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

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Wall-Crawler

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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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It was definitely worth my time and got to hang out with family so it was a nice day.

Got me thinking of maybe doing my own "pop up" shop one day with ALL my stock.

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I have my first (and only) show of the summer coming out in a couple of weeks. 

Sudbury Graphic Con.

This is a fun show and they do a really good job promoting. Here is the ad they made for me. They do them for all the vendors.

 

Screenshot_20190523-120855.png

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Sudbury Graphic Con 2019 Sales Report

Overview

Well my first and only show of the summer was what I would consider a success.

As my wife had to work on the Friday, before we would make a day of it and spend the night but this year did not, so saved on hotel costs. Venue is only hour and a half away so I set up Friday and came home. On Saturday, doors opened at 10 AM so we just drove there in the morning. Thank goodness I prepped nearly everything before because while we left in plenty of time, the road construction cut off a bunch of passing lanes and it seemed like we got stuck behind every darn RV caravan going.

This year I put CGC and "Premium" books inside the booth whereas previous years "Premium Books" were out front and CGC in the back. I won't do that again as I could only keep an eye on the premium stuff and not "scan" the length of my set up.  Oh well, tried something new, was not ideal, live and learn. I did receive PLENTY of compliments on my set up again though. 

Attendance was down this year and a lot of cosplayers with little money LOL.  This show almost did not happen this year though as it transitioned from something that was organized by the local public library to a non-profit organization.  That could explain the lower attendance as advertising was late and there were fewer special guests, etc., but the show was still very well organized and they did an excellent job with the time they had. They sent out a survey for suggestions which I responded to, so hopefully some of those are taken into consideration.

Sales

This year, I did not sell as a single CGC book.  Previous years I have sold at least one. Overall, CGC books do not do all that great as I think the cost for the most part is more than what most buyers/collectors are able or willing to spend for my area and I had a solid variety this year. I'm honestly starting to wonder if it is even worth it to bring them and just put more raw $20 and up books up on the wall.

I sold a handful of raw key and semi key books, like Infinity Gauntlet #1, Marvel Premiere #15, Eternals #1, X-Men #14, #130 and a few others from the Dark Phoenix Saga, Savage She-Hulk #1, Venom Lethal Protector set (signed by Bagley) being some of the "bigger books".

Most of the other sales were individual run books and sets with average sale being in the $10 to $50 range. Generally speaking, my Marvel stock really outsold DC this show. I was surprised I did not move more Batman.  I had hoped to sell more signed art prints (only sold one) but while displayed, I think they need to be right on the table.

My booth cost was $200.  I sold just over $1,800.00 so not a bad result as again, most of what sold is from stock that has long since paid for itself with a few minor exceptions. I would have liked to have cleared $2,000 after costs, but, still a decent result for my neck of the woods I think.

Observation

One thing I did notice with my "Premium Books" (anything over $20 was placed in here with in a mylite and 56 pt backing board - They pop so nice) is that many of these books were in my long boxes for years and now they were selling.  I think the better display factor and perceived improved "collectible value" may have helped or it could just be they were easier to find. Who knows? Regardless, I think I will add more $20 and books to be sold like this.

Thoughts Moving Forward 

Possibly develop a new wall display/rack. You can only see the books on the lower shelf if you are right in front and have to look over the long boxes. I have seen some great wall display racks so it might be time for an upgrade.

Really going to have to think about whether or not worth it to even bring CGC books and just go with $20 and up raw books for the wall.

I might also eliminate the white shelving units. I am running low on "other stuff" to display and not sure if they are worth the effort to bring, set up and display. Back to putting "premium books" right in center of booth, out front and as stated, adding more $20 and up books to the "Premium" section.

Sideshot.jpg

Front Shot.jpg

Wall Books.jpg

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Glad the show went well.  You came close to my 10 times booth cost target so I'd say it was profitable.  Your display is top notch.

You mentioned your premium books section.  Just to be clear, you took all your books worth $20 or more and put them in high quality mylars and boards and created a section of premium books?

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On 6/23/2019 at 9:15 PM, thehumantorch said:

Glad the show went well.  You came close to my 10 times booth cost target so I'd say it was profitable.  Your display is top notch.

You mentioned your premium books section.  Just to be clear, you took all your books worth $20 or more and put them in high quality mylars and boards and created a section of premium books?

Thanks for the compliment. I feel I am at the stage where I can't improve my display too much except for maybe improving my wall book rack/stand.

The other idea I have is to put the comic book title on the back of the divider tabs too so I can direct someone to what they are looking for from behind the booth...I generally know where most of it is but I cannot believe how lazy some people are...I mean, I have good signage...Open your eyes! Make a tiny effort!

Yes, so what I did is I took many books that are worth $20 or more from my run boxes, placed them in a mylars and 56 pt backing board and a computer printed price label/sticker indicating something about the comic, like  say "1st appearance" or "Neal Adams cover" or something to that effect. I did have books worth more than $20 of course, like genuine first appearances, etc.

Also made it easy to circulate new wall books on to my display rack.  This is how the "Premium" boxes looked - ROM for illustrative purposes only.

 

premium 1.jpg

Premium 2.jpg

premium 3.jpg

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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I do not frequently do trades, but I recently did a cash and trade deal with a local collector. It was a pleasant experience as he understood that I'm trading to re-sell, not to collect so he "got" that I needed to "come out ahead". I got some cash and a few raw books and a couple of graded books.   Working on another one right now too.

Nova #1 Voldy 9.0 and a Thor #165 CGC 6.5

 

Voldy Nova 1 CBCS 9.0.jpg

Thor 165 CGC 6.5.jpg

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1 hour ago, Wall-Crawler said:

I do not frequently do trades, but I recently did a cash and trade deal with a local collector. It was a pleasant experience as he understood that I'm trading to re-sell, not to collect so he "got" that I needed to "come out ahead". I got some cash and a few raw books and a couple of graded books.   Working on another one right now too.

Nova #1 Voldy 9.0 and a Thor #165 CGC 6.5

 

Voldy Nova 1 CBCS 9.0.jpg

Thor 165 CGC 6.5.jpg

We get offered a lot more trades than a few years ago.  I chalk it up to the price increase of keys and quality books and the weak Canadian dollar.

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15 hours ago, thehumantorch said:

We get offered a lot more trades than a few years ago.  I chalk it up to the price increase of keys and quality books and the weak Canadian dollar.

That is exactly it. My customer said the low dollar, shipping and potential duty and overall price and exchange rate are a big factor to see if he can trade knowing he has to give more than he is getting. 

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One of the shows I set up (Northern Game Expo) at is branching out to my hometown..

North Bay NostalgiaCon

...The event though is actually being held in a smaller township at the local community center about 15 - 20 minutes outside of town, so that will be interesting to see how it goes from a location perspective. It will run from 10 AM to 4 PM.  I have two 8 foot tables for $80 bucks. The organizers have done well with the Sudbury show and costs were minimal and it is right in my backyard so how could I not set up?

I'm a little behind on my self promotion. Will likely "pick it up" after the labour day long weekend.

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Nearby, low cost shows with decent attendance are gravy.  If I pay $100 for a table at a local show and make $1000 or more in sales it's a healthy win.

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10 hours ago, thehumantorch said:

Nearby, low cost shows with decent attendance are gravy.  If I pay $100 for a table at a local show and make $1000 or more in sales it's a healthy win.

Exactly! And sorry, I messed up, it was $60 per 8 foot table so $120 in booth cost. 

I'm not sure what to set my "goal" at but I would be super pleased if I did $1,000 for this show. I think I'd be satisfied at $700.  Have to remember, I usually do not sell a lot of CGC books at local shows and they are usually more for "eye candy" so instead I am thinking of leaving them at home and just putting $20 to $100 raw books up on the wall (well, I may bring a few CGC's but keep them on the floor).

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We’re going through a similar thought process.  Since the Canadian dollar dropped and the local economy cratered its been hard to sell expensive books and remaining buyers tend to lowball.  For now we’re still putting up our wall and putting up books at various price ranges

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NOSTALGIACON 2019 REPORT

 

Overview

Well my first and only show of the fall and it was a success, at least by my standards.

This was the first time this particular show happened in my area. Actually, in a small town just outside of North Bay in Callander, Ontario.  The organizers run the successful Northern Game Expo in Sudbury and this was their first show, to try to bring what they do in Sudbury to North Bay and area.

I will say that these guys do know what they are doing. They had signs all over the city and they had radio spots and sponsors.  The venue was very nice (Callander Community Centre) and was super easy to load in and out and was nice and big and bright.

While final attendance was only reported at 330 people coming through the doors, I think a focused customer base helped with sales, plus, as usual, I do my own self promotion - Which again, was key as one of my customers had no clue about the show and ended up spending nearly $300. 

Sales

At first, I will admit that I was nervous as the numbers seemed low but things eventually picked up. 

I did sell a mix of run books but I also sold a few raw keys and semi key books.  Off the top of my head, I sold Devil Dinosaur #1, DC Presents #47 (first He-Man) for example but nothing "major", like several $20+ "premium" books. Sets, again did very well. Some of the bigger sets included nice runs of Battlestar Galactica (1st series), Dazzler (#1- #30), Wolverine (Enemy of the State storyline), some smaller Star Wars sets, a big Witchblade and a complete set of the Death of Superman arc to name a few.  Zenescope sets and a few variants also did well.

I did end up bringing some CGC books, but my intention was to just have them in the back in case anyone asked and use my wall for $20 and up raw books, well, that didn't happen. My dad, who was helping me, placed most of the CGC books on the wall and I didn't have the heart to tell him that is not what I wanted to do so up they stayed! It worked out alright as I did sell an ASM CGC variant and had a very strong offer on my Marvel Spotlight #5 CGC 6.5 that I am considering with a local/regular.

Given that this was a video game and other nerdy things type of show, I also brought some other pop culture collectibles and some art prints.  I sold a Masters of the Universe lunch box and thermos set, a Star Wars record, a Transformers TV tray and a J.Scott Campbell signed art print.

My booth cost was $120 for two 8 foot tables and I was able to use a four foot table I brought on the end.  I did about $1,496.00 in sales.  My wife said had I not given such generous discounts to some of my regulars i would have easily broken the $1,500 mark, but these guys are my bread and butter, so it is a balance.  Again most of what sold is from stock that has long since paid for itself with a few minor exceptions. 

For a first show, with those attendance numbers and being outside of town, and still some of my big spenders not showing, pretty pleased with the result and will be signing up again next year.

Observation

The "Premium Books" did ok (anything over $20 was placed in here with in a mylite and 56 pt backing board). I still think the better display factor and perceived improved "collectible value" may have helped or it could just be they were easier to find. Who knows? Regardless, I went with three boxes this time that included some high end sets (that didn't sell) but will continue $20 and books to be sold like this.

I'm back keeping the shelving units for "other stuff". I think I just have to find more low cost items to fill it and make it display nice as I sold 3 items thanks to the shelves and the bottom shelves make for a nice place to set customers stuff while they browse. 

Thoughts Moving Forward 

While the venue IS very nice, it is still outside of North Bay, and, well, people are lazy.  I wonder if had it been right in North Bay, easier for students to get to, etc., if their attendance numbers would have been up. They said they are going to re-evaluate and are looking for feedback for vendors, so that is good. Not sure how others did, but I am happy with my result.

I still want to develop a new wall display/rack. This may be a winter project.

I am not doing the other local antique show that takes place in a October, hence why this show is my last of the year. This is the one where I have had issues with location and take downs. Plus, most of my customers will have just seen what I have to offer and, well, the fact that it is two days is a drag. I did just as well in 5 or so hours, that I do at that show all weekend, so passing on the fall show.

...As 2019 goes, I have done some trades, bought some key books for fair prices for to hold and flip, but no single big collection score.  I think I am ok with that as I still have enough run books and cheapies (and I have more to process that I already have) but just kind of missing the thrill of snagging a bigger collection. Oh well. First world problems but it would be nice to wrap up the year with at least one more score, even if just a small one.

If anything remotely interesting happens, I'll post and thanks for reading!

NGE 2019.jpg

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New books...The Thor was a pick up for around $30 a few years ago at a sale at a Toronto-based comic book store. The other two Marvel books I had from stock - The first Moondragon is a bit of spec on my part.  The two graded copies of New Teen Titans were obtained this week from a local collector. Note: The second NTT #2 is a Voldy 9.6 so can't show it.

Thor 134 CGC 9.0.jpg

IM 54 CGC 7.0.jpg

Avengers 57 CGC 6.0.jpg

NTT 2 CGC SS 9.4.jpg

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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From this past summer's Sudbury Graphic Con:

Forgot to mention did a bit of buying. Pulled this out of another sellers long box (raw) literally mixed with other raw junk. I looked it up and down. Looked sharp. Negotiated price. Sent to CGC. WIN :banana:

...I still can't believe he had it a box right out front and not in the back or on a wall...Just in plain old bag and backing board too :screwy:

 

BA 12 CGC 9_1.jpg

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23 hours ago, Wall-Crawler said:

From this past summer's Sudbury Graphic Con:

Forgot to mention did a bit of buying. Pulled this out of another sellers long box (raw) literally mixed with other raw junk. I looked it up and down. Looked sharp. Negotiated price. Sent to CGC. WIN :banana:

...I still can't believe he had it a box right out front and not in the back or on a wall...Just in plain old bag and backing board too :screwy:

 

BA 12 CGC 9_1.jpg

Score, nice copy

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57 minutes ago, thehumantorch said:

Score, nice copy

Yeah...I could not believe he didn't have it on his wall or behind the table. NOPE. Just randomly thrown in with some other DC books. Crazy. Either it was luck it didn't get bent up and/or he didn't have many people flipping through his books.

 

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On 10/22/2019 at 6:28 PM, thehumantorch said:

Score, nice copy

Is the BA 12 for sale?

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14 hours ago, piper said:

Is the BA 12 for sale?

Trying to decide that...I have no problem moving/selling most stuff but I still have a bit of that "collector mentality" vs "seller mentality" when it comes to graded keys...Sometimes it works out, other times, not so much.  

...If I change my mind, will shoot you a PM to see if still interested.

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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12 hours ago, comics4all said:

How much did you buy the raw BA 12 for?

Let's just say I got it for a price that I think we were both happy with.

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Recent CGC Slab Sales:

  • Amazing Spider-Man #100 CGC 8.0 (my under copy)
  • New Teen Titans #2 CGC 9.4 SS George Perez to local collector
  • Vampirella #38 CGC 9.8 Parrillo variant - That one lasted like a day on eBay...
  • Vengeance of Bane #1 CGC 9.6

Thinking of putting up all of my Adam Warlock stuff. BUT do I try to wait to see if he actually does show up in GOG 3 or go now?

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