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Reviewing My Return to Setting Up at a Card Show

The last time I had a table set up at a card show my entire collection numbered less than 100,000 cards. That was in the spring of 2015 in Peoria, Illinois, and I made a good amount of money by selling a young Cubs prospect by the name of Kris Bryant. 
Fast forward five years and my table at the Clarion Suites hotel in Madison, Wisconsin did not have any Kris Bryant cards for sale. By now, Bryant has already earned a National League MVP, a World Series ring, plenty of trade talk and a very large upcoming contract upon free agency.


That collection of less than 100,000 cards? It numbers in the realm of two MILLION. A lot has changed since my last card show. Setting up has been something on my often procrastinated to-do list for at least two years. With my goal of 2020 to purge and some expensive trips to fund this year, it was imperative to make this happen.

Before I continue, a thank you is in order for both Tim Shepler (@bigshep79) and Mike Sommer (@TheMikeSommer) for excellent show tips, such as the baseball team name template that Tim provides at the About the Cards website. Mike always impresses me with his impeccable organization skills, and you can check out great card collecting tips from his Wax Pack Hero website and podcast. Much of my set up was by watching these two the past several months. 


Table Strategy

Cheap wins. This may just be my philosophy at card shows as a consumer, but just watching over the hobby habits of so many collectors on social media led me to believe that this was going to be where to make my money. Liquidation is key, and the prices must be set appropriately. 

​​Quarter and dollar boxes were my main strategy for this show, along with a dollar bin and various “clunky” memorabilia that I have acquired from various collections. Many cards within the quarter boxes I could list and sell on eBay for $2 to $3. The dollar cards could move for $3 to $5. With that said, many of the cards could sit for months and months in my eBay Store without selling. If I list them at a low price at a card show…instant cash.

Supplies I Needed

With my quarter boxes and dollar boxes set up, now I needed to plan what to bring. Plenty of cash to produce change is top on the list. Supplies would also be needed. All cards were sleeved, while the dollar cards were in top loaders. One thing I did forget was team bags. Next time I will bring some extra.


Over the past couple years when I venture to larger card shows and peruse the bargain bins I absolutely love it when boxes are available. If I am spending a couple hours pulling cards, I don’t want to produce my own empty box, or carry piles of cards to check out. So, I brought along some empty storage boxes for anyone with a pile of cards. 


Background of the Card Show

It’s important to have an idea of the layout of a card show. I have visited this show at the Clarion Suites a few times in the past couple years, and have an idea of what type of sellers are there. During set up I asked my neighbor (who we actually split the table between us as overflow) what he typically sells. Cheap wins. He said the cheap stuff moves.

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But…even the cheap stuff doesn’t move if there isn’t traffic. I was pretty disappointed by the lack of collectors that walked through the doors. Several vendors mentioned it was really slow in comparison to past shows. So, that is a bit promising for a future show (I tentatively plan to set up at the March 22 show).

During the first hour of the show I made….a dollar. One single dollar, thanks to a 2018 Topps Heritage Jack Flaherty rookie card. However, that buyer did circle back to me and perused my quarter boxes and pulled a pile of St. Louis Cardinals cards for $10. 
A few more sales netted five bucks here, and five bucks there. I did move a Randy Johnson figurine for a five dollar bill. That customer also bought a couple random things out of my dollar bin. Unfortunately, those were the only non-card sales I made. On the bright side I made some Twitter sales of other items including ridding myself of five Milwaukee Brewers bobbleheads for $30 shipped. 

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This type of stuff will stay at home the next show as I’ll stick to cards. Easy set up, easy organization (once sorted), and seems to be popular. Also much easier to load and unload clean monster boxes. 


The Review

I came out making just shy of $50 after my table fee. Was I expecting more? Yes, but at least I made a few dollars to take with me to Spring Training next week. It was a good enough experience that I will return to a future show and hopefully add to my quarter boxes and dollar boxes in the next month. 

If you have any tips for me, please let me know. 

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