View Full Version : Dealer ($calper) Stores are Closing!

11-05-2001, 05:29 AM
How is it by you guys? I didn't know what topic to put this under, but I "just found" this out.

The last of the independent dealers in my town (San Diego) has gone out of business. There used to be 3, including StarForce, the Star Wars only store.

They just couldn't keep up with the new stuff, and even so, it just wasn't enough. Typically, the stores used to pay $10+ for new figures, Hot Wheels, and anything else that is hot. Star Wars figures like Shmi Skywalker would get marked up to $18.

Now there will be less of that going on in my town.

How is it by you?

11-05-2001, 07:50 AM
What sets this shop apart from comic shops that do the same markups? I was at two comic shops yesterday. X wing Luke, DSE Han and EW Vader were $8 at one shop, and the sandtrooper was $14 or $18.

BTW, is the sandtrooper rare? I was fortunate enough to find one in the stores but no more.

11-05-2001, 11:01 AM
Comic Book shops, by literal name, sell comics.

Several of our local dealer stores did, but not in quantities of a regular comic retail supplier. Those stores are still operating, as COMICS are their main business, scalping is on the side.

The best spot in town here, had an all-toy dealer, and a comic book shop (which by agreement) did not do toys, and it was all in the same lot. A great place for fans to congregate.

The toy shop, was also the best (smartest) dealer, as the owner - a friend - kept things going with HotWheels, GI Joe, Transformers, and plenty of 70's, 80's toys like vintage Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and rarities like Micronauts. He had a wide variety of Indiana Jones action figures, loose and carded.

Finally, he decided he did more on E-bay, and was only breaking even paying rent. However, I don't know what he will do for a supply not that he is out of a storefront. By virtue of being there, HotWheels scalpers and others brought him new releases (especially Star Wars) and others sold their vintage Transformers etc. because he had a storefront.

But the market could no longer support him, after 6 years almost.

People are not eager to rush out and pay those prices. I myself only bought vintage, and the occasional loose POTF2 stuff he sold at discount (I got about 4-5 Ishi Tibbs to "Tatooine customize" there by buying loose from collections he'd buy out).

But I kept new merchandize in the collector circle to which I subscribe. We (those of us that do not scalp, but do buy religiously, some for dioramas) have a network here that likely kept a lot of merchandize from falling into the secondary market.

But we've been doing that for years, and it wouldn't be the reason these stores didn't survive.

I brought it up, as it is another piece of news that affects our hobby. Dealer trends do show the health of our 'collector thing' as it indicates whether it is generating previous levels of interest and money.

What do you think this news means?

11-05-2001, 11:25 AM
Other than a big name chain store, there are no stores like that in my area. I've never encountered a shop like that.

The comic shops have dedicated sections for toys, varying in size. Of the comic shops in my area, there is only one that comes to mind that doesn't have space -- or much space -- for action figures, models, etc... It does carry one of the area's largest D&D selections.

There is one shop I frequent, but not often, where 75 percent of the contents are toys, and the remaining percentage is comics. The only reason I don't go there more often is that their comics are always a month behind the other shops.

Let's have it, the toy world is changing. What's hot today or yesterday may not be popular after Christmas. Look at Target. There are seven Targets in my area and I know at least three of them are not stocking SW merchandise right now. What figures they had were clearanced out. Two of the stores do not have shelf space for the newly released 12" Luke and speeder bike.

Will they restock in time for Ep. 2? I don't know. Most companies that signed on for Ep. 1 lost their pants, and only time will tell if they will be aboard in May. Thank God for TRU!!

Mandalorian Candidat
11-05-2001, 11:32 AM
I don't know if it still exists, but there was one in Long Beach, CA called Amazing Comics and Cards. Their figure prices were always higher than the retail stores, but somehow the owner/manager always had red-cards, SOTE, and other HTF stuff in the store. Many times his prices were less than on ebay and was the best deal around. He would even take your name and number down and call you if he found a figure you wanted. It seems to me that place was always jumping, so I would find it hard to believe that he would go out of business.

11-06-2001, 10:10 AM
OC47150, in my opinion, the difference between scalper scum shops and legitimate dealer shops (this includes Comic stores, since I've seen them fit into both of the following criteria) is that legit dealer shops order product from Hasbro or Diamond/Previews (the independant comic/hobby reseller company) and simply turn around and sell the toys they received from official sources, while the scalper scum shops are those guys who just bribe Target employees or send their grandfathers out to hang out in the toy section all day and buy ALL of a hot toy from a regular retailer in an effort to force the aftermarket price to go up.

Now, I've seen legit shops who still charge whatever they think they can get, over $20 for one $6 figure, and while I don't RESPECT those stores, I still regard them in a higher class than those clowns who simply remove product from retail stores. (these are the same clowns who, once their scheme to drive up prices has completed their cycle, return these same figures to Targets and TRUs to get their money back).

My home town, Los Angeles, has two major shows dedicated to this sort of thing, one that's twice a week, every week, and another that's once a month. Both of these still do fine and a significant portion of the sellers there are in the "clown" class, so our big chain stores are even more barren than most towns.

11-06-2001, 10:25 AM
I agree with how JediTricks described the situation.

While I don't condone the dealer scum Tricks refers to as clowns, it is ridiculous for small shops to order from Hasbro.

From first hand knowledge I got from my former, local dealer shop (a 'clown' as Tricks would term him - but one who tried to order from a Hasbro account and be 'legit') - the small stores will only loose money due to Hasbro's rules about direct sales accounts.

You have to purchase $5000 from them (is it monthly or bi-monthly, I forget) to keep an account open with them.

Cases are sold to them at higher prices than what Walmart or TRU can get, as they probably buy 5 million worth of product (not just Star Wars) from Hasbro, monthly or bi-monthly (all stores included). So right off from the start, TRU can charge less per unit.

The dealer who bought the cases, will have to make a mark-up, and then some to keep in business (as his daily totals will be substantially less selling just collectibles - versus sales from board games and stuffed animals to videos). Remember, 2 of the "big 3" will sell you food and toilet paper to add in to their sales total (let alone change the oil in your car).

And finally, the legit dealer's toys will move slowly, as they are at least at a $12 per figure mark-up to make the smallest profit, and people do get smart and eventually shop at suggested "mass" retail prices to get their stuff at the lowest cost.

Last but not least, you have the pegwarmers, or the re-packs. To get R2 Leia Holo legitimately, how the heck could you afford to sell the figure for less than the case cost?

The final verdict: don't go into the dealer business. If you like the hobby, enjoy it as such. Don't try to make a living at it. You'll wreck something you love, as well as yourself over it.

11-06-2001, 10:29 AM
Actually, around here, Northwest Chicago Subarbs, we haven't had any type of store that only sold Action Figures and the such. The comic book stores sold POTF2 when they first came out, but none in this area have since around the time Episode 1 came out. Lot of scalpers though, we usually get one to two shows a month in this area, and they generally tend to be just the scalpers. (although at a recent one a few weeks ago I picked up a Motti and 2 ct stormtroopers for $10).

The only place you can get SW stuff around here is at the retail stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Etc.

I think the reason that stores generally don't mess with SW figs is because its too hard to deal with. One week a figure could be shipped one per case commanding a high price, the next week its flooded on every peg in Toys R us. Plus, I remember right around the time that the Tarkin fig came out, every comic book store that had SW were selling the new figs at $12-$15, but you could just go to the stores and pick those up, so the just sat on the shelves and collected dust in the comic book stores.

11-06-2001, 10:34 AM
Also, we too around here have somewhat of an organization in which we help each other out, and keep the product out of the hands of scalpers. About a dozen of us, each with our own extended contacts, we get the new stuff as it comes out, because the majority of us work at retail stores, and either trade it or sell it to each other for store price. One friend I have works at Target, and another works at Toy R Us. They got the new B-Wings and TIE Interceptors and distributed amongst us evenly.

Its good to point out here that if you are for the most part a serious collector, its good to go out and make friends in the toy aisles. It really helps in the long run and it helps keep you socially active.

11-06-2001, 10:43 AM
I guess my area is too much in the Outer Rim territories to have shops like that!

I quit buying figures at the flea market about two years ago. Beside, the regular dealers I'd bought from had quit coming to the monthly flea markets.

I haven't bought a figure that could be found in the stores from a comic shop, either. I have bought loose figures from them for customizing.

11-07-2001, 11:58 AM
I am glad to see that there were a few responses that sought to explain why some retailers charge considerably more for their toys than Wal-Mart or TRU. It should be a fairly obvious matter of economics, Joe's Comics can't buy Star Wars toys by the train car load like TRU, so therefore pays a higher price. I don't know the dynamics today, but up until about four or five years ago I worked for Diamond Comic Distributors when they had a local distribution center (before Marvel Comics nearly destroyed the industry), and at the time I used to actively counsil comic shops about what they were getting into if they bought toys through Diamond. For the most part, the retailers price per figure was roughly the same as the average retail price of the figures in toy and department stores. So esentially the comic retailer could not truly break even and compete price wise. This situation naturallly leads to gouging on the short-packed figures as no one would pay comic shop prices for "peg warmers".
As for the professional "scalpers", I can't see how these guys do better than breaking even. We have major toy shows in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area several times a year and the number of big scalpers has sharply dropped off. By "big" I mean the guys with multiple tables packed deep with the latest hot toys. And underneath their tables - the previous show's hot toys being blown out at less than the original store retail. I used to see a few of these guys at the local toy stores, scouring for stuff to scalp, but no longer. I guess the last of thier ilk are not locals, just attend the shows still. The best way to put an end to scalpers is not to patronize them at any price. And discourage others from doing so. I've seen the same thing happen with trading card, comic book, and now toy scalpers. Eventually they have to realize that there is not perpetual market in collectibles. It is ever changing, and highly unstable. The best thing to do is not encourage the idea that you can retire off of your collection.

11-07-2001, 12:36 PM
I've noticed that too. The one comic shop I used to buy older cards from is cutting back. There just isn't a market for them.

11-08-2001, 10:51 AM
I think for the most part, at least for now in SW collecting, scalpers are done for. Most of the new stuff coming out is readily available at Wal-Mart, TRU, etc. At a recent show I went to a few weeks ago, I noticed that most of the scalpers that I've seen since 95-96 and used to sell the new stuff at $20 a pop, now sell the new stuff between the $8-$10 range. It still is more than what it goes for at TRU, but at least its not extreme.

Its like someone said, you really can't hope to do better than break even when you try to do this professionally. I for the most part am glad that the scalpers in my area have all but disappeared. If there are a few older pieces I need, I just get them from ebay or something.

11-08-2001, 11:29 AM
My buddies and I try to hit the big flea markets in our area. The big shows are New Year's Day and Labor Day. We didn't make this year's Labor Day show but we noticed at the New Year's show that there were fewer and fewer toy dealers in general. There were the perrenial vendors -- I can think of four right off the top of my head -- but some of the old standards haven't made an appearance at all or have switched from SW to something else, like Hot Wheels.

Heck, there were even fewer Beanie Baby vendors, which is a blessing!!!