Hey card show guy: PRICE. YOUR. STUFF.

I live in a pretty populated area of California and we’re lucky recently to have a few card shows in various areas. My son and I went to one two weeks ago in Fairfield and did pretty well in a short amount of time. Then today there was a show at a mall just 15 minutes from where I live so I felt like it was a good way to spent the afternoon doing our card thing.

I’d not been to a cardshow in this mall since at least the mid 1990s, which is the last time I recall there actually being one. That was a time when mom would drove me off with a $10 bill and come back for me in two hours. I would also supplement my money with a few trades and then come away with a stack of items from the dime boxes and maybe trade a few things for other things that I wanted in my collection.

And so we went today and I was simply hoping to find a few cards to buy, and hope that my son could also find some stuff to carry on the good vibes he had from the last card show. Sadly, this was not the case.

Mall shows are always hit and miss. There were a good amount of slabs, and most of it was basketball stuff, which doesn’t surprise me given the area I live in, and the items that had been hot in recent months. But I rarely go to a show to even look in the showcases. I usually go looking to pillage the boxes marked at set prices.

Just two weeks ago I spent about $75 and walked out with a few things for my PC and a few things I figured I could flip on COMC. But it’s sort of hard to so this kind of buying when the cards aren’t priced at all.

It was a common theme at this specific show. In all there were a reported 70 tables — and that doesn’t include the rogue dealers who set up their sad stashes on the tables at the Food Court — but in all there were probably a dozen dealers. And of those dozen dealers, maybe half of them had a box or multiple boxes of cards in sleeves and top loaders for sale. And of those three dealers, only two of them actually had prices. Spoiler: The prices were not good.

One dealer had no less than four two-row shoeboxes with toploaded cards packed. I asked if they were all different prices and he said that they were. “There could be cards up to a $100 in there,” he said, noting that I should build a pile and that he’d make me a deal.

Is that supposed to be a selling point? The fact that the first card I saw was literally something I wouldn’t pay $0.50 for leads me to believe that this seller doesn’t know his prices, and that any “deal” he was likely to give me was not going to be worth my time fretting over whether the card I actually want will be made available to me at a price that I’d be comfortable.

I shook my head and just walked away, not really caring if I missed anything because odds are if I had unearthed a gem it’d be offered to me for too much, or he’d ask me to make an offer, which also isn’t usually an affective way to sell items.

As I checked out another dealer — one of the guys who actually had his stuff prices — I thanked him for putting prices on the cards and then proceeded to tell him how frustrating it is as a buyer to not know how much something is going to cost.

His response: “They don’t want to make mistakes and price something too low,” he said, adding that they’re afraid of a player performing well and someone would get too good of a deal.

I realize that not all of us collect the same, and therefore our objectives when we attend a show could be entirely different. But whether you’re seeking bargains in a box or looking at stuff in showcases I think we can all agree that we want people to price their items.

There were a few dealers who had all of their stuff marked with prices. But about half of the folks at this show did not. Instead I look like a jackass asking how much you’re asking on your PSA Slabbed “altered” Michael Jordan rookie and then I shutter when you tell me $4,500. If you price the damn thing I can just walk away and just laugh about it somewhere else.

So, what did I end up walking away with? A 2020 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor Ronald Acuna Jr., which I found apropos given that less than an hour before we showed up to the mall Acuna had been carted off the field with his knee injury. The cost: $1.

One Response to “Hey card show guy: PRICE. YOUR. STUFF.”

  1. Brett Alan Says:

    Yeah, it’s completely ridiculous when dealers don’t have prices on their cards. I don’t spend time at such tables at all. Price is a big factor for me.

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