There are a lot of things to consider when taking the plunge to sell in-hands at a cards show. Over the years, advice has been sprinkled on the etopps message boards that pertained to the etopps booth at the National or from the experience of those who sold at small, local card shows.
Whether considering a local show or one of the bigger ones, planning is key.
If you're just starting out, go slow unless you've sold at card shows in the past. Choose a show nearby that you may have attended as a buyer.
If you have never been to a card show, it's mainly a set of tables like at an arts & crafts show except the items for sale are sports cards and memorabilia. There may be an admission fee. If so, it's likely someone famous or not-so-famous in the sports world is doing a signing.
You may already know about card shows near you. If not, check the latest Beckett pricing guide magazine. In the back, you can find listings of upcoming card shows by state. Sometimes they give the cost per table in the listing. You can also try www.upcomingcardshows.com
Once you find ones in your area, call the promoter that's listed with the show details. Ask for the cost of a table, the size of the table and whether or not there is a discount for buying a second table. You also want to inquire if the promoter does other shows in your area in case these are not listed in the Beckett magazine or the website I provided.
If the promoter has a card show on a regular basis (once or twice a month), find out if there is a discount on buying a table for a certain number of weeks ahead of time. I wouldn't go further than this about commiting to more than one show. It's good just to get an idea. You also want to inquire about how and when payment is made.
Do your homework on the best table deal and go with that. You'll have to make a certain amount to break even. This may have an influence on how you price your cards for the show. (More on this in upcoming postings.)
The reality of card shows nowadays is they are the bottom-feeder of autograph shows. If you are able to afford doing a card show that also includes autograph signings of retired (or active) professional athletes, you will see that there are some people who attend these shows just for the purpose of the signature. They walk in, get their item signed and walk out.
If the player(s) who are signing are big names, you can expect a good showing of people waiting around ahead of time who have nothing better to do than to go browsing to kill the time. Or the ones who got the autograph they wanted and decide to look around. Hopefully neither the admission fee nor the price of the autograph will have put too much of a dent into their wallets. I'll go more into the types of customers you can encounter in the future postings.
Once you have chosen a show, make sure it's at least a few weeks away if not more. There's a lot of planning to do as mentioned. And the next posting about this on Monday will outline how to get ready.
For those who have experience in selling at card shows, feel free to add your tips, advice, or experiences in the comments section.