On My Way to GenCon OR Thrifting: The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat
Jacob
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Gencon has become an annual tradition for me.

My first year there had two main highlights: placing as the 4 seed out of hundreds in the World Qualifiers Settlers tournament, and snagging 13 heroscape exclusive Sir Hawthorne pieces. Too bad I sold them at $30 apiece to pay for my trip since they now go around $100 each!! My one big game acquisition that year was El Grande Decennial version (Chinese printing unfortunately).

My second year I was ready to get even more Heroscape exclusive figs but apparently everyone and their mother had the same idea. The lines were outrageous. No more asking people if people be willing to go and get one for me... That presented a problem. I had paid for the trip (and my big game acquisition Tigris & Euphrates) via the evil credit card and now I had no way to pay it back except from savings. The wife was not too thrilled about that one.

So...how to get to Gencon this year without breaking the bank?? The answer: Thrifting!

Here is the tale in all it's gruesome splendor...
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1. Board Game Publisher: The Avalon Hill Game Co
Jacob
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My descent into thrifting began with a craigslist ad. A lady had 11 old Avalon Hill games for sale. I answered the ad only to discover that she had put the games in the local Peddlers Mall (mmmmm...Peddlers Mall).

There are 17+ Peddlers Malls in the Louisville area. Each one is approximately 50,000sq ft of thrifting goodness. Prices are slightly higher than yard sales, but there are lots of gems to be found.

Anyway, I rushed over to the PM in question and found all these wonderful games there in pristine condition. Over half of them were unpunched. They were all priced at $8.77 and I bought most of them. I left behind Luftwaffe, Enemy in Sight, Alexander the Great, and Battle of the Bulge. I should have snagged Enemy in Sight.

I didn't score any $100 games, but I did net about $90 profit from the affair.
 
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2. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:416] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Jacob
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I had been perusing the completed sales on ebay to get a sense of what games and game related items sold for the most and noticed that things made out of Bakelite were in high demand.

I didn't know how to identify Bakelite at the time but saw a chess set that looked old and plastic for $22.50 and bought it.

I got home, did some research, and basically still had no idea what I had. I took a bunch of (mostly bad) pictures and listed it on ebay. I advertised it as "Vintage Bakelite? Chess Set". As it turned out, I had a somewhat rare Gallant Knight chess set with 5" kings.

Selling Price: $244.00

I was doing backflips!!! Booya!!!

And then...about two hours later, my son broke my $200 digital camera. AARRRRRRRGH!
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3. Board Game: Mahjong [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:617]
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I had noticed that Mah Jongg sets were in high demand and had my eye out for one. In addition to the high selling price, Mah Jongg just flat out looks cool and I wanted to examine a vintage set more closely. My opportunity came from another Craigslist ad, this time in the Indianapolis area.

My family lives near Indianapolis which works out great for Gencon. I just stay with them and then my brothers and I drive in to Indy each day for the con. It's become a family tradition.

I called my brother and told him that I would front the $75 the lady wanted for the Mah Jongg set if he would go and pick it up for me. Then, after I sold it I would split the profit with him. He said sure and went and got it for me.

Once I got my hands on it I started doing some research and determined that it was a complete Bakelite and Catalin set made by Cardinal pre-1962. It wasn't enrobed (edges with a different color) or two-tone (back different color from the front), but at least it was complete! When I started looking at the current prices for sets like mine I got a little discouraged. It looked like it probably wouldn't sell for more than about $100. But as luck would have it...

Selling Price: $172.00

Sweet, I got my $75 back and my brother and I both made about $44 dollars after related ebay fees.
 
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4. Board Game: Lights Camera Action [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
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It was about this time that my camera came back fixed. It was still under warranty, but the warranty said it didn't cover drops. I filled out the forms and sent the thing in and I told the truth about what happened.

However, they apparently didn't care and didn't charge me a single thing for the repair.

Sweet!!!
 
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5. Board Game: All-Star Baseball [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:10433]
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Next I found a 1957 copy of Ethan Allen's All-Star Baseball.

The thing that is collectible in these puppies is the little cardboard discs that fit on a spinner. The disks represent the stats for each batter. Some years of this game will go for $200-$300 on ebay.

Selling Price: $100

Not bad for a game that cost me $10.
 
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6. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
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Emboldened by my thrifting success I became more daring in my purchases and did less research before a buy. I had seen some listings for clay poker chips that did very well netting $100 or more.

I found an antique store that had a few old vintage poker sets in the $20-$50 range.

I bought one for $30 thinking that it would sell for around $80 or so. When I got home and started taking pictures to list it I noticed that I had been fooled. The chips with the cool eagle on a rock design were on top and blank chips had been put underneath. I didn't have a complete set, just a mix of two different old sets.

Selling Price: $0.99

D'oh!
 
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7. Board Game: Camelot [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:4076]
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In the same store where I bought the poker chips I found this 1931 version of Camelot. However, the tag said it was a 1930 version. I called my brother to ask him to look up completed sales on ebay and he told me that the 1930 version of Camelot sold for around $100.

I snagged this copy for $30 even though the corners were in bad shape. The game was complete and the box top image looked good. The board was in fabulous condition.

Selling Price: Didn't Sell even though I started the listing at $0.99.

Grrrrrrrr! It's sitting behind me on the floor right now mocking me...
 
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8. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
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So yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment.

A few weeks later, at the same store, in the same booth, I discovered a new vintage clay poker set that I hadn't seen before.

This thing looked sweet! The chip caddy was heavy (maybe made of some kind of metal?) and painted a darkish red color. It had an image of a horse head in bas relief on both sides of the lid. Both halves of the lid slide on sideways in a unique way and join together to form a handle.

Each chip has a horse and riding jockey on both sides. The chips really are some of the coolest I have ever seen. All in all it's a great set. I bought it for $45.

This time I was NOT going to lose money. I listed it with a starting bid of $49.99

Selling Price: Did not sell...

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this. I might keep it since it looks so cool. However, I'm not really a horse fanatic. Maybe I'll list it in the next big Math Trade. Maybe I'll just try listing it again. Either way, I'm out $45 I could have spent at gencon.
 
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9. Board Game: NetResults [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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After various and sundry other small deals (mostly with a positive profit) I am now ready for Gencon.

Here are the net results:

Using only money gained from the sale of board games I...
...paid $75 for gencon
...bought a $40 scale to help me stop losing money on shipping costs
...registered and paid for 9 events at gencon
...have $200 to spend
 
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10. Board Game: Geeks: The Convention [Average Rating:4.66 Overall Rank:13949]
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I'm leaving for Gencon tonight!

My budget breaks down as follows:
$60 food for three days (this can be adjusted downward as necessary)
$40 gifts for wife and two children (godiva chocolate for wife...small toys for kiddos)
$25 gas (we're car pooling)
$10 parking

and left over for game purchases...$65

Not as much as I hoped for, but I sure can't complain! The only problem will be if the collector's edition of War of the Ring is at gencon. If that happens then we will probably have a credit card issue again...

Stay tuned...more from Gencon to follow!
 
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