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Thread: Model Train Show Selling Advice?

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    Question Model Train Show Selling Advice?

    ( I think this is "General Rail Discussion"? )

    Has anyone set up and sold at a model train show?
    Specifically, the Greenberg / Great Train / Great Midwest shows? or similar.

    I realized that I have "collected" too much stuff over the years and the Ebay or FB options are not as friendly as they were in the past.
    A show seems like a more manageable way to unload a lot in a short timeframe. (Or am I being naïve?)

    - Options for multiple 8 foot table(s) ( seems tight/narrow ) VS a 10 ft X 10 ft booth with 3 tables for more money. (I believe I could fill 3 tables...)

    - Cash only? or Paypal/venmo options?

    - Any real need for electricity access?

    - Other thoughts, advice, ideas welcomed.

    Thank you.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
    Blog: American Revolutionary War Diorama:https://www.nscale.net/forums/entry....onment-Diorama
    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802


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    I'm no pro, but I have sold at a few train shows in the past when I sold off my old HO scale collection.

    Here's some tips from my experience:

    - Shows/Swap Meets are ideal for unloading inventory fast whereas selling online can get you top dollar, but it's slower and more time-consuming.

    - Regarding the space, its really up to you. Try to select a setup that highlights your inventory in the most attractive way. Also display your inventory in a relatively organized manner. A bunch of junk spread all over will look too daunting for buyers who just want to buy impulsively.

    - I would encourage your inventory display to be divided up by model type - a loco section (the most expensive items, located closest to you), a boxcar section, a covered hopper section, a passenger car section, etc, a section with structures, a scenery section...many buyers have certain items they're looking for in general and will head to that section.

    - Shows are primarily cash, so make sure to carry adequate change. Make sure you go to to the bank and get a bunch of $1 and $5 bills, and a few $10s. Because of ATMs, most people will be paying in $20 bills, so you don't really need those for change for larger bills as you'll accumulate $20s from purchases anyway. It's good to have PayPal/Venmo/Zelle options if you use those yourself. Make sure you have printed signs with the logos of your online purchase options to let buyers know.

    - You don't need electricity unless you're running a POS machine (only really necessary if you're a hobby shop or manufacturer) or running a loco test track or demo layout. Most big shows will have a multi-scale loco test track anyway. I assume the venue is well-lit, so you won't need your own lighting.

    - Depending on the show's requirements and your state, you might need to apply for a vendor's license beforehand from your state's equalization/tax board office. I've had to do this for the larger commercial shows. Small swap meets usually don't need them.

    - Make sure items have prices displayed. I usually put prices on mini Post-It notes. Or you can mark off a section where everything is $10 each or whatever. For those, I printed signs on my computer.

    - If you really want items to move, put them in a box/bag and put a price on it. I sold a bunch of old broken TYCO/Bachmann junk that was too good for the trash but not good enough to sell individually, in a box and put a sign that read, "$30 for everything" - it sold!

    - If you're selling small/loose items (vehicles, figures, scenery items, detail parts, etc), put them in a ziploc bag and put a price on them.

    - If you don't have boxes for your locos/rolling stock, it would be a good idea to bring some bubble wrap and tape to pack them.

    - Bring a Sharpie and some extra Post-It notes and a few blank pieces of paper in case you feel like changing prices to move things faster.

    - Try to bring someone else to staff the booth for you while you want to take a food/restroom break or even shop at the show yourself. If you're unable to, the larger shows will have staff who can watch your booth for you if you need to step away from your booth.

    - Make friends with the other vendors! They might sell stuff that you're interested in, and knowing you're a fellow vendor, they'll more likely give you a good deal. When I sold at my first train show back in early 2007, I was placed next to a hobby shop liquidating its inventory (which was mostly N scale!). As people gave me cash for my old HO trains, I used most of it to buy N scale trains from the neighboring vendor and they gave me a nice deal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    ( I think this is "General Rail Discussion"? )

    Has anyone set up and sold at a model train show?
    Specifically, the Greenberg / Great Train / Great Midwest shows? or similar.

    I realized that I have "collected" too much stuff over the years and the Ebay or FB options are not as friendly as they were in the past.
    A show seems like a more manageable way to unload a lot in a short timeframe. (Or am I being naïve?)

    - Options for multiple 8 foot table(s) ( seems tight/narrow ) VS a 10 ft X 10 ft booth with 3 tables for more money. (I believe I could fill 3 tables...)

    - Cash only? or Paypal/venmo options?

    - Any real need for electricity access?

    - Other thoughts, advice, ideas welcomed.

    Thank you.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Don't know if you want to deal with shipping or not, but you might consider posting your items here.
    - Gary R.

    President & CEO
    Pinnacle & Western Railroad

    I don't always stop for trains, but when ... oh wait!, Yes I do.

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    I have sold at shows. If you have a lot to sell its best to bring a friend. As/if/when the shows gets busy, watch out for five-year discounts. Not saying it will happen but I've seen it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Rowan View Post
    Don't know if you want to deal with shipping or not, but you might consider posting your items here.
    I have had positive results selling here. But it is still a time consuming process. Plus, I have quite a bit of other scales to unload.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
    Blog: American Revolutionary War Diorama:https://www.nscale.net/forums/entry....onment-Diorama
    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802


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    I do a couple of shows a year, and half the effort is for the camaraderie of fellow train nuts. The other parts are the selling of stuff I don't want or need, usually railroadiana or other scale stuff. And,,,, the plan to not spend more than I sell!

    All of Metro's input is very good. Do have a second person. Do your research on values. And then go have a good time.
    Northern Pacific and Black Hills RR in N, of course!!
    Aian, CEO, COO, Engineer, Gopher and everything else!

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    Lots of good advice already, but haven't seen this mentioned.....Go for enough space to set everything out. Nothing frustrates me more as a buyer than to be faced with a box/tote of cars stacked 4 or 5 deep. that I have to dig thru to see what's on the bottom. If you HAVE to stack them, do it so you can read the ends of the boxes where it tells what the car in the box is.......but having the car showing is the fastest way to catch a customers attention.

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    Another option for more room is to make some cheap shelving so you can potentially double your table space in a vertical direction.
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen H. View Post
    Another option for more room is to make some cheap shelving so you can potentially double your table space in a vertical direction.
    Good idea, come to think of it I used some of these when I was a show vendor. You can just get cheap plastic shelves at Target, Walmart or Big Lots. When you're done selling, you can just use them at home.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    I got a square account, so I can accept credit and debit cards at shows, lots of people don't bring enough cash to shows anymore. At one of the last shows I did, about half the sales I had were via card.

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    My experience selling at shows is that you'll sell 10-20% of your stuff. Probably not the clean up you were hoping for. It's usually faster to sell online, as you have a bigger audience. You might think it's a hassle to sell online, but frankly it's a hassle to sell at shows, as it's an 8 hour affair, usually. I have found that train shows tend to be a slightly better buying venue than selling venue, but of course, these are generalizations. Shelves are a good idea. Something to swipe cards is a good idea, but you aren't likely to lose too many sales just because you don't have it.
    Daniel Dawson

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    A little bit of vertical space is useful, but it seems like too much can be overwhelming. If you have multiple of the same item, set one out and the rest under the table. The biggest help is to have an organized and cleanly laid out table(s), be friendly but not pushy, and set your prices above what you have to have, then let the potential buyer negotiate with you. It makes both parties happier if a good negotiation goes on with the buyer thinking they talked you down to a lower price.

    If you have stuff you just want to get rid of, mark it low and sell in quantity.

    I remember losing only two sales for not being able to do electronic, in ten years. Don't sweat that too much.

    And have fun! Try not to 'cruise' the other tables, unless you plan to spend more than you sell!!
    Northern Pacific and Black Hills RR in N, of course!!
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    Thanks all!

    I appreciate the solid advice. I have registered for an upcoming train show in Edison, NJ on Nov 26-7
    Just added to the calendar.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
    Blog: American Revolutionary War Diorama:https://www.nscale.net/forums/entry....onment-Diorama
    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802


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    Good luck Steve!
    You'll have to post a pic once you get the tables all setup...
    The Little Rock Line blog


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    If you all don't mind, I need to keep this going.

    As I plan for this train show, I realize I have toooo much stuff to bring it all.

    When you go to a show, are you looking for specific items, general supplies, bargains? I'm trying to narrow down the items that will make sense to bring.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
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    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    When you go to a show, are you looking for specific items, general supplies, bargains?
    Me personally, I'm not a train show person (which might have to do with the fact that there are few US second hand sellers here in Germany)

    But I'd be looking for both specific items (for quite some time those were Red Caboose 73' centerbeam flat cars or Atlas whale belly LPG tank cars, to give specific examples) and bargains that fit my scheme (Fox Valley Models GP60s in BNSF livery).

    The difference is: I have built or plan to build industries that need the cars in the first category for op sessions (although I currently have plenty of LPG tank cars and enough of the new Rapido NSC centerbeam flat cars on pre-order, so that's history). Without them, I'd have to cut back on ops, so I'd be willing to pay close to new price (not MSRP, but street) for them (also depending on how much I'd need to invest in metal wheels, trucks and body mounts).

    It would be nice to have a few more modern 4-axle BNSF locos to join my GP38-2s and 8-40BWs in powering locals and switch jobs, but I can make do with the 4-axle units I have plus I have a couple of SD40-2s that would be fine for yard service or local duty as well. So I don't lose much if I don't buy them, which means they'd need to be like 50% off new for me to consider them.

    Then there's often small things that I might pick up if I remember I could use them. A certain crossing, maybe, or a specific structure kit or some detail parts. It would be pure luck for a seller to bring exactly those to a show that I need.

    I'm also considering opening up another era: Santa Fe Zebra stripe. Really cheap options might tempt me to start at a specific show, like the wood caboose I recently acquired for very cheap.

    Don't know if this helps you, and it's just my thoughts,
    Heiko

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    At this point, I'm looking for specific cars to add to the fleet. Or bargains that have room to flip on FB sale groups or my shops consignment shelf

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    We do a lot of shows and never have needed electric but then not selling engines, but even than not really needed.
    We do take cards, but I'd say at smaller shows most sales are cash, the bigger shows it's like half and half. Convention shows are more Credit card then cash. But do take at least 200 in cash for change as without fail one of your first customers will hand you a fifty- or one-hundred-dollar bill to start then show.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    When you go to a show, are you looking for specific items, general supplies, bargains?
    Items that are no longer in production or deep discounts on current products.

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    I try to bring railroads that are from the region I'm selling in... SP in northeastern US might not sell very fast..

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