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Thursday, October 7, 2010

What If Scenario #17

Ever made a bucket list?  I never have put it on paper but there have always been a few things in my head that I wouldn't mind doing before I'm gone.  Besides, seeing my kids grow up and have their own families one day, I'm talking about more materialistic things.  Like stuff you want to do, see, or accomplish.  One of mine was always to own a huge collection and run a shop.  I think about it sometimes and always play out stuff I would do different from what I see being done around me.  It is probably a pipe-dream that will never occur but it is a fun game.  So let's play another what if scenario out here for fun, shall we?

A local card dealer decides to unload another dealer's inventory they acquired some months ago.  The stuff that was acquired seemed like a good idea for an investment at the time but it is causing all sorts of issues with space constraints, not to mention asthetics.  There aren't enough hours in the business day to deal with sorting, listing, pricing, etc. when it is a one man operation.  Business was great back in the junk wax years and everyone was happy.  Stuff moved quick and a collection like this would move in no time.  Then came the late 90s and the wheels fell off.  Fast forward 10 years and here we are.

In walks an everyday-Joe kind of collector and sees a chin high stack of boxes that stretches 5' x 12' through the back of the shop.  "What's going on", the unsuspecting patron inquires? 

"This stuff has got to go.  It has been sitting here for too long and I am tired of looking at it," says the shop owner.

"Are you selling this by the box, or singles, or what", asks the curious shopper?

"The whole lot of it...together", exclaims the dealer.  "Why?  Do you know someone that's interested?"

"Yeah, me", you think to yourself.  So here is the deal.  You can ask a billion and one questions about this lot but make no mistake...there are approximately 1,000,000 cards in this pile.  This lot has been looked through many times by the owner but since about 2003, has sat virtually untouched with the exception of adding more boxes to it.  Sure they aren't all Mickey Mantle/Wayne Gretzky/Michael Jordan/[insert name here] rookie cards but you have to imagine there are at least a few thousand major acquisitions in the mix.  Odds are, there has to be. 

"What do you want for it," the confused collector inquires.

"Well, I have it listed at auction for $4000 right now.  A guy from [insert State] called two days ago about making a swap for part cash/part memorabilia.  I have had about 8 offers so far since posting it but nothing has really gotten me to bite."

"So you want $4000 for it?" I asked...I mean, the collector asks. 

"Well, tell you what.  If you are interested, I'll make it worth your while..." 

Peering through a few of the boxes uncovers tons of stars and semi-stars from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s in all sports (even golf, boxing, tennis, and water polo...water polo!!??).  There are even at least 100 graded cards in a box that include autographs, game-used, and some rookies (including an AP rookie [not Topps]graded 9.5, a Troy Aikman GU, a John Riggins rookie, and a Magic Johnson autograph, to name a few).  There are sets galore, ranging from the early 1980s all the way to today (a few visible on top include the 1982 Fleer baseball, 1984-1993 Topps baseball, 1981 Donruss baseball, and 1984-85 Topps hockey).  There are even ten or so boxes (as in 2'x2' UHaul style boxes) filed with unopened wax, retail promotional stuff, and other sports related collectibles.

The devil on the shoulder tells you to make an offer.  He says you have to.  He says you will never have an opportunity like this again.  He says you'll eventually be able to open up that business you've always wanted with minimal inventory constraints.  He says you can start to deal online on a regular basis and make some money doing what you love.  The angel on the other shoulder is supposed to come out next and be the contrarian however he may have gotten lost on the way to work so for now it's just you and the devil.  So the gears in the head begin to turn.  In the meantime, you see a Walter Payton rookie, not in the best condition, but 4 sharp corners and it looks great.  Two boxes later you find both a Dan Marino and a John Elway rookie.

If money isn't one of the major issues, do you do it?  Notice I didn't say money was no object because it is, but thinking of your own situation, what do you offer?  Compare your ideal buying price to what you spend in a year...two years...three years, on cards.  How do you make it work from a logistical standpoint?  What would be the deal breaker, one way or the other?  Could you store this many cards in one place?  How to you begin to organize these for sale? 

Keep in mind here that if you have never seen 1,000,000 cards, you probably have no ability to understand what this looks like.  I would advise you not to even try because it is bigger than whatever image you think.  I would have taken a picture but seeing as this is hypothetical, I had no camera available at the time I imagined it.

Regardless of all that, I want to hear from readers out there.  What Would You Do?

(Again, all this is hypothetical and I am just asking for research purposes...yeah, that's it, research.)


  1. shops are difeerent from locale to locale, but I'll throw my experienced two cents in.

    the singles market in a card shop is about 1%-2% of your business. maybe. that's IF you have the right stuff at the right price and the right customer walks in.

    there is a reason there are piles of that stuff left over when a shop closes down. or a new shop doesn't have time to go through it. do you think if his singles sales were really good he would have time? damn right.

    be very, very wary of bulk singles 'for card shop dreams'

    if you want to blow that for your own collection, having fun going through it and recycling what you don't want, then go for it.

  2. Agreed. If that dealer couldn't sell it--or the dealer before him--than do you think you would be able to?


    But it seems that most of the stuff that sells at my LCS is new wax. He has boxes and boxes of old baseball and hockey that just sit there. I've seen the same singles in the cases for YEARS. The only thing that seems to move is new, sealed boxes.

  3. I think if you have the 4G's to lay out and some space to store and sort these cards (If it wasn't just a research thing that is)go for it. If you can find 100 cards out of the lot that sell for $40 dollars you would cover the investment and the rest would be gravy. Is there not a realistic chance of pulling just 100 cards of value from a lot of 1,000,000? I would think it would be fun to go through all those different cards too.

    P.S. Keep me in mind if your "research" includes any Mets and Yankees.

  4. I realize new wax is what drives the market. I'm not concerned with that. I am thinking like Benny here in that if I can find 100 cards in the mix to pull some money in, the rest is fodder for fun.

    Oh and by the way...the price was cut in half yesterday.

    The plot thickens.

  5. The temptation would be overwhelming, but in the end I think I would have to pass. Just too much work for too little payoff. Oddly enough I think I would be happier helping someone else sort through the million cards and finding the gems. The joy of discovery without the inconvience of storing that much kindling.

    P.S. Can you use your Penguin connections to inform Mike Comrie the season has started and that he should...I don't know...contribute?


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