Train show preperation

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new guy

Active Member
The first Train show I will attend with money in my pocket and items for trade in my hands is SUNDAY!

ANY tips and or advice from those who have been to one of these before will be VERY welcome!

I have worked shows before but they were antique shows and not specific to any particular things!

Wondering HOW different it may be from a 'regular' show and how to conduct(LOL!) myself with this particular 'breed' of seller.

I've only met one 'seller' in this field and HE don't act like the kind of seller I'm used to! Don't know if it was ME or the color of my money but I can't get the guys number in order to GIVE HIM MORE MONEY! Some people are weird! I don't know if he thinks he ripped me off and I am MAD about what I bought! I'M NOT MAD I'M very happy with the stuff and wanted MORE! I KNOW he's got it cause I SAW it! I dunno, I'll find somebody who wants to increase their income by at least 50 dollars a month CONSISTENTLY!!!
 

Motley

Active Member
Ya why even bother with the guy, if he doesn't have time to sell you stuff, don't ever buy anything from him again. Plenty of other people to buy from.

Did you try ebay? Geeeezus, I find good deals on there all the time. Don't even have to go to shows, don't even have to leave the house for that matter. LOL

As for the train shows. A few years ago I went to the Greatest Hobby on Earth in Denver. It was crazy. Some wack job weirdos (too much time in mom's basement), shoved me out of the way when I waiting in line. I almost lost it and went after him. The layouts displays were great. But the buying booths sucked. No deals to be found. Same or higher prices than my local hobby shop.

But after whole fiasco in line, I was already in a bad mood, so I left early.
 

new guy

Active Member
Ya why even bother with the guy, if he doesn't have time to sell you stuff, don't ever buy anything from him again. Plenty of other people to buy from.

Did you try ebay? Geeeezus, I find good deals on there all the time. Don't even have to go to shows, don't even have to leave the house for that matter. LOL

As for the train shows. A few years ago I went to the Greatest Hobby on Earth in Denver. It was crazy. Some wack job weirdos (too much time in mom's basement), shoved me out of the way when I waiting in line. I almost lost it and went after him. The layouts displays were great. But the buying booths sucked. No deals to be found. Same or higher prices than my local hobby shop.

But after whole fiasco in line, I was already in a bad mood, so I left early.
I HOPE nothing like THAT happens! I'da wound up talking to law enforcement and somebody would have gotten a tour of the local ER! I pray every day nobody 'trips my trigger'! I don't want to HURT nobody unless they really ASK for it!

PLUS! I don't want to have to take the WHUPPIN I'll get while trying to explain to "My Master" what happened to my 'inner peace'! LOL!

I'm going to check out the guys booth at the show and see what is up but I'm not going to BEG anybody to take my money, I do this for the JOY! I understand the need to turn a profit and it's ok by me, I'll even 'over pay' a little 'just because I can' (if I can) at the moment to give THEM a thrill and because I'm happy with the deal! But there WAS a thing called 'customer service' and another known as a 'sales base' when I was a lad that seems to be missing here! I do NOT do crowds well so I'm going to try to get in early and get out as quickly as I can! E-bay might as well be on Mars for all I care! I got ripped off years ago and never looked back, it was only 14 dollars so it was a cheap lesson compared to the many horror stories I've heard on here and other places!
 

Beady

Well-Known Member
NG, I've decided not to go to the show after all. No money. Got plenty of trading/selling stock, but I'd look like a backpacker, wandering around. Think I'll look for a table to rent at one of the smaller shows.

Oh crap!
 
Most of the shows I've attended have had 80% of vendors selling at-or-above retail. Those are the ones with New / NOS items, nice well organized booths. etc. Not sure what the dynamic is to allow that, but oh well.

The other 20% are what I go for and where you find the deals - mostly by digging through boxes of stuff, etc. Walk past the guys selling Lionel box-sets, Thomas-the-Tank stuff, etc. Find a booth that's a little more grubby, with assorted used stuff, boxes stuffed under the tabletops, etc. That is a good sign.

Biggest piece of advice: bargain. Assemble a tray/box of stuff you want, and offer a price for the lot... I usually go maybe 40% off the total ask, and am happy if I negotiate to 25-30% off (assuming prices are reasonable to start with).

If prices aren't reasonable to start with... Just walk away. You're never going to get it down to a reasonable level. If they won't bargain, walk away. Basically... you have to be ready to walk away. As soon as you 'have to have' something and won't walk away, you'll overpay.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
As for the train shows. A few years ago I went to the Greatest Hobby on Earth in Denver. It was crazy. Some wack job weirdos (too much time in mom's basement), shoved me out of the way when I waiting in line. I almost lost it and went after him. The layouts displays were great. But the buying booths sucked. No deals to be found. Same or higher prices than my local hobby shop.
The Rocky Mountain Train Show (Merchandise Mart), and Boulder Model Railroad Club show (Longmont Convention Center) have replaced the Great Train Expo as the "good" shows in the Denver area. Unfortunately the this year they are both on the same day. You have to hunt through all the junk dealer, road show dealers, and local hobby store stuff to find them but there always seems to be 2-3 estate type sales that have really good prices. Of course here on the front range we just missed the estate sale of the decade last month. A friend of mine hauled off 3 Ford Explorers full of Woodland scenics supplies and unbuilt structure kits for about $10 an apple box full. He spent less than $300 for it all. One $10 box was full of Piester figures. I missed it. sigh.

To the topic of the thread. To do well at a train show one needs to know the normal prices of things, so a good deal can be quickly and easily recognized. Look through the whole show really quickly to weed out the normal hobby store price stuff, then go back to the other booths and to through them with a fine tooth comb looking for the deals. It also helps to have a list so one doesn't get side tracked on the good deals and miss the "needed" items. Finally, the best deals are at the end of the last day when vendors are looking to make a final profit or to get rid of the last batch of stuff. It is a good time to walk up to the private sellers and say, "how much for everything left"?
 
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new guy

Active Member
I have some experience with these types of people, I yousta sell antiques at shows just like this. I'm bringing a few things that I do not need and got 'cheap'. I already know what I want for them, a 34 dollar reversing unit SHOULD get me a 20 dollar utp panel in a 1 to 1 trade. The Amtrack set I'll 'dump' on dealer guy for some more flex, turnouts and those dollar door stop boxcars he has been kicking around his garage, as many as HE sees fit, I'll put it on HIM to pony up how ever many he thinks is fair! ( I don't care how many cars or how much flex, he is a GOOD friend of a VERY GOOD friend of mine so this is a test to see what kind of reputation he wants to project, I really don't care, I got it all basically 'free' so it's on him.) The Brutus 10 amp transformer, I'll trade for a hundred metal wheels or any ten GOOD rollers. I don't think I'm being too outrageous in my expectations.
 
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jfb

Member
I go to train shows august to january mostly that's when I find most things I need. I would suggest that you scope out the show beforehand somehow and adjust your pricing for selling. I will after I am done building sell off my small amount leftover and I mean small amount of items. doing a constant turnover with good profit is better then selling nothing and losing money on rental spaces all of the time. I hear you though but that is the reality of swap meets. good luck these shows are where it is at. jfb
 

new guy

Active Member
NO NCE anything to be had in the entire place! Asking about UTP panels to extend my command bus got the "deer in the headlights" look from all but two people!

The guy with the sign that said "DCC spoken here" was lying. LOL!

It was a traveling exhibit of overpriced junk that will never sell at that price.
 

Motley

Active Member
Figured that much. You might have to give in and start buying on cough...cough... ebay. Horror stories you hear? I've been on ebay buying and selling computer parts, trains, all kinds of stuff for 12 years now and never ever had a problem. I don't even see the "horror story" posts you are referring to on this site?
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
Unfortunately, there are no train shows or swap meet in my area, I have attended a couple while visiting some model railroad friends in Missouri. I had some mixed feelings about the shows. There were a lot of vendors selling items, at full retail price for the most part, but I did see some items slightly discounted. I also saw some individuals trying to sell items that for the most part were junk similar to things I threw out decades ago, but there were some deals to be found.

One fellow sold me a brand new Kadee covered hopper for $22. This was at the very end of the show and I guess he didn't want to take it home. He did have some other items that he deeply discounted but they were way too modern for the transition era which I model. I did run across a few other good deals, but again the items were too modern for me.

I am sure that it you take your time and look around carefully that you should be able to find some good deals.
 

new guy

Active Member
Figured that much. You might have to give in and start buying on cough...cough... ebay. Horror stories you hear? I've been on ebay buying and selling computer parts, trains, all kinds of stuff for 12 years now and never ever had a problem. I don't even see the "horror story" posts you are referring to on this site?
I'm glad you have had good luck with them.

You must have missed the ones about the guy that disassembled the item and then asked for a refund and the laptop that turned out to be from a school?
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
Apparently. Like I mentioned, I don't have a lot of experience with train shows or swap meets, but I did enjoy see some of the new products available and had a really good laugh at a few people trying to cash in on totally worthless items.

In general, I thought it was interesting and would attend one again if there were any around me.
 

new guy

Active Member
Apparently. Like I mentioned, I don't have a lot of experience with train shows or swap meets, but I did enjoy see some of the new products available and had a really good laugh at a few people trying to cash in on totally worthless items.

In general, I thought it was interesting and would attend one again if there were any around me.
Oh, I'll go again but was very disappointed at the lack of NCE products.

It would behoove them to put a table at some of the smaller shows to get their products out there. Some of the people I explain DCC to get MARS LIGHTS in their eyes when I tell em what you can do nowadays with MRR! LOL!
 

malletman

Alcohaulic
Plenty of shows in my area, will be going to one in Danville, Indiana this saturday. Wont have much spending money thanks to this past weekends purchases, but thats ok. I enjoy seeing old friends and most dealers I normaly buy from will hold an item for me till I have the funds saved up. Having helped a local dealer for years at the shows, and getting to know the other dealers has allowed me to build up that level of trust and friendship. Several also know I am autistic and of limited income, so they work with me, like the gentleman that holds back the basket case brass as he knows it will be within my means financialy, and that I enjoy rebuilding them. I also do not look for new product. But instead hunt for older craftsman kits from the late '50's thru the 70's, along with older brass, Ulrich diecast coal hoppers and semi trucks. New stuff, along with DCC, I just never got into. I did try it for awhile, I just prefer the old school way of enjoying my trains. Mike
 

OldGuyHO

Member
My advice is know what you want and what it's worth. I usually go for the layouts, the seminars and to see old friends. I rarely buy. If you buy from a table, you can't yell at the table when it doesn't work, 'cause the tables gone!! :)
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
NG,

I admit I haven't read all that has been posted so am not sure if this has already been said but, be careful what you buy and from whom. I have only been to one "show" and that (frankly) was enough for me. In the main, they are more Model Railway Yard Sales than anything with people trying to get rid of their junk.

Those who do have new stuff can be very "over priced" with very few people selling new DCC gear. The one "show" I went to, the regional NMRA Show apparently, had people there selling new DCC engines (not many) that were at least $50 above what the same engine could be bought for from Klein's.

Point is, what are called Shows (with the exception of the very big National Shows) are little more than Yard Sales and the majority of new gear is over priced and can be bought cheaper at places like Klein's.

With that being said, you can find some interesting, hard to find stuff though. Be prudent, be very discriminating and don't believe a thing that anyone tells you about used items, remember, they are there to rid themselves of the stuff.

My honest advice would be this: go to the show, leave your wallet (or the better part of it) at home and use your first show to get the feel of what they are really about. Better still, avoid small or regional "shows" and save your money to go to one of the BIG shows such as the one in Mass (I think) in January (again I think) next year. Can't recall the name of it but it is a National Show and is (apparently) a real show, not a yard sale.
 
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new guy

Active Member
NG,

I admit I haven't read all that has been posted so am not sure if this has already been said but, be careful what you buy and from whom. I have only been to one "show" and that (frankly) was enough for me. In the main, they are more Model Railway Yard Sales than anything with people trying to get rid of their junk.

Those who do have new stuff can be very "over priced" with very few people selling new DCC gear. The one "show" I went to, the regional NMRA Show apparently, had people there selling new DCC engines (not many) that were at least $50 above what the same engine could be bought for from Klein's.

Point is, what are called Shows (with the exception of the very big National Shows) are little more than Yard Sales and the majority of new gear is over priced and can be bought cheaper at places like Klein's.

With that being said, you can find some interesting, hard to find stuff though. Be prudent, be very discriminating and don't believe a thing that anyone tells you about used items, remember, they are there to rid themselves of the stuff.

My honest advice would be this: go to the show, leave your wallet (or the better part of it) at home and use your first show to get the feel of what they are really about. Better still, avoid small or regional "shows" and save your money to go to one of the BIG shows such as the one in Mass (I think) in January (again I think) next year. Can't recall the name of it but it is a National Show and is (apparently) a real show, not a yard sale.
You hit it square on! It was exactly like you describe! LOL! I did know one dealer, the guy I met last month, I got more flex off him and 'dumped' a couple things on him and will be getting some 'junk' in return! LOL! It WAS just like a yooge yard sale and they were asking TOO much for almost everything. If you wanted broken boxcars for 3 bucks each, that was THE place!
 

santafewillie

Well-Known Member
My experiences at the train shows that I have been to are definitely not negative. I live about 65 miles north of Dallas/Ft Worth and most of the shows there are sponsored by the same organization, "North Texas Council of Railroad Clubs". They thoroughly vet all vendors and many if not all of them have discounted prices in HO. Much of the stuff is new in the box. I am not familiar with pricing in other scales so I cannot comment on them. I have picked up many used items at very good prices. The sponsoring organization is an association of local hobby stores, local model railroading clubs and traveling vendors. They care about the visitor comfort and experience. They even discontinued the Ft Worth show and moved it to a different place because the city started charging for parking! There doesn't seem to be any "here today, gone tomorrow" vendors there.
My main interest is the local layout tours associated with these shows. You pick up a booklet with times, places and maps to local modelers that have their layouts open to the public. There are generally 30-35 layouts open in all scales, although hours and days vary. Like everything in Texas, they stretch for 75+ miles in every direction so seeing all of them is not possible. I've been visiting some of these layouts for over 20 years and it is always great to see the upgrades/extensions/additions that the owners have made. Many over the years have been works in progress, which is interesting to observe.
Willie
 

new guy

Active Member
My experiences at the train shows that I have been to are definitely not negative. I live about 65 miles north of Dallas/Ft Worth and most of the shows there are sponsored by the same organization, "North Texas Council of Railroad Clubs". They thoroughly vet all vendors and many if not all of them have discounted prices in HO. Much of the stuff is new in the box. I am not familiar with pricing in other scales so I cannot comment on them. I have picked up many used items at very good prices. The sponsoring organization is an association of local hobby stores, local model railroading clubs and traveling vendors. They care about the visitor comfort and experience. They even discontinued the Ft Worth show and moved it to a different place because the city started charging for parking! There doesn't seem to be any "here today, gone tomorrow" vendors there.
My main interest is the local layout tours associated with these shows. You pick up a booklet with times, places and maps to local modelers that have their layouts open to the public. There are generally 30-35 layouts open in all scales, although hours and days vary. Like everything in Texas, they stretch for 75+ miles in every direction so seeing all of them is not possible. I've been visiting some of these layouts for over 20 years and it is always great to see the upgrades/extensions/additions that the owners have made. Many over the years have been works in progress, which is interesting to observe.
Willie
NO FAIR! It's TEXAS! LOL!
 




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