A big thanks goes out to Mike for writing up another post and keeping oncardautos alive while I am away, enjoy the piece guys!
We’ve all encountered a time or several hundred where we are either online, at a show or in a store and saw the White Whale. The Honus Wagner T206 of our eye, no matter how shiny, tattered or expensive it might be.
For some, it could be a rookie card of a childhood hero. For others, a Superfractor Stephen Strasburg that is all the rage, even to ESPN’s here-today-gone-tomorrow standards.
We have to have it. But unless you have Bruce McNall and Wayne Gretzky money to buy that Wagner card, obtaining the Whale can be tricky.
Taking a cue from Chris, collecting these days has become somewhat of a menace. Hobby stores have become obsolete in many necks of the woods, card shows often feature the same allotment of the same crap at the same overpriced mark. A blog friend of mine, Matt Flaten over at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius, recently wrote that his trials through a card show was finding old vintage just to see how much old vintage he could buy with a few bucks.
So in these times of $300 hobby boxes and four-figure autos, how can a collector get what they want without having to take on two side jobs?
I’m in the second boat. As written before, I’m on the quest to find all things Walter Payton and I’m close to doing that. I’m at 16 Payton’s and counting away from checking off my entire list. Not bad considering my resources. But I’ve had to get creative.
In my case, the nearest card show is 45 minutes away, the nearest dealer is over an hour away and I’m resigned to internetting most of my goods. So I’ve had to figure a budget. But I’m still getting what I want.
Ticket A) Some “eBay” dealers will haggle prices. If they have a Best Offer option, use it. I include a sincere message with my offer, and I have had success lowering a buying price.
Ticket B) Shop around. The more I wander the net, the more I find. The only major hurdle in a lot of shopping has been shipping costs, but I guess welcome to 2010.
Ticket C) Find someone who will deal with what you want. I happened to stumble upon a guy in Mass named Lee Hahs who used to live in Illinois, and has a ton of Payton stuff on his eBay page. Not only did I get a couple very nice cards from him at a nice price, but he had a whole bunch of old school childhood memories in his personal collection that made its way to me. I check in with Lee often, and we’ve actually made a nice set of deals.
Ticket D) Be persistent. While this doesn’t work for some people, others may come down. I’ve never understood the “That is the best I can do” line on a price, unless you are so stiff on your prices that your company overhead will suffer from a couple bucks off a product. If the $5 for the pack is covered by price of the card so be it, but in all likelihood, profit margins are not the end all be all on one card. It’s hard for a seller to say no when his card has been priced online unchanged for eight to 12 months. Unsold cards is bad business.
I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers network together in setting up trades, and this might be the best way to get your Whale, if you can find the right person.
In any rate, be persistent and exhibit patience. And eventually, you can reel in your White Whale.