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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Comic Investing Offline Buying Strategies Revisited


I think I've talked about this before in earlier posts, but nothing about buying strategies. Just places offline to buy at. What are some offline market places for comics or to hunt for comic investments or comics in bulk? Well, you got comic stores, comic cons, yard sales or garage sales, Estate Sales and Craigslist, which is half online and half offline.

YARD SALES & GARAGE SALES

In some areas, these are still viable ways to find some gems for cheap. In my area, it's tough, but that's not to say you can't get lucky still.

Still, yard sales and garage sales that have comics at them are usually junk. Be prepared for that.

You'll take an awful lot of time to find one that will be worth while. Once again, it depends on your area, but it can be a way to buy comic lots for cheap.

Not really sure if there are actual buying strategies to implement in getting comics from these venues. You want to know the situation, which means shooting the bull and asking some questions in a friendly manner.

Are they moving? Do they just want to clear their collection of junk? Is the wife or hubby making them get rid of some of their collection?

Try to gauge how much the seller actually knows about comics or how desperate they are in getting rid of them by friendly banter. Don't try to be so freaking obvious. If you lack personal skills with people, this will be a tough part of the game to get into. Period.

Do not make any mistake at all about buying bulk comics this way. You are the shark here.


CRAIGSLIST

Back in the day, around early to mid 2000s, this was a great way  of getting all sorts of valuables cheap, especially toys (Still in Package) and comics for cheap. I'd get lots of 50 to 100 action figures from people who were moving, like $2 to $3 bucks a piece. Obviously, they didn't want to or couldn't afford to lug the stuff or maybe just wanted some extra cash to help them with moving expenses.

It didn't matter what the reason was. You're in the dirty water now.

Comics were a bit more exhausting. Most of the collections I went to see were filled with junk even back in the day and asking for way too much. Key issues or first appearances were pretty scarce in these collections.

After a while and realizing it wasn't worth the time I was putting into it, I turned to buying comic lots on eBay, which was fruitful back in those days before the huge speculation hype hit.

Back to Craigslist though. If you have the cash and the time, you can place an ad on Craigslist that says you are buying Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Copper Age comics. Just tell them how to contact you and let the ride begin. 

You'll be amazed at the junk collections you will encounter most the time though. It's not a new strategy, but apparently it can be effective depending on your area, and all it takes is one big score! Just look at the dude from Mile High Comics. He scored the Edgar Church collection and the rest is history.

But there is a possibility your area is a gold mine just waiting to be mined. You never know. You have to be relentless, persistent and willing to travel to look at collections of all kinds. 

You also have to be ready for quite a bit of frustration and wasted time. All part of the game.

You also need to know the market well. You need to know about comics period, what keys to look out for, which ones are hot in demand, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd appearances that may be over-looked or not even known yet.

For those in the UK?  Try this but seek out Pence copies of major first appearances. There is a growing niche market here in the U.S. for Pence copies of major key issues. If you throw out a Craigslist ad seeking Pence copy collections, you may just a get a collection worth getting cheap since that area should have a lot more of those kinds of comics than here.

Research your shit before you make this play. Actually research anyways if you have an area that's fruitful.


ESTATE SALES

I hear of a lot of people getting some valuable comics at Estate Sales as well. I've never tried this market place, but you can buy key issue comics in bulk for cheap if you catch one that has one.

The one big crappy thing about getting comics in bulk this way is your usually regulated to whatever is in that collection. Sometimes, it can pay off and you'll get some gems in them that will earn you a profit. Sometimes, you'll mostly get comics that you'll find hard to get rid of. 

You'll need plenty of cash to try your hand at this as with most bulk purchases and patience. I heard of one story in the Mission Hills in Fremont that had an Estate Sale for a drug dealer who was caught and sent to prison. Somebody snagged the dude's comic collection and it was filled with a lot of valuable key issues.


COMIC SHOPS

Like I said in the previous post, some comic dealers still go by guide prices and aren't caught up with the over-bloated prices online. These are the shops I want to find and hunt at.

Holiday sales, Black Friday sales, inventory liquidation sales, most comic shops have them. I like this route better because I can laser target specific key issues I'm gunning for. I got Gerry Aquaman #11 at a Christmas sale where even consignments were 20% off, and that one was a consignment item.

Sometimes, I don't want big bulk lots of comics in which the majority of them are mainly common issues and hard to get rid of or flip. Sometimes, the key issues in them won't even break even for the price the seller is asking.

Here's the thing though. You can haggle a box of comics with a dealer if it's his actual stock and not consignments.

Unfortunately, some comic shops don't have much worthwhile stock and most of their good stuff is consignment based from some friend's collection. However, there are some comic shops that actually do. Depends on the area.

Look, if you want to get bulk comics on the cheap or cheaper, you need to know people's weaknesses. Sorry to say but it's true. 

Like I said before, you're the shark and you're in the dirty water now. It's how comic shop dealers work when buying comics from those who don't know any better and sell to them.

Knowing a comic shop owner has over-head costs, rent, credit card processing fees, inventory that doesn't move, and other bills to pay can work to your advantage. In a bulk lot buy, you know he'd rather take cash than credit cards. When you're gonna make this play, don't haggle a box of valuable Silver Age comics with a friggin' credit card.

If you get a comic shop owner that bites or is interested in dishing off a box of comics, bring plenty of cash. It will leave you more haggling room, because you're doing him or her a favor by going around the credit card processing fees. You can even use that point right there to haggle it down a tad more. 

COMIC CONS

Once again, when hype over-bloats a comic online, sometimes comic cons or shows can be an alternative to go around a peak. What am I and you going to look for? Once again, dealers who still price comics near or around guide prices.

Let's talk about why online prices are most likely to over-bloat for a lot of in-demand key issue comics. Think about eBay. Where's the time limit? You can get 100 free auction listings each month on eBay even if you don't have an eBay Store. Where's the over-head cost?

I can list 100 key comics every month without having to worry about getting a store or paying any kind of over-head cost. Of course it's a lot more tempting to sell at an over-bloated price. All I've got worry about is final value fee or Pay Pal fees.

Online comic stores? Sure they have to pay for a variety of expenses, but it's a lot cheaper than a brick and mortar store for sure.

Most comic dealers at comic shows and cons have brick and mortar stores. Major comic cons are not cheap when it comes to booth spaces. When Wondercon was still in San Francisco, there would be dealers that would call out, "50% off all comics!" all the time on the last day near the end of the con.

I would get some cheap key comics that way, and reasons are because booth spaces were costly at Wondercon and a lot of times dealers wanted to lug less stuff as possible back with them.

In short, sellers at cons have two or three days to sell a lot of shit to churn over a profit. Sometimes just one day! They are on a time limit. Not like it is anywhere online.

This is why some dealers at cons still go by guide prices. You just need to find them. It's all about finding your sources in this game or any.

Once again, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. On the last day and near the last hour, haggle a box of comics with some good first or 2nd appearances and key issue comics if you found a dealer that still goes by guide prices and owns a brick and mortar comic shop. 

Dealers know a lot about comics and key comics. A lot! But they don't know everything. That's pretty much impossible.

He or she will probably want to make the most money he or she can in the last hour as well as want to lug back as less stuff as possible with them at the end of the day. Once again, this may be harder to achieve at smaller cons where the booth spaces or tables are cheaper, but maybe still doable.


BUYING COMICS IN BULK OFFLINE OVERVIEW

Since LK has expressed interest in buying comics in bulk and has some successful stories in doing so, I'm gonna dedicate an entire section for this topic. It's complicated but not complicated all rolled into one. Since when was comic investing easy, right? This part of the game is definitely not for everyone. Flipping is extremely a hard, often frustrating, and exhausting part of comic investing.

Anyone who tells you it's friggin' easy is lying. Most comic shop dealers struggle. Sure, they are making a living doing this, but that doesn't mean they don't struggle in this venture also. If they're struggling, imagine your chances.

The first thing you need to arm yourself when doing this is know your comics! That means being able to spot in-demand comics and comic investments, key issues, quick flips, etc. Doesn't matter if it's speculation comics or ones that are considered solid key issue comic investments or ones just waiting to catch on the market. You gotta know comics.

Two, you have to know your area, the local comic market, and the online market. Know the online market well...what's hot? What's going for peak prices even for raw copies? What's an over-looked key that not too many know about just yet, which I may have in one of the key issues list on here?


Is your area big like mine? This may be an advantage or disadvantage if it's a bigger comic market, because usually people with comic collections know their shit better. However, selling could be easier, but also you may have one of the big boy dealers to contend with in your area also.

Third, how much time and cash on hand can you muster up? Buying bulk comics to invest in is not an easy or cheap racket. Flipping isn't an easy racket, mostly because finding these treasures are a pain. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Let's talk about the big boys who buy in bulk here. They usually have quite a few things going for them that us average folk don't.

A. They usually have cash or banks backing them up so they can make big comic lot purchases. 

Trust me here. They have the finances and the networks to locate these collections quicker than any of us. They've been in the racket for a lot longer, but that doesn't mean you cannot carve out a piece of the pie for yourself.

B. They often they have a brick and mortar store where people with collections go to them to sell.

Big one there. People come to them more than they'll come to you. You are at a disadvantage in that respect, but you can work around it. You'll just need to put more effort into it and pound the pavement more.

C.  They usually advertise they're buying comics aggressively. Just look at all the ads in Overstreet Price Guide. Most are the big boy dealers.

Advertising isn't cheap. Sure there's Craigslist and such, but you want more venues than just that especially if your area isn't very fruitful in mining. Then again, if it is, sometimes Craigslist is all it takes if you're just starting out.

D. They have the backing, finances, and time to travel to various places to look at collections.

Another big one. If you don't have the finances or the time to travel around, you'll have to start out local if you want to buy bulk offline. If you really don't have the time, this option of buying bulk offline isn't viable.

E. They have various networks and sources to flip comics fast!


Networks my friend. It's all about networks. Know a guy in real estate who just happens to be trying to sell a house where the clients of the estate are trying to get rid of the junk that they inherited? Some of the junk that happens to be old valuable comics.

Another Mile High Comics reference there! Know a cop who has the info on busting a drug dealer and an Estate Sale auction is going on to liquidate the slinger's assets? Some of those assets happening to be valuable old comics.

A personal story I heard. Networks can be found any place and can include anyone. Spread the word to as many people as possible that you're buying collections of such and such comics.

Did you know that dealers often sell to other dealers? Yep, it's true. They do and often times at comic cons and in bulk. Why is this?

Area! Area! Area! If you have multiple comic shops, each comic shop has a different selection of comics that are geared towards their regulars. Last week, I went to comic shop in Fremont and some dude walked in saying his nephew or friend was a huge Transformers fan and was looking to buy some Transformer comics.

The owner told him he didn't have any usually because he found it was hard to move them. That means in his area most people could give a hoot about Transformer comics. It might be completely different for a comic shop dealer in another area.

So yes, you can be doing a dealer a favor by buying bulk comics from him or her if they find those comics hard to move in their area. You may be able to haggle a really good deal. You just have to find out their weaknesses and that does take time, trial and error, and a lot of yacking.

So what are some bulk buying strategies? 

You do what works! And what works is what the big boys have been doing for years. 

If you got the cash and time, put up an ad on Craigslist like already mentioned. Locate and visit Estate Sales in your area and beyond. Hit up garage sales and yard sales or swap meets. Put an ad in Overstreet if you can travel across the country. Overstreet is expensive to advertise though.

Get a booth space at comic cons and sell while advertising that you're buying comics. Get business cards and flyers made up, and then hand them out to anyone who will take them at comic shows. Big comic shows have programs that you can advertise in as well.

Like I mentioned before, hit up dealers at comic shops and comic cons and get to know them. Know their weaknesses and use them to where you are both doing each other a favor.

When it comes to collectors selling off their collection, know what dealers know even before you visit them. A person contacting you to come look at their collection for possible sale can be either one or all of these:

A. They're too lazy to actually research themselves and sell their comics individually on eBay or where ever.

B. They may have already sold their valuable stuff on eBay and looking to sell off comics that are harder to get rid of. You'd be surprised how much this is the case in my area.

C. They don't know that much about comics. Either they were given these or inherited them from someone who did and want to sell them quick. You'd be amazed at how much this goes on in comic shops with people bringing in all sorts of valuable collections.

D. They just don't care and need quick cash for a drum cymbal and they're playing a show in the next few days and need one really bad. Actually, a personal true story there way back in the day. It could be for a variety of reasons though. They just need quick cash.

Either way, they are contacting you for any one of those reasons above. Maybe all of them, because keep one thing in mind: A Jerk Face like me who knows better would not be contacting you to buy my comics in bulk. 

I'm not even sure if this was what LK had in mind concerning the various topic ideas he suggested, but this is basically some ideas here. Oh, yes, and always be willing to walk away if the offer isn't good enough.



 

12 comments:

  1. in regarding pence copies. the price is leveling up against the cents copies now over here in the uk at least. looking about around 80% comapred to about 50% a few years ago. but to be honest its only major keys.

    I ave spoke to a few comics dealers about pence copies. according to a few dealers they ammouted to about 3% of the original runs back in the mid 60'S.



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    1. Are there still un-found collections over there in the UK that have some of these major Pence keys, or did all the comic dealers across the pond snag them up already?

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    2. i don't know to be honest. i spoke to a few comic dealers regarding pence books. this is what i got back about my asm#6 6.0 pence copy.
      this is just a snippet of my email back from duncan.

      As at Feb 2010 there were only 6 CGC graded (slabbed) pence copies as opposed to 775 US cents copies. The highest graded pence ones are two 5.5 Fine Minuses. Got to be better than that available!

      Jun 2010 the CGC Census listed 801 graded/slabbed cents copies headed up by two in 9.8 Near Mint/Mint, five in 9.6 Near Mint Plus, nineteen in 9.4 Near Mint, sixteen in 9.2 Near Mint Minus and thirty-one in 9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint. There were still the 6 UK copies in 5.5 x 2, 4.0, 5.0, 3.0 and 2.5 x 2.

      As at Mar 1st 2014, the CGC Census listed 1237 copies with 3 in 9.8 (a new one discovered!), 8 in 9.6, 29 in 9.4 (2 restored), 22 in 9.2 ( 2 restored), 41 in 9.0 (restored, 2 Signature Series, 2 Qualified). Now 11 UK Variants headed up by an 8.0, 2 in 6.0, 2 in 5.5 and a 5.0.

      A real good dealer as well. he usually buys collections from the mid west (USA). according to him you get better page quality.

      And for my local comic book shop the oldest comic book shop in england. he buys in bulk from the states. and i go in evey couple of weeks all cent copies.

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    3. Strange as to why there wouldn't be more Pence copies in the UK. They sure didn't distribute those here in the U.S. when they first came out. Did you guys trash most of the copies or ship them back here at some point? lol.

      Oh well, just a thought on maybe trying Craigslist in the UK to snag up some Pence copies. Don't know the comic market in that area so have no idea.

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    4. this is the best information i could find about uk 9d copies on a british site called www.comicpriceguide.co.uk run by old duncan

      British editions of American comics were printed at the same time, on the same paper using the same machinery. The proportion of British copies was generally somewhere up to 5% of the print run but was probably much lower in the early days of Marvel and DC UK distribution, nearer 2-3%.

      At the end of a print run, in the case of the early Marvels, a 9d (ninepence) cover price plate was substituted in place of the American 10 cents. For DCs, the cover was hand-stamped. The stamping varies - some can be quite light, others quite heavy and some can be stamped twice when the person concerned missed the first time!

      Early Marvels have additional distributor information in the indicia - a single line saying Sole Distributors in the United Kingdom - Thorpe & Porter Ltd. But this needs comprehensive checking. There are also a few instances on 60s Marvel comics where the British cover paper seems to be fractionally thinner than on the US edition (eg Fantastic Four #56) but this again needs comprehensive checking.

      Rather than call all these comics UK editions, it would perhaps be more accurate to call them 'pence copies' or 'British priced variants'. Overall they cannot be said to be a reprint of the US edition or, as such, inferior .

      In fact it could be argued that in this day and age of variants and alternative covers offered as retailer incentives, British pence copies of American comics are much rarer and have an attraction all of their own. In very high grades or for key issues, one could argue that British pence copies offer value for money.

      And just to state something if it's been stamped by 9d ink it's not actually a uk edition by cgc. If it's printed 9d instead of 12c. That's actually a uk edition.

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    5. Howdy!

      I think I read the same piece you are referencing. I bought a solid mid-grade copy of Strange Tales 110 almost 2 years ago. It cost me $560 raw. That was the most I had paid at that point. I did not know there was much difference (still new to collecting high dollar books then) and thought it was a steal based on the price of the US version. That article made me pull the trigger.

      I figure it is only a matter of time until the 9d versions of books get their due here in the states, especially when you consider they really were printed the same time and exceptionally small runs. In my estimation, this copy will, in time as more people start to learn about UK editions (NOT reprints), be quite a bit more valuable than the US version.

      I might be wrong, but in the end I really do not care. The first Dr. Strange is a personal book for me and not one I want to sell / flip / whatever any time soon. Maybe never.

      Thank you for posting this information :)

      - Craig Coffman

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  2. hey mayhem been sending off some comics to be graded and saving for some major keys. got back TOS 39 avengers 4. spent 1150 for both and they came back a 1.0 for TOS 39 which I figured and 5.0 for avengers 4. nice of the norm articles you have written up. good work. got FF 52 and Iron man 55 coming in next. JW

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    1. Hey JW, great stuff you got there. Yeah, I keep getting asked these questions so I have to keep rehashing some of the stuff I've said in various articles and put it all into one.

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  3. Hey Mayhem was wondering if you had any thoughts about foreign reprints of books like Hulk 181 in German....Is it worth investing in those instead of paying the thousands for a NM 181 in English?

    -Mike

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    1. I generally don't like reprints of any kind...cents, pence, foreign editions, doesn't really matter to me. I would always try to get the original 1st printing of a major key issue. Then again, I wouldn't mind the Amazing Spider-Man #300 variant cover reprint.

      I'm just a huge fan of ASM #300 and that variant cover reprint has less copies than the 1st printing for sure.

      Despite my bias towards most reprints, there are exceptions of course. In terms of Hulk #181 and the German Edition, those are rarer in the market and the niche of Pence and Foreign Edition comics (don't confuse Pence with reprints though, they are not and actually considered 1st prints or Price Variants), there is growing niche of collectors who want these. Niche is growing but slowly over here in the U.S., and that's because of nostalgic reasons. We just didn't grow up on the Pence or Foreign Editions.

      Personally, I paid $1300 for a Hulk #181 1st print and didn't consider a Foreign Edition, so there's my personal opinion on that matter. As for others, I'm not against investing in those kinds of comics if there is interest in them. I'm just...well...not interested in them.

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  4. Hey Mayhem, Nice Job! I have found that most of the time it's business/home clean-outs are where the Bulk Buying is found. A company will clean out a house and get paid several thousand dollars. Rather than throwing it all in the dumpster, it's hauled away and brought to flea markets or a warehouse along with thousands of other piles of stuff. The clean-out guy will call you up and say "gotta deal for ya". After looking over the stash and haggling, a price is agreed apon. It's important to have disposable cash for such an occasion. Many times the pile is just that "a pile of $#!+" but once in a while you get lucky and the stars align. Comicons are also great places to find good deals and have fun haggling and talking with fellow geeks about movies & comics. Most of the time the best deals come from establishing great relationships with decent comic shop owners.
    I always say, "we want them to stay in business, because it gives us a place to get great deals".
    I will go out of my way to make sure my fave comic shop gets 75% of my available funds and try to help out when possible. "We are all just kids that used to trade stuff, and now have grown up bills to pay, but still love our comics!" LK

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  5. Have you ever seen the show Barter Kings? Essentially they would start with one lower priced item and then trade up to a high priced item through a series of deals. Your article has me thinking if one can start with a low or moderate key, maybe a hot or inflated movie key and "flip" all the way up to a high end investment key like a TOS 39 avengers 1 or 4, heck, maybe even a huge key like ASM 1 or AF 15? With no additional funds other than the profit made from flipping.

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