I’m one of those brave souls…or maybe just foolish physical manifestations of a current human being? I went to a card show this past Saturday.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
It was a card show with other collector’s, other humans. People that have different priorities than me. People that may think facts and science are negotiable. In the time of a major pandemic. In an area where the numbers are not going down. It was risky. I grant you that. Of course I wore my mask and sanitized the hell out of my hands before i left the car and once I got back into the car. I did my best to not touch every single thing I see, but then again I’m not four years old…that part was easy. Sports card collectors have not traditionally been the healthiest of crews. We all know what I’m talking about without saying it…but I’ma say it anyways.
We’re all some version of the stereotypical cardboard hoarder; the fried food eating, soda drinking, epic hit oversharing, hunched over a box of cards looking to score a big hit kinda person. That person, we all know them and we own some of those characteristics. I know I do…the fried food, love it. Sodas, love ‘em. Hunched over a box, my neck is sore after every show I go to. Ironically though, well, maybe not ironic…maybe it’s just a timing thing with this post. For the month of January, the bride and I are doing a thirty day cleanse after a much needed year of eating and drinking our feelings. Drowning our sorrows in whiskey and wine all year while chasing it with some burgers and fries hasn’t done our bodies well. We’re one full week and I’m feeling significantly better…but enough about me.
Let’s talk about some commandments in the hobby that I abide by and how some of them relate to card shows and collecting. I know some folks around here have noted some type of community agreement for card shows and collecting in general, so these are from my perspective. Oh yeah, I’ve based them on the Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments”. Very possibly inappropriate and most likely have very little to do with the actual hobby in itself, but I’ve always wanted to mix this song into a blog post. So, I may be going all over the place here and relate absolutely nothing back to the hobby…but you should read because I think it’s fun and I’ve got 1960 Topps cards in between…Let’s go…sorry, as one of my favorite colleagues says…one more thing. The cards and the stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You’ve been warned. Ok. NOW. Let’s go.
Number ONE! Biggie Says: Never let no one know.
My hobby isn’t really a secret, but I do like to stay somewhat anonymous. I’ve tried to scrub my name from the blog and rarely…if ever posted a photo of myself. The bride has suggested that this is not a good way to drum up business and attract readers or buyers. Her thought is that people want to know who they’re dealing with. My thought is that I don’t want that. I like anonymity and I like blending in. I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and don’t really feel the need to stand out in the hobby. Who knows though, maybe she’s correct. I often find myself googling other blog authors or collectors to see who they are (does that make me a stalker…?) I’m not on the facebooks, so it’s a challenge to find faces and match them up with their blogs. So, I fully embrace the notion of letting no one know. A fun future blogger game would be to match the face with the blog. That would be a fantastic year end game to play…?
Number TWO! Biggie Says: Never let ‘em know your next move.
This one relies heavily on secrecy and finding a “honey hole” of sorts…no, scratch that. That’s a horrible term. Maybe it’s really just a favorite spot. I have those. But I share them. I know some folks have a Target or Walmart that they hit up during a certain time of day during a specific day to grab those retail commodity boxes…guess those folks play to the never let ‘em know your next move. I’m not big on that, I think that sucks. Share and share alike I say. So maybe this one applies to some, but not me.
Number THREE! Biggie Says: Never trust nooobody.
So, this one may be ABOUT me and I’m still feeling a little guilt about it. When I was at the show Saturday I stopped by Bill’s table (Gavin knows this guy). Bill is an older gentlemen that lives in Salem, about an hour south of Portland. He buys card lots from people and has about 4 tables of 10cent, 50cent and Dollar cards. The dollar cards though, if you buy seven of them it only costs you $5! It’s been that way forever…or at least like 10years forever, that’s how long I’ve been hitting up these shows…I mean, I’ve been going to these shows for over a decade and it’s always been like that…well, at least that’s what I remember. I went through the $1 cards and separated my stack into sevens and tallied up the total. I like organization, remember? As I was counting, i had an overwhelming sense he was peering over me…I believe he was…I KNOW he was. When I told him my total, he said “you sure…ok…I trust you…”. Bill can be an odd duck, but that stuck with me. I wandered around the other tables and dealers for a bit but couldn’t get it out of my head. My guilty conscience brought me back to his table to clarify if the $1 box was still 7 for 5? “Nope” was the response and the shame rained down instantly. I did a quick recount and gave him the difference in cash and explained to him my “why”. He seemed to be ok with it. I guess. I hope. I should have asked or clarified when I felt odd about his response, but I didn’t. That’s a whole nother blog post to explain those issues about me. I did square it away and I feel good about that…but f’real Never trust nobody…including yourself.
Number FOUR! Biggie Says: Never get high on your own supply.
I think this is a great one as we all do this. Opening boxes is great, right? Who doesn’t love opening things. My kid loves it. My bride loves it…hell, my dog loves it. She opens every single stuffed animal we buy her. Therefore, I too love opening boxes. I have a stash though. I love the stash…but mostly open them when I’m bored or in need of a fix. The people that hold on to boxes can really see a jump in value if they wait the right amount of time. That’s a hard thing to do, sit on something and just wait for a rainy day or come across some ebay listing that says it’s going for twice what you’ve paid for it. How does one NOT get high on their own supply at this point. Apparently 1989-90 Hoops are going for close to $100/box. That’s ridiculous…but it also proves that if you don’t get high on your own supply, you can make a buck or two plus in the future…you know, to buy more cards.
Number FIVE! Biggie Says: Never sell no crack where you rest at.
I am a collector first and foremost. This is an expensive hobby though…like really expensive, especially the last couple of years. I’ve been listing my cards on ebay now, quite a bit. I’ve also done well, so much so that I’ve opened a shop on ebay and have been dealing with the crazies all across the country buying my unwanted cards. Essentially running a small card shop from my home. I do mostly PWE’s and have been adding my return address just in case something gets lost or ends up bouncing back and forth between Miami and Minneapolis. I don’t mind fellow bloggers having my addy, but not some coocoo man from Florida type that could receive a card they don’t like and decide to take a road trip to the PNW. I’m thinking of getting a PO Box to help with this issue so I’m not selling no crack…cards where I rest at forever.
Number SIX! Biggie Says: That got damn credit? Dead it!
Cards are expensive, remember when I mentioned that in item 5? Yeah…really expensive. How many collector’s run up a debt in their collecting process? Hopefully not many, but I’m certain some do. Living on credit is tough during these Soylent Green sorts of days and almost necessary for some of us. But man, that got damn credit? Dead it. If I can’t pay cash for a card, I don’t need said card…that’s mostly the impetus for selling so much on ebay. Ultimately, my goal would be to not spend any of my day job money on cards and just get to a point where I can spend card sales money on cards!
Number SEVEN! Biggie Says: Keep your family and business completely separated.
I love my family. They love me…even my 8 year old. The dog loves me. At least one of our cats loves me…not sure about the other one. He’s definitely more of a momma’s boy. They all have some kind of idea what I do with my hobby, not explicitly, but generally. My always asks why I collect cards and in return I ask why he always plays video games…it’s because we enjoy it. Also, we’re both incredibly anxious and these things help our emotions stay in control. Part of the hobby can be dense…too much for a spouse to deal with…or maybe just not want to deal with. I let the bride on to some things that we deal with in our hobby, but mostly don’t. Not because I’m hiding anything (don’t tell her about my stash!!!), but because I don’t believe it will generate a lot of interest for her. Keeping this part of my life separated from her is ok…she knows how much it means to me…she just has some concerns about the time I spend with the hobby. Maybe the hobby does its own part in keeping family and business separated…?
Number EIGHT! Biggie Says: Never keep no weight on you.
So, as I mentioned in item 3, I was at Bill’s table this past Saturday. Lots of new faces in the crowd. Sneaker head faces behind their Supreme and Nike facemasks, just straight ballin’ out…sorry, that wasn’t really necessary. But seriously, the landscape of these card shows and the hobby have changed. The hobby has been influenced by influencers. I’m sure I’ve been sucked into some of it as well…I’m a sucker most of the time. Well, anyways. While at Bill’s table there was a group of twenty somethings buying graded basketball cards. Not just some basic cards, LeBron and Kobe rookies. These youngsters has some loot too. The tallest one, I’ll call him Chad for the sake of conversation. Chad pulled out a ziplock back…the kind with the plastic slider, not the integrated slider…he had the baller ziplocks. That bag was way too aggressively slammed down on the glass display case and in it was a four inch stack of cash…at least. All twenties, at least from what I could tell. Chad was not messing around. He wanted those slabs and got those slabs. The Chad gang left right after the purchase and went to their cars…I guess to unload the weight.
Number NINE! Biggie Says: Stay the F*** from police.
Well, maybe the police don’t have anything to do with this one. Other than possibly the moral collector police or the “back in my day” police. I totally get the frustration we all have with the hobby at times and the influx of new faces, but things change. I like to see this change as good for the hobby. It increases accessibility, awareness, attendance and other words starting with A’s. It also increases interest. Our hobby has had, in my mind, a negative perception for those that don’t know. We’re seen as overgrown children doing children things…collecting WHAT??!! I had those when I was a kid…why do you still collect cards…now you know why number one was so important to me. I like to see how others collect and I honestly don’t care if someone objects to my collection process or methods. This hobby is huge and has many lanes for all of us to participate in…let enjoy and not overly police others that are new to the hobby. So, not only stay the f*** from police, don’t be one!
Number TEN! Biggie Says: Consignment, if you ain’t got no clientele, say hell no!
Consignment, yeah…no thanks…well, maybe. Selling cards is tough, you really need a lot of stock to make some money in doing it. Collecting cards is also tough, you really need some good collector friends and online searches to find what you want. Do we really need consignment in our hobby? Many times I’ve been sent a link on twitter for a great Washington card and pursued it. Some times the favor was returned when I posted a card…sort of a communal sharing. Ebay is a bit of a consignment…they take a huge chunk of your change so you can sell your items to a significantly larger audience. Helpful yes. Paying for them to such a thing, not so much. But, honestly would I have sold that card without them and their reach…? I don’t know…may say hell maybe to consignment.
Hope you enjoyed the read.
Hope it was slightly entertaining and engaging.
My apologies for the ramblings, but hey…isn’t a blog supposed to be about ramblings?
Have a great evening and see you next time!
And now…the inspiration for today’s post…as well as the inspiration for the song for the post…so metta.
Cool post. I know Bill, and buy some stuff from him most shows I can make. I remember the 7 dollar cards for $5, but I haven’t been in a while, so maybe he has changed it up.
thanks for reading! Bill has a great selection of items, so i’m gonna miss the 7 for 5 deal…not that 5 for 5 isn’t ok.
Good post. I’m like you and I keep it mostly anonymous. I guess I’m still somewhat embarrassed about being a collector and having a blog. I have recently found out some people I’m close to at work collect (they are more in it for the investment type parts), but still have talked shop with a few of them. That’s outside my collecting comfort zone, for sure.
I was never much into card shows to begin with, so the pandemic hasn’t made me miss them. The last one I went to was like 2008 or 2009.
Thanks! I’ve chatted with a couple guys in my office…but definitely mostly not due to my fear of their judgement. Not sure why I feel that, I shouldn’t. Something I’m still working on!
Awesome post! I love Biggie! Lol… loved the story about the dollar bin and you thinking the cards were 7 for $5. Did you ask why he got rid of that deal? Either way… it was good that you went back and made things right. I’ve definitely been in similar situations before where a regular dealer changed his prices without me knowing.
I did ask, since I wanted to understand and also let him know I wasn’t taking advantage of his trust. Bill mentioned that people just haven’t been selling their collections to him as much, so he had limited stock. Sounded like people are selling their cards for a higher price or through other means like eBay and COMC. He did have a lot less than normal.
Bummer to hear Bill got rid of his dollar bin deal.. hopefully it’s back by the time I brave going out to the card show again! But yeah, great post. Some good guidelines there.
yeah, the 5 for $5 isn’t as great of a deal as the 7 for $5…but times is hard, i guess. thanks for reading!