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My First Ever Local Card Shop Trade Day Experience

October 16, 2011

A little over a month ago I wrote about the fact that I was looking at giving trading another shot as a part of my hobby.  In addition to selling my unwanted cards on eBay, making trades with fellow collectors is a great way for me to continue moving towards a financially self-sufficient hobby by moving unwanted items for those that I do want to include as a part of my collection.

Despite having the best of intentions to get back into it, up until yesterday I had really done very little to follow through on that, only briefly visiting a couple of online forums, not quite ready to jump back in with both feet.

But as I said, that was up until yesterday.

Shortly after I posted my article about being ready to give trading another try, I saw a post on Twitter by The IceBox Cards and Collectibles, one of my two “local” shops, that it was going to be hosting its monthly Trade Day on a weekend that I was actually going to be free.

Local is a rather loose term for the card shops in my area as neither of the two within a reasonable drive are actually inside the borders of the city I live in, but I decided as soon as I saw the message that it was time to give one of these things a shot.

So yesterday, for the first time in my more than two decades of collecting, I attended a live and in-person Trade Day.

Having absolutely no experience with these things I decided in advance that I would basically take the approach that this would be a trip to observe and learn the ropes as opposed to actively soliciting other collectors to make trades.

I wanted to see what other people were bringing to the table, what other collectors seemed interested in collecting, how I needed to be displaying things for other collectors to examine and so on.  If I happened to be able to make a trade then that would be a bonus.

So I packed up a box of cards that I thought people might have some interest in and headed down to the shop.  In the end what I expected to get out of the day was exactly what I got; a lot of useful information on what I need to be doing when I want to trade in-person, but no actual trades to report back on.

Of the things I learned about in-person Trade Days yesterday, the most important seemed to be these:

First, I need to become a regular at these events if I want to have some success in making deals.  It was clear almost as soon as I walked in the door that many of the people there were regulars at these events and they knew one another, if only as acquaintances.  They busted boxes together, talked hockey and hockey cards together, and overall it looked as though there was a sense of trust amongst the various members of the group.  Without becoming a regular myself it will be difficult to establish a sense of trust with any of the other regulars, thereby making deals difficult to come by.

Second, I need to display my cards in a much more viewer-friendly manner.  Stuffing 100 cards into a white box and carrying it around in my hands is not a good way to go about generating interest in my cards.  The people who got approached about potential deals the most often were the ones with their cards in pages in binders, making it easy for other collectors to flip through.  I’ve already yanked a binder and some old pages out of my storage room to display my traders in the next time around.

Third, I need to have at least some recent product in my trade arsenal.  I’m generally not a “need a product the second it’s released” kind of collector, but it appears that having some new stuff is at least somewhat helpful at this store’s Trade Days, if only to get some conversation going.

Finally, I learned that no matter how useful online methods of building a collection can be, there is a lot more floating around out there that I will never see listed on eBay, or in any other online forum for that matter.  Aside from the two Toronto Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo Shows, my collecting experiences are now almost exclusively online.  This is not only a pretty impersonal and somewhat sterile experience, but it can also be limiting when it comes to tracking down items for my collection or for flipping in my eBay Store.  The collectors at yesterday’s Trade Day had a lot of items available that I either would not have thought to look for online or simply would not have been able to find there, much like my experiences at the Expos.

There’s also something to be said about the value of face to face interactions with other like-minded people and I definitely plan on attending one of these Trade Days again in the future,

Most importantly, yesterday reinforced my desire to get back in to the trading game.

As soon as I got home I found myself on Sports Card Forum updating my profile and skimming through some messages on the trade boards.  I realized that SCF won’t be the only place I look to make trades, so I then spent a good chunk of time planning out what I need to do to actually get myself reengaged in the world of trading.  Elements of that plan will start rolling out soon, I just need to do a little work to get things organized first.

As I said at the beginning of this article, trading with fellow collectors will go a long way in helping me achieve my goal of a financially self-sufficient hobby and hopefully will allow me to add items to my collection more quickly than I have been by relying on eBay and two card shows a year.

If you’re an active trader and have a want and/or trade list available, please point me in their direction(s) by emailing me at, posting a comment, or connecting on Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, another bit of shameless self-promotion of my October Auction Series.  With the Fall Expo in Toronto less than four weeks away, I’m making a push to generate some cash to spend at the show by posting cards on the auction block each and every night in October (save for the night a technical glitch got in the way early in the month).  Have a look at the auctions and place a bid if there’s anything you want or need!

Until Wednesday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!



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