Each year, I go through the dealers and rank out where I believe they fall given the past year's activity. While there is some fluctuation from year to year, generally the list sees similar names, mostly because the best dealers maintain their strengths and weaknesses. I didn't base it on "who do I like the best" but rather a number of factors (none of which are ranked in a particular order):
1) Competitive pricing 2) Accurate grading 3) Breadth of Inventory 4) Activity in the Marketplace 5) Quality of the website 6) Customer Service 7) Integrity 8) Convention Presence 9) Acquisition of New Material (freshness of inventory) 10) Impact on the Market
Here's a list of all of the different dealers that were considered (sure I missed some). Generally, I did not consider store owners unless they carried a very extensive vintage comics selection:
Harley Yee (Harley Yee Rare Comics) Dave Kapelka (North Coast Nostalgia) Richard Evans (Bedrock City) Want List Comics Steve Sibra Eric Groves Gary Calabouno (Moondog) Dan Cusimano (Flying Donut Trading Company) Bob Storms (Highgradecomics) Greg Reece (Greg Reece's Rare Comics) Metropolis (Steve Fishler and Vincent Zurzolo) Heritage (Barry Sandoval, Lon Allen, Ed Jaster and Steve Borock) Worldwide (Steve Ritter and Matt Nelson) Comiclink (Josh Nathanson) Superworld (Ted VanLiew) Al Stoltz (Basement Comics) Dave Reynolds (Dave's American Comics) Dale Roberts (Dale Robert's Comics) Jamie Graham (Graham Crackers) Brian Peets (A-1 Comics) Crazy Ed's Jamie Newbold (SoCal Comics) Mark Wilson (PGC Mint) Tom Brulato Jeff Weaver (Victory Comics) Mark Zaid (Esquirecomics) Big Ben's Marc Nathan (Cards, Comics and Collectibles) Alan Bahr (Heroes) Neat Stuff Collectibles (Mike Carbonaro) Tomorrow's Treasures (Richie Muchin) Jim Payette (Jim Payette's Rare Books and Comics) Shelton Drum (Heroes Aren't Hard to Find) Chris Foss (Heroes and Dragons) Gary Platt (Adventure Planet) Paradise Comics (Peter Dixon) Vintage Comics (Roy Delic) Comicana Direct (Nick Beckett) Terry O'Neill (Terry's Comics) All Select Comics (Mike Miles) Bob Beerbohm Greg White Gerry Ross (One Million Comics) Doug Sulipa (Doug's Comic World) Robert Rogovin (Four Color Comics) Greg Eide (Eide's Entertainment) Marnin Rosenberg (Collector's Assemble) Ron Pusell (Redbeard's Book Den) Mile High Comics (Chuck Rozanski) Lone Star Comics (Buddy Saunders) Jef Hinds Tony Starks (Comics in a Flash) Steve Lauterbach (toychef on ebay) Andrew Critella (GA Collectibles) Dennis Keum (Fantasy Comics) Bill Hughes Andy Coleman Rob Hughes (Archangels) J & S Comics Doug Schmell (Pedigreecomics) Comickeys (Danny Dupcak) Brent Moeshlin (Quality Comix) House of Comics John Hauser David T. Alexander Motor City Comics (Mike Goldman) Gary Dolgoff (Gary Dolgoff's Comics) Tom Gordon Joe Koch (Koch Comics) John Haines (John Haines Rare Comics) Silver Age Comics (Gus Poulakas) John Veryzl (Comic Heaven) Steve Geppi (Diamond International Galleries) Joe Verenault (JHV Associates) Bechara Maalouf (Investment Collectibles) Phil Bellmore (Vermont Comics) Bill Ponseti David Anderson (the Dentist, collector) Dan Greenhalgh (Showcase New England) Ed Robertson (Ed Robertson's Comics) Rick Whitelock (New Force Comics) The Bookery (Fairborn, Ohio) Nelson Dodds
Hon. mentions to the following dealers:
Hon. mentions: Dale Roberts, Greg Eide, Greg Reece, Rick Whitelock, Buddy Saunders, Chuck Rozanski, Al Stoltz, Marc Nathan, John Veryzl, Comicana and Dave Reynolds
In my next post, we'll discuss dealers ranking #s 6 through #10
Number 10: Richard Evans, owner Bedrock City Comics, Houston, Texas
Pros: Richard Evans owner of multiple stores in Texas and one of diamond's largest account holders, made the list this year for a variety of reasons. First, Rich is one of the easiest and most honest guys to deal with. Second, he keeps his vintage inventory at one of his stores, and makes an active effort to continue acquiring new material. Third, he is an active trader in the Golden Age market, especially in the upper end -- both acquiring and selling books. Fourth, Rich is an accurate grader and prices his books very competitively.
What impresses me still about Rich as a dealer is his obvious enthusiasm and love for the hobby in combination with a knowledge about the history of comics that I find incredibly strong. Not only that, Rich maintains a presence out on the convention circuit, runs a large chain of stores, and still remains an active player in the vintage market.
Cons: Bedrock's inventory is not particularly deep, as they tend to move most of their best inventory quickly (concerning keys and high grade). The website, while generally up to date, as lagged behind lately entering in new acquisitions. In addition, while new material is acquired, it isn't at the same quality or frequency that some of the other dealers have on this list.
The bottom line: Rich is terrific dealer that I wouldn't hesitate to deal with. His reach is probably not as wide nor his inventory as deep as some others, but his laid back easy style makes him a professional to deal with, and he's someone you can trust without hesitation. Owning a chain of stores also bolsters his "dealer status" and while there are larger stores that exist, along with Eide's in Pittsburgh, it is the best comic store I have ever visited in the country.
Number 9: Doug Sulipa: Owner Doug's Comic World, Manitoba, Canada
Pros: I find Doug to be one of the most consistent dealers to make this list, as he always has an extremely large inventory and of the major dealers, tends to be one of the most accurate graders out there. The sheer volume of what he owns is impressive as well as the variety. While Doug does not set up at any US based shows that I'm aware of, he is unquestionably a major presence in the marketplace.
Cons: Doug's website is still antiquated and he needs to invest in an overhaul, especially given that he is primarily an internet dealer. In addition, his early silver age and golden age inventory are a little on the weak side and he doesn't seem to carry much in the line of certified books.
The Bottom Line: Doug's strongest points are his huge inventory and incredibly accurate grading, making the pricing more than competitive. If you haven't used him for mail order, I strongly suggest taking the time to wade through his website, I think it's worth the effort.
Number 8: Dave Kapelka: Owner, North Coast Nostalgia, Cleveland, Ohio
Pros: Dave once again has literally blown me away by acquiring THREE different large collections of high grade (two of which aren't even released yet) as well as smaller Golden Age Collections -- THIS YEAR. I haven't really encountered any other dealers (aside from the auction houses) who have purchased this many quality raw collections (let's set Metropolis to the side for a second). Given that Dave is basically a one man shop in Cleveland, the number of incredibly high quality collections he's found is nothing short of incredible. Dave is also a favorite of the dealers, as he grades pretty tightly and does not press many of his books. Even when his prices are "high" there is often some incredible material left where he leaves some margin on the table. His last collection yielded top census early FFs and high grade of all major Marvel titles. In addition, more incredible books will be released as he processes more this year. Dave is also an extremely nice guy to deal with, fair, and honest. He carries a wide selection of all eras from Gold to Silver and comes up with some rare pieces as well as mainstream pieces.
Cons: Dave's inventory is marketed clearly for the dealer circuit and not as strongly to the public. Most of the best stuff goes well before anyone knows it existed, and this is by specific design. Without a website or real strong presence, it's hard for Dave to grow to extend to the general public. Of course, when you make $150k selling to dealers from one collection, there's a strong argument to be made that you don't have to do so.
Bottom line: Most of the time, even the "scraps" are well worth looking at, at Dave's booth, because they may very well be beautiful books, but they simply were not upgradeable. They would make wonderful additions to people's collections. Dave is personable and bright. The amount of new, high grade material he consistently turns up earns him an easy spot on this list.
[quote=Foolkiller]Number 8: Dave Kapelka: Owner, North Coast Nostalgia, Cleveland, Ohio
Stopped in there many at time as a kid. Right down the street from where I bought my hockey supplies. Pretty darn accurate assessment, especially about the good stuff he gets and it disappearing long before Joe the plumber even has a crack at it.
So you don't believe in climate science but you do believe what's in the bible? Excuse me while I face palm, laugh and eventually ignore you.
Pros: While I generally feel Harley can be expensive, there are a number of positives which land Harley on the list. I'm not sure there is any show dealer more aggressive than Harley at landing new material. He is everywhere and he moves fast in acquiring new material. Harley is also very knowledgeable and lands a tremendous amount of rare material as well. His customer base is large, so I'm not sure whether or not a large number of his new pick ups fill in for those want lists, but I suspect the answer is yes. Harley's grading I find to be generally accurate, but it can be a little looser than others on this list, but overall, I think it is strong.
Cons: As I mentioned, Harley is pricey. I have found him more negotiable in the past year than ever before, and he will haggle, but you do occasionally experience sticker shock. Some of the common material is extremely aggressively priced for what it is. However, usually Harley will release his "B" stock at some of the shows, and that's his way of conducting a "blowout". One of the best experiences of the year at any show. Hoping it happens at Baltimore.
Bottom Line: Harley is one of the most established, well regarded dealers. He is aggressive and ferocious in his acquisition of new material.