which cards would and would not sell and at what prices. The dealer who posted about his success at our show noted the same thing. Knowing the market is critical if you’re a dealer—even part-time—but if you do, making money isn’t hard.
Not every purchase is a money maker though. You just hope the good purchases outweigh the bad. While most of the deals I bought from dealer Tom Reid many years ago were good for me, every once in a while there would be one when I realized that was not going to work. But if you make money on 90 percent of what you buy, you can chalk up the other 10 percent to experience. None of us are perfect so as long as our mistakes can be handled and don’t break us, then as a dealer we accept those errors.
That thought is why most of the local store owners tell anyone who calls or walks in with cards for sale they only want to buy cards before 1970. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will never buy anything after 1970, rather they want to limit what comes in to cards which are more interesting to collectors and not as easy to obtain. Could you imagine, if you had a store and purchased every collection from the overproduction era that was offered, how overloaded you would be with those cards?
Sort of related to that…When my old friend Ira Friedberg had his coin and card store in Passaic NJ in the 1980s, he would actually sell cards by the pound, which is a great idea if you really think about it. It was truly a grab bag with the buyer going home with whatever went up on the scale. And after all, who doesn’t like the idea of fishing through a big box in hopes of finding something good?