Collecting in a small town
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Posted (edited)

I moved from a large city with several really good comic shops, which had a great selection of Silver and Golden Age comics. I'm now in a smaller city (~75K people) with comic shops that really only sell modern comics and games. My only alternative to acquiring good books is to go to a large comic con several hours away or buy online. Does anyone else face this issue? Has it worked out for you?

Edited by Getoutandstayout

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Getoutandstayout said:

I moved from a large city with several really good comic shops with a great selection of Silver and Golden Age comics to a smaller city (~75K people) with comic shops that really only sell modern comics and games. My only alternative to acquiring good books is to go to a large comic con several hours away or buy online. Does anyone else face this issue? Has it worked out for you?

Yep.

Live in a township with less than 6,500 people (including about 1,000 Amish) and the nearest city with an LCS is about 45 minutes to an hour in any direction. I'm also into early SA & GA books.

I hit local conventions in those cities, buy online from reputable dealers, pickup things here on the boards as well as participate in the major auctions (with varying degrees of success) to feed the obsession.

Location matters a lot less now compared to the pre-internet days.

Edited by bc
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Pshhhhh. City folk. I'm a good drive from Springfield Mo. Closest town is under 200 people. I tend to do a lot of driving to get to auctions with comics. Best thing I would recommend is getting to know your local auctioneers well enough to give them your number and have them call when they are hosting an auction with comics. That way you can ask questions before and can bypass those auctions that don't have what you are looking for. That's saved me a lot. Some auctions only have a few comics so they dont list them in the sales bill, guess its cover at the end of the bill with "and lots more at sales day!". Another thing thats worked well for me is farm auctions. I run a small herd of cattle and there are times i go to a farm auction to look at equipment or supplies. Comics are so much of an after thought in thsoe auctions if you find comics you might be able to walk out with them dirt cheap.

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If i relied in my LCS to populate my collection, my collection would be two books large.

The internet is my LCS.

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I visit a few LCS to see what they have but most deal with modern and sometimes you might get a SA or Bronze age every so often from a consignment but most of my collection is from the boards, ebay online auction or local auctions places.

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:preach:  moment

In England in the 70s I had very limited access to comics, just a local newsstand, and it was years before a comic shop opened, which took perhaps an hour and a half to get to.  One reason I soon preferred going to the city comic marts, which would take up half the travel time by train.   Because of that early conditioning a degree of isolation has never bothered me, and now that I read digitally it's become irrelevant anyway.

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On 7/15/2019 at 4:50 AM, TwoPiece said:

I live and work in relatively large communities, and I have difficulty ever finding pre-Bronze comics.

Same here...

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On 7/14/2019 at 7:19 PM, unclezebo said:

Pshhhhh. City folk. I'm a good drive from Springfield Mo. Closest town is under 200 people. I tend to do a lot of driving to get to auctions with comics. Best thing I would recommend is getting to know your local auctioneers well enough to give them your number and have them call when they are hosting an auction with comics. That way you can ask questions before and can bypass those auctions that don't have what you are looking for. That's saved me a lot. Some auctions only have a few comics so they dont list them in the sales bill, guess its cover at the end of the bill with "and lots more at sales day!". Another thing thats worked well for me is farm auctions. I run a small herd of cattle and there are times i go to a farm auction to look at equipment or supplies. Comics are so much of an after thought in thsoe auctions if you find comics you might be able to walk out with them dirt cheap.

Ever come across any gems at those farm auctions??

I've never had luck with auctions like that.  The few times I've found comics they're always bid up way too high by one or two hunters like myself. 

Still fun going though.

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Collecting is great anywhere thanks to the internet. I can have almost anything right now for below guide

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I used to think I was in a black hole. We're an hour and a half from a real "city". It's taken me years to get the lay of the land here as far as comics spots go:

My LCS focuses on gaming more than comics, but has a decent selection of back issues. He also operates on a narrow profit margin (don't we all) so he rarely orders more than a few of each title. I've learned the hard way to add to my pull list if it's something I know I'll want.

We have a Half-Price and an Entertainmart. Both stores are combed over regularly, but I've found some gems now and then.

There's an antique town nearby with a few stores that carry hit or miss comics, and there's also a HUGE monthly flea market where I get most of my flip books. It's mostly made up of garage sale hunters that dump their finds in volume. I can usually count on a handful of steals each trip. 

A new comic/gaming store opened in a small town (pop: 2,000) 45 minutes away. Definitely worth the trip. He doesn't keep his own back issues, but instead takes on consignment partners. I've flipped hundreds of dollars of profit from that place. He's a gamer and knows/cares next to nothing about comics. Apparently the guys he sells back issues for also don't know/care about comics. Last time I was in, I found Hulk 108 (reader copy) in a $2 box. He said, "hey grab that one, I looked it up and it's worth about $15.00 in the condition it's in." My first trip there, I picked up Avengers Annual 10 and Avengers 181 and 196. All three had grease pencil marks on the covers, but were in otherwise FN/FN+. All in the $2 box. My jaw hit the floor when he told me two guys came in before me and cleaned out the real valuable ones. Also because of the size of the town, I can count on him usually having an issue that my LCS sold out of. If I miss it at my LCS, I'll call him and he'll pull it off the shelf for me. Really wish that place was closer. 

 

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Most of my comic buys come from small local/farm auctions. Off the top of my head 2 superman 199's, amazing spidey 41, worlds greatest stories 1 alice in wonderland, a pretty rough planet comics 50 and plenty of silver age and a few golden age. It does make you change your habit of collecting. Instead of looking of making a run of a title or a certain genre it's made me go to an almost take what I can get approach. Which is kinda fun to be honest, I dont do ebay or most any other online auctions with the exceptions of online auctions from auction houses I deal with locally. And there have been more than a few times on those online auctions I've seen bids go real high and wish it was an on site auction, cause I know I would have went home with them.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/14/2019 at 5:28 PM, Getoutandstayout said:

I moved from a large city with several really good comic shops, which had a great selection of Silver and Golden Age comics. I'm now in a smaller city (~75K people) with comic shops that really only sell modern comics and games. My only alternative to acquiring good books is to go to a large comic con several hours away or buy online. Does anyone else face this issue? Has it worked out for you?

Great question. 

I work in Brooklyn and travel through New York City every day.  I live in a village on Long Island where the population is 17,000 and the surrounding town is another 21,000.  There are actually quite a few comic book stores in my area and travels however I am severely limited in buying opportunities.  The collections are just not making it into stores anymore and when they do I find that it is cheaper to get things online even with the new taxing system.   Yes, Metropolis Comics is within my reach but that is not really a comic book store.  You can go to Metropolis by appointment to buy specific books that you have already looked at online.  Don't think you are going to their offices to browse through boxes. 

Here in New York, MOST everyone is savvy enough to take the good stuff to eBay and sell on their own or consign to a comic auction house like CLink or to a reputable bigger dealer like HighgradeComics.  The days of a full ASM run walking through your LCS doors are very few and far between if at all. 

So... what does one do? 

I shop online.  I get better deals online than I do at NYCC, than Craigslist, than local Flea Markets or things like that. I would say that if it was not for eBay, ComicLink, Heritage, Metropolis, Reece, Storms, (I know I am forgetting someone) I would not have the bulk of the 'cool stuff' in my comic and art collection. 

 

Edited by Buzzetta

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On 7/15/2019 at 5:50 AM, TwoPiece said:

I live and work in relatively large communities, and I have difficulty ever finding pre-Bronze comics.

A million people in my city and very few good comics to buy

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I'll echo what's already been said here.  The days of the LCS (and to some lesser extent, the local show) being the main source of collecting is gone.  My nostalgia for it remains, but not necessarily for the books themselves.  I live in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area.  At the height of the market here (the early-to-mid 1990's), there were more than a dozen comic shops, several with extensive back issue inventories.  I bought a lot of books from those stores, but looking back, the prices were like higher than they should have been, the grading softer than what it should have been, and I bought copies of books to fill runs solely because they might be the only copy I could find.  Traveling to Baton Rouge (with its handful of stores) or to a local show provided a few other opportunities, but the selection, in retrospect, was miniscule compared to what someone has access to today.

You could literally live by yourself on a mountaintop, and if the mail delivers to you, you have access to almost anything imaginable. As has already been said, I've been able to acquire books here on these boards, as well as from online retailers, I could have only dreamed about owning when I first started collecting years ago (back in that early 1990's period). Finding these boards was the greatest stroke of good fortune I could have ever had, and even if I moved to someplace with a smaller population base, I don't feel it would affect my collecting at all.

What I do miss about the lack of the LCS is the atmosphere you can't get shopping online -- being able to talk with a shop owner and/or patrons about the hobby in person, seeing new books arrive and being put onto the shelves, seeing new back stock being priced after an owner had picked up a collection, or finding a hidden gem buried in the back issue boxes as your pour over your collection lists (some of those experiences can be replicated at a show, obviously, but it's not the same as the weekly routine I'd have at my old store).  I recently had talked by phone with a board member here (about collecting as well as other endeavors), and it was a great experience that can't even be duplicated by messaging through a PM system.  That's the only thing that's lacking for someone who doesn't have a wide variety of larger stores in their area -- for the product itself, we're living in a Golden Age (no pun intended) of access.

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When I was a kid I thought a first print copy of the WaRP Graphics magazine sized Elfquest #1 was so completely and impossibly out of reach for me, even though it was only $20. I mean, $20 was a lot of money for a kid back then, but I’d have gladly saved for one if only the opportunity to buy one would ever present itself. But magazine sized comics weren’t often stocked in comic shops, and never in the back issue bins. 

 

So later, when I was an adult with money (who hadn’t collected comics in over a decade) I decided I’d fulfill that childhood dream of owning that issue, no matter how many hundreds of dollars it was going to cost. I logged onto eBay, which I have used only a few times, and found the whole run for $20. Later I got Fantasy Quarterly for $15. Ridiculously easy and ridiculously cheap to fulfill what was once an impossible dream. 

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I’m in the sticks but the internet was my comic store.

The first time I logged into eBay I saw a beat up marvel mystery #2 I almost didn’t believe these books existed page after page of books I only ever saw in a copy of oversteet.  

I bought hundred of books from there and learned quickly that not every NM is NM, then I found this place and bought hundred more and sold hundreds as well. This place was the best comic book market on the web, not so much now. 

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6 hours ago, thehumantorch said:

A million people in my city and very few good comics to buy

And it's not because the other people are buying good ones up, either, around here.

I've actually heard that there's a shop about 25 miles out that is great, but, do I wanna potentially waste a tank and a half of gas with no new comics in hand (or plans to buy said comics)?

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33 minutes ago, TwoPiece said:

And it's not because the other people are buying good ones up, either, around here.

I've actually heard that there's a shop about 25 miles out that is great, but, do I wanna potentially waste a tank and a half of gas with no new comics in hand (or plans to buy said comics)?

You drive a vehicle that uses up a tank and a half for a 50 mi. round trip?  What make is it... a Bradley? 

 :wink:

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