One Man Comic Business
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Ed,

 

do you use a small postal scale to weigh packages?

 

 

( I might just hold the record for being the first person on the boards Ed ever sold to, though technically that's not entirely correct, as it was when we were in college, and CGC did not exist yet. I still have an X-Men #6, 33, and a Defenders #1 that I got from Ed in the early 90's. I remember seeing his almost complete Spidey run that he kept in a footlocker I believe in the dorm. I also kept my comics in a footlocker.) :preach:

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I find bubble wrap to be too expensive but do reuse what I get from CGC or other deliveries. Peanuts you can get free from trophy stores. Again, that little nugget of advice is free.

 

I learn something new every day. :cloud9:

 

Thanks, and great thread. (thumbs u

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Ed,

 

do you use a small postal scale to weigh packages?

 

 

( I might just hold the record for being the first person on the boards Ed ever sold to, though technically that's not entirely correct, as it was when we were in college, and CGC did not exist yet. I still have an X-Men #6, 33, and a Defenders #1 that I got from Ed in the early 90's. I remember seeing his almost complete Spidey run that he kept in a footlocker I believe in the dorm. I also kept my comics in a footlocker.) :preach:

 

Yes small postage scale I got free from Stamps.com when i signed up 10 years ago and promptly cancelled the subscription. It only goes up to 25 lbs so I have some issues with long boxes. I can zero it out with a negative weight (up to another 25 lbs) but I think it loses a lot of accuracy.

 

Yes indeed I remember the Xmen 6 well. I think I overcharged that one at $35 or so but the 33 and Defenders 1 Were $10 or something and were decent if I recall. The ASM starte at issue 3 and then up to 300 with a few missing early issues. 4 9 for sure. 25 years ago, man.

 

 

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Marketing

 

Here's a mistake I made, though not a big one. Only this past year did I finally create a business card. Except for the logo, feel free to plagiarize this one, should you choose.

 

scan0047.jpg

 

(I'm not worried about anyone contacting me, maybe I over worry about my phone number and email being out there on the web)

 

While I set up myself as a business etc, more on that later, I never got around to generating a business card. Other than the logo. This one took me about an hour of fiddling on Powerpoint. An hour. And 200 cards via Staples cost maybe $30 and they had it ready same day. Why I didn't do this years earlier I'll never know.

 

I can't say how successful this will be, or how many leads the business cards might generate as I don't have any history to judge. But talk about a minimal risk.

 

Maybe I shouldn't disclose my acquisition methods but nothing I'm doing is rocket science for finding and buying collections. Here's one that the business card is perfect for. There are plenty of pawn shops to go around.

 

Pawn Shops

 

Every pawn shop owner wants to be the next Pawn Stars where at the snap of a finger he can bring in his expert on Civil War guns or Hollywood autographs. Or comic books. I fed into that. One pawn shop / jewelry store owner called me with a small collection of comics. I went to him and bought them for maybe $200 and they were worth $400. No big deal, 1970s stuff with a VG Marvel Spotlight 5 and VG Spiderman 122 with other Bronze VGs that are easy sellers to lot off cheap. The beauty here is, he has called me with collections 5 times over the past 4 years. Nothing yet has broken the bank but I'm his guy. I took that experience and went to a pawn shop in my home town and sold him on the idea.

 

The first pawn shop only deals in jewelry and gold/silver coins type stuff. Now as they come across comics at estate sales, they have an easy out to sell it to me. Far as I know, I'm the only one he calls. Gotta love that.

 

The sceond pawn shop is the typical DVD's, games, music equipment, TV's, cell phones etc. They've now called me twice and in both cases the collections were long boxes of schwag but I was able to cherry pick from out of the collection. Bunch of Deadpool books, Spawn, and some other decent stuff. Weird part was, right in front of the guy he offers him $100 (for maybe 4 boxes) after I told him they were worth about $200 as a lot. The guy took it the $100 just like on TV.

 

My plan is to wander around the local area and hand out my new business cards, convincing the manager/owner that I can be "his guy" giving free estimates and hopefully buy some books. Nearly all pawn shops understandably don't want to buy comics, its simply not their thing or expertise. As the comic guy, my job allows them to do find collections for me. Since I don't have a store front, this is a partial way to have one.

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Cash

 

Have some. The cliche, it takes money to make money applies here as with anything else in business. What's nice though is it doesn't take much, but you need to be prepared for success. I'd estimate that out of 10 deals where I actually purchase the books, 8 of them cost under $1000. 1 will be $1000-$2000 and 1 will be for greater. Some folks that buy collections or comics to resell only deal in higher $$ items and that also works as a business model. I like to think I apply the Target business model as opposed to Tiffany's.

 

But back to cash.

 

Have at least $1000 ready cash available. One technique is to hold $400 in actual cash and then a Debit card that can typically retrieve $600. H ave the discipline not to spend the cash on hand. Gain access to relatively quick lending. More on that later.

 

This should be obvious but the reason cash is so important is often this is the only thing sellers will accept. Check or MO folks worry they'll get stuck and will only take cash. Simply put, there is a lot of distrust on one time deals with someone they just met. Perfectly understandable. It is so much easier and effective to go to a collection of 2 boxes of 1970s stuff, offer $200 for it in cash and walk out with $500 worth of comics. Crisp and clean, no caffeine

 

A few other stories and examples. Classic big potential deal. Lifetime collector original owner with 20 small boxes of 1960s - 1970s marvels. 1960s are VGs and 70s are VF to NM with all keys present. We come to a deal for $5000 and shake hands - this is on a Wednesday night, banks are closed. I tell him I'll bring a Money Order noon Thursday. I call at 11 am telling him I'm coming and he renigs on the deal saying that they are worth a lot more. There's more to the story but that's the basic gist of it. This was 10 years ago and it still sticks in my craw.

 

At some level carrying a bunch of cash to a strange and new place is an issue and with this specific deal, we came to agreement on my first visit. Often it takes more than one phone call or visit to get to a handshake. I simply don't like to bring a ton of cash on the first visit. But what I could have done was at least given a down payment and taken some of the books. Maybe he wouldn't have gone for that but it was better than what happened. Or I could have brought a Money Order. Despite that some folks don't take money orders, many do take them and much more often than personal checks.

 

Another story. I buy a Showcase 4 but didn't bring enough with me. I had a Money order for $2000 and some cash and had to add a personal check for less than $1000. He clearly didn't want to take that but eventually did as 1. He was a police officer and 2. I was already paying him cash and MO and I supplied a copy of my id and business card which helped. Other than repeat purchases, and even with those I don't typically pay by check; the only time I can get away with using a check is if it is only a portion of the purchase. Even then it's always a point of issue which I don't like.

 

Final story. A very large collection I borrowed money from my father. This was for Superman 2-100 so you get the idea of magnitude. Paid it back within 6 months. Plan ahead for this sort of thing. If you don't have access to capital, get some. Discuss with a family member if you can borrow. When borrowing from friends and family, provide some capital other than comics. Figure out ahead of time how long a home equity loan would take. Or set up a personal line of credit with a bank. If you have liquid investments, figure out how long would it take to access the money.

 

You just never know. Yes the majority of purchases are going to be in the $100's that should be affordable. Its when that big big deal comes along that makes the difference. Again, this isn't grannies Action #1 for $5. Usually it is a collector who knows what they have but wants to get out in one fell swoop. Why not pay $30,000 for $45,000 in books? Or $150,000 for $250,000? You just never know what may come along. You don't want to be the guy who passed on a $50,000 slam dunk comic deal simply because of lack of funds.

 

Other ideas for raising funds. Partner with someone you trust. I'll gladly partner with someone here on the boards, but there should either be a lot of trust or a lot of safeguards. Use a credit card. While there is huge danger here, if credit card funds are the only thing you can do short term, it may be worth it. Best bet is to use the credit card to raise the funds immediately and then pay that off with other methods once you have the books in hand. Friends, family, bank, whatever. If you can't run the numbers, then don't go the credit card route. Quick back of the envelope use 20% interest. Pay $4000 collection you'll need to resell $5000 within 7 months. That's fine for a 100 book Silver Xmen run but not for a 50 box 1980s collection. Another smart way is to have your big book available as collateral if you are comic book rich but cash poor. So you have $500 in the bank but own a sweet Amazing Fantsy 15 CGC 3.0. Agree ahead of time with someone like me or anyone else you trust that will provide $7000 for the book with the understanding that you'll pay it back short term. Basically a customized pawn type arrangement. These are ideas that I haven't done and may have legal issues but the idea is to plan ahead if cash is an issue.

 

Bottom line is have a way to pay for the books. Have the funds or immediate access to funds. Plan ahead for access to capital and understand the timing for the various levels. A deal at $400 should be done same day. $4000 a day or two. $40,000 a week or two is understandable, but faster is better. Trying to figure that part out after you've seen the books or worse agreed to a price to pay is often too late. The seller is already in selling mode and if you can't come up with the funds in time, they will often be gone.

 

Relooking the credit card gambit. The real risk here is not just the high cost of funds but its the risk of getting in over your head. At the point where you need to use a credit card to raise funds, generally speaking, its due to you not having enough money to buy a collection, and not the speed of access. If you misjudge value, or loss & destruction hits your inventory it could be financially catastrophic. It's not simply the buying of a $7000 collection for $4000 with credit card money. That seemingly makes sense but be careful is all, there's more to it than simple revenue vs expenses.

 

 

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Great journal!!! Are you in York pa?

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Yes

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Yes

 

York PA hm

 

Is the round the clock diner still there?

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Yes, I know one of the waitresses there her daughter and mine are in the same classes.

 

Hey, where's your One Man Comic Business journal, Joey? The comic masses want to know how you do it.

Edited by ft88

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Yes, I know one of the waitresses there her daughter and mine are in the same classes.

 

Hey, where's your One Man Comic Business journal, Joey? The comic masses want to know how you do it.

 

I don't sleep.

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Travel

 

I'd guess one of my competitive advantages is that I am willing to travel. Living in York helps in that I am within 200 miles of 50 million people. If I lived in Nebraska it would be tough. But unlike many dealers I am willing to travel to the collection. And while I much prefer the 20 GA comics worth $3000 type find, the typical collection is 10-20 boxes of 1970s-1990s books that the seller wants to unload and is not going to schlep them to a comic store. And most store owners simply don't want to deal with this type of collection unless its a firesale.

 

Sure there's some work involved in flipping a 20 box collection that I paid 60% of value. But I don't have the overhead of a store and employees. I also don't try to extract every dollar and believe in throughput of inventory with this type of collection. I also don't mind the travel to see a small box of 1970s - not 3 hours but an hour away never killed anyone.

 

One example over 10 years ago. Guy had a collection but he lived in the middle of nowhere Maryland. He said he called a couple of Blatimore and DC dealers but no one would come to him. Over the phone he told me it was from the 1970s and 1980s. I wasn't too excited (this was pre movie boom) but he said he had some Xmen and a few Fantastic Four 12 cent. Sure enough this was a real collector from that era. Mint condition Phoenix saga, a FF VF- 48 with Kriby and Stan Lee sigs. Lots of Portfolios, Hardcovers etc, from Adams, Wrightson, Frazetta that were sold off the back of Marvel magazines and on and on. Killer collection and the dealers who were called first missed out. It was a 3 hour drive each way. I love the hobby, love the business aspect, and love handling the comics. Traveling is tough and I have a wife and 4 kids. I treat it like an NFL game or long movie. It's enjoyable and worth it so I do it.

 

I don't worry too much about space in my car. I drive a 4 door Volvo sedan which can hold upwards of 12 long boxes or 25 small boxes and that's enough. If they are far away and they have a bigger collection I can always bring the minivan or may rent a truck, but that hasn't come up yet. Short ways away I can just make two or more trips.

 

Free advice: Bring a few empty long/short boxes and some bags and boards. So often the collections are a mess with boxes falling apart and unbagged and unboarded books. No big deal for the typical VG 70s box but best to be prepared for that VF unbagged Spiderman 129 you don't want sloshing around the trunk of your car or even the front seat. Be prepared for rain and transporting comics from house to driveway. Ask ahead of time over the phone to the seller, it's a great indicator of care anyway whether they are bagged and boarded or not. Use the fact that you traveled as a negotiating tactic (without any guilt), you are right there with cash on hand - very powerful.

 

Long of the short of it is, be willing to travel and have the passion for it. Collections don't come to you.

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Yes

 

Being from Philadelphia , I rarely see anything on Craigslist . Ever any finds through craigslist ?

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Yes, but only a few. I've sold there as well - usually lots.

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Yes, I know one of the waitresses there her daughter and mine are in the same classes.

 

Hey, where's your One Man Comic Business journal, Joey? The comic masses want to know how you do it.

 

I don't sleep.

 

Joey, I think you misunderstand....

 

we want to know EXACTLY how you do what you do........

 

 

:whistle:

 

 

 

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The Attic Find and Profit

 

Everyone dreams about this finding the Batman 1 as part of a nice attic find or the next pedigree. While I've been buying collections for over 10 years, the classic attic find is like winning the lottery. It is so rare that it may as well not happen at all. Hasn't happened to me yet.

 

If I were a business consultant I would show a 2 x 2 box chart showing the kinds of deals that are out there. Large and Small, then Knowledgable and Not Knowledgable. I would always rather have a large collection vs a small collection and I would always rather have a Knowledgable seller than Not.

 

The newbie will often be very wary of being ripped off. And that's fair. With the collector, he basically knows the rules of the game. He can't expect to get $10 for his $10 comic and when all is said and done, he simply wants out but wants something reasonable. So if you offer $700 for his Good Avengers 1, worth $1000, and $1000 for the rest of his VG 60's avengers, he'll generally feel pretty good about it. Everyone is happy and I get a $3000 collection with a key book for $1700.

 

The newbie needs so much coaching and often multiple trips with multiple competitors / dealers in the mix, that the deal is simply a lot of work. The newbie will also more often simply back out of a deal. I'll be driving to see a 1970s Xmen collection and the seller will call telling me he's just going to keep these for his kids etc.

 

There is the rare case of the attic find or something like it. A collection is worth say $10,000 and the buyer is completely in the dark and simply wants to get rid of them. What to do. Let's assume there is zero legal risks. I don't know what the law is or how definitive it is on windfall profiteering. I also know that it is tricky to let a newbie know that there is real value in a collection as that will often lead to major indecision, when previously there was none. See above.

 

The Libertarian in me says that as long as you aren't saying anything fraudulent and they are a consenting adult, go ahead and live and let live. Still, I'd hate to be on the receiving end of that. Its fine to get a good deal paying $1500 for a $4000 collection as the Spiderman 1 grades higher then you thought. All's fair. But to pay $200 for 200 books worth $10,000 - there's something not quite right about that even if it isn't against the law. I do get the counter argument in that the expertise is that which earns the windfall. I suppose.

 

I do like the method of paying what it takes to get the deal and then coming back later and giving more money. That can ease the conscience and they feel pretty good too. Simply say, that the books sold for more than you expected and you thought this was the right thing to do. Even do it over the phone and mail a check.

 

Another aspect to this is that the second you offer a lowball price they may either be testing you or they bring in another buyer and you're dead. I've offered low prices on collections I didn't really want. $300 for a $1000 collection and sometimes that worked but a few times it was not a welcome offer. Usually its VG non key late 60s and 70s and I simply don't want the hassle. Or more often, I just bought a 20 box collection and I don't need more. I win some and lose some and I'm a bit agnostic. Really what happens is I think in my head to buy it at $300 as it will safely sell for $600, when in reality it is worth more. I think that's fair.

 

The other thing about profit is that it makes up for the bad deals. Maybe you think I should pay 80% of value but that leaves so little room for error and excess expenses. Keep in mind, expenses really add up. Gas and auto wear, Ebay, Paypal packaging supplies, comic supplies excess postage, advertising, internet and phone usage (what is it, tax time?) and on and on. That's often 20% right there. Sure the evil dealer gets the bad press for paying 50 cents on the dollar but he has even more expenses in terms of running a store. I tend to target 60% of value and up to 80% for a really strong book. If I can get it for less great. You can bet I have bought more than 1 collection where I paid almost exactly what it eventually sold for. That is not fun.

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The Taxman - Part 1

 

Do not blow this off. All the cliches apply - you can not avoid. Officially you must report any and all revenue, consult your accountant or tax advisor.

 

OK, you can avoid but don't be an idjit. If you buy and sell very sporadically I wouldn't worry too much about tracking and reporting your $800 revenue and corresponding expenses.

 

Ebay does not report to the IRS, Paypal does which is owned by eBay. If paypal does report your revenue it will be via a 1099. They will do this if you receive $20,000 in sales and 200 payments. To get a 1099 both must be fulfilled. My understanding is that this does not apply to personal payments. My understanding is that this applies to a specific tax ID numbers, ie social security numbers for individuals.

 

Again, officially all revenue must be reported. If you get a 1099 from paypal by hitting the $20,000 and 200 transactions, that is treated as income that you will be taxed on. You must report that on your tax return or you will get in trouble. But you are also required to report any other revenue, not doing so is considered cheating on your taxes. All expenses should be tracked and documented. This will reduce the amount of tax you will owe. Revenue: $24,000, Expenses $20,000, tax on $4,000 at 15% will be $600 in additional taxes owed. The documentation applies if you are audited, you don't need to supply it with your return. Quite a number of thoughts on how to do this, consult your tax advisor. Here's a list of expense to apply, if they apply

 

Purchase price

Travel expenses

Advertising

Web design

Internet costs

Comic supplies

Postage and postage supplies

CGC expenses

Subscriptions

Home office expense (this changed in 2013 and is not the red flag it once was, consult your tax advisor)

Tax preparation

Business setup expenses.

Anything else you can think of that is legit.

 

Paypal has finally made their export function work pretty well, you can pretty conveniently download all your transactions and sort them in excel. Happy to give advice on that via PM. This helps with not only sales but postage and paypal fees, and ebay fees if paying via paypal. Any purchases too.

 

Sales by Check, cash or Money Order and Paypal personal; it is up to you to report, there will be no 1099.

 

 

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Paypal Personal.

 

I think I have figured out when paypal allows you to take paypal personal, with no fees, and when they stop letting it happen. I'm nearly certain that if you have your paypal account accepting ebay payments, then you will no longer be able to accept personal. Or at best the personal payments you can accept are only up to a certain amount.

 

Might I suggest opening two paypal accounts. It would take two credit cards and two checking accounts.

 

Ed

 

 

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I'm nearly certain that if you have your paypal account accepting ebay payments, then you will no longer be able to accept personal.

What do you mean by this, Ed?

 

Peace,

 

Chip

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Very well done! (thumbs u

 

Double Plus Good!

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