As we’ve mentioned here recently, the Fincastle Pokemon Gym and its companion store, Dark Moon Cards and Games, has branched out from our online store to try our hand at local conventions. While we are still learning that side of our business and trying to improve what we have to offer, we have had a great time at these local events. The main reason is the environment. When you are in a building surrounded by people who love the same stuff that you do, its hard not to enjoy yourself. In our planning for the Blue Ridge Regional Championships, we did a lot of brainstorming on how to bottle that environment and bring it to our event. As soon as we started planning, we ran into one slightly monumental hurdle to our plans… licensing from Pokemon. We think we’ve cleared that hurdle, perhaps not in the purtiest fashion ever, and put together a pretty cool group of vendors to supplement this weekend’s event.
One of the amazing aspects of local and national anime and comic conventions is the inclusion of extremely talented artists. Convention artists bring a very interesting mix of fan art creations, including everything from paintings to laser-printed sculptures to t-shirts, as well as many “knick-knack” collectibles. Unfortunately, few, if any of these items are officially licensed by those owning their rights. Being that the Regional Championships is an event sanctioned and attended by officials from the Pokemon company, we are not allowed to include many of those artists and vendors. So, we began the long and sometimes awkward task of recruiting vendors to attend our event with this one caveat: no selling of unlicensed pokemon items at what will likely be, to date, the largest gathering of pokemon fans that Roanoke has ever seen. That’s kind of like inviting the greatest barbecue masters in the world to come together and have a tofu cook-off.
Organizers Dave and Pam Tuskey and Gym Leader Marthe (along w/little ol’ me) have sifted through a fields worth of haystacks and found some really shiny, pokemon related needles. If this collection of guys and gals does not satisfy your thirst for all things pokemon, then you may need to seek professional help.
Gym Leader Joel will be front and center in the Vendor Marketplace with Dark Moon Cards and Games. In addition to card singles, pokemon plushes, booster packs, and sleeves, the store features a selection of Staff Playmats from recent events, buttons, lapel pins, jewelry and even some Japanese items. Dark Moon Cards will also have exclusive Blue Ridge Regionals items including GX markers, styluses and more. If you are traveling from far (or very far away) and need some help getting your stuff that you bought or won back home, ask Joel about our shipping services. If you battle into the finals and find yourself with hundreds of open cards that you need to get home because you just could not resist opening the packs you won, Joel will have a variety of card storage boxes for sale as well.
In addition to a huge selection of traditional card items, the Vendor Marketplace will feature Cradilicious – with exclusive Japanese Pokemon Center items that range from plushes to card accessories and more. With their regular trips to Japan and back (in fact, they are in Japan now, stocking up for the Blue Ridge Regionals!), chances are that if you’ve seen it on PokeBeach, they’ll have one or two. But you’d better come early, because once they’re gone, they’re gone. Looking for something that’s a little more hard to find? Maybe Nerd Elysium will have it. Featuring vintage and contemporary anime and video game items from both Japan and the US, it might be the perfect place to look for that “hard to shop for” Pokemon fan or Japan-o-phile.
From the local Roanoke Valley and want to find local resources? Look for Frank’s Cool Stuff. Just a hop, skip and jump away from their Williamson Road location, they’ll be bringing a selection of DVD & BluRay items as well as Gundam figures and even Japanese Pokemon cards. If you don’t see what you’re looking for at the Marketplace, maybe Frank can find it for you at the store!
Do a lot of online shopping for single cards? Lots of big names and up-and-coming vendors will be here as well. Heard of Troll & Toad? Top Cut Central? ARG? What about The Fantastic Store (Blowout Cards), Sage Mantis, The Only Game in Town, or Kirwin’s Game Store? Just stroll down the Marketplace and you’ll be sure to find something to tickle your fancy.
There’s another unique opportunity for folks at the Blue Ridge Regional Vendor Marketplace too. Many of the vendors will be buying your bulk cards (so you can afford to buy more plush goodies!) If you’ve ever talked to the Gym Leaders, you know that we have to “de-clutter” sometimes, and selling your cards in bulk is a great way to help thin out your Pokemon collection. Over the years, we’ve figured out some great tips to sell your bulk cards to a show vendor:
- Be sure you cards are in good condition – most vendors will only take Near Mint cards – which means they have been stored well (in boxes or binders) and not played very much (or played only in sleeves). A good way to gauge the wear on your cards – look at a pile of them from the side – if the edges of the cards are crisp and smooth, you’re in good shape. If the edges look “fuzzy” or bumpy, or you can see folds, ridges, or bends, you will not get as good of a price.
- Separate any cards that have a higher potential value – if you have extra VS Seekers, Trainer’s Mail, or even (dare we think it?) Shaymin EX, keep them separate. You can even bring a binder of your nicer cards which vendor buyers can look through and pick & choose cards from.
- Separate your “bulk” cards – things like Switch, Spheal and PokeBalls – by rarity. Keep Commons (circle) and Uncommons (diamond) together, separate Rare (star), Holo Rare (where the pokemon’s image is shiny), and Reverse Holo (where the card name is shiny) – also by rarity. (Few vendors require that you sort by set or put the pokemon in order by name or set number – although if you’ve got lots of time… and a sorting bug… you’re free to do so.)
- Get an approximate count of your cards – for example, count 100 cards in a pile and then separate the rest of your cards into piles that are that high. The vendor’s buyers will also do a count, but this gives you a good starting point when you talk with the buyer.
- Bring your cards in boxes or binders to the Blue Ridge Regional Championship, and look for the vendor you’d like to deal with.
- Be Patient! Often buyers are in high demand as players are looking to empty space in their luggage or get the cash they need to buy one more card (or a nice dinner out!) If everyone is busy, check back in a little while.
- Make a great deal! Often vendors will offer a higher value of “store credit” vs. cash in hand for your cards. So if you see something that you really like at a particular vendor, check with their buyer and see what you can work out.
If you are a pokemon fan that has no interest in playing either the card or video game, perhaps you’re just in it for the fashion…, remember this. There is no entry fee to enter the venue! So, feel free to come by and walk through the marketplace, well, because its free to do so. Gym Leader Joel is already working on a plan to restrain himself, perhaps shackled to his table, so that he doesn’t spend the entire weekend shopping at other vendors’ tables (yeah, like that will last more than an hour, if that long…). Seriously, we are very excited about the mix the marketplace will have. While it may not have the diversity of a full-blown convention, we are pretty sure this will surpass anything you’ve seen at any Regional event prior to this one. What’s this???? The Fincastle Pokemon Gym breaking new ground in the world of organized pokemon events???? Who ever heard of such a thing. We hope that the fact that we are never satisfied with the status quo will only lead to more satisfaction for you.
Check back here soon, as we will have a few more updates about the Blue Ridge Regional Championship (THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!) and, time permitting. a look a the deck Joel was considering heavily for the event. See you soon, at a really big Gym!