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Swap Meet - Best Practices
« on: May 13, 2015, 06:14:11 AM »

Hello everyone!

Fanime is just over a week away (AHHH!) and of course the first event most people attend is the Swap Meet. I'm making this thread for experienced swap meet sellers to share some of their best practices so that our sellers and buyers have some tools at their disposal!

Seller Tips

1) Make sure to bring change! This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people look at their patrons with a look of panic when they realize they have no 1's. Everyone's system is different, but I recommend the following ($60 in change total):
20 1's
4 5's
2 10's

This should allow you to make the proper change for enough transactions to start building up more 1's, 5's and 10's on your own. On that topic

2) Price everything in whole dollar amounts Unless you've got little collectibles and you've got rolls of quarters to give change, having items that are $1 and up in whole dollar amounts typically saves you a world of pain.

3) Bring an assistant/helper Like any good shopkeep, it's good to have some backup. Especially with the logistics of running said shop for the entirety of swap meet (until 12 AM and 1 AM respectively on Thursday and Friday), as meals will most likely be involved, and a number of bathroom breaks. Swap meet attendees and fellow sellers are awesome people and in a pinch no doubt you could get a neighbor to babysit your spot for you, but having designated help that you've brought along is ideal.

Buyer Tips

1) Don't bring bills larger than $20 - On the "change" topic, using 20's helps the sellers out tremendously, as they won't have to worry about breaking a $100 bill for the $5 plush you just bought.

2) Ask if the seller is willing to negotiate before you start haggling One element that some buyers (and sellers) enjoy is the process of "haggling", or negotiating a fair price on an item. That being said, it's not for everyone, so please do not assume that the seller is interested in negotiations. Ask first if they are willing to move on the price, and take the conversation from there. Too often I've overheard someone claim an item and offer $10 below asking without saying a single word beforehand. On this same topic, please do not get upset or take offense if the seller doesn't accept your offer.

3) Explore and take your time! Swap meet might not be as big as the dealers hall, but the variety of goods is definitely there. There are often gems buried under piles of manga, or tucked away behind boxes. Be diligent in your search for that special item, and have fun!

I'm interested in hearing from others as well so please share your tips/tricks here.

I'm honored to be working for swap meet this year and I'm looking forward to another fun year! See you all next week!
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Kyra_Maverick

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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 07:42:16 AM »

Selling Tip - Make sure your items are clearly priced. If you're sharing a space it helps with any confusion and having to wait for someone else to answer a simple question, and it gives your potential buyers an idea on where you stand on pricing.

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Anon

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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2015, 01:58:49 PM »

Seller tips:

If you've got a lot of stuff to sell, practice laying it all out at home. Measure out your space, mark it on the floor and set up how you plan display stuff. This may sound stupid or a waste of time, but presentation is key to bring people in to look at your wares! If you've got a nice thought out display, people will see that you care and treat your items respectfully, and this can help with sales. If you just dump over your bag/box/bin of stuff on the ground with no mind to set up, you may not have enough eyes to even look your way to see what you've even got to sell. Because, really, would you rather buy used stuff from somebody that keeps stuff clean and orderly, or somebody who picked up a random grab of stuff off the floor in their room?

post-it notes or a notepad with easy to detach paper to hand off to people in case they make an offer or want to come back later to redeem a bid or special offer/price you told them for items you were going to sell is a good idea as well.

Most everybody has a smartphone nowadays. Most responsible adults have credit cards and/or PayPal accounts. Consider taking PayPal for payments, and/or requesting a card reader from PayPal so that you can accept credit cards. The fee they take out is nearly negligible when selling large ticket items such as figures.

Large inventory of stuff, lots of things to keep track of? Print up a list of what you've got and cross off as the night goes on.

Sitting on the floor sucks. Bring a chair of some sort or something you can turn into a makeshift chair, something that's easy to sit and stand up from. You'll be getting up from it a lot.

Lay out everything in a way that you can see everything, yet if you need to get up and out of your spot, you're not hopping over any of your stuff. Worse case scenario, somebody tries to snatch something from you, HOPEFULLY you won't need to give chase but if you've got somebody with you, you can either send them to get help or go yourself. Never really an issue in all the years I've been selling, but you should always expect and plan for the worst.

Collectors/Resellers: First of all, I sympathize with you, but at the swap meet you're going to see a lot of unhappy/unfriendly faces. If you've got a lot of mint NIB figures/games/comics/whatever, and are organized well, realize there's going to be haters that will accuse you of being a dealer. My only suggestion is to price fairly, check your prices against eBay/Amazon/online retailers and price accordingly.

Also, you're not the only person who does this, so don't be offended when you come across a "smart" shopper that tries to make you look bad by saying x is overpriced, and in a very loud, extravagant way as if announcing to the whole room. Unless you've blindly thrown a price on something way above market (again, check those online stores for prices), they may just be doing what you've already done - buy low, sell high.

If I can think of more I'll post again
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 02:20:09 PM by Anon »
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2015, 03:01:21 PM »

All of these tips cover most of the important points, but I'll add something that probably won't be considered by most sellers that happened to me in my first swap meet.

I was selling several used cosplays, and one of my more expensive props caught the immediate attention of one of the other sellers and he offered to buy it before the doors even opened to the public (before I even put a price on it - he was apparently going to each seller and scouting stuff out before it was available to everyone). I found out he resold it that night for probably double what I asked for it (which I set that price because I was hoping to give a fellow cosplayer a good deal and an affordable cosplay). While he's perfectly within his rights to do this because it became his property at the time of purchase, I was a little disheartened to see another cosplayer pay much more for it from him. So from this experience, if you are like me and want to sell to actual buyers rather than resellers, my tip is to be wary of people wanting to buy from you before the doors open. They could be legitimate buyers, of course, but if they're going and buying up all the best deals ahead of the public, they could also just be buying to resell at higher prices.
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2015, 05:06:04 PM »

20 1's
4 5's
2 10's

I suggest dropping the 2 tens in favour of 4 fives, it's a lot more versatile for only two extra bills in your float.

With regards to reselling and pricing: If the item is valuable and you want to get good money for it, price it high. If it's something that's just taking up space and you want to  get rid of price it to go and be relieved it's out of your life.

Paypal does the e-payments thing, so does Square. I know you can buy square at retail stores for $10 and get a credit with it in, which is an option this close to Fanime.

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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 06:56:19 PM »

Seller tips:

Most everybody has a smartphone nowadays. Most responsible adults have credit cards and/or PayPal accounts. Consider taking PayPal for payments, and/or requesting a card reader from PayPal so that you can accept credit cards. The fee they take out is nearly negligible when selling large ticket items such as figures.

Another good option is the Square Cash app.  :D
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2015, 12:42:06 AM »

I have a question and then some suggestions. My question is: How much do people usually sell manga for? This is going to be my first Swap Meet, so Im trying to gauge what to sell them for. I have over 200 books, but Im bringing only about 40 or so. Three being complete series.

Selling Suggestion:
Buy a small sign for basic and small items amounts, so that you don't have to label everything!
I bought two chalkboard signs at Michael's today for $12.99. That price being then dropped with the 60% sale they were having on them and then another 20% off my entire purchase including sale items. This sale has been going on for weeks. I plan to write down the price for smaller items like CDs, manga, DVDs.. Its easier than putting a little tag on everything or having to remember what your prices are if you have a bad memory like me.
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2015, 05:09:29 AM »

I have a question and then some suggestions. My question is: How much do people usually sell manga for? This is going to be my first Swap Meet, so Im trying to gauge what to sell them for. I have over 200 books, but Im bringing only about 40 or so. Three being complete series.

The main factor for pricing is typically the condition. Mint condition used manga you might be able to get $7-8/book, especially for a collection of books in sequence. However, most of the more successful manga sales I've seen at swap meet had their books priced at $5-6/book.

Manga is probably one of the most sold items at swap meet, so you will have a lot of competition on pricing. Just something else to keep in mind.  :D
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2015, 09:19:14 AM »

Buy a small sign for basic and small items amounts, so that you don't have to label everything!

I basically did this last year, and although I printed signs on heavy paper rather than use a chalk board, I had the prices sitting literally on top of the manga.  That still didn't stop people from asking how much they were.  Having worked in retail, that didn't really surprise me, though.

Seconding (or third'ing?) both the post-it notes for individual prices and the use of either PayPal or Square card readers.  I've been pricing my stuff with small post-its for years, and it's been working out very well.  Most people, manga buyers aside, can easily see about how much I'm expecting for each item without asking, and I can keep track myself of what I think everything is worth without having to memorize all the prices or refer to a printed spreadsheet.  And for PayPal and Square, keep in mind you'll have to rely on your data plan, as they don't usually offer access to any wifi at the con.  And while you might have to pay $15 or $9.99 respectively if you pick up the device at a store, they've been offering a credit for the same amount to your account once you activate the device.  That may not be true forever (though I doubt they'll end that promotion any time soon,) so keep that in mind.

And finally, remember that San Jose participates in the plastic bag ban/minimum 10-cent reusable bag ordinance.  The last two years, that's applied to swap meet as well.
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 01:40:53 PM »

Is it bad if we cant get square or have our paypal set up to work at fanime? This is my first meet so im not sure what everyone else really does.

Also, whats this 10 cents bag thing?
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2015, 02:01:32 PM »

Is it bad if we cant get square or have our paypal set up to work at fanime? This is my first meet so im not sure what everyone else really does.

Also, whats this 10 cents bag thing?

Setting up square is pretty easy. You can buy the square reader at most electronics stores (Best Buy, etc) and they basically reimburse you for the cost of the reader. After that, you just put in your bank routing number and account number and you're pretty much golden.

As I mentioned earlier, the Square Cash app is also another alternative that doesn't require a card reader as long as both parties have the app. From what I've seen the transfer is immediate as well, which isn't the case with Square. It has a set deposit schedule and if I recall correctly last year I found out that the timing of the deposits meant that people using square on Thursday night wouldn't see their money until after the convention was over.

If you choose not to use either, that's fine. I think the general idea though is that more people will probably expect swap meet sellers to accept credit/debit cards through one of these methods.

Regarding the $.10/bag thing - a law was recently passed that restricts grocery stores from using plastic bags "for free". Essentially if you choose plastic, you pay $.10/bag. Of course, if you bring your own bag you don't have to pay anything which is why a lot of stores offer reusable bags in the checkout aisle.

That being said, I don't think it applies to occasional sellers like the swap meet. Most plastic bags that are brought to swap meet are being recycled by the sellers, and so I don't believe they are subject to the same fee. It's mainly imposed on larger chains as a means of reducing the amount of new plastic bags going out into the environment.
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2015, 11:22:32 AM »

I don't think it applies to occasional sellers like the swap meet. Most plastic bags that are brought to swap meet are being recycled by the sellers, and so I don't believe they are subject to the same fee. It's mainly imposed on larger chains as a means of reducing the amount of new plastic bags going out into the environment.

Just checked directly with the city of San Jose and got a response from the Watershed Protection Division.  Their reply:

The City’s Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance does apply to flea markets, swap meets, farmers’ markets, conventions, etc.  The only exceptions are public eating establishments (90% revenue from sale of prepared food) and non-profit charitable reusers.

The ordinance bans single-use plastic bags and requires recycled paper bags be sold for a minimum charge of 10 cents (there are additional labeling requirements for paper bags).  Reusable bags (with handles) from:
1.      Cloth or other machine washable fabric; OR
2.      Durable plastic at least 2.25 mil thick, specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse are allowed by the ordinance and there is no required minimum charge (the minimum charge only applies to paper bags).

Protective bags (paper or plastic) that do not have handles and are used for the following purposes:
(1) to transport produce, prepared food, bulk food or meat from a produce, deli, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale;
(2) to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or
(3) to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a Reusable Bag or Recycled Paper Bag
are also allowed by the ordinance.


If any staff needs to see the email in its entirety, please PM me and I can forward it to you.
Not trying to make things more difficult for staff or sellers - believe me, I wound up bringing in a ton of plastic bags to be recycled that I was intending to give out at swap meet back in 2012.  Nowhere in my initial email did I mention Fanime; I kept it vague and generic.

I'm not actually expecting San Jose's Weights and Measures to come in and check for this at swap meet.  Claiming ignorance won't always work in getting you out of paying a fine, and I think staff should be aware of all pertinent city laws and ordinances, not just noise restrictions or maximum occupancies.
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2015, 08:23:49 PM »

I don't think it applies to occasional sellers like the swap meet. Most plastic bags that are brought to swap meet are being recycled by the sellers, and so I don't believe they are subject to the same fee. It's mainly imposed on larger chains as a means of reducing the amount of new plastic bags going out into the environment.

Just checked directly with the city of San Jose and got a response from the Watershed Protection Division.  Their reply:

The City’s Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance does apply to flea markets, swap meets, farmers’ markets, conventions, etc.  The only exceptions are public eating establishments (90% revenue from sale of prepared food) and non-profit charitable reusers.

The ordinance bans single-use plastic bags and requires recycled paper bags be sold for a minimum charge of 10 cents (there are additional labeling requirements for paper bags).  Reusable bags (with handles) from:
1.      Cloth or other machine washable fabric; OR
2.      Durable plastic at least 2.25 mil thick, specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse are allowed by the ordinance and there is no required minimum charge (the minimum charge only applies to paper bags).

Protective bags (paper or plastic) that do not have handles and are used for the following purposes:
(1) to transport produce, prepared food, bulk food or meat from a produce, deli, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale;
(2) to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or
(3) to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a Reusable Bag or Recycled Paper Bag
are also allowed by the ordinance.


If any staff needs to see the email in its entirety, please PM me and I can forward it to you.
Not trying to make things more difficult for staff or sellers - believe me, I wound up bringing in a ton of plastic bags to be recycled that I was intending to give out at swap meet back in 2012.  Nowhere in my initial email did I mention Fanime; I kept it vague and generic.

I'm not actually expecting San Jose's Weights and Measures to come in and check for this at swap meet.  Claiming ignorance won't always work in getting you out of paying a fine, and I think staff should be aware of all pertinent city laws and ordinances, not just noise restrictions or maximum occupancies.

Great well thanks for the follow up! Guess we'll have to keep an eye out for that... >_<
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2015, 09:48:21 PM »

Great well thanks for the follow up! Guess we'll have to keep an eye out for that... >_<

What I did last year when I offered recyclable paper bags to buyers is explain that I'm legally required to charge a dime for the bag... but I'll discount one of the items by 10-cents.

Skirting the ordinance?  Dunno, maybe.  I did specify I was charging for the bag, though, and the people buying from me genuinely seemed to appreciate the "discount" I was giving them.

I work across two Bay Area counties that have different minimum charges for those fees and I am the one responsible for making sure our system rings them up at the correct amount.  To my knowledge, no city has made the effort to check if we're actually charging customers or not.

Quick!  Everyone - knock on something wood right now!
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2015, 10:42:05 AM »

The line last year scared me away... which is a bummer.  I hope it isn't as insane this year. 
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2015, 10:51:09 AM »

All of these are really good tips!! Here are a couple more that I can think of:

Know the lowest price you'll realistically take - This sounds a little obvious, but at a previous swap meet I had a buyer negotiating with me and ended up selling a virtually new figure (I bought it and changed my mind) for less than the price I paid for it initially, oops! Since then I've made a list with all the items I'm selling, a list price, and the lowest amount I'd take for each one (It also doubles as a packing list which is really helping me make sure I'm bringing everything!)

Bring something to put between the floor and your items (and you)! - I was talking with one of my friends who had been selling the year artist alley was in South Hall and she mentioned things tend to be somewhat dirty/uncomfortable and recommended bringing a tarp or blanket to cover my space.

To answer the manga question, in the past I've priced mine roughly around half the cover price, and, again, depending on condition, generally go +/- $2 from there.

Also I have yet to use the PayPal reader but it took literally one day for it to arrive in the mail after ordering it online (although I know the tension of waiting for items to come in the mail before a con!)

Hopefully since South Hall is more spacious there'll be less of a line problem (since a lot of last year's line was due to Civic Auditorium being at capacity iirc?) but anything can happen.

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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2015, 12:46:07 PM »

The line last year scared me away... which is a bummer.  I hope it isn't as insane this year.

swap meet should be in big Blue tent th is year which shouldn't cause as big of a line as last year but I could be wrong
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 05:00:50 PM by OtakuAngel87 »
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2015, 05:44:11 PM »


swap meet should be in big Blue tent th is year which shouldn't cause as big of a line as last year but I could be wrong

Oh cool... yeah, that place is HUGE.  I guess I will need to get in line earlier... :\
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2015, 01:41:04 PM »

I know this is a big important issue to add but apparently I accepted card transactions from a few people except ONE which is NICOLE J LAM. I sold nintendo figure to her and now a few months later shes asking a charge back! and today i am still fighting against it!

I STRONGLY URGE PEOPLE NOT TO DO CARD TRANSACTIONS WHATSOEVER (Paypal here / Square) despite i have alot of proof that she was there!

just wanted to add a note that Card transactions are great substitute to sell but there are times where they can BACK stab you so I wouldn't Rely on it 100%
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Re: Swap Meet - Best Practices
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2016, 01:17:40 PM »

Hello everyone! Even though I'm not on staff this year (Sorry Zelyhon) - I thought I'd make sure this had good visibility before swap meet this evening, as well as bring up another important point:

For those of you who utilize Square or other digital point of sale systems, do keep in mind the deposit schedule. Chances are any income you make on Thursday or Friday night WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE TO YOU during the convention. Since it's a holiday weekend, you will likely see that money deposited on the following Tuesday.

Just something to keep in mind. Accepting cards is a great way to broaden your customer base, but don't have false expectations of being able to access it over the course of the weekend.

I hope you all have a great swap meet! Find some great deals and have fun!
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