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Tales from the Comic Box: Rookie Adventures in Buying/Selling & Setting Up at Shows

Entry posted by Wall-Crawler · - 2,128 views

Adventures and musings about Buying, Selling and setting up at Conventions and Shows

I participated in my first ever show last October. You can read about it here: http://boards.collectors-society.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=8903742#Post8903742

I was pleased with my sales, it was an excellent learning experience and most importantly, I had a great time. I must have did "ok" as I was invited back by the show organizers.

In my town, there use to be a larger two day Antique Show, but with the sale of the local Legion (where that event was held), the Antique Show organizers asked the organizers of the Collectibles Show to "take over"...I think this is a good thing, merging the two shows.

The first show under the new 'brand' is scheduled for Sunday, April 17th, 2016. Moving forward, the plan is to have a regular two day show in October.

For as long as there is some degree of interest I will share my experiences, good and bad. I also look forward to any new comments and tips from more seasoned sellers. Thanks for your interest!

Thanks for reading!

To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.


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Well, this new format is just terrible. I see now where I can access the old entries, but yeah, NOT a fan of the change.  The layout of the journal section, everything is poopy.  There was a reason why people kept posting in the "old" format :mad:

Regardless, this is the continuation of my Tales from the Comic Box: Adventures in Buying/Selling & Setting Up at Shows

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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So, I am going to post a bit here and see if anyone is still following the "new and improved" format.

I paid for my booth for this September show and had a nice chat with the organizer.

He is hosting a vendor dinner on Thursday night, the night before the show. The show opens on Friday,  5 PM to 9 PM and all day on Saturday (last weekend of September). The cool thing that is also happening is the Downtown Gallery Hop is that same Friday...The Downtown Gallery Hop is a free arts event hosted by the galleries, shops and artist studios and there is always lots of local support for that event where shops are open late and there other fun little things happening.  The show is also on Main Street so Friday night could potentially be a good night after all so we shall see.

ALSO, for those still following and may recall that I had a gentleman clear me out of my cartoon books and had expressed interest in my westerns. I am happy to report those are now all SOLD. 1 and 3/4 long box of mid 70's to early 80's DC and Marvel westerns - Gone.  One whole box was not even bagged and boarded.  We were able to agree to a bulk deal I think we could both be happy with. I am thinking of "reinvesting" that money into some graded books but have not decided which ones yet.

Thoughts?

 

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On 8/26/2018 at 6:23 PM, Wall-Crawler said:

So, I am going to post a bit here and see if anyone is still following the "new and improved" format.

I paid for my booth for this September show and had a nice chat with the organizer.

He is hosting a vendor dinner on Thursday night, the night before the show. The show opens on Friday,  5 PM to 9 PM and all day on Saturday (last weekend of September). The cool thing that is also happening is the Downtown Gallery Hop is that same Friday...The Downtown Gallery Hop is a free arts event hosted by the galleries, shops and artist studios and there is always lots of local support for that event where shops are open late and there other fun little things happening.  The show is also on Main Street so Friday night could potentially be a good night after all so we shall see.

ALSO, for those still following and may recall that I had a gentleman clear me out of my cartoon books and had expressed interest in my westerns. I am happy to report those are now all SOLD. 1 and 3/4 long box of mid 70's to early 80's DC and Marvel westerns - Gone.  One whole box was not even bagged and boarded.  We were able to agree to a bulk deal I think we could both be happy with. I am thinking of "reinvesting" that money into some graded books but have not decided which ones yet.

Thoughts?

 

Unless you want to put the money towards your AF15 fund, my answer is boring and predictable: Marvel SA and BA Keys.

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6 hours ago, piper said:

Unless you want to put the money towards your AF15 fund, my answer is boring and predictable: Marvel SA and BA Keys.

I am mostly saving though but a little "reinvestment" to go back into selling...I did use some comic funds to help cover a little summer getaway and a few household/boring things.

I have picked up a few DC SA keys, which goes towards making profit (eventually) as I have to hold for a bit as I am not picking them up at rock bottom prices. Very tight margins but again, purchased using the sales of common stuff.  I also can't go too crazy because I don't have a large local market for expensive books so most selling of said books is exclusively online.

I haven't posted in my ASM journal in awhile as I have been saving but also the cost now of a low grade ASM #1 is a bit depressing - Another entry may be due soon - So just kind of selling and buying (well not so much buying :frown: but not due to lack of trying).

 

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This was my favorite journal, so I hope you do keep it up.  

But what happened to all the old content?   How do you find it?  Nevermind...saw your quick link

 

 Not a fan of this format.  

Edited by chrisco37

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The Fall Edition of the new show in town (Great Northern Antiques to Oddities Show) is taking place on the evening of Friday September 28th and Saturday September 29th.

I will be ramping up my social media advertising for the next week (Facebook and IG - I still don't know how effective it is, but it can't hurt) and my booth has been paid for.  I will again not be in the Main Hall but rather off in a smaller room, the "Map Room".  Initially, I was put off by this last April  but it turned out to be a good thing and I don't think I "lost" sales by not being in the main hall.  Vendors are set up in the hallway, the Main Hall and the Map Room (only myself and the vinyl dealer will be in the Map Room).  The organizers have said they will address my (minor) complaints of having better signage/direction to patrons to come into the Map Room this time and, my number 1 issue, better lighting. 

Seeing as how Venom comes out a week after the show, I am going to try to make my Spidey/Venom related books the focal point of my central display, similar to what I did at the last show I did, Northern Game Expo, when Infinity War was right around the corner and I laid out all things Avengers/Thanos related that I had.  That worked out pretty successfully. 

For my "wall books", I am also going to change things up.  Instead of having them all be "higher end" books, I am going to split my wall display up.  One row will have "higher end books" and the other row will have books in the $10 to $50 range up that have a cool cover or subject matter of popular characters. 

While I have priced up some new individual title inventory, I have been focusing on sets.  Sets have not yet really disappointed me.  I had a long box and a half of near complete sets and I decided to send a list to a well-known comic dealer in western Canada and was able to fill 99% of my order, so while I put out some money, I no longer have one and a half long boxes of near completed sets. I don't have to wait and wait and wait to track down an issue here and there to complete all those sets. I'm glad to get that done and add a lot more new sets to my set inventory.

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Pretty much ready for the show...As per usual, never get enough "new" "new' stock processed but I have added A LOT more sets.

I get to move in Thursday evening but might ask for Friday afternoon as show opens at 4 PM on Friday Until 9 PM. Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM.  The Friday shall be interesting as it is "timed" with a downtown event, the Downtown Gallery Hop where a bunch of shops, particularly "art" boutiques stay open late.

We have talked about social media advertising. I boosted a post on my Facebook page and this is what it is showing me so far. For $20 CAD, what the heck...For the record for one six foot table and two 8 foot skirted tables was $80, pretty good deal, so what's another $20?

 

FB results.jpg

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Ok, so here goes...

The 2018 Spring Edition of this show (the first one), I did very, very well. The show was very well attended and I did pretty strong numbers with lots of new casual buyers.  My primary complaints were that the room that I was in was very poorly lit and there was no real signage to direct show goers that there were other vendors in the side room I was in as I was not in the main hall.  Oh, and the venue ended up being booked by the event center for Sunday evening and all the vendors then had to "clear out" pretty quickly.

In speaking with the organizers, they said that those concerns of lighting and signage would be addressed as would the move out issue.  Now, before I rant, the organizers do want to put on a good show. It just didn't happen this time.

First of all, I was again in the side room but I was ok with that as I was told there would be better lighting and signage. Plus, I was in the room with the vinyl dealer who played cool tunes all day and I did alright before, so figured it would be better. Wow. Was I wrong.  First of all, this show they had Friday from 4 PM to 9 PM and Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM.  The signage was not improved AND the lighting was terrible.  All the venue did was add these two small up lights in the corner that did nothing to improve the lighting situation. I had no time to correct the situation for Friday evening and as there were only two windows at the opposite end of the room, I had customers having to use their flashlight app on their phone to even be able to SEE the books. While my customers knew it was not my fault, I was very annoyed and tried to keep smiling and jovial about it but make not mistake, I was seething on the inside. Customers were also sparse on Friday night (as I expected) and it was wet and cold outside so despite another downtown event, people likely opted to stay home/inside.

I got up early on Saturday (the next morning) and went to my local hardware store and picked up two small clamp desk lights that I affixed to my display board that improved the visibility by quite a bit but it still was far from ideal. Saturday was probably the slowest show I have EVER had in terms of actual number of buyers/lookers coming to the booth...It probably tied for the slowest day for any show I ever done (which was a Sunday of a two day show from a previous local show).  It was not just me though. The entire show was D-E-A-D. Any vendor I spoke with said it was slow.  I pity out-of-towners who set up. I bet there are several who by the time you factor in costs, likely lost money.  I don't know the final count but by even looking in the main room at what should be peak times, it looked empty.  There are a variety of reasons I think why this was, which I can go into if people care.

The "icing" on the cake was, 10 minutes before official close of the show (and I was the only one in the room with a customer still browsing), the organizers (while they did apologize and said they were upset themselves) told us that the venue had rented the side room we were in for a freaking birthday party at 6 PM and had to start clearing out immediately (our show was supposed to go until 6 PM and were told we would have adequate time to load out).  So, basically they rushed my last customer out and then they brought in "help" to get my stuff moved into the adjoining hallway so they could close off the room and I had to tell them to slow "F" down, this wasn't garbage they were hauling but the whole thing still ended up being rushed. Seeing vendors in the main hall being able to take their time to move out nearly pushed me over the edge.

The only saving grace was my loyal customer base. I advertise a lot on my own FB Page and while not a lot of them came out (which again, there are reasons for), the ones who did still made it a profitable and worthwhile show for me to do. Had it not been for them though, the show would have been a complete DISASTER for me. Again, thankfully for my regulars, I still managed to do about 14 X my booth and other costs (like dinner, lunch and lamps).

The organizer already reached out via text to thank me for participating and would like to hear my thoughts and hope to have me back for the Spring 2019 show. Right now, I am not so sure if I will bother, but if I do, I will have mandatory conditions, and the one that will be non-negotiable is for me to be set up in the main hall or I'm out for sure.

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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Here are the before and after I added lighting photos. In the first pic you can see the venues idea of "better lighting" with that multicolour thing on the side.

The before photo doesn't look too horrible in the pic as it was taken early afternoon and the lighting just got worse and worse as the clouds/rain and evening rolled in. Like I said customers were literally using their flashlight apps to browse.

The lighting I added came in handy for sure as on Day 2 it became very overcast and there was next to zero natural lighting on the room and would have been very dark. 

20180928_163613.jpg

20180929_113608.jpg

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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Given the change in journal format, less traffic and seeing as I have no new shows coming until the new year and collection buying is typically slower in the colder months here, seems like an appropriate time to sign off and take a break from the journal for awhile.

I will still frequent the main boards and thanks to all of those who read my journal posts, commented and offered advice.  I have learned a lot over a short time span and I have nothing but genuine appreciation for all of the knowledge and stories that were shared.

Tyler

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Just fount this thread Tyler .

That show sounds terrible and that promoter didn’t do his job.  Kicking you out of your spot before the show ended is absolutely unreasonable.  Booking a birthday party into a space that’s already occupied makes no sense.  I have seen some venues who have done somewhat similar things to promoters - a local show was bumped for a wedding because the wedding was more lucrative- so it is possible the venue screwed the promoter.

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On 10/18/2018 at 11:43 AM, thehumantorch said:

Just fount this thread Tyler .

That show sounds terrible and that promoter didn’t do his job.  Kicking you out of your spot before the show ended is absolutely unreasonable.  Booking a birthday party into a space that’s already occupied makes no sense.  I have seen some venues who have done somewhat similar things to promoters - a local show was bumped for a wedding because the wedding was more lucrative- so it is possible the venue screwed the promoter.

Thanks Torch...Yeah new journal format not user friendly at all.

I had a discussion with the promoter and the venue screwed him. I believe him. He apologized for it to. I suggested if the venue is going to behave like that there are plenty of other venues in town.

I also think they may have been a little over confident based on the success of their first show and there was a lot of other stuff going on in town...But still....

They also need to only do this show ONCE a year. Even NGE and Sudbury Graphic Con which are bigger shows are only one day and once a year.

I gave a bit of an ultimatum too and said if they want me there in the future I refuse to set up in that side room again and must be in the main room. He agreed. So we will see.

Might be a moot point though as for their spring show they scheduled it for the same day as Northern Game Expo which is has been better for me historically so I am going to NGE in April 2019 instead. 

 

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1 hour ago, Wall-Crawler said:

Thanks Torch...Yeah new journal format not user friendly at all.

I had a discussion with the promoter and the venue screwed him. I believe him. He apologized for it to. I suggested if the venue is going to behave like that there are plenty of other venues in town.

I also think they may have been a little over confident based on the success of their first show and there was a lot of other stuff going on in town...But still....

They also need to only do this show ONCE a year. Even NGE and Sudbury Graphic Con which are bigger shows are only one day and once a year.

I gave a bit of an ultimatum too and said if they want me there in the future I refuse to set up in that side room again and must be in the main room. He agreed. So we will see.

Might be a moot point though as for their spring show they scheduled it for the same day as Northern Game Expo which is has been better for me historically so I am going to NGE in April 2019 instead. 

 

If I was the promoter I'd find a different location and as a vendor I wouldn't support the show if it set up there again.  The venue must know there's a booking in there until 6 pm and they must be aware that it's comprised of vendors who require time to pack up.  I can only believe the venue saw an opportunity to make money by booking the second event and essentially said F him.

I know the promoter of the local show never went back to the hotel after they bumped him and the hotel  lost a twice yearly event.  Short term gain and long term loss not to mention damage to their reputation.

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29 minutes ago, thehumantorch said:

If I was the promoter I'd find a different location and as a vendor I wouldn't support the show if it set up there again.  The venue must know there's a booking in there until 6 pm and they must be aware that it's comprised of vendors who require time to pack up.  I can only believe the venue saw an opportunity to make money by booking the second event and essentially said F him.

I know the promoter of the local show never went back to the hotel after they bumped him and the hotel  lost a twice yearly event.  Short term gain and long term loss not to mention damage to their reputation.

Promoter is unlikely to leave location as it is literally next door to his antique shop.  Something "really bad" would have to happen I think.

My wife suggested I might even want to consider just try renting out a small boardroom at a hotel or something and advertise like crazy myself via social media and see what happens given the last local show it was pretty much regulars that showed up anyway.  There is also a big indoor yard sale in the late spring I might try to unload some $1 books...Tables are like $15 for an 8 footer...

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5 hours ago, Wall-Crawler said:

Promoter is unlikely to leave location as it is literally next door to his antique shop.  Something "really bad" would have to happen I think.

My wife suggested I might even want to consider just try renting out a small boardroom at a hotel or something and advertise like crazy myself via social media and see what happens given the last local show it was pretty much regulars that showed up anyway.  There is also a big indoor yard sale in the late spring I might try to unload some $1 books...Tables are like $15 for an 8 footer...

3 or 4 times a year a dealer from Calgary rents a hotel ballroom or a community hall in Edmonton and hauls up a big truckload of comics.  He advertises on facebook etc.  He keeps coming back so I'm guessing he's selling a lot.  I haven't gone but I've been told it's mostly $1 type books with a bit of SA and no GA.  

I've been thinking of doing the same as I have a lot of stuff that never gets to shows.  It's not that expensive to rent a community hall and I could share the cost with a few other local dealers.

I'd have a problem setting up at that promoter's show if he didn't change venue.  If the venue is willing to double book events they can't be trusted.  And in reality, that's exactly what the venue did, booked in a second event before the first event could possibly be packed up.  I'd imagine the organizer had a signed contract that stipulated what time the facility was available for setup and what time vendors had to be cleared out.

 

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On 10/20/2018 at 8:30 PM, thehumantorch said:

3 or 4 times a year a dealer from Calgary rents a hotel ballroom or a community hall in Edmonton and hauls up a big truckload of comics.  He advertises on facebook etc.  He keeps coming back so I'm guessing he's selling a lot.  I haven't gone but I've been told it's mostly $1 type books with a bit of SA and no GA.  

I've been thinking of doing the same as I have a lot of stuff that never gets to shows.  It's not that expensive to rent a community hall and I could share the cost with a few other local dealers.

I'd have a problem setting up at that promoter's show if he didn't change venue.  If the venue is willing to double book events they can't be trusted.  And in reality, that's exactly what the venue did, booked in a second event before the first event could possibly be packed up.  I'd imagine the organizer had a signed contract that stipulated what time the facility was available for setup and what time vendors had to be cleared out.

 

I agree, I am not happy about they way the venue handled their business, which is why I am considering trying out "my own thing" but this is also the only show in town now.  All the other ones have folded up - Which if some things don't change, this one could too.  Maybe I will give this one ONE more shot in the Fall of 2019 as I definitely can't do their spring show, but who knows, a lot can happen in a year.

 

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Well, I likely closed out the year with picking up another but  SMALL two long box collection from a guy I have bought stuff off from before.  I have said this before, but this has been my slowest buying year since I have started buying/selling.

Admittedly, I paid a little bit more than I wanted to but he still has some books he wants to offload but he is just not ready yet but I wanted to keep him happy with our arrangement - He calls me first when he is "ready" to sell something. 

He is contemplating getting rid of his print collection (assorted but focused on the good/bad girl art). I don't have a lot of knowledge there but hey, anything to bring eyes to the booth and online.

Anyway, I have made some nice sets from it already which will be good for shows and I gave away a nice stack of assorted commons from it to a co-worker to give to her grandson. The highlights were a few art books/hardcovers, some variant covers (Marvel, DC and Zenescope) and a nice little BP run with 1st Shuri and Thor God of Thunder with the whole first Knull/Venom thing.

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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7 hours ago, Wall-Crawler said:

Well, I likely closed out the year with picking up another but  SMALL two long box collection from a guy I have bought stuff off from before.  I have said this before, but this has been my slowest buying year since I have started buying/selling.

Admittedly, I paid a little bit more than I wanted to but he still has some books he wants to offload but he is just not ready yet but I wanted to keep him happy with our arrangement - He calls me first when he is "ready" to sell something. 

He is contemplating getting rid of his print collection (assorted but focused on the good/bad girl art). I don't have a lot of knowledge there but hey, anything to bring eyes to the booth and online.

Anyway, I have made some nice sets from it already which will be good for shows and I gave away a nice stack of assorted commons from it to a co-worker to give to her grandson. The highlights were a few art books/hardcovers, some variant covers (Marvel, DC and Zenescope) and a nice little BP run with 1st Shuri and Thor God of Thunder with the whole first Knull/Venom thing.

Smaller purchases can often work out quite well.  Less stress to go through them and often there are less guys chasing the small purchases.

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On 12/15/2018 at 9:17 PM, thehumantorch said:

Smaller purchases can often work out quite well.  Less stress to go through them and often there are less guys chasing the small purchases.

Yes, completely agree. This was a low cost buy with potential for moderate returns with no risk so it was a good buy, especially considering for my area sets have been very popular.  Plus kept a contact happy for potential future purchases. 

...Also, I lied. I am going to keep up with the journal whenever I even have something mildly of interest to report.

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Toronto Comic Book Show (TCBS) November & December 2018 Report

On November 22nd and December 27th, 2018 I had the opportunity to check out two TCBS events. 

Normally, I never would as they are Sunday shows (and the December one the day after Boxing Day and I live 4+ hours away) but it just so happened that work had me in the area for the November show and was at the in-laws over Christmas.  These were the first comic shows I have attended as a patron in nearly two years, which is why I thought might be neat to share in my journal. 

First off, at the November show I had the pleasure of meeting fellow boardies  @Guardian Comics and @Iceman399 for the first time. Eric (Iceman399) have become friends and correspond fairly regularly so was nice to finally meet in person, despite what other people say about him lol

Overall, the show has a nice feel to it, nothing but a fair sized banquet style room filled with comics. No cosplayers. No wrestlers. No past their prime celebs. It was nice to be at a "comics only" kind of show. 

In terms of selection,  a pretty solid selection of comics. Comics ranging from 50 cents to high grade and variety of CGC books.  Generally speaking, likely something for buyers of every type and budget.  As with most shows, it depends what dealer(s) and what book(s).  Some stuff was very reasonable and you could negotiate, while others...Not so much.  The most egregious dealer was one who didn't price his wall books because "comic prices change so much, so fast" or something to that effect.  I never went back to his booth. I did find some dealers who would work with me though, like the two fine gents above. 

One feeling I had, and I don't know if I can convey the feeling correctly, but I am finding it is very difficult for me, especially since I have been "dealing", to be a buyer at a show, even though I have barely been to any lately.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but I am either too aware what they are worth and/or I am being very picky in terms of condition for the price or too cheap or all of the above...I also don't have much interest in digging to complete sets. I forgot my list but I figure I will find those missing books when I find them and I would rather look for semi keys, keys or other "cool books"...Scouring cheapie bins to complete a set as that does not seem (to me) to be a good use of my time. I did buy some books though :wink:

In terms of me being a "dealer", while I may not have as many keys or be as big as some of the other dealers, I feel that I could definitely set up at a show like that and not be out of place, which is a positive. Maybe one day I will try moving beyond my little pond but I am still very comfortable where I am.

Bottom line, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area during one of the shows, definitely worthwhile to check out and have a look around as it seems pretty well run, nothing but comics and a solid variety of dealers.  Link: http://www.torontocomicbookshow.com/

 

 

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