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Selling at Conventions


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Hi all, 

I am wanting to see if anyone has had any experience selling sets at conventions such as your local comic-con, etc.. I have a ton of older sets and for sure a lot in the $20-$60 range, along with and other notable sets, GEs, RIs, SSDs. 

I looked and my local is charging about $400-$600 range for a booth. I am pretty sure we can do well, but you never know till you try. But it seems like $600 is a big hole to dig out of just to break even. But I guess just a few of Haunted Houses would pay for it but not sure if large sets sell at things like this or if the smalls are king. 

Thoughts or tips? 

Thanks!

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No experience, but I'd personally think of it this way: $600 is 15% of $4000, roughly the percentage you pay in fees selling on a platform like Ebay. Do you think you could make $4K in sales, and if not how much do you value avoiding the headaches of an online platform like creating listings, shipping, returns, etc. and how much do you think you'd enjoy the experience regardless of what you sell (that's certainly worth something). Don't know where you live but my experience at local conventions is that sets don't seem to fly off the shelves - I know I always see posted prices and assume I could do better online. Seems like one of those potential high risk/high reward scenarios where your success is mostly based on luck - how many people will show up looking to spend money (in an uncertain economy).

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I have experience with some much, much smaller scale shows--10% of what you are being charged for space. Granted what I have done is geared toward Hot Wheels, Funko, and action figures, but there is some LEGO and it really doesn't move, as Hawkeye said. People typically do not bring a lot of cash and want to haggle, even if your stuff is listed below what their phones tell them is the current ebay price. I would hope that if you are being charged $400+ for booth space, a more sophisticated clientele that doesn't forget its wallet will be in attendance. 

Also, surely you've thought of all of this, but if you use Square to accept payments I think the percentage is really high. And when it comes to taxes, if you sell old inventory claimed in previous tax years and get paid in cash or Venmo/Paypal, maybe a hand-written receipt from one of those receipt booklets will be acceptable to the 87,000 IRS agents that are coming for all of us. Maybe someone else can chime in on that front.

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Never went as big as a full on convention, but I had a few flea markets and holiday fairs. Granted, I would have to think conventions would be a better fit with the type of consumers looking for bigger ticket items. But I found in my experience that customers are much more willing to look into things they couldn't normally get retail. I used to have tables at holiday fairs where I sold Lego ornaments from pick-a-brick wall pieces. Ended up selling out more of those than anything else so technically ratio of return was really great but not the hundreds of dollars I would expect from selling larger sets. 

If anything, might be a good learning experience if you want to go further in that route. 

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Not with LEGO, but I have years of selling at shows all over the country. In my experience its all about the knowledge base and expectation of whom you're hoping to sell to.

1. Shopping for gifts with predetermined amount planned. ie $20 for nephew and $50 for new girlfriend.

2. Collectors aware of the what establishes value for a unique item. ie box condition, age, rarity of item, potential resale, etc.

I feel like expenses get covered by making dozens of small quick sales. And profit comes from the handful of big spenders hoping to be making an investment.

If there is any advice I can pass is that your setup matters. Most vendors just put stuff on a table. I encourage you have an actual display with signs and lights. Make adjustments to what items are showcased based on crowd.

1 hour ago, HappyHawkeye said:

and how much do you think you'd enjoy the experience regardless of what you sell (that's certainly worth something)

Absolutely!

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Thank you all for your input here! I really do appreciate it. The local show in my town had just passed so this would be next year unless I want to travel. Might be worth it as I really dislike ebay, lol. 

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