To tell the truth, I’m not really sure which installment of the “I was a lousy card dealer” series this is, so I just guessed it might be Part III. The possibilities might have otherwise been endless, but I haven’t set up at very many shows in the last 15-plus years that I’ve been here in Iola.
In the course of looking up records for something else, I ran across my trusty “Red Book” that I used to record sales almost since I started the O’Connell & Son Ink outfit 27 years ago.
What I noticed was a show in Albany, N.Y., in the summer of 1993, I think at the Polish Community Center out in the western suburbs of the state capital. One of the sales entries showed $800 for a 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie, a 1954 Topps Whitey Ford and a 1956 Topps Roberto Clemente.
Now, I realize this is a lot of self-induced embarrassment, but that ship has long since sailed. Upon reading the entry, it immediately occurred to me that this didn’t seem like enough money for those three cards. Even for 1993. All three were really nice cards, probably described as EX-MT when I bought them many years earlier, maybe even NR-MT.
So I checked the records, and it turns out that I had a grand total of $705 into those three cards. For those of you who think that a $95 gross profit ought to be adequate, I can only suggest that you may have never had to go on the road selling baseballs cards in order to pay the rent. If even I can tell that I had shortchanged myself on a deal – albeit 16 years too late – than it must have been fairly lopsided.
My only possible defense, which ought to be a good object lesson for anyone selling cards, was that it was a stressful time in my life. I was in the middle of major upheaval and thus was in need of the money, which any novice knows is not the best time to sell.
For the record, the $95 gross profit represents about a 12 percent margin, and when you toss in the expenses for gas, hotels and food, the lopsided nature of the deal becomes a bit more apparent.
It’s another indication of what a schlub I was out there on the road that I can’t seem to remember hardly any triumphs from the other direction, those instances where it was I who made out like a bandit, either buying or selling. I am sure I must have had a few, but it’s hard to spot them from scanning my little red book.