Apologies! I haven't been this late on a blog in years. The delay is due to my prep work for the National and then attending the National Sports Collectors Convention itself. During the weeks before the Natty, I was pricing cards furiously and did not have time for much else.
I attended the Madison show on July 23rd then rushed into pricing more cards as soon as I arrived home. I left for Atlantic City on Monday, July 25. I brought out my laptop to the National in the hopes of posting the Madison blog and creating regular blog entries from Atlantic City. But as the great Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote several centuries ago, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
I would like to get this Madison show blog out before I start talking about the National. So let's go back in time to July 23 and my thoughts on that date. As the National approached, I was having a tough time thinking about anything else. My plan for the National was to bring out display cases, no binders. I had stacks of new inventory for Atlantic City.
One of my yearly problems in preparing for the National is that I never get everything priced. It is kind of a marathon, and as I approached the finish line, I realized I was not able to price everything -- which is the result of being a serial purchaser of vintage sports cards. Week after week, month after month, I buy vintage cards. I buy more than I sell, so I have just a silly inventory of cards. I saw that some of the cards I priced just before leaving for Atlantic City were purchased during the Pandemic. I have too much stuff!
I guess it is a nice problem to have. I was really happy with the stuff I priced. I had a nice infusion of new inventory for the Natty!
When I got to work Friday morning, July 22, all I could think about was the National and how I was ready to go then! I know quite a few Midwest dealers that did hit the road Friday and stopped off along the way to set up at shows along the route to New Jersey -- a great idea! I might follow their lead next time the National is in Atlantic City or Cleveland.
Back to my prep. I woke up early on Sunday, July 24, and priced cards all day. When I needed a break, I worked on my Madison blog.
So back to my report from the July 23 Madison show. On Friday night, July 22, we had a terrible storm here in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The thunder sounded like bombs going off and I hardly slept. Throw in that my daughter was sick all night and I was a worried dad, I ended up with just a few hours of sleep when I hopped in the shower around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
I wish I would have loaded the car Friday night. It was tough to load Saturday morning as the storm finally dissipated. Loading up was also difficult because I wanted to bring a different inventory than normal. My binders are beat. I am beyond behind loading them with new cards. I am not sure when I am going to bring those things out again. My prep for the National caused further delay in reloading the binders.
For the July Madison show, I decided to bring out the sets and lots that I have been bringing the last several months to a variety of shows. I don't have many lots left. Those things were great sellers. I gotta find some time to make more of those. I also brought out my Exhibits and oversized pre-War.
I brought out six display cases, like I had at the July Root River show. New was a nice influx of my doubles inventory which were a result of my National pricing efforts. I had been saving my regular high-end inventory for the National and brought out doubles during June and July. As I have been pricing more cards, I uncovered more and more doubles. So I had a lot of new stuff out in Madison.
Also, like Root River the previous week, I brought out some cheapy boxes. New for Madison were two different dollar boxes. I also decided to give my publications a try. I had been a little sour on the publications after the June Orland show where I did not sell any.
The rain stopped by the time I hit the road around 6:15 a.m. Easy drive to Madison, about two hours. I was able to load all my stuff into the show in one trip. It is always a two-trip effort when I bring all of the binders, so I was grateful for the one trip this time around.
I was happy to see that I was set up next to Scotty P. -- I love that guy! Mark, my usual neighbor, was set up behind me. Mark is from Iowa, so I don't see him that often. Have you guys ever seen his inventory? He has mostly modern cards but always has a few display cases of vintage and he has some amazing stuff!
I finished setting up around 9:09 a.m. Normally, there are a few guys hovering over me while I set up. None on this morning which had me a little concerned. Attendance was light early on but picked up.
A regular customer started things off with some purchases out of my cheapy boxes. Those boxes attracted a crowd all day long.
It was great to see my buddy Andy, in town from Orlando. Andy purchased my 1936 Goudey Premium Van Lingle Mungo (one of my favorite names ever!). Andy told me that he is in transition with his job, which currently allows him to work remotely, so he may not be around as much which is a huge bummer. Andy is one of my favorites.
Speaking of favorites, there is this really friendly father and son team from the Rockford area that I have gotten to know over the past year or so. I think the son is about 14 or 15 years old. I love how the dad is always telling the son that he should focus on vintage cards. The kid has taken his dad's advice and regularly purchases cards from me. They also collect Pee Wee Reese together and purchased my Reese Exhibit then came back later and purchased some cards out of my cheapy boxes.
I did not sell any of the sets. I am not sure if I want to lug those out anymore. Sets sell better on eBay than at shows.
I thought I would see Bob at Root River but he showed up in Madison. One of the cool things about setting up regularly in Wisconsin is that I have met many people who work at uniquely Wisconsin-type jobs like at breweries or in the dairy and cheese industries. Bob works at one of the big cheese companies, I wanna say like Sargento or one of the companies like that. Bob collects football cards and he purchased several. Thanks Bob!
I was happy to see that I sold several publications. An older guy bought a 1962 Sports pamphlet. A younger guy purchased a Sport Magazine with Mantle and Berra on the cover. Then a young couple purchased a 1960's Sports Illustrated with Bill Russell on the cover (RIP). The guy also purchased some basketball cards and was complaining that there was not much vintage basketball at the show. I have been working on pricing more vintage basketball. I brought a bunch of new stuff with me at the National.
Much of the day was slow which has been the trend of late at most every show. I started to pack up around 1:30 p.m. then Terry and a few other guys came by and made some purchases. Terry purchased my 1958 Topps Richie Ashburn. Terry always asks for a big discount. I did not argue this time around because I have a tough time selling Ashburn cards and was happy to see one go.
All in all, slow sales once again. I was talking about it with Mike, from the Rockford and Janesville shows. I think I got spoiled last year when card shows exploded once they were allowed to resume after the brunt of the Pandemic eased. I just killed it at just about every show last year. It was awesome! I think now we are back to the pre-Pandemic trends where sales are inconsistent.
Another issue now is high gas prices. I think gas prices may be keeping some regular customers away. As for me, I can't justify setting up at all these shows where sales are low, table fees are high and I have to spend a good 50 to a hundred bucks on gas.
I am not dropping out of Madison because it generally has been very good. But other shows, I just gotta let go. I might start replacing these slow one-day shows with bigger three-day shows across the country. I have been looking at the large Nashville shows. Anyone attend those? Are there vintage dealers and buyers in Nashville? I may set up at the October show.
While sales were slow at this past Madison show, buys were very good. There seemed to be more people walking around selling cards than buying cards. Early on, I met a very nice older lady, who had a variety of stuff from old to junk era. She gave me a nice price on a 1969 Topps Ernie Banks. She also had a pile of photos, that may be Sporting News inserts from the 1950's. She said another dealer told her they sell for $30 a piece. I am not all that familiar with those. I liked them but did not want to drop 30 bucks a piece on them. I really don't know what they go for and am always hesitant to buy unfamiliar items. I am kind of hopeful she comes back and we can work something out.
Then another older lady, older than the first one, came by and talked about her husband who recently died and now she is stuck with his cards. I got the feeling that she is savvy and knows she has some value in the collection. I am always honest and up front with everybody. I told her that I buy for resale and can't pay top dollar. She seemed to understand. I gave her my contact info.
I was kind of struck by some of the things she told me. Her husband's health deteriorated to the point where she could not care for him and placed him in a nursing home just before the Pandemic. She regularly brought him a box of cards to flip through while he was in the nursing home. She said it helped him with memory issues and he enjoyed it greatly.
Got me thinking -- this will be my wife and I in the not-so-distant future. I just love flipping through boxes of old cards. I do it every day! My wife better be prepared to bring me boxes after she places me in a nursing home!!
Then I met a really nice father and son who said they are big fans of this blog. Thanks guys! I appreciate you and everyone who follows my card adventures!!
They told me about a live auction they recently attended that featured a large collection of Chicago sports related items, including cards and autographs. They were able to win a few groups and brought some stuff to sell. They gave me a real nice price on a stack of White Sox cards from the 1950's and 1960's. Thank you!!!
They also had some groups of autograph cards. They were really cool!! I don't really sell autographs but I do collect them. If you guys are reading this, can you give me a price on those autographs at the show next month? The more I thought about it, the more I want them!!
With slow sales, I was short on funds at the show. I turned down quite a bit of stuff. I have one regular customer that always brings me a box. I told him, maybe next month.
I was soooo tired at the end of the day. I needed some extra caffeine for the drive home, which went smoothly.
I thought I would pass out once I got home but ended up pricing cards for the National.
I want to end this blog with a shout out to my new buddy Gregg out in Atlantic City who is a fan of this blog and took care of me like family. Thanks to Greg, I knew I was going to have an amazing time at the National. I appreciate you! Thank you!!
This blog is taking on a life of its own. Once again, many great compliments received in Madison. I can't thank you guys enough for the support.
Dave picked me up Monday morning around 9:30 a.m. Prior, I was worried about fitting everything in his car but everything worked out. I was more than gitty heading out to Atlantic City. I have never been to Atlantic City or New Jersey for that matter. I love to travel. I love going to new places. I especially love stuffing my face with food while traveling. I, of course, love cards. What could be better than trucking out to Atlantic City for the best card show in the world? Nothing!! Life is good!!
National blogs coming soon!
Below is a photo from the July 23rd Madison show.