We left HoJo at 8 a.m. and found a little diner up the road that was straight out of the movie of the same name. I had some eggs and bacon while Dave dined on pancakes. Great service.
We were on the road to Atlantic City by 9 a.m. Easy drive. Not much traffic. We arrived in about 40 minutes. Once at the convention center, I suggested we head to the loading dock. Dave wanted to park in the parking garage. Seemed like we walked all over and finally found the VIP desk. The lady at the VIP desk told us to go to the loading dock.
So my dealer packet instructed us to go inside first, before loading in, to a booth by the escalator to pick up our dealer badges... such a booth did not exist. We drove to the loading dock which was really small. Not much room. I advised Dave to double park. I exited the vehicle and started to walk toward a desk by the loading entry but was stopped by an A-Hole security guard who said we could not double park. I asked him where we should park. He pointed to the wall behind me. Dave backed up and parked up against the wall.
I walked over to the desk and picked up our dealer badges. Dave loaded in first, then came back for me then I brought in my stuff. Once at our booth, I could see that the dealers on either side pinched some of our space and stole one of our tables. Someone also took my "Fat Daddy's Sports" sign with our booth number that was provided by the promoters. Why would someone take the sign?
Dave began to set up while I went to the dealer service center to order another table and a sign. I had to wait at our booth a good half hour before the table showed up. The sign never arrived.
Dave took the primo spot in the main aisle as usual. I placed a 6-foot table on the side aisle, then placed an 8-foot table along the side into the booth with a little opening so customers could walk into the booth. I was only able to place out seven display cases when I brought 9 cases. I lost out to the other dealers who pinched our space. I probably should have complained to management but just stewed about it all weekend.
Most every booth was set up when we arrived. Dealers are allowed to set up Tuesday, as opposed to our set up on Wednesday, but there is an added fee. I think next year in Chicago I am going to go ahead and pay the extra fee because this is not the first time we have had our tables stolen by other dealers. Though, this is the first time our neighbors pinched our space. It sucked that I had to spend the next five days next to these scumbags who stole part of our space.
So, one neighbor had about four or five guys in the booth selling modern cards. They not only took some of our space but also bled out into the aisle on the other side. They were loud and obnoxious all week. I heard one guy, who clearly has a New York accent, tell everyone he was from California. Yeah, right, buddy. He also had a really bad toupee that I wanted to pull off his head and chuck as far as I could. Nice look, douchebag.
On the other side was a group of guys and kids that had two booths. They not only pinched our space but also took part of the douchebag guy's space then bled out into the back aisle as well. They sold modern cards. The kids sold candy and water that was clearly in violation of the rules located in the dealer packet. I did buy a bottle of water from them for two bucks. Their grandfather came by and tried to hustle me out of my 1954 Topps hockey cards. Sorry buddy, I did not drive two days to Atlantic City to give away my cards.
We were probably one of the last booths at the show to finish setting up. It took me a while to get everything into the display cases. While I was setting up, I met Lucky Larry from Net54. If you have never been on Net54, you are missing out. Net54 is an online forum dedicated largely to pre-War collecting. There are some incredibly knowledgeable people on there. I check it most every day and, prior to the show, posted on there that I would be at the National and my booth location. Lucky Larry said he was visiting all the Net54 members at the show.
The convention space was huge. Seemed larger than Rosemont. Also much nicer condition. It may be a newer venue than the Stephens Center in Rosemont. I was confused as to why there were giant fish hanging in the lobby. Nice crowd on Wednesday.
My first sale of the day was to Ryan, who I believe lives in New Jersey. He was my friend Patrick Kampert's doppelganger. I thought maybe it was Patrick at first until I heard that New Jersey accent. Ryan purchased some vintage football cards. He came back the next four days, looked at more cards but did not make any more purchases. Like last year's National, many people stopped by Wednesday and came back each day, some over and over.
Then two guys came by and flipped through many groups of cards and ended up purchasing some 1958 Topps baseball. The guy that purchased the cards had a gritty look while his buddy looked more like a college professor. The gritty guy said his buddy was his accountant.
Mark and Ed, who I met at the National last year in Chicago, purchased my 1951 Bowman Ted Williams and Pee Wee Reese, along with a 1950 Bowman Reese and a 1958 Topps Warren Spahn. Thanks guys!
A random customer purchased my 1968 Topps Game Mickey Mantle. A dealer came by and purchased my 1963, 1968 and 1969 Topps Willie Mays cards. A guy wearing a pineapple print shirt bought my T202 Chief Bender. A customer with a Boston accent purchased my 1961 Topps Juan Marichal rookie.
Sales were pretty good on the first day of the National. I knew the National would end my slow streak and it certainly did its job! I can't remember everything that I sold but it was quite a few cards -- more than I have sold in weeks.
I have to admit that I was annoyed with the dealers set up on either side of me that first day and for the entire show. I also experienced some bad behavior from some other dealers. The one that really pissed me off came by when one of the OBC guys was going through one of my display cases and this other dealer walked up and told him to leave my table and go to his table. What? Them is fighting words.
Normally, I would have said something to the dealer but I do not get much action from the OBC guys. Quite a few OBC guys stopped by my table all week but not one purchased anything. Traditionally, the OBC guys want to pay less for your cards than you paid yourself. You can't stay in business selling to these guys. Though, I have to say, there are some OBC guys who attend the Chicago Nationals and the Strongsville shows who are excellent customers. None of those guys were in Atlantic City.
As much as I want to rip the OBC guys, I just can't do it because I know they really take care of each other, which I think is very cool. My good friend TJ is in the OBC and has been battling serious health issues for the past decade. His buddies in the OBC have been sending him cards for free so he can keep working on his vintage sets. One even gave him a Namath rookie. So there are some guys in that group that are incredibly kind, compassionate and generous.
Yet a few just seem to get under my skin. I saw the one OBC guy who came to my table every day last year in Chicago and low-balled me on my Dixie Lid Carl Hubbell. Thankfully, I sold that card shortly after the National last year. I think that OBC guy kept looking for it in my display cases in Atlantic City this year but it never appeared. Sorry buddy, you should have bought it last year!
Quite a few cards were offered for sale but every seller was waaayyyy too high. I was offered cards well above the price I could sell them for.
I stopped at the concession stand and purchased a $10 turkey sandwich that was not very good, but I was hungry. A bottle of Diet Coke cost $5. I saw Eddie, from the Orland show, was set up near the concession stand with a group of guys.
I ran into several folks I knew like Tim and Susan Payne who I always love to see. Jeff T. stopped by with a group of cards for sale. I probably should have purchased Jeff's pile which I thought was just a tad too high but after looking at cards that were crazily overpriced all day, Jeff's pile turned out to be a bargain. I saw that Nick Parsons was set up nearby. As I was exiting the bathroom from one of my many trips (diabetics gotta go all the time), JD, one of the best vintage dealers around, socked me in the shoulder. He's got a mean left jab. It is always great to see JD.
I did not get much of a chance to walk around. I did see there was a solid mix of vintage and modern dealers in our general area. We were near the eastern end of the building which was dubbed the "Breaker's Pavilion." They had a stage and were loud the whole week. I am not a fan.
The show ended at 8 p.m. I was tired. I locked all of my cases. Covered them with tarps then Dave and I followed the hordes out of the building. Pulling out of the dealer parking lot was tough the first few days as traffic was at a standstill. Once on the move, it was an easy drive to our lodgings at the Harrah's Casino.
So Harrah's is huge! We got lost in there every day. We eventually found the front desk and check in was easy, thanks to my main man Gregg Klein, Harrah's General Manager. Gregg is a fan of this blog and a vintage card collector to boot. He provided Dave and I with our room all week. I am forever in his debt.
What a room! We were located on the 41st Floor with an amazing view of the Atlantic City coast. Oh my!
After seeing the casino, Dave and I got a second wind and dropped off our luggage in the room and commenced gambling. Dave likes the slots while I like video poker. A few hours in, I got a text from our buddy Bob, who said he just arrived. Prior to hooking up with Dave, he and Bob partnered at all the big shows in Chicago. I met them about 20 years ago when I used to set up at the Sun-Times show by myself.
This one show I was set up next to Dave and Bob. I had never met them before. Bob was intrigued by the really crappy display case I had that was made out of wood and had a window that slid in and out. My dad picked it up at a garage sale. He originally had two of them but the first one crumbled and fell apart shortly after he gave it to me. The one I used at the Sun-Times show did not last very long either.
So Bob came over and started a conversation with me about the goofy window display case. At one point he told me that he was cornering the market on 1969 Topps Football Dick Shiner cards. I then realized that we would be friends for life.
Bob is one of the funniest guys I know. Dave and I both really enjoy his company. So when he contacted me to see if we were going to the National, I told him to come out to Atlantic City and stay with us at Harrah's. I advised that he bring an air mattress. Bob did not take my advice and slept on the floor of the room all week -- and did not complain! What a champ!!
So that Wednesday was Bob's 56th birthday. Happy Birthday Bob! He stayed out in the casino long after Dave and I went to sleep.
I was in a great mood and went to sleep with a smile on my face on Wednesday night.
Day 2 blog is coming soon.
In the meantime, my Oak Creek show is coming up fast -- Saturday! I am up to 90 dealers and 130 tables. Parking will be tight. Please park across the street in the Target lot.
Below are some photos from our first day at the National.