Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dime Box Heroes: No haggling necessary

2011 Bowman Platinum #68 Stephen Strasburg

Haggling is a standard practice at card shows, flea markets, garage sales, etc.

I've never been a fan of it.

Whenever we hit the local flea market or a couple garage sales in the neighborhood, my mom always asks, "Why don't you try and haggle more?"

One reason is that it's just not in my nature. If I see something with a reasonable price tag on it, I don't feel that I need to try and talk it down. If it's already overpriced, then knocking a buck or two off of it probably won't do a whole lot.

The major reason that I don't haggle is that I simply haven't had to when it comes to baseball cards. (Which is all I ever really look for at flea markets and garage sales anyways.)

Another reason why dime boxes are so great.

I see people trying to haggle all the time at each and every card show I attend. Most of the time unsuccessfully, I might add. (I've found that vendors don't often come off their prices on "glass case" cards, at least in my experience.)

As I've mentioned a few times, dime boxes are usually put off to the side by the vendors, a way to make an extra buck here or there to help pay for the rental space in most cases. Most of them are just extra cards that are taking up space.

Because of this, vendors are more likely to give you a deal.

I've ended up with odd numbers like 72 or 128 cards after scavenging dime boxes over the years. Rarely will the vendor charge $7.20 or $12.80 for them. Most of the time, they'll round down to seven or twelve bucks for the lot.

But the deals get much sweeter than that.

Vendors that put out dime boxes are among the nicest and most accommodating in the card show crowd, I've found. I've come to like the vendors with dime cards as much as the dime boxes themselves over the years, because the vendors have the low-end collector in mind with those cards. The kids as well.

But most of all, I love seeing that look on vendors' faces when they see the couple large stacks of cards that I'm getting ready to buy. (The look makes me want to set up my own table at a show or a flea market one day.)

They know there's a fairly big sale on the horizon.

The best "deals" I've ever gotten have come from some of my largest purchases.

Case in point, last year's National card convention, held right here in Chicago. (People travel across the country to get to that show, and I live ten minutes away from the convention hall. I feel extremely lucky for that.)

I don't know that any one show has ever had a better dime box selection than last year's National. The last one I flipped through was possibly the best of the day.

The vendor had two 3200-count boxes on the table. I was there for a good half-hour, but I looked through them all, of course.

At one point, I noticed one of the dealers in charge of the table threw a small stack of shiny cards into one of the boxes, probably the extras from a recent pack rip. Literally seconds after he put them in, I took them out and plucked what I needed. The cards happened to be from 2011 Bowman Platinum, and one of them was of Stephen Strasburg. A shiny card of Mr. Phenom himself in a dime box.

I guess miracles can happen.

After all was said and done, I was set to buy around 170 dime cards from the vendor. I was shocked when the dealer told me the final price.

Ten bucks.

Ten bucks for 170 cards! That's like getting seventy of them for free! I handed over my ragged ten-dollar bill within seconds, thanking him as I walked off with all my new acquisitions for the day.

And never once did I need to think about haggling.

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