Trading Up, Trading Down

I know this guy I deal comics regularly with who is a real whiz at taking a big book I sell him and turning it into several smaller books that add up to way more than the value of the book I sold him. What he’s doing is trading down and he’s making a profit doing it and he’s done it quite often over the past two years.

I’ve never been good at trading up or trading down. I’ve tried it a bunch of times over the years but I never got really good at it. It is a tough game, a game of networking, patience and opportunism with a good dose of poker face negotiating thrown in. I did find it a bit easier to trade up because it usually meant I was giving up more value than I was getting but my philosophy there was that I was giving up a bunch of smaller, more replaceable pieces for one tough elusive piece. I’d get to where I think my limit was for the trade and then the guy would throw one more lesser book in just to ice the deal! Gah, then I’d justify that it’s a piece I won’t miss etc. etc. and I’d cave.

I’ve always found it even harder to trade down at a gain, which is probably why I’m so impressed with my buddy I mentioned at the beginning of this piece. I think the toughest part is the networking, getting the word out to the right circles that I have a big book I want to trade, I think my business keeps me from having the time to connect to these networks. My business is designed to allowed me to wait for people to come to me, it’s made me lazy. I think I’d do OK once I knew how to tap into these trader groups.

Trading up or down or even sideways for that matter is becoming more and more popular as the good books price themselves out for most of us. It’s a lot easier trading an X-Men #1 and a Fantastic Four #1 you already own but may not be partial to for an Amazing Fantasy #15 that you don’t own but really want. Of course, all my examples don’t have to be books this big, this could work for a Doctor Strange #169 and a Hulk #102 and a Nick Fury #1 being traded for an Iron Man #1 or vice versa.

It’s hard to trade at a con to a dealer, you are almost always trading down when you trade with a dealer even if you are giving up the big book. I think it’s best that this type of trading happens from collector to collector.

So what would you rather have, one $10,000 book or twenty $500 books or one hundred $100 books? That obviously depends on a lot of stuff like what you collect, what your liquidity needs are, what your risk tolerance is in terms of how many egg baskets you want your risk spread over and so on.

I do want to be a more active trader going forward, I guess I’ll have to start familiarizing myself with that part of the marketplace.

Do you trade up? Do you trade down? What are the best places to do this? Facebook? The CGC Boards? Other sites or clubs?

Speaking of clubs, we clobbered our weekly internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auctions last night, we had some strong results including this nice CGC 4.0 copy of Amazing Spider-Man #14 featuring the first appearance of the Green Goblin, the book sold for $2900 USD breaking the old July mark easily. Early Spidey, major first appearance of a top 5 Spidey villain says advantage buyer all the way.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Gary, that is an interesting idea. I do know a lot of people putting money into comics that don’t know much about them. Acting as an agent at least for one of the parties could offer some protections to them.

  2. Hey Walt
    I actually think I’m something of a lateral trader. A while back (okay, decades ago, off the shelf, new), I bought Fantasy Masterpieces #2 with the reprint of Fin Fang Foom from Strange Tales #89. I immediately set my sights on the original, but, to satisfy my urge, I bought pretty much any pre-hero Marvel at two to ten bucks I could find (I can only imagine what they would be worth now in any shape). Years later, I traded them all to buy my Holy Grail Strange Tales #89, and was unbelievably thrilled, with not the least bit of trader’s remorse. Likewise, when I decided to seriously collect (yes, Scott, I know the definition) Canadian Golden Age comics, I, literally, sold my entire Golden Age collection to invest in Canada’s Golden Age. Again…no regrets, but I do see these as more lateral trades than up or down, and I am very happy with the outcome. That’s the real secret to navigating this hobby. What makes you happy? Figure that out and run with it, and you’ll never be disappointed! Am I right…or am I wrong?

  3. Well, signing in currently from Bordeaux, I can say I have had good trades and bad trades. When I was maybe 16, I had this old guy who was a member of the Colorado Springs Comic Club founded by Chuck Rozanski… who traded me three sets of Disney Wheaties giveaways, a Golden Age Superman, and Spiderman 5 with a small piece out of the corner for my FF 1, Hulk 1, and Sgt Fury 1. Always regretted that one! 20 years ago I traded Master Comics 8 and a very nice Crack Comics for Avengers 4 and Tales to Astonish 35. That was much better… even tho I did like that Master Comics!

  4. Gerald, I hope you are enjoying France, safe travels. And its good to see you have done some trades and obviously learning as you go.

    Good points Mel, its not always about value, those Canadian Whites are hard to value but you yourself know how hard they are to come by, and I love the way you traded up for that Strange Tales #89!

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