It’s Not In The Cards

Sunday September 27th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Sundays are supposed to be the day of rest but my brain kept spinning like a tilt-a-whirl all day and I couldn’t get any. It was tilting one minute and whirling the next. This is that period of creativity that always follows a funk and I need to use it to launch myself ahead.

The Packer game wasn’t on TV where I live and that’s a good thing because I used that time to get some much needed work done, but I did get to listen to some of it on the radio. I’m hooked. Can a person take ‘a little’ heroin? Probably not, but that’s what I tried to do.

I worked on a lot of big picture stuff today. I still need to shape a workable plan that can allow me to squeeze all I want to do in my life into my limited time. It’s like trying to jam three weeks worth of underwear into an overnight bag and still have room for socks too.

That doesn’t include the shaving kit or anything else so something’s got to give. My life feels like it’s running on empty even though it’s packed full of always something going in every imaginable direction at all times. I have to remove all things that aren’t productive.

One of those things is my sports card albatross. I totally blew that decision and I need it to go away somehow. I bought a few small to medium collections which are now one big one that’s doing nothing but taking up space at the moment. It hasn’t worked as I planned.

I thought I would set up at card shows on the road occasionally and maybe get an Ebay store going but that hasn’t happened and doesn’t look like it’s going to any time soon. My time has been way too divided to have any for sorting, pricing, listing and all that hooey.

All I have to show for my investment is a table piled up high with 5000 count boxes of cards from all years in all conditions. I made a mistake by buying collections and not just picking certain cards or sets and when I did it I knew it but my needs were different then.

I had some extra cash and banks weren’t paying more than 2% interest so I thought that this would be a way to beat that. It was a long term thing and I still had money left so my basic needs were covered. That extra money went in a hurry and I could really use it now.

I’m going to try and sort it at least into sports and years and see if I can’t unload it for a fair price. It’s going to be a challenge to find someone with a lump sum to take it all so it will probably need to be pieced out into chunks and that will most likely take some time.

I intended this to be a project over several years but things are shaping up differently so I just want them out of my life. If I really want any of those cards again I can always find them easily on Ebay so I’m not worried about it. For now I want to clear them all away.

I’ll use the money to pay off my credit card and also get my dormant CD project back to the front burner. That’s been on hold long enough and I need a product to sell. Then there needs to be another one, and another, and three more after that. It all starts with a vision.

That’s what I tried to pound into my head today like a bongo drum. What exactly do I want my life to be? I mean, to the most minute detail. What do I really, REALLY want to accomplish? Collecting sports cards is way down that list, especially the ones I have now.

I have ‘pretty decent’ stuff. It’s not in horrible condition but it’s not in the pristine, anal retentive, almost unattainably perfect shape most real collectors seem to want, and on top of that they want it at a blowout discount price. I don’t have that, and very few people do.

My cousin Jef Parker used to own Collector’s Edge Comics in Milwaukee. He knew the collectibles game as well as anyone and whether it’s cards or comics or coins or anything else, condition is always the key. That’s what negotiates the final price and it’s important.

Having stuff in either prime or poor condition is the way to go. Mid-grade stuff doesn’t thrill most buyers, and that’s mostly what I have unfortunately. It’s pleasing to the eye for most people and to the average person the stuff is great but to those who buy it’s garbage.

I understand how the game works too but there are different customers who don’t need to have stuff in prime shape. If an in demand older card in prime shape sells for say $100, there are people who will pay $10 for one that looks like the dog used it as a chew toy.

I have a lot of those, and even more cards that retail at anywhere from fifty cents to five or ten bucks. I’ve got literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of those and setting up at a card show would be the way to unload those. Collectors love to search through those.

That’s part of the fun of collecting. I know, I’ve done it most of my life. I love to attend a card show and forget my problems for a couple of hours and look through booklets and binders and bins full of old cards, hoping to score some bargains and I almost always do.

Finding a five dollar card in a dollar bin is a great feeling, corny as that sounds. I know a lot of other people like it too because I see them at shows all the time. What I didn’t see was the time and effort the dealers spent to set up so the collectors could dig through it.

I don’t mind working and I’ve set up at shows before but it’s a lot of work with never a guarantee of success. I could have the biggest inventory in the room and if the collectors aren’t buying for whatever reason, I’m screwed. Then I have expenses to pay on top of it.

There’s table cost and time to sort and gas for the car and lunch while at the show and it all adds up very quickly. Then it’s insulting when someone finds a nice card at a fair price but asks for a discount on top of that. There comes a point when it’s not worth the effort.

That’s where I am now, and I admit it. I made a mistake. I thought I’d have myself a fun little side business to make a few bucks but with everything else going on that’s just not a realistic goal right now. Theory vs. reality came into play and reality won as it usually has a tendency to do. I’m still a collector at heart but I’ve got so many other things that I need to get done that it’ll just have to wait, probably until my next lifetime. Time to move on.


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