I have been to thousands of baseball card shows over the past quarter century and I have been collecting cards twice as long. When going to a show, here are some things I look for as a buyer. These may not apply to all buyers but I am sure most would agree.
1- Most important….cards need to be marked with a price. There is absolutely nothing worse than digging through a box of cards, finding a stack I need, only to ask the price and it’s not close to what I had in mind. A waste of my time, and blocks a spot at the sellers table that could be occupied by another buyer. If I ask the seller the price of cards in a box and he said it varies by card, I usually walk away. Even worse if I pick a stack and stand at the table for 20 minutes waiting for the seller to look up each card on Ebay for comps. Pass.
2- An organized seller is a bonus. Ideally, as a set builder, cards sorted by year, AND card number is heaven. I understand the time to do this sorting is endless, but I am willing to pay a bit more for cards I need without hunching over a box destroying my back.
3- I really enjoy finding a card I need for a cheap price. The chase IS the fun. I enjoy standing at a bargain box (dime or quarter box). It does help if the boxes or rows of the box are sorted by sport. I do not collect basketball, so flipping through a box with a ton of basketball cause me to lose interest pretty quick.
4- A pet peeve is picking a stack of cards from a seller and they are not at their table. I get it, the biggest downside of selling at a show is the lack of time to enjoy being a buyer. But it is not good business sense to leave your table unattended with customers. Especially with the uptick in shoplifting at shows the past few years.
5- Too much stuff on a table could be a bad thing, I did not come to the show to play a role on American Pickers. Like I mentioned, digging through a bargain box is fun… to an extent.
6- Nobody wants the millions and millions of junk era commons. I understand book value says they are worth 10 cents each, I do not want them and neither do the hundreds of other buyers attending the show.
7- Common courtesy, I understand dealers are making deals all day, but do not become so involved in a deal, that you are ignoring me trying to give you money, no matter the size. I may make a small purchase early in the show and circle back to your table for a bigger purchase later. If the small purchase is a sour experience, I won’t be back to make a bigger purchase.
8- Just because I am carrying a box of cards does not mean I am looking to sell. If I am selling cards, I will approach the seller and ask if they are interested. On that note, if I am offering to sell cards, I try to have a price in mind I want for them and will state up front. I totally understand the sellers are buying to flip them and make a profit. I will never be insulted if the seller rejects my offer, but no need to lecture me on why my price is out of line. A simple, “I cannot use these at that price, but thank you for showing them to me.” Will go a long way. Or a “ the best I can do is $.....”
9- One time I bought a 3200 box from a seller, I asked if he could hold onto the box until I was about to leave (Didn’t want to carry it around the show). When I came back to pick up the box, he had another buyer picking cards out of it. Very shady, he did give me a partial refund but really man. Haven’t bought from him since.
10- The last two are about fellow buyers. Have courtesy when looking through a box of cards. Do not grab cards from the same row somebody else is looking through. I always ask which row/box are you looking through. Also, please take a shower before attending the show, you need to realize you will be in close proximity of one another.
Surprisingly not on the list… the seller listing a card at a high price. It is their card, and they can ask what they want, the value of a card is what somebody is willing to pay. If it is more than I am willing to pay, I say thank you for letting me see it and move on my merry way.
As a general rule, personally, I will not buy new unopened retail product unless it is close to what I can buy it at the store. I am totally against the flippers buying up every pack/box at Wal Mart hoping to double their money.