Travelogue with Reed Kasaoka of Baseball Card Exchange pt. 1

When I first started this website I wanted to make sure I was able to tell stories of the card industry that I love.  I wanted to bring the people that help make our hobby special and hoped that others appreciated the work that they do.  Whether it be the growing box breaking industry, sports memorabilia artists, or in the case of Reed Kasaoka, the person who drives around the country in search of those boxed up treasures to be sold on Baseball Card Exchange.

Reed was recently interviewed for Beckett’s Sports Card Monthly, and he gave great insight into what is involved in the process, so I wanted to know a little bit more about what goes on day-to-day.  Reed wrote a series of journal entries on the BBCE Facebook page and I wanted to repost them here to seemingly join in on the adventure.  I broke the entries into two different posts, so be on the lookout for part two.  And big thanks to Reed Kasaoka for allowing me to repost them here for all of you to enjoy.  Please visit BBCE online and make sure to visit the new retail location that is opening up in April!

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First entry, Janurary 16, 2004-

Day 1 and 2 –

So the first buying trip of the year started early Wednesday morning. I expect to be on the road 23 days, and there are a lot of exciting deals coming up! I drove from Buffalo to Rochester to pick up a small junk wax deal. I always try to find the silver lining in any junk wax deal, and this time it was the cases of 1988 and 1989 Topps Football. True, it’s not all that exciting, but these boxes always sell quickly and are a cheap favorite for football collectors. Then it was off to buy a new GPS unit at Best Buy. After several years of faithful service, our company GPS unit crapped out last month. After spending hours researching different models online, I found the one we need. It’s geared towards truck drivers, and helps with picking routes that are specifically designed for large vehicles. No more accidentally getting on a parkway on Long Island anymore! Drove south next, playing around with this new piece of technology, heading towards Pittsburgh. Checked out a collectibles-type store, where they sold a little bit of everything. The seller saw our ad in SCD, and had some nice high-grade vintage that he wanted to turn into cash. He told me nobody walks into his store looking to buy thousand dollar cards, and was happy to have me there. Picked up a nice 1954 Bowman Mantle and a Nolan Ryan rookie both in NM condition, among other cards. Managed to drive a few more hours to Columbus, OH and called it a night.

This morning I met up with an autographed dealer who was looking to liquidate his entire inventory. After doing signings with athletes for over 30 years, he decided it was time to move on. Spent most of the morning spot checking his inventory and comparing it to his original list, and making the necessary adjustments. While many of the premium items had sold recently, there was still much to be had. Though it took a little effort to negotiate a price we could both be satisfied with, it was worth the time spent. This collection has over 5,000 8x10s, close to 1,000 baseballs, close to 400 hockey pucks, and almost 2,000 trading cards. With this deal and a few others scheduled on this buying trip, I will be overwhelmed sorting through autographs for the next couple of months, but let me tell you, it will be a ton of fun! Naturally, as I began to load the truck, it began to snow. Then, as I drove north to Toledo, OH, it began to snow even harder. At times, it came close to whiteout conditions, and spent most of the drive doing 35mph. Safely made it to Toledo, where I met up with another dealer who wanted to flip some unopened product to us. Bought a 1989UD High # wax case, a 1986 Donruss BB wax case, a couple boxes of 1986T FB wax, and more autographs (cards, index cards, cuts) to look over.

Heading to the office tomorrow, and will spend the next few days sorting out these deals. I’ll be in Florida by Tuesday night to continue the buying.

Days 3 through 7 –

Spent most of the past few days sorting through stuff we just picked up. It’s always amazing to me how quickly I can pack up a deal and load it onto a truck, yet it takes forever to sort it when I’m back at the office. I guess organization is time consuming. On Saturday, I drove up to Arlington Heights to pick up some Conlon Collection products from the 1990s, and that was a bad idea. The weather sucked on the way there, but it was even worse on the way back. What should have been a three hour round trip took twice as long, due to the snow, wind, and bad drivers.

Managed to escape the foot of snow in NW Indiana this afternoon and made it to Ft. Lauderdale, where the weather is much warmer. The posts will be much more interesting from here on out, I promise. Starting tomorrow with a small autographed index card deal in Miami, then across Alligator Alley to Naples to look at an autograph dealer’s remaining inventory. Hope everyone up north and east is staying warm. I’m going to stay here in Florida for a while, or at least until the money runs out.

Day 8 –

In my old age (still 39 for a few more months), I’ve found that I’ve become more patient. This morning I showed up at the Home Depot in Ft. Lauderdale to pickup my Penske truck, only to find every contractor/day laborer at the customer service desk, looking to rent power tools. Well, if you antagonize the staff, you just might find that employee that doesn’t give what you think and tell you so, regardless of what the Home Depot employee handbook tells them what to say or do. Luckily, I ended up being helped by an associate who rented me a truck last year, and she was able to get me out of there quickly.

The first stop was in Miami, FL to check out a small index card deal. The seller had about 100 index cards, almost all BB and FB HOFs, and even a couple politicians and astronauts! Then it was off to Naples, FL to buy a partial inventory of a former autograph dealer. There were a couple thousand pieces in the deal, mainly 8x10s and baseballs, and strictly HOFs. Some of better items were Mariano Rivera photos and baseballs, Jim Brown photos and minis, and Ken Griffey Jr. baseballs. Wasn’t quite sure how the deal was going to go down, because some items, while excellent in quality of the athlete and the item, were in large quantities. Being a former dealer himself, the seller knew exactly where I was coming from in preparing the offer, and working out the financial terms of the deal took 20 minutes rather than the two hours I thought it might take! Can’t wait to come back to Naples in the future and see if I can scoop the rest of his impressive inventory.

Was really looking forward to watching the Pro Bowl draft tonight (I think it’s a stupid idea but it is intriguing) but this hotel doesn’t have NFL Network. Instead, I’ll be working on a couple of offers up north that I hope to buy next month. Tomorrow I’ll continue north to Tampa to check out a modern wax deal and a vintage card deal from the same seller. An interesting mix for one collector to have, but both types of products sound great to me!

Day 9 –

As many of you have read on this page, there are often times when I arrive at the appointment, the seller has much more than they could list (or even what I could imagine in my head.) Today was another one of those days. I’ve known this seller for several years, and I’m pretty sure he has only been selling to me (I must be doing something right!) Well the unopened list he sent me was only about half of what he really had, causing me a little bit of panic, for if I ended up buying everything, the truck might be overloaded before I finish all my stops.

Well of course, I ended up buying the entire deal, though like the other collectors I’ve seen so far on this trip, he still has more! I have no idea when I’ll be back in Florida again, but I guess it will have to be soon. We packed up all the product but rather load the truck in the dark, we called it a day and agreed to load it all tomorrow morning. I’m back at the hotel, waiting for some food to be delivered, working on more deals. We just got offered a 400 card T-206 deal, all graded! That’s going to take some time to price.

After I finish loading the truck tomorrow, will be heading to Orlando to check out an autograph collection from a lifelong collector. When I say lifelong, I’m talking since the 1950s! He estimates there are 20,000-25,000 autographs in all, and claims 90% of them were obtained in person. I’ve been salivating over the chance to view this collection for months, and I’m hoping it’s all that I think it is.

Day 10 –

That collection in Orlando was indeed all that I thought it could be and even more. I’m heading back tomorrow for the entire day, and I still will only scratch the surface. I will probably be making several trips over the next couple of years to look at it all! The seller and I came to an agreement on how we should proceed with piecing out the collection, and I am extremely happy with what I was able to pick up today. I’ll try to pick out some items tomorrow and post some pics here, especially since I’ve bought four deals on this trip so far and haven’t shown off a thing yet.