Selling at a Card Show – Recap

Yesterday, I sold hockey cards at a sports card show. Or, more accurately, tried to sell hockey cards at a sports card show.

As good as this show has been in the past (at least, from a buyer’s perspective), a few things kept this show from being profitable for me.

Did I break even? Sort of. The table cost me $40. I sold $40 worth of stuff. 

The show went from 9 AM to 2 PM. Here’s a quick rundown…

8:10 AM – Arrive at the show.

8:45 AM – All set up. If you build it, they will come…

9:10 AM – OK, maybe not. Perhaps this was too ambitious of an endeavour.

9:15 AM – Made my first sale. $20. A few other small sales follow.

10:00 AM – Still haven’t broken even.

10:30 AM – Haven’t sold a thing in 40 minutes.

11:10 AM – The room has gotten loud. More people. Maybe things will pick up.

11:50 AM – Finally broke even. Just over 2 hours left in the show.

12:05 PM – A hush falls across the room. One dealer has packed up and left.

12:30 PM – The Bears are playing? Really? I wish I thought of that before deciding to sell at this show.

12:50 PM – The only people looking at my table are other dealers. At this point, about half of the 50 or so vendors have either left or are packing up.

1:15 PM – I decide to call it quits, and pack up my table.

1:30 PM – Sal-vis has left the building.

So, what went wrong?

First, few people came. I’ve seen this show get crowded, but unfortunately not this time.

Second, the economy is still bad. Back in the day, most collectors would spend $5 on a card they wanted. Now, they either try to buy it for $3 or don’t buy it at all.

Third, the $%&* Bears were playing! Whatever small buzz the show had was pretty much killed once the Bears game started.

What really riles me, though, is that many of the people I saw were wearing Blackhawks apparel, and yet they didn’t want any of my sweet ‘Hawks stuff.

Anyway, here’s a few pictures of my set up:

Blackhawks cards from 1970 to 2010. .There’s also some old team calenders and a few other odds n’ ends.

Complete sets. Sure, a lot of it is “junk wax” era, but some of it was newer. I even had a few insert sets from the 1970s, and a complete 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee set for sale.

Non-Blackhawks hockey cards, including 2010-11 Victory Rookies, some 2009-10 Young Guns, and other decent cards from the late 1960s through the 1980s.

I had the most hockey cards and memorabilia at the show, my prices were great (seriously), but few people equals few sales.

The promoter–who is a very nice man–asked me if I wanted to do this show next month. I politely told him no, but said that I might be up for trying this again in  a couple of months.

And the crazy thing is, I just might try again. 

Or maybe that’s a stupid thing…

I have more thoughts on this, but those will be saved for a future blog post.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

10 thoughts on “Selling at a Card Show – Recap”

  1. Oh man, that's too bad. Based on your pics and description of what you had I probably would've spent $40 myself if I had been there. Maybe next time it will draw more of a crowd…

  2. Thanks for sharing… It's nice to see things from a dealer's point of view. I'm glad you were able to break even.

    Did you talk to any of the other dealers? Did any of them make money?

    I've considered setting up at a show… but I'm still doing my research.

    Best of luck if you decide to do this again in a few months.

  3. I think some of the other dealers made money, but I'm not sure how. Of course, several of them had high-end autographs or GU cards, or new wax. Then again, their overhead would be way higher than mine, whereas I sold off duplicate stuff that cost me next to nothing to acquire.

    I would like to try another show in Chicago proper, as it would have the foot traffic the suburbs lack.

  4. @Fuji

    No, he didn't break even. He had to pacify me at the Olive Garden for sitting through this thing. That ran him $50.

    The GF

  5. $50 at the Olive Garden… Ouch! You're a good man Sal… and you're very lucky to have a girlfriend willing to sit through a whole day at a card show.

    Hey Shellie… you mind talking to my GF for me? I can't afford the Olive Garden… but tell her I'll hook her up with 6 tacos from Jack in the Box… or a Big Mac meal deal from Mickey D's.

  6. @Fuji

    No way, José! All girls know Olive Garden is the minimum requirement for putting up with many hours of sports card-ness. (I have tank tops but am not selling any sports things…)

    Getting through the three day Blawkhawks Convention cost him two sock yarn balls, three lunches, one all you can eat sushi dinner menu and two Manga. I got him a *sick* amount of autographs.

    Besides, Olive Garden *is* a McDonald's when you live in Chicago, the chow hound capital of the USA. Check out the dinner menu here; I've been and you need to average about $120 a person for dinner, a drink, dessert, tip and taxes:

    Sadly, Sal wants the Big Mac value meal. High end dining would cut into his card collecting. 9_9

  7. Lol… I guess I won't be heading over to Chicago anytime soon. I can't even really afford card collecting… let alone fine dining 😉

  8. Don't give up yet Sal. You broke even which is pretty much a tie game. Give it another go maybe in a couple of months when the hockey season is in full swing and maybe football is over or at least after the Bears have checked out of the playoffs. If I wasn't 2500km away I would have definitely gone especially since we only have 2 card shows a year max!

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