It was a hectic, chaotic, and emotional show on Saturday. It was really nice to have Roger Baehr's family at the show. I think we are all still in shock at the loss of Roger.
I had planned to spend the day sharing stories about Roger but ended up being lost in chaos; much if it my own doing. I need to do a better job managing the show!
For the first time in eight years, I totally screwed up the table count which made the show stressful and hectic. Normally, I keep a running total of tables. As dealers drop out, I subtract them from the total and as dealers drop in, I add them to the total. I thought this is what I did prior to the show -- NOT!
I somehow failed to account for 14 additional tables. So on Friday night around 10:30 p.m., when I thought I was finished setting up the show, I realized I overbooked it by 14 tables. Ugh! I don't know how that happened! Lisa and I then spent the next hour trying to figure out how to squeeze in 14 more tables. Somehow, we did it. Lisa is a trooper. She had a long day of work while I had an easy day of work. After work, we spent nearly five hours that night setting up the show. Poor girl was tired.
Lisa slept on the way home as I drove. I was wired when I got home Friday night and fiddled around on Facebook where I saw that Roger Baehr's daughter announced she and Roger's grandkids were setting up on Saturday! Oh no! I did not have space for them!!!
My original plan for Roger's two tables was to put a new dealer in one then create a memorial to our dear friend in the other. However, once I realized I overbooked the show, I had to move the memorial to a small table by the Chapel and stick another dealer in Roger's spot.
Upon learning that Roger's family was coming to the show to set up, I had to figure out how to create space for them! I knew I had no place to stick one more table to move the dealer I had put in Roger's spot. I figured one of the 130 or so dealers scheduled to set up Saturday would not show up because I always have a handful of dealers that fail to show up. I did not want Roger's family to arrive in the morning without a table to place their wares so I figured I could move dealer Mike Johnson in the morning because he is always late. I went to bed, thinking I had this under control. Roger's family would be on one of Roger's regular tables and Mike would set up elsewhere in the building. Sorry Mike! I love you man!
Lisa and I slept in an extra hour and woke up at 5 a.m., we made it to the Sal by 7 a.m. where we observed a dozen or so dealers already there. Set up is at 8 a.m. for the dealers, not 7 a.m. These guys just don't realize I need time in the morning to complete set up and deal with all the issues that pop up. It really sucks that these guys show up so early.
Then we had some further complications. Normally, my guy Mark is there to greet me and let me in in the morning. However, Mark told me the night before that he would not be there as his wife was having a medical emergency and he was at the hospital. Mark, if you are reading this, I hope Deb is okay!!!
Captain Dana from the Sal, who is incredibly awesome, contacted me to let me know that she would step in for Mark and that she would greet me at 7 a.m. When I arrived, there was no Captain Dana which was no big deal because there is a key fob locked outside and Mark gave me the combo. Well, I could not open the lock!!! More dealers arrived. I needed to get into the building and figure out where I was going to place Mike before I let all these dealer in. Ugh!
I hated to do it, but I contacted Mark and told him I could not open the lock. He said he was on his way. Oh, I felt terrible! I did not want to make Mark come out. Mark is a trooper and arrived around 7:30 a.m. and let us in. He told me the lock was frozen and all I needed to do was blow on it and I could have gotten in. Ugh! Now I know!!
Dealers just started walking in before I could even get to the door and greet Mark. Dealers, you guys gotta stay out until I formally let you in! I was unable to figure out a spot for Mike because too many dealers arrived and flooded in. The new ones always need my help finding their spot even though I spend hours placing name tags on all the dealer spaces. So, right away, I was running around trying to remember where I placed everybody. I don't know off the top of my head and I can't diagram the space before the show because the layout changes every single month, with big changes this month as I had to jam in 184 spots.
I also leave a little newsletter on all the dealer spots and I asked them this month to pay me first thing as I knew I would be unable to go from table to table to collect fee as my time this day would be spent with our autograph guest Don August.
Chaos ensued as new dealers wanted my help to find their spots and the dealers that read my newsletter came to pay me. I think next time, I'll have them pay Lisa so I can run around and help the new dealers find their spots.
Amid this chaos of collecting table fees and showing new dealers their spots, Roger's family arrived and the one guy who regularly sets up with Roger, whose name I do not know, starting bitching at me. Does anybody know who this guy is?
Well, Roger was a freakin' saint and he kindly regularly gave away one of his tables to this joker, who is not a saint, not kind or understanding. He claimed Roger pre-paid me for the two tables, which is untrue. On occasion, Roger would prepay when he knew ahead of time he would be unable to make the show and to ensure this joker had space at the show. Roger was planning to be at the show so he did not prepay.
The vast majority of the time, Roger paid me on the day of the show like most of the other dealers. This joker was not entitled to any space at my show ever. Joker said he needed two tables. He demanded two tables. I did not have two tables. I really did not have one table for him. I gave him Mike's table and still had to find a spot for Mike. Also, I never planned to give Joker a table. I planned to give Roger's daughter and grandkids a table. Who the hell is this guy?
He said they needed two tables or could not set up. My response -- don't set up! While I was arguing with Joker, I was overrun with dealers paying their table fee and the new dealers who could not find their spots. I could not deal with Joker as well. I was ready to pop him in the mouth. I think he sensed it and walked away.
Later, Roger's daughter found me and told me that she needed two tables. I explained to her that I did not have two tables, I did not know she was coming until late last night and had to scramble to give her the one table. I did tell her how much I cared for her father and that she and her kids, all of Roger's grandkids, can set up any time they want but they have to let me know well ahead of time. If I did not see her Facebook post, I would not have even had the one table for her. Ugh! Plus, I still needed to find a spot for Mike!!!
She was understanding, unlike Joker, and asked if she could use part of the stage. I gave her the okay. I thought the problem was solved but I learned later that Joker was making false accusations to anyone who would listen that Roger pre-paid for two tables. Roger did not pre-pay! Plus, I did not even charge them for the one table out of respect for Roger, who was a saint! Joker is not a saint. I still had not found a spot for Mike because I was dealing with all this crap! I did not even give myself a spot! There was no room for me! It is my show, shouldn't I get to set up and sell cards too?
To complicate matters, I had hired Rachel, my pal Scott's daughter, to watch my spot while I dealt with all the things I need to deal with and while Lisa was out collecting dealer table fee. Rachel arrived on time as always because she is awesome and kept asking where my tables were located. I did not have a spot yet. I brought my stuff with me, figuring I could set up eventually when I figured out which dealers were not going to show up. So, in addition to finding a spot for Mike, I needed to find a spot for myself and a spot for Don August to sign autographs.
Around 9 a.m., I found a spot for me and loaded my stuff in as customers flooded the place. It was difficult to load in. I then found a spot for Don. Then I observed that I had several spaces for Mike to choose from as a good five dealers did not bother to show up. Two of them texted me and said they were not coming. One said he was not coming because he did not have a table. Well, I told him in advance that he needed to bring his own table. WTF?
Which reminds me about a complete douchebag who argued with me a few days before the show about bringing his own table. Now douchebag contacted me back in February when I had a big waiting list. I told him I could not give him a spot because I was sold out. Douchebag went on to brag about himself and stated that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and my show could not go on without him.
I told douchebag that I will place him on the waiting list but it would be months before I could get him into the show because there were 40 or 50 guys ahead of him. Douchebag contacted me every month. My answer was always the same: no tables.
I think it was the June show where I finally had some open space so I contacted him and told him he would have to bring his own table. Douchebag said he did not have a table and that he could not set up. Folks, you can purchase a table at Walmart for 30 or 40 bucks. What is the big deal? Anyway, I figured I was done with douchebag after that -- no such luck!
He sent me a real snotty text on Wednesday before the show, pretty much demanding a table. He claimed I had provided other new dealers with tables. I told him that was untrue and that all new dealers have to bring their own tables. I even bring my own tables and I run the freakin' show! We argued. He told me to get a bigger venue. He told me I was too poor to have tables. I told him to lose my number.
The Salvation Army only has about 80 tables. I sold 184 tables for this show. More than half of the dealers at the December show brought their own tables. None complained.
Every so often, I get a guy like douchebag who throws a fit when he learns he has to bring his own table. I don't see what the big deal is about bringing your own table. I could rent tables but then I would have to go from a $30 table fee to $55 or more. Table rentals are not cheap. I'm trying to keep costs down for everybody. Stop yer bitch'n! Go buy a table at Walmart or Target and then set up at the largest monthly show in Wisconsin!! We had 700 people through the door on Saturday. No other monthly show anywhere gets 700 people through the door -- go buy a freakin' table... moron!
At 9:30 a.m., I got a call from Mike. He had not arrived yet but learned he did not have his regular table. While talking to Mike, I was trying to set up my table and tried to explain the situation. Mike didn't get it. At 10 a.m., he called and saw that there was no place to park. I told him to double park, load in, we would find a spot, then he would have to move his car to the Target parking lot. He did not want to do that and said he was going home. I felt bad. I did not intend to kick Mike out of the show. As I told him, I knew he was coming late and I knew Roger's family was coming early. So the easiest thing was to let Roger's family set up in Mike's spot and move Mike to a new spot later. Thankfully, I think Mike and I are good. I think he eventually understood that I was not trying to do anything mean to him, I just needed his spot and needed to move him this one time. Mike should be back in his regular spot for the January 7th show.
I want to talk a little more about Mike. I have known him for a good 20 years. Mike, like me, appreciates the old stuff. He probably has the best variety at the show. He has a great selection of vintage cards, all sports. He also stocks vintage non-sports cards and has the best selection of non-sports by far. Mike's table is a must see! On occasion, he will have vintage autographs, programs and other cool memorabilia. I have observed that over the past year or so, he started to stock modern cards along with the vintage. He has so much stuff! He always keeps boxes of stuff behind his table. You gotta ask him what he has behind the table! Mike, I am so sorry buddy. I am looking forward to seeing you at the January 7th show!!!
Somehow, everything seemed to work out in the end. All the new dealers found their spots. We had a large crowd. I was able to set up. Rachel watched my tables. Lisa collected table fee. I got to spend time with Don August, who is absolutely awesome. A ton of people lined up for autographs. Don is a great storyteller. He is coming out with a book in the spring and we will have him back for a book signing.
After the autograph session ended, I was able to eat a Sloppy Joe. Stan brought me an early birthday gift of a delicious cake. Thanks Stan!
After all that chaos in the morning, I ended up having a really good time. I laughed hard when Al and Dave were giving Lisa a hard time for putting up with me. I saw a bunch of my favorites like Robert, Bruce, Dean, Bob, George, Mark, Craig and Doreen. Sorry, I did not have more time to chat!
Also, Troy from Milwaukee's own Mears Auctions was in attendance. He always has kind words for me which I appreciate. Many, many folks greeted me at the show. I appreciate you all for coming!
Somehow, I found time to purchase cards. My main man Jim C. sent a guy my way who was selling a tin of 1960 Topps baseball, which I purchased. My pal Bill Stocks made an appearance and sold me some 1969-70 Topps basketball. Thanks Bill! Then I bought a few cards from Jim, as always.
I really hope to have a better handle on things for the January 7th show. I really don't want to have another 184 tables. I think 175 to 180 would be better.
Speaking of better, I am happy to report that our good friend Larry Larsen kicked cancer for the second time! Larry is the best! I am so happy to have Larry back and set up at the show!!! Welcome back Larry!!!
I also have to call out dealer Josh Brothers for being incredibly awesome! Josh offered to pay for Roger's table. I know I complain and complain but there really are some amazing folks at this show.
I need to thank dealers Jim C. and Bob Lucas for driving all the way up from Indiana, dealer Bruce Bain for driving up from Quincy, Illinois, and dealers Jerry Nelson and Kyle Erdle for driving down from Minneapolis. Thanks guys!
I hope everyone had a good time at the show. Sorry Mike!! I'm still trying a spot for you!!! Just kidding!
Photo time. Lisa took most of these photos.