Thursday, April 8, 2010
My Life With Comic Books: Part # 77
Cast of Characters:
Paul: age 36
Mal: my wife
My son, Adam, age 12
My daughter, Cassy, age 7
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP - Part 77
Although comic books were my primary interest when I first opened “That’s Entertainment,” I learned to appreciate many other fields of collectibles including records, trading cards, toys, movies, model kits, and more. I enjoyed reading price guides and books about collectibles and I found that this new information enabled me to profit from a wider array of materials.
In the 1970’s and early 1980’s I only specialized in comic books so when I’d travel to the large flea markets in Brimfield, Massachusetts, I’d be able to browse through the thousands of dealer’s booths in a short time. As I learned about more collectibles, these trips took longer but I was able to make more money because I was now able to sell almost anything in my store. On one such trip to Brimfield, I was disappointed in the selection of old comic books but as I was leaving I found a booth that specialized in glassware. This dealer also had recently bought a bunch of old model kits (still sealed) based on the television show of “The Flintstones.” These were model kits that became large battery operated Flintstones vehicles when they were assembled. It was at the end of the day and he offered these to me for ten dollars each. I bought all that he had and sold them very quickly at my store for $150.00 each.
On a vacation to Cape Cod with my family we discovered an old junk-antique store and we all enjoyed digging around for potential “treasures.” While Adam and Cassy enjoyed old toys, Mal looked at jewelry and furniture, and I looked through a pile of old record albums. An album by a group from the 1950’s called “The Five Keys” struck me as something that I’d seen pictured in a record album price guide. I couldn’t recall what was “special” about this particular record album but I figured that if it was unique enough for the price guide publisher to include in the full-color section, I should take a chance on it. Besides, it was only one dollar. When I got back to my store I looked in the record price guide and discovered that the record album had been pulled off of the market because the front cover photograph seemed to be lewd. It wasn’t, but at a glance, it looked as if it was. I sold this to a serious record collector for one hundred dollars and he was thrilled because this was “valued” at over three hundred dollars.
At the same antique store I found some hardcover children’s books from the 1950’s priced at five dollars each that featured beautiful, full color illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish. I had a hunch that some fan of these great artists would buy these books for at least thirty dollars each. I was right.
In October of 1991 my family went on a vacation with my good friend, Allan Traylor, and his wife Pascal and their children. We rented a cottage in Maine and because of the cold weather we spent most of the time trying to watch the televised Clarence Thomas hearings on a television that had poor reception. The kids all played together while we listened in amazement. Later, since my son Adam was old enough to “baby-sit” the other kids, the adults had a chance to go out and explore the area at our leisure. We ended up at an old country general store full of vintage and antique stuff. I didn’t see much that I was interested in buying to resell in my store except for some old products on a shelf near the ceiling that had a large sign that said, “Not for sale” on it. I brazenly asked the shop owner if I could buy some of these items and he explained to me that these were just for display and they weren’t for sale. He also told me that these items were very collectible. I don’t remember what I replied to him but I know that within a few minutes he allowed me to actually buy three or four of the old, empty cereal boxes that were “not for sale!” He charged me two dollars each! The “Corn Flakes” and the “Rice Krispies” cereal boxes were from the 1930’s or 40’s but my favorite was the “Sir Grape Fellow” cereal box from the early 1970’s. This was only sold for a very short time in the early 1970’s and it’s quite rare to find an example of this cereal box. I sold this box for $175.00 within a few weeks. It took me a few years to sell the other boxes but I had decided many years ago that I’m not in a hurry. I can wait until the right collector comes along.
Next chapter: Two cool customers.
Picture: a box of Sir Grapefellow cereal