Work responsibilities have kept me from traveling out of town for card shows these past two years. The only out-of-town show I regularly attend these days is the yearly Ohio Sports Collectors Convention held every April in Strongsville, Ohio. I flat out love this show. As you all know, I am addicted to vintage sports cards and this show is my Mecca because only vintage sports card dealers are allowed to set up.
The April 2018 show was my second time as a dealer. My pal Dave McDonald and I were better prepared for the show this time around having one under out belts. Last year, we had issues renting a car. No car rental issues this year! We were on the road to Strongsville from the Chicago area around lunchtime on Thursday, April 12, 2018. It was a beautiful spring day! Blue sky and temperatures in the 70s.
Last year, I was having some issues with my diabetes and needed to stop fairly regularly. This year, new meds, no problems, was able to drive for hours without stopping. The drive seemed to fly by with Dave and I catching up. I hadn't seen Dave since the November Sun-Times show.
After about five hours, we arrived at the Strongsville Holiday Inn, site for the show, with some daylight left and time to set up. Load in and set up were pretty simple. Dave and I each had a six-foot table for this show. Not a lot of space so not much time needed to set up. I put out four display cases. I had priced a bunch of new inventory for the show. Dave had picked up all sorts of new stuff as well.
We had the pleasure of being set up next to Payne Sports again. This husband and wife team are absolute superstars. In my opinion, they had the best selection of cards at the show, from tobacco cards to vintage Topps high numbers, most any year. They are so friendly and easy to work with. I purchased some 1966 Topps highs for my set. Tim gave me a nice deal. Thanks Tim! I also watched Tim make some amazing purchases all weekend long. He has the golden touch.
Another family was set up on the other side of us and they could not have been nicer. All of the dealers in our little corner of the room were real friendly which made the weekend that much more pleasurable.
After set up on Thursday night, Dave and I went out to find some food in Strongsville. We settled on a Mexican restaurant. Dave forgot to bring his reading glasses and could not read the menu. I offered to read it to him but he had his mind already made up. It was an impressive menu. I settled on a shrimp dish that was oh, so good. Dave ordered tamales and bean dip. His tamales came covered in a brown sauce. The bean dip looked like soup.
Back at the hotel, I thought I'd sleep well after the drive, set up, and dinner. I think I was a little too excited for the show to begin and did not sleep well. Morning came like a thud. We had hotel breakfast which was not nearly as good as last year.
Once in the show, the morning was a little slow for me but active for Dave. I set out to explore the room. Large show staples were nearby like Uncle Dick, Art Smith, SGC, and Heritage Auctions. I was hoping to see the guy from last year that had some inexpensive oddball pre-War but unfortunately he wasn't there.
Back at my table, Gary, a dealer who I believe is from Albany, New York, purchased my Johnny Unitas rookie. I know Gary was looking for a better deal but on the first day of the show, I could not bring myself to offer a large dealer discount for the best card on my table.
Prior to the show, I thought I needed something extra to spur sales, so I decided to put out signs that I was offering 20 percent off my price. Gary took the 20 percent off on the Unitas. My discount definitely helped with sales. Quite a few guys stopped by because of the discount signs. Even though I had some long periods with no sales, overall my Friday sales were up from last year.
I was happy to see George and his lovely wife who drove in from Milwaukee based on my recommendation. George is working on all sorts of oddball sets and he was like a kid in a candy store filling up his want lists. He purchased a 1938 Our National Game complete pin set from Gary.
Friday was a long day. I went to the hotel room a few times to nap. For lunch, I ordered a most delicious burger from the hotel bar. When the show ended around 8 p.m., Dave and I met up with Mark Smith, Hockey Greg, Craig from Akron, and a few OBC guys. I am so bad with names. One of the OBC guys drove in from Boston. I think it was Greg who found this place called the B Spot which is a hip bar/restaurant.
I was impressed with the B Spot's menu which had some amazing milk shakes and all sorts of designer hamburgers. They also had an extensive beer menu. I watched my new friend from Boston get a milkshake. I've got lactose issues and can't drink them, wish I could. So I ordered a local craft beer.
Dave again forgot his reading glasses. I tried to convince him to allow me to read the menu to him but again he declined. I don't think Dave is a big fan of fancy hamburgers, he prefers a simple burger topped with ketchup. I, on the other hand, love creative food and ordered a burger topped with grilled onions, shrooms and avocados and a funky sauce. Oh my, this was an extremely delicious burger. Dave was not impressed.
As much as I love card shows and vintage cards, the best part of traveling to shows is going out to dinner with a great group of guys. I really enjoyed laughing and swapping show stories with these guys.
Back at the hotel, I couldn't sleep again. Some crazy lady across the hall was screaming at her family. Dave snores. So do I. Between the screaming, Dave's snoring, my snoring, it was tough to get some meaningful sleep.
Thud! Morning. Again another crappy breakfast at the hotel supplemented with a ton of coffee. The real nice weather we had Thursday and Friday had gone away. It was cold and rainy out. Further north, the weatherman reported snow. I think the weather kept away some customers that came last year from Michigan and Pennsylvania. North of Cleveland there were large snow storms. In the Cleveland area, we had cold rain.
My sales were a little slower on Saturday than on Friday. Thus, I walked the room. One dealer had some oddball old White Sox schedules. I bought them all. I purchased some T205s from another dealer who gave me a nice deal. The guy who had the Red Man's last year was back and I bought more of those. Hockey Greg had a 1979-80 Topps hockey set at a reasonable price. I regret not pulling the trigger.
Dave had an excellent day again. One customer sat at Dave's table all day and spent a pretty penny. With my sales slow, I chose to hang out with Mark and Greg at their tables in the afternoon. At one point, Dave came over, looking a little panicky and asked me to come back to our tables to help him. He had a customer pulling out big stacks of cards. Dave asked me to add them up.
As I was adding up the cards, which started to total a few thousand dollars, the customer asked Dave if he could pay him via PayPal. Dave said yes. Then the customer started to explain that he currently did not have any funds in his PayPal and account and needed to deposit some funds but can't do it until he gets home to Maryland the next day. He wanted to take the cards home and pay Dave at a later date through PayPal. Dave said okay. I was concerned but continued to add up the cards.
I did not like this situation at all so I stopped adding up the cards and offered the customer the use of my iPhone to pay Dave now with PayPal. Again he stated he had no money in his PayPal account. Well, I know full well that you can use a credit card via PayPal which I suggested. The customer said no and added that he did not want Dave to incur credit card fees. Well, this is PayPal, so there are no credit card fees and now I know this guy is a fraud.
I then showed Dave the numbers on my calculator and asked him if he really wanted to go through with this deal. I could see I agitated the customer but did not care. The customer claimed all the dealers in the room knew him and we should trust him. I didn't buy it and learned later that none of dealers knew this guy.
A discussion ensued where the guy kept harping on his honesty. I explained to Dave that this guy is pulling a lot of cards that have added up to a high amount of dollars and that neither of us know this guy. I suggested to Dave that he should not allow this guy to walk out with several thousand dollars worth of cards without receiving a penny.
I really started to get aggravated with this whole situation. I have zero tolerance for thieves. So, I was thinking this guy is a real scumbag. Dave is much nicer than me. He started to negotiate a new deal. He told the guy that he will place the cards, a large stack, to the side and ship them to him in Maryland once he received the PayPal. The guy argued that Dave should let him leave with the cards. Thankfully, Dave refused but said he'll ship them. The guy gave me his Maryland driver's license and asked me to take a photo, which I did. Dave still did not agree to give him the cards. The guy eventually left talking out of his behind about how he was going to PayPal the money tomorrow. I did not buy it.
Dave and I argued about the veracity of the guy's statements after he left. Dave was confident the guy was going to send him PayPal and kept the large stack of cards to the side for the rest of the show. I argued that he will never see a dime from this guy and should put the cards back in his case so he could potentially sell them to a legitimate customer. He did not agree with me so we made a bet that if the guy does pay, I owe Dave lunch and if the guy does not pay, Dave owes me lunch. It really bothered me that he kept all those cards out of his case for the rest of the show. Though, he had an excellent show and his overall sales were very, very good. So, perhaps, he did not need to put the cards out. I, on the other hand, would not hold several thousand dollars worth of cards for a guy I did not know nor did I trust.
While I disagreed with Dave and felt my input kept him from getting scammed, overall I know full well that Dave is a tremendous vintage sports card dealer. We have been friends for years and have set up together at many, many shows. When it comes to 1953 Topps baseball, nobody knows them better than Dave. He always has tremendous product in his display cases and I know of few dealers whose sales can compare to Dave's. My sales certainly do not come close. Dave is a superstar so it is hard for me to be critical of him.
However, as I write up this blog, it is now about two months after the show occurred and I have not heard from Dave. I am assuming the guy never sent PayPal. Dave, I am waiting for my lunch!! I think you should take me to Russell's BBQ!!
After Saturday's show ended, Dave and I went out to explore Strongsville. We were disappointed to find that Goldie's, a restaurant we enjoyed last year, was shuttered. We ended up at a chain Irish pub type place at the mall. We both had fish and chips which were pretty good.
Another tough night sleeping. I think next year, I'll bring something along to help me sleep. Thud! Morning! Crappy breakfast again. I could not get out of bed and Dave went down without me. When I finally rolled into the hotel restaurant, I spotted Dave dining with one of his good customers who flew in from California. I told our friend the story about the guy from Maryland. He agreed with me and did not think Dave would get his PayPal.
Sunday sales slowed down for Dave. My day started out good but died around noon. I had one guy come to my table and show me a handful of 1933 Goudeys that he said are part of a cigar box of Goudeys he inherited from his father. I drooled and offer him $500 for the handful of cards. He told me he was just gauging their value and was not ready to sell them. I told him to shop the cards around and that my offer would stay open. I was bummed that he never came back.
It was mostly crickets in the afternoon on Sunday. The show promoter Paul Fusco does not like dealers to leave early. So we stuck it out. Again, I think the severe snow storms up north kept the regular crowd away. Earlier that morning, my friend Mike Johnson texted me from Aurora, Illinois, thinking I was driving up to Milwaukee for the Gonzaga show. He wanted to know my thoughts on the roads because of the weather. I texted him back to let him know I was in Cleveland and we just were having rain. Apparently, Milwaukee got hit hard with snow.
Back in Strongsville, I felt overall, the crowd was down from last year, though my sales were up. I also had a lot of fun and am already looking forward to next year. Dave and I were concerned about the weather driving home but it turned out to be okay. We had some rain but no snow. Unfortunately, we had to stop a bunch because my diabetes meds were upsetting my stomach. So it took us a little longer to get home but not too bad.