In the last 9 months I have attended more trade-o-rees (swap meets for Boy Scout patch collectors) than I ever have before. I've been out to St. Louis, up to Indianapolis and over to Norfolk. One of the common grumbles I've heard from fellow dealers is that declining attendance and therefore declining sales are spoiling these events.
I certainly agree that my sales from all of these shows have been less than spectacular. In fact the very first show I went to the in the fall of 2017 I don't think I made enough to cover my trip costs. Now how much of that is me bringing the wrong stuff is an open question. I've spent a lot of time talking to my patch friend Mark Graff about the best set up at a show. I've about decided that there is no perfect system as I've tried most of them with mixed results.
So here are two reasons why TORs are still relevant in 2018 when we can do so much on eBay and Facebook to buy/sell/trade. The first is that TORs are an excellent place to buy. During this nine month run at TORs I've probably made more money buying stuff than selling. It kinda goes back to the old saying that you make your money on something when you buy it. Translate that to if you buy something cheap enough you are guaranteed to make money when it comes to reselling.
At the Norfolk TOR I purchased stuff from a table that was advertising 1/2 off. Except I didn't pay 1/2 of the asking price but negotiated a better bulk price for a bunch of stuff that was not getting a lot of attention from the other collectors. So far I'm very close to having sold enough to recoup my initial purchase which means everything else I sell is gravy.
In Indianapolis I spent most of my money buying stuff from the flea market tables that the hosts were running. I bought so much in the end I stuffed things into huge trash bags in order to take it all home. But I was paying flea market prices and buying in bulk. That's something you can only do at a TOR!
My final push for TORs is that they are an invaluable opportunity to fellowship with other collectors. This hobby is very much about building relatioships. Many of the people that I met over the last few months on this TOR circuit commented that they received my email newsletter and have bought from me before. Putting a name and a face together and talking about our common interest is networking that is very hard to do over the Internet. Sometimes just that 24 hours to unplug from work and family to hang out with the other thread heads at a TOR is worth the drive.
So I hope you will consider going to an upcoming trade-o-ree. I'm hosting one myself the weekend of April 6-7. Check out CharlotteTOR.com to get all the details.