There are some things you need to bring with you to a card show that you don't realize until you get there or after the show. This list is for those who are going solo and should take quantity into account if the reader is going to be doing a show in collaboration with other etopps in-hand sellers.
- Chairs - the promoter may not provide them for you and I'm sure you will not be crazy about standing for 5-7 hours.
- Extra table. You need to put your inventory somewhere and it's not in your best interest to be bending down to the floor, especially when there can be a few people at your table browsing. Turning your back isn't the best either if you have your inventory table behind you when you face your customers but it's better than the floor. This is when a second seller comes in handy. You can always have one of you eyeing the customers. And yes, cards can have legs and walk off or find their way into fast hands.
- Plastic bags - you'd be surprised how many times we were asked this after a purchase. We always brought a box of plastic t-shirt bags to accommodate customers and they would appreciate this, especially those who bought three or more etopps cards.
- Food & Water - you never know where you can buy food for lunch. Some time and money by bringing a sandwich and beverages. It's not fun trying to explain how the etopps program works with a dry mouth.
- Change of a $20 - it's not fun being handed a $20 bill for your first four sales. You have to have enough singles and fives. There have been at least a few shows in which one of us would walk around trying to make change to get singles. They can run out fast.
- Pad of paper and pen - Write down each sale you make. If you're selling with more than one person this is more important to figure out who made which sale.
- Reading material - if it's dead, have a back-up plan to kill the time. It could be a long afternoon.
- Table covering (or table cloth) - without one, you will look like an amateur and will not be given the time of day. Best to have a black table cloth that drapes over the front of the table(s).
- Card baggies - you know, those little bags each etopps card comes with when shipped to you. Include one with each purchase.
Now here is a list of tools to bring to make your card show more successful:
- Price Guide - if you don't price each individual card, you need a price guide to look up what each card sells that you should prepare in advance, perhaps days in advance in order to tinker with it. You will probably have to adjust prices on the fly depending on the pattern of selling and the demand for certain cards. You can adjust pricing based on supply of a card or if a player is in demand, for example.
- Print Run List - there are some who may not care about print runs but it's always good to be able to inform the customer the print run of an etopps card from before 2004 (if you are selling these).
- Email List - make sure you have customers or interested browsers put down their name and email to notify them when you will be returning to the same card show or for others in the area. We produced a newsletter that showed the latest etopps in-hands available and had pre-sells of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams before etopps made them available for delivery.
- Card stands - The one thing you cannot do at a card show is lay the etopps cards flat on the table. That's a big No-No. They reflect off the ceiling lights and will not put the cards in a good light. Invest in individual card stands. Include them with each purchase. Present them the way you would want to see them. Having them face up on the table is lazy.
- Display stands - This should probably be one of your biggest investments, whether the cardboard variety or ones made of wood or metal. We were able to get a couple of display towers that had five rows of cards and could fit about 30 cards on each. They weren't fun to put together and break down for each show but they did the trick: making the customer see the cards we put on them: rookies, hot selling-cards, team cards and plenty of local team all-stars. The worst ones to put together were the cardboard display stands. Worse than root canal.
- Secure display case - Another big investment but worth it. This is when sharing the cost with another seller or two comes in handy. If you are doing a show that is more than one day, you can either bring the more expensive cards (autos) home with you or lock them up in a display case. At most shows, security keep a watchful eye on dealers' inventories so this is not usually a problem. They can cost up to $100 but when you have a lot of traffic, you don't have to worry as much. They also look better when you have a black felt fabric to put the cards on. We had a little display case under glass that held together with velcro but the case was so crowded with our autographed and graded in-hands that we decided to get a larger display case. It definitely gave us peace of mind.
- Go the extra mile - some etoppers received a blow-up poster of etopps cards from past Nationals. Post a request to buy one on the etopps message board. Put it in a poster frame and place it in front of your table.
- Discount Box - everyone is looking for bargains and so will your customers. If you have excessive amounts 2002-04, offer them in a discount box, charge 3 for $10.
- Promotions - the sky is the limit with this one. We had a giveaway at shows. If a customer bought $25 or some other minimum, we had a grab bag promotion. We placed cards in a box in bubble mailers and held the box over the customer's head. They picked out a free card from the box.