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Better To Sell As A "trader" At A Show? Or Online/forums/mail? Not A Pro!



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humblescribbler

Hi, I am flying to the L.A. pen show in February. To make the trip worthwhile and get as much floor time as possible, I'm going as a "trader". This includes an option to display at a half table for a couple days prior to the show. I've only sold maybe a dozen pens online over the years, so am not a pro. However, I've NEVER sold anything on a show floor.

 

So, opinions please from the casual buyer/seller. Is it worth it to box up and pack pens, maybe pay a carry-on or baggage fee, and sell from the half table? Or is it not worth the hassle? I'm flying from D.C. and mainly want to enjoy the show and the interaction with other pen enthusiasts. But I do have two dozen or so pens I no longer use for a variety of reasons. With all the original boxes I'm guessing I'll be beyond the carry-on limits!

 

Should I leave everything home and continue with the piecemeal online options, or is it best to have it all there? Is it too nerve-wracking, and one ends up enjoying less of the show?

 

What's your experience?

 

Thanks!

 

Michael

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I would guess your potential buying audience will be larger online, giving you a better chance to sell your pen(s). I've never sold anything at a pen show, but that's just my $.02.

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It depends on the pens, and what you expect to get for them. If they are contemporary, and common, then you likely will not get any more than wholesale, so it likely would be a loose, loose, loose situation as you would spend time at a table, pay to haul them there, and loose money. But if you have limited editions which are no longer available, then you might get enough for them to make it worth it. And if they are vintage, well then it's a toss up. Remember, unless it is unusual, selling to other collectors is not going to get you much above wholesale in the pre-public show, and really using some of the pens for trading purposes might be a better way to go if you have any skill and/or interest in trading as it can stretch your budget.

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I'll second Parker51 on this one. Depending on your pens, you'd be better off selling here in the classifieds or on eBay (yuck) as your audience is significantly larger and you will only lose a few bucks in shipping and fees (I account for shipping and fees in the price of anything I sell rather than adding $5 to the price of something as it seems rather nit-picky to do so). Remember that when selling at a show, you're competing with LOTS of other vendors with LOTS of inventory to choose from. It can be overwhelming.

 

I've never been to a pen show, but I've been to gun and knife shows and the little guys rarely get my attention as their prices are too high and their selection is often not worth much more than a quick glance. That's not to say that your collection isn't worth looking at, but that unless you're selling something eye-catching or unusual, you're likely to get passed up for larger or more well-known vendors offering customization services, larger selections, etc.

 

You should also consider handling time on the pens. If you bring a bunch of pens and have them out on the table, people will be handling them, sampling them, etc. Do you want to subject your pens to tire-kickers? I probably wouldn't as you never know who you're going to get or what they might do to your pens. I think larger vendors build test pens into their stables so that they have something for people to handle without having to worry about their sales inventory being handled.

 

If it were me, and it's not, I'd rather go to the show and enjoy it for what it is. Take a handful of your least-used pens that you want to get rid of (in a carry-on so as not to lose them to the sticky fingers of the TSA) and use them for trading.

 

Enjoy the show as a pen enthusiast. Sell your pens to me. :D

No, that's not blood. That's Noodler's Antietam.

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Since you said you were mostly interested in interacting with the other show attendees, I think having pens to talk about across the sales table would be a great 'excuse'. On the other hand, if dealing with people/money, haggling or such things are beyond your comfort level, then sitting at a sales table could really wreck your enjoyment.

 

I have helped out at comic conventions (kinda sorta the same thing, not quite the same crowd, I think pen people are probably calmer (at least on the surface :) but generally the same experience)... and I was surprised how tiring it was. I'm a serious introvert and it was very hard for me not to want to stick my nose in a book or crawl under the table drapery after a few hours. If you're a people person, I would go for it as long as you are allowed to 'shut up shop' if it's not working for you.

 

I would also get someone to spell you for a while so you can see the show, talk to vendors, go get food, rest/loo breaks etc (other vendors will -sometimes- do this, but it's not a sure bet by any means)... The idea of doing it by myself would fill me with dread.

 

Have fun! :)

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I really enjoy the pen show table experience. A nice thing about the 1/2 table days is most everyone that you interact with are the pen vendors. Everyone is out looking for something they can buy and flip during the show. If your prices lend to that, then you could do well on these days. The public days you can spend seeing what everyone else has. I picked up 3 OS Balances and a Jade in the first 20 minutes on the 1/2 table day at the Ohio show. Lots of folks like to trade so you can get rid of pens that you are tired of and pick up replacements that you will enjoy!

PAKMAN

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humblescribbler

Thank you all for taking the time and for your considered and thoughtful comments. Experience counts, and I've none in this arena. I may blend something from all this; luckily if I decide to pack pens there's still time. I like the idea of interacting and trading, but agree that less stress = more enjoyment. And hey! I'll have to also pack the newly acquired pens for the return trip!! Oh no!

 

Thanks again,

 

Michael

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