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So you want to be a dealer

Updated: Dec 3, 2023



I did my first show at the young age of 15 years old, then opened a store at 20 years old. I've seen many customers make the transition to the selling part of the hobby and nowadays as we all know that's very commonplace. Many who know I have a 35-year history of doing shows will ask me for advice on the steps to set up at shows and that's the inspiration for this month's article.


First things first…you need a tax number in most states to be able to set up at shows and collect and pay sales taxes. Although I've noticed a trend of non sales tax number holders being allowed to set up at shows, that's a topic for another day. You can obtain yours at the county clerk's office and you may even be able to apply for it online depending on state.


I'm a presentation guy, I use color coordinated tablecloths and runners but that's just me. Another tool you will most likely need is a price gun which are very cheap you can use price labels and write in your sale price but I'm trying to save you time and money while looking the best. “Why do I have to price my cards John?” You may ask. You don't but full disclaimer, some people just will not ask “How much is that?” In a potential transaction is lost in the process. Pricing is also a starting point for a negotiation, again that's your call. Showcases…for me they are a must. Well values of my inventory vary, I do have some very expensive cards in my show inventory that need to be locked inside a showcase. I've seen people just place their cards on the table out in the open, that's fine but it could be why a card potentially disappears. I've also seen others do that but then put a piece of plexiglass over them, at that point you might as well make a showcase with the plexiglass being the most expensive part of that in the first place. Showcases themselves come in all shapes sizes and materials. My buddy who's good at woodworking makes his own for his show setup I recently made I stand up case myself to be used at my shows. I used to use the traditional Allstate aluminum glass cases but recently changed over to the lighter bulletin board plexiglass vizapro cases. I'm getting older and I'm trying to travel lighter and keep the wear and tear to a minimum. I also utilize plastic shelving and Monster and shoe boxes and the aforementioned stand up showcase as part of my setup. Another tip is I think having a bargain box or discount box is a draw that many collectors on a budget look for. Just make sure that you make it worth people's time.


I try to accommodate all budgets with the inventory I carry, rather than shut someone out potentially. To me another necessity is the cases that will transport your precious inventory to and from shows. There are plenty of different companies to choose from but my go to is the extra large cases from Pasttime marketplace. I also use a great graded card case from Pennzoni. For additional security I use fingerprint padlocks. However I've seen many other dealers transport their cards in plain monster boxes or shoe boxes, nothing wrong with that but keep in mind the constant wear and tear will take a toll and start to get beat up.


Where to keep your sales money? You could go the cash box route I do for my single dollars, you could go fanny or shoulder pack.. I've started using a shoulder pack myself. Heck some people just put their wad of money in their pocket. To each their own.

I hope this was helpful in some way. Feel free to reach out if you have any further questions pertaining to setting up at shows or selling


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