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The two types of comic dealers at comic conventions (Or adventures and stories from C2E2 2019)

lcfrick
Sunday, March 24, 2019 10:00:27 PM
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So I've been going to conventions for about 20 years now... so that means I'm almost no longer a newbie according to some of the veterans around here. And I never really put a lot of thought into the kinds of dealers I saw at conventions until I was wandering the floor at C2E2 this past weekend and I realized that there were dealers that I'd stop and be ready to thoroughly look through their entire stock and other dealers that I'd take one glance through their boxes and be ready to go somewhere else. (To be clear, I'm not saying the latter dealers are bad dealers by any means, simply that I'm not their target customer based on my needs not fitting their stock.)

1) Dealers who want to make money at conventions by moving large amount of stock. (Their target customer is generally a reader.)
PROS:
a) Large stock of comics to choose from.
b) More likely to have cheap boxes and/or be running a discount on their other stock or blanket bulk discounts.
CONS:
a) That large stock is more likely to have a lot of comics that are complete garbage. (3 full long boxes of Convergence!).
b) More likely to have their stock unsorted.
The best kind of these dealers: Has plenty of backup comics to fill in their stock so they don't have empty/partially filled boxes.
The worst kind of these dealers: Will see the cheap comics you've bought and try to pawn off their overpriced key issues that fit with them.

2) Dealers who want to make money at conventions by moving high grade and/or rare/hot comics. (Their target customer is generally a collector.)
PROS:
a) Likely to have THAT ONE ISSUE that you know you're going to have to shell out for big bucks for.
b) And that issue will even be a gorgeous 9.8!
CONS:
a) Less likely to have more obscure comics, even if they're valuable, because they're not likely to sell.
b) More likely to raise prices on comics related to writers and artists at the convention.
The best kind of these dealers: Knows every nook and cranny on every issue and can walk you through the condition.
The worst kind of these dealers: Has people looking through other dealers and will buy and mark up and try to flip issues at the same convention.

(So, in an effort to hopefully avoid having my head bitten off, I'd like to say that I am overly generalizing, but the title of "The 13 types and 45 subtypes of comics dealers at comic conventions" isn't as flashy. And by "reader" and "collector" I'm over generalizing as "People who care less about condition" and "People who care more about condition".)

So finally, some fun and flabbergasting stories about my experience at C2E2 from this year.

I was looking through one dealers stock and had the price on the back of the comics, down at the bottom, which is usually a sign of the dealer falling in the latter category of high grade stuff, which I don't prefer (gimme reading copies all day). When I noticed the back of one of the comics had a very distinctive colored dot. I recognized this dot as being a marker from one of the comics from the $5 box at Comics4Less (shoutout). How much did this other dealer want for a comic he had just bought for $5 at the same convention? $40. I stopped browsing and walked away.

(On a side note, shout out to Comics4Less, ended up making two purchases from them at the convention and had great conversations with the people there twice. And in case the guy who I talked with Saturday night about how exhausted I was, that I was planning to skip Sunday to drive home, and he encouraged me to come for a few hours on Sunday... I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I woke up Sunday and was just ready to head home.)

I picked up a Pinkie Pie metallic bookmark at one place and was determined to pick up one for my mom. I went around to several of the places that had the metallic bookmarks asking if they had a Magneto themed one and I came to one and the lady there was sure she had seen one and spent the better part of 5 minutes hunting it down. My mom absolutely loved it, so thank you so much for your dedication!

I had bought about a half dozen Punishers (almost have that collection wrapped up) at one place and the dealer asked if I had the original mini-series, to which I commented that I was missing #1, but it wasn't a huge priority since I had a reprint. She proceeded to show me one she had that was probably VF raw and said she wanted $200 for it, but she then showed me another one which couldn't have been better than a VG+ raw and said she'd let me have it for "just" $100. I generally try to be polite if I think something is overpriced, but I couldn't help but let out a loud guffaw at hearing that, though I caught myself after that and politely declined. Later I had to confirm my reaction and sure enough, Punisher #1 doesn't get above $100 generally unless it's 9.6 slabbed and doesn't get above $200 unless it's 9.8 slabbed. (Later on I did end up caving and getting a nice 7.5 copy of #1.)

Funny story about that #1. I saw it in a dealer for $35 and remembered I had seen it at a previous dealer for $25. So I finally said "Heck with it" and went back to get the one at the previous dealer. Turns out it was a #4 in the middle of four copies of #1 and I just hadn't noticed it wasn't #1. So later I went back to the dealer with the #1 for $35 and couldn't find it. Even later still I was frustrated and looked for it one more time at that dealer and finally found it. (He had 3 different collections set up and on my second trip I had only searched two... with the issue being in the 3rd collection.)

My last purchase of the con ended up being both good and bad. I had seen a Marvel Treasury that I wanted to remember to pick up and when I went back I saw there was also a Batman Treasury Edition (C-51). I generally keep up on potential purchases, but I didn't know that one, so I asked the dealer if he knew if was an original story or reprints. He assured me with complete confidence that it was totally new material. So I ended up buying the two treasury editions and was happy... until I doubled checked later only to find out that the Batman Treasury is a reprint of Ra's Al Ghul's first four appearances. Ultimately it's my responsibility as a customer to know what I'm buying, but it really annoys me that he either 1) Lied to my face knowing that it was a reprint 2) Refused to admit he didn't know so he wouldn't potentially lose out on a sale if I looked it up. (But I was definitely happy with the Marvel Treasury I got, at least.)

Overall I had a blast at C2E2, it's been 17 years since I went to a really major comic con (Wizard World Chicago 2002 was the last one) and I ended up cleaning up. Every time I go to a con I say that maybe this will be the time that I'll do something other than look for comics and this time, just like every other time, I end up saying, "But today is not that day!"
4saken1
Monday, March 25, 2019 1:09:12 AM
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I'm always amazed how badly stocked some dealers are at cons. One thing that gets me is when they bring 14 copies of a comic (all bunched up) that isn't hot at all and probably won't even sell a single copy. Really, did you think you were going to sell out of Avengers (2010) #7?!? Tables at most conventions are pretty expensive! I don't understand why some dealers don't take a little more effort to sort through their inventory and weed out some of the duplicates to maximize their space.
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SwiftMann
Monday, March 25, 2019 10:57:36 AM
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I went to a little local con this weekend. Plus side, got to hang out with Jim Steranko for good, long conversation since it was such a little con. Negative side, there were something like 40 long boxes at 4 vendors in the building.

And at least 30 of those longboxes consisted of the following all at minimum of $3 each and much $4-5:

Current DC overstock titles
Current Image overstock titles
80s & 90s Batman titles
80s & 90s Superman titles

I ended up spending less than $30 on comics for the day. Why are people hauling this stuff to a con? It's the same crap in most back issue bins that shops try and move at least once a month as a "Buck a Book" sale.
Thundercron
Monday, March 25, 2019 11:38:20 AM
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The worst types of dealer for me is the one who brings nothing already priced. When asked how much a book is, they say "let me look that up" and whip out their price guide or phone. Buying comics is a selective process. Does the dealer really think I'm going to ask, then wait for a verbal quote on every passing book I'm slightly interested in? And what if their is a bunch of customers at once? Stop wasting my time.

Some months ago I was at a small comic show. My boy said a dealer had an old Fantastic Four board game from the '70's. When asked on the price, he said the dealer said that he "didn't know." Later, I found the dealer and asked how much for the game. The guy slowly stood up, scratched the back of his head, and said "oh, man, I dont know about that one....". I just walked away before he could say anything else. Even after he's had at least one person ask about the item, he still hadn't thought about a price? Seriously? Stop wasting my time!
lcfrick
Monday, March 25, 2019 12:31:58 PM
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Thundercron wrote:
The worst types of dealer for me is the one who brings nothing already priced. When asked how much a book is, they say "let me look that up" and whip out their price guide or phone. Buying comics is a selective process. Does the dealer really think I'm going to ask, then wait for a verbal quote on every passing book I'm slightly interested in? And what if their is a bunch of customers at once? Stop wasting my time.

Some months ago I was at a small comic show. My boy said a dealer had an old Fantastic Four board game from the '70's. When asked on the price, he said the dealer said that he "didn't know." Later, I found the dealer and asked how much for the game. The guy slowly stood up, scratched the back of his head, and said "oh, man, I dont know about that one....". I just walked away before he could say anything else. Even after he's had at least one person ask about the item, he still hadn't thought about a price? Seriously? Stop wasting my time!


Absolutely dealers who don't have stuff priced are horrible. To a certain degree I get it if they just bought the collection (which is usually the claim... but I don't know how often I believe it.) But it would be nice if, while I was browsing, they had some of the comics out and were pricing them.

And with that board game seriously, what's the point of even bringing something if you can't think of a price to sell it at? I can't even imagine what his thought process was there. (But then again I'm a meticulous person, before a trip I have every place to eat picked out morning and evening along with detailed directions to them.)

And that reminds me of a story from quite a while ago (it was at Planet Comicon, so it was at least 5 year ago, since I haven't gone to that one in that long) where a dealer had nothing priced, but also nothing too expensive in his stock. Fortunately/unfortunately for me he had a bunch of comics that were hard to find (even if they weren't overly expensive). I even remember some of them, it was Nightwing: the Target and the 6 issues I was missing of the Dreamwave profile series Transformers More Than Meets the Eye. I pulled the comics I wanted and asked him for a price and he said to check back with him in a while and he's price them. I checked back in several times, but he hadn't priced them yet. After THREE HOURS he still hadn't priced them. I finally flat out told him that I was leaving the convention in 30 minutes and wasn't coming back for any other day, so he had that long to price them. That lit a fire under his butt and he finally priced them. Even though the price was perfectly fair and I was perfectly happy paying what he was asking for, I talked him into knocking another $5 off basically just out of spite.
SwiftMann
Monday, March 25, 2019 3:36:52 PM
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Thundercron wrote:
The worst types of dealer for me is the one who brings nothing already priced. When asked how much a book is, they say "let me look that up" and whip out their price guide or phone. Buying comics is a selective process. Does the dealer really think I'm going to ask, then wait for a verbal quote on every passing book I'm slightly interested in? And what if their is a bunch of customers at once? Stop wasting my time.

I had this happen yesterday with a dealer selling Magic and Pokemon cards. I ended up getting a couple cards for my kids, but wasn't going to spend any more time with him fussing on his phone looking up some random price. Have a quarter box. A 50c box. A $1 box. A $5 box. And a binder with the real good stuff priced individually. Yeesh.
Thundercron
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:08:48 PM
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Usually I don't get an explanation of unpriced books, other than "I ran out of time." Most dealers I see with new collections at least have them seperated between one dollar boxes, two dollar boxes, etc. I've always found lots of great stuff that way.
jbeeman85
Monday, March 25, 2019 7:35:16 PM
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The pulling out the phone to check price charting sites is annoying. A guy that sells video games at the Nashville Flea Market does that, annoys me. Plus it's always way overpriced.

There was a guy at a small con near me, he had 2 TMNT #1 first prints. I asked how much he threw out a price of $3,000. My friend said something like "that's a lot." I expected it to be something along that price and just said, "I wish but don't have 3,000." The dude then basically said if anyone seemed to be willing to pay it, he would raise the price. So basically they were just show off pieces.
MoonKnight1
Thursday, May 09, 2019 4:44:18 PM
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How about that dealer who sells you a comic early in the day for $10 then sees you walking by his table later on and calls you over to inform you that he just found out it was worth $30 so now you owe him $20? Shame on You

Ha! J/K! Devil

Seriously though, I have never displayed my own comics at a convention but I have worked for a few people who have and I know both types.

One of the best is Mark Overby of Black Dog Collectibles based here in Richmond. He runs a tight ship. All of his books are bagged, boarded, priced and organized sensibly. It's mostly alphabetical and grouped where books are near other related titles. Such as if he's got a bunch of Batman comics together he will add Harley Quinn, Joker, Robin, anything Gotham at the end. If you are looking for something and he's got it then he will know exactly where it is.

He always tries to bring a good mix of high and low priced comics, he almost always has several key issues and he is very fair with his pricing. Mark delivers excellent customer service and he also has been known to track down something you might be looking for. He buys collections all of the time and gives you fair value if you sell to him. He has the most integrity of anyone I know in this business and I highly recommend him. If you are ever at an East Coast convention tell him that Howie said, "Hi!"

On the other end of the spectrum I have worked with someone who shall remain unnamed (initials are BC) who's ship is not as watertight as you might wish. Inside Joke for those of you who get it. Don't Tell Anyone

This person has two approaches. The first is to sell minor "keys" for grossly overinflated prices and the second is to bulk out overgraded, robograded dreck for more than it's worth. Comics are in haphazard order, doesn't know going market prices or blows them up because of speculation. You won't get any kind of deal from him and you usually come out feeling a bit unclean afterwards.

He is definitely the worst of your Two Types:

lcfrick wrote:
a) That large stock is more likely to have a lot of comics that are complete garbage.

b) More likely to have their stock unsorted.

The worst kind of these dealers: Will see the cheap comics you've bought and try to pawn off their overpriced key issues that fit with them.

b) More likely to raise prices on comics related to writers and artists at the convention.

The worst kind of these dealers: Has people looking through other dealers and will buy and mark up and try to flip issues at the same convention.

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