Klein’s Korner: Don’t always blame dealers for card pricing! – While going through my inventory and preparing my next dealing show in Allen, Texas I came across a 2003 Topps Draft Pick and Prospects Kliff Kingsbury rookie card. There are now three copies of this card which have been sold over the previous 90 days. My question was at what price between $1 and $2 do I use for pricing.
The good thing about this thought process, and I did reach out to good hobby friend Ben Wilson for his comments, showed some of the thorough processes both collectors and dealers go through. I will delineate some of the reasons for all three prices between $1-2 and some of everyone’s thought process.
So let’s start with the $1 price. Ben’s point was the card should be priced at $1 as an entry to getting a person to open up their wallet and start or continue shopping at your table. In addition, if a person thinks they are getting a bargain they may think other cards are also a bargain. The other reason is if the collector then spends more money at your table, then tossing in a $1 card is easier for you than if the card were a higher price.
The middle price of $1.50 is, well a middle price. Many people use the middle for their pricing and I see nothing wrong with the option. The only reason in our discussion I did not use the option was I do not like handling change at my show table.
The highest price of $2 is also a perfectly acceptable price while using Ebay comps. The simplest reason for the highest price was here in Texas there is a regional popularity to Kingsbury and he is the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Both of those factors as well as noticing only two copies were sold in the 90-day period was decent enough evidence for the higher price. Many times, if you don’t see a lot of copies selling, there might be a shortage in the available supply thus the price as noted may be too cheap.
This was a fairly basic example with easy to identify EBay comps for recent sales. Rarely is something this cut and dry but for our purposes it was certainly convenient; But this also brings up a bigger question, and one which cannot be answered so easily: how much should one really sell a card for?
Back in the day when Krause Publications was issuing Card Trade, good hobby friend Rob Veres wrote an article explaining how a card could actually have 10 different selling points for a 1982 Topps Mike Scioscia card depending on the circumstances involved. In simplest terms a few of these examples include: was it part of a huge quantity of cards being moved, was it being sold at a “higher level” retail place such as a ballpark concession store, was it for retail sale in the store and many more.
But at least for this card we had some evidence. I still remember the days before monthly price guides where almost all pricing was done on feel and without much guidance. Think about how relatively difficult the pricing of most cards were back in the day. I started doing shows in 1979 and some pricing was fairly well established but other pricing was totally done on feel. And in retrospect, while having order instead of chaos does help level the field, there are plenty of times we’re still trying to figure out the real value of an item. And now that’s even more important on really high dollar items of which maybe 1-2 total copies in the grade are known.
And one other point I want to make as a lead-in for further discussion from our readers on the subject of dealer’s pricing cards. The other day at COMC I saw a request on a card which said something like this: “If the seller lowers the price on this card, I will then make an offer“. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a seller has a right to ask whatever he or she wants for a card. Back in the early 1980’s, that is how we ended up with Jim Kovacs putting $10 price tags on cards listed as commons in the price guide books. As a hobby we did not know then what we know now but what Mr. Kovacs did was keep raising his price on cards which kept selling out. Then, many people did not understand that but the more we learn about how some vintage cards within series are tougher than others, the pricing makes sense. Back in my Sports Collectors Daily writing days I wrote quite a bit about both the 1968 Lee May and the 1966 Grant Jackson cards. I would wager the Lee May card was one of those $10 cards and today the world has caught up to Mr. Kovacs’ innovative 1980’s pricing.
And then we have this card which brought a complaint about Burbank’s pricing by a Twitter contact of mine. This card, currently the only one available on the internet, and the only one which has been available for a while, is currently on sale for $32 plus shipping. Our discussion came down to the collector saying it was too high and my response was since it’s been the only one available for a while and with Buehrle being a potential long-term Hall of Famer (don’t laugh) the price might actually be too cheap.
The discussion on this card reminded me of many of the discussions we had on shorter-printed cards back in the day when I was a New York area card dealer. If I had a card such as the aforementioned 1966 Jackson rookie the common discussion ended up with why are you over book and I had two standard answers. The first answer was giving Beckett’s address and suggesting to send them a check. The other answer and one a bit less sardonic was: How long have you been looking for that card. Well when the answer came out as 2-3 years or more then you could see the light bulb come on and the collectors would realize why you had a higher asking price.
So using the $1-2 example we began with this can explain some of the reasons dealers may ask prices you think are too high. It’s not always anything more than asking what you think someone will pay for a card.
Rich’s vast experience and knowledge of the hobby has been well documented through the years. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Klein’s Korner. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.