Monday, June 2, 2008

Preparing For A Card Show: Consider A Partner

If you have experience as a dealer at a card show and etopps cards is just something to include in your overall inventory, this posting may not apply to you.

If you do not have experience selling as a dealer, I recommend selling with another etopper.


You save money on the table fee. If you can get a table for a show under $50, you may be able to fly solo. Otherwise, especially the shows that have autograph signings, tables can set you back quite a bit. The more inventory you have, the more appealing likely you will need more than one table.

I have sold my cards with two other etoppers and we would split the hefty table fees three ways so we could be dealers at the bigger shows such as the Football Spectacular in New Jersey.

We would also split the responsibilities. For instance, one of us would handle the money during the show, one of us would take care of re-stocking while the other would give the sales pitch about etopps to customers.

One of the challenges of having more than one seller doing a card show is figuring out what to do when more than one person wants to sell the same card. Like at the National when 10 different sellers has a rookie LeBron James card, it's a game of round robin.

For each card that has more than one seller, just decide who sells their card first and have an order (if more than two people) for who sells that card next. Before the show starts, whoever is first in order of selling a card takes that card out of their inventory and gets placed on the table.

Just keep a log that covers the quantity of each card and the pecking order of who sells each card next.

In fact, put everything in writing: which card from whose inventory sold and for how much. Don't procrastinate writing it down. Don't depend on your memory when you have multiple sales. It can get messy so having that extra person to make the next sale while you write down the last sale and see who will sell those cards next will prevent a lot of awkwardness if you cannot reconcile the money you have in your hand vs. what you should have on paper.

Besides, it's fun to get to know your fellow seller who you may only know by username with posts on the message board. You get peace of mind that someone is watching the table while you're in the john and it's faster to set-up at the beginning and break-down at the end of the show.

The fun is when you're packing up with another seller. It's time to sort out who owns which cards that are currently on display on the table. Rather than guessing or going by the inventory log, we used post-its of different colors. We each chose a color and stuck a post-it or a piece of a post-it of your color when any of our cards were next to be sold. So by the end of the show, "Agent Orange" had his stack, "Mellow Yellow" had his pile and "Gang Green" had the rest.

Overall, having a fellow etopper sell with you has a lot of advantages and you can help each other when negotiating with hagglers at shows. Even though you sort of split the profits, the rewards of selling together can be sweeter.

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