It is nice to see the sun rise a little earlier. I drive all winter to the various card shows in early morning darkness when I much prefer the soft light of the morning sun. I made it to the Clarion around 7 a.m. The first thing I noticed was that the seagulls were back. A particularly packed parking lot was filled with cars acting as resting spots for pooping birds. The hotel manager told me that staff had lit some firecrackers near the birds to try and get them to go away. My guess is that the firecrackers attract more birds because there was a ton of them out there.
Once in the hotel, my first task is always to fix up the tables. Next, I go and fetch a hotel cart from the lobby. I had one load in when Larry showed up. Before I could finish the second load, Jerry showed up. Soon there was a line of dealers waiting for the cart. Seemed like all the dealers showed up at once and needed the cart. Barbara retrieved a second cart from the lobby.
We had a really nice dealer line up for this show with Larry, Jerry, Pat & Barbara, whose table is pictured above, Gary, PJ, Robin and new dealer Bill along with yours truly. Everybody showed up! Well sort of, I was contacted earlier in the week by the Milwaukee CBS television station who said they were going to come out and interview folks at the show. I dressed up a bit for my TV debut but the crew never showed. They missed out because we had a really nice show!
Usually Jerome is the first customer but he was on vacation this month. In his place, Mark took the title of the first customer of the day. Mark came early because he was celebrating his mother's 91st birthday later that day. Happy B-Day to Mark's mum. Also, a big thank you to Mark for his purchases.
After Mark left, Jim showed up with a nice hot cup of coffee for me. Jim also purchased a few cards. I think I talked about Jim in the past. He is working on baseball sets from the 1950s. With some of the years, he is working on his third and fourth sets. I love guys like Jim who build multiple sets of the same years. They get to know those sets intimately. They know which cards are difficult, the variations, and have memorized the numbers of the cards. You can just about name any player in the 1953 Topps set and Jim can tell you the card number, along with how difficult it is to find the card centered, any variations, and current pricing. I always look forward to talking with Jim.
Jason was also an early morning visitor and found a few cards at my tables. I had 10, 8-foot tables at this show and really cracked open the Fat Daddy vaults to fill up the space. The best part of being a promoter is getting a large amount of table space. I pack my car floor to ceiling when I come out to the Clarion. I had all sorts of new stuff out like three binders of autographs, a binder of publications, a binder of assorted paper memorabilia, a binder of 1980s oddball baseball, and two boxes of basketball and football dime cards from the 1990s to the early 2000s. My football dime box received quite a work out. I was amazed at the number of Dante Culpepper cards I sold.
A new customer purchased quite a few Chicago Cubs and Bears cards. He told me he grew up in Franklin Park, Illinois, which is a near-northwest suburb of Chicago. The customer now lives in Milwaukee. Another customer purchased a 1960 Topps Sandy Koufax that was a real beauty. Another customer, named Jim, collects Pittsburgh Pirates cards. He found a few on my table.
A couple of regular customers, who are building Milwaukee Braves team sets, found some cards in my binders. I had reloaded 1965 Topps baseball for this show. Oddly, I did not sell a whole lot of 1965s. I did sell some of the 1969 Topps Football 4 In 1 inserts that I brought out.
Overall, I had a really nice day and sold quite a few cards. On the buying front, I picked up a smattering of 1953 and 1954 Topps baseball, some 1954 Bowman baseball and some 1962 Post baseball from Larry. On Robin's table I found some wrappers for Marvel Superhero stickers. I remember buying packs of these stickers when I was a kid in the mid-1970s. I still have some of the original ones I bought around 1975. On Pat's table I found a Boston Braves program from 1946. I'm starting to accumulate a few programs from the 1940s for no particular reason other than I think they are really cool.
Dealers reported decent sales. Attendance was up from the February show. I liked that new dealer Bill S. brought a group of people with him. Bill also did a nice job promoting the show and his appearance at the show on Facebook. I think it was a famous politician who said "It takes a village to promote a card show." I couldn't agree more. I need all hands on deck to help promote the show.
Next one is slated for Saturday, April 1, 2017. Hope you can make it!
Sunday, March 5, 2017, Wyndham Garden, Schaumburg, Illinois
I did not have the same type of monster show I had in February but it was still pretty good. A new customer, who drove down from Rockford, spent a lot of time at my table in the morning and purchased quite a few cards. Jim J. purchased my 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson. Thanks Jim! Chuck found quite a few cards at my tables. Randy pulled some 1959s. Willie always buys some cards from me. A bunch of other guys purchased cards but of course I can't remember everyone's name. Thanks everybody for the purchases!!
It may not have been a monster day selling but it certainly was a monster day buying. I had a deal worked out before the show and purchased 28,000 cards. Most of the stuff is junk but there are some real nice groupings from the 1960s. I also purchased a nice group of 1970-71 Topps basketball cards. Then the buy of the day was a handful of 1954 Red Heart baseball cards. The '54 Red Hearts are one of my favorites from the post-War era.
So once again, I spent more money than I made, which seems to be the theme for 2017. My inventory is a little wacky right now. I have been trying to price all this new stuff but I can't seem to keep up. I have a lot of good stuff right now!!
Sunday, March 12, 2017, Gonzaga Hall, Milwaukee
Okay, this daylight savings thing really blows. I normally wake up at 5 a.m. for the Gonzaga show. Because of daylight savings, it was really 4 a.m. when I woke. Ugh! Winter has returned to the southern end of Lake Michigan and it was cold and dark when I loaded up the car. I was surprised at the amount of traffic venturing up north. I was soooo tired. I stopped in Kenosha for some cheap gas, about $2.17 a gallon. Unfortunately, I was too early for the gas station shop and could not get any coffee. I made it to Gonzaga around 7:45, really 6:45 because of that damn daylight savings time. Did I say I was tired. I ended up accidentally smashing one of my display cases, double ugh! Keith was kind enough to sweep up the glass. Thanks Keith!
I had to change my set up a bit since I lost one display case. I was unable to put out my programs from the 1940s. I'll bring an extra case to Gonzaga next month so I can get the programs out. I saw Jason G., formerly of Milwaukee, now living in California. Jason was in town early for the Sun-Times show.
Customers started to trickle in while I was loading up the remaining display cases I did not smash. There is this one older gentleman who is always at my tables early at Gonzaga. I have to ask him his name next month because he is one of my first customers at just about every show. He is working on baseball sets from the 1960s and always purchases a nice pile of cards from me.
Jerome was back in town and found some cards in my 1965 Topps baseball binder. Several regulars had emailed me prior to the show and I pulled some things for them. One of those guys was Rod, who visits the Gonzaga show just a couple times a year. I've known Rod now for quite some time, having met him at Gonzaga years ago. Rod is collecting Bowman baseball from 1954 and 1955 along with mid-1950s Topps baseball. He always brings me a nice group to either trade or sell. On this day, we made a trade and I purchased the remaining cards. Thanks Rod!
Brent also emailed me before the show and brought me a box of 1960s Philadelphia football cards. Thanks Brent! Another email came from Bill from Illinois who brought me some 1965 Topps baseball high numbers. Thanks Bill.
So Jerome, Rod, Bill, Brent and about a dozen other guys showed up at my table at once. I was literally trying to help about 20 people at once. This was the first time I felt overwhelmed at a card show. I can usually handle a crowd but this one was a little too big. I don't know how, but I think I was able to help everyone. There were trades, sales, questions, and discussions all going on at once. Seemed like this lasted for a few hours than boom, nothing. It was so strange to be extremely busy then it seemed like the sea parted and no one was left in the room. Where did everyone go? What a weird but great day.
Again, I went home with no money because I spent every penny on cards. In addition to the stuff I picked up from Rod, Brent and Bill, I purchased a group of 1963 Fleer baseball from Terry. Thanks guys!
Did I mention that I have a crazy inventory right now. Oh my! Anyway, a big thank you to everyone at Gonzaga for another excellent show!
Thursday - Sunday, March 16 -19, 2017, Fanatics Show, Rosemont, IL
My real job is complicating my efforts to do this show. It is tough to work my real job then head to the Fanatics show on Thursday and Friday. The show technically starts on Friday but I must set up on Thursday night because I always have to work Friday during the day during the regular show set up time. So on Thursday, March 16, I represented clients in the court house in Rolling Meadows in the morning then in the Daley Center in Downtown Chicago in the afternoon. I made it home after 3 p.m. and loaded up the car with cards. I was on the road to Rosemont around 4 p.m. The I294 Tollway was a parking lot. I arrived at the Stephens Center around 5:30 p.m. A normal 1/2 drive took an hour and a half.
As usual, I was unable to obtain a cart. I know I have discussed this before but here is a refresher. The Stephens Center provides four or five carts for the dealers to use. But this show attracts many inconsiderate national dealers who won't relinquish the venue's cart. So I am stuck loading in with my little cart that I brought from home and it takes a while because in addition to my usual gear of binders and display cases, I bring a pile of card tables to create the wonderful booth folks have come to know and love.
Once load in is completed, then begins, what I affectionately call, "The Goofball Parade." These guys aren't dealers, they are folks that know they can just walk into the show on Thursday night, pay no entry fee, no hassles, and start harassing the dealers. They stand around and watch me unfold my card tables, place them, then stare into my bins and start flipping through my binders as soon as I place them on a table. Now I am not even set up, I am just figuring out where I want everything to go. Once I figure out how I am going to lay everything out, I need to spend a great deal of time tying down the binders because the Rosemont shows attract thieves. The Goofball Parade slows up the whole process. I don't know any of these people, they never buy anything, they just annoy the hell out of me.
"Are those complete sets," asked some buck-toothed yokel, who invaded my personal space. "No," I responded, thinking even if they were complete sets, Bucky, who is much too close to me, would never pay anything near what I paid for them.
My goal on Thursday night is to set up the booth as quickly as possible and get out of Dodge. I'm always tired from working all day and I'm hungry because I have not yet eaten dinner. Dinner and family wait for me at home. I don't want to hang out with Bucky.
Now, back in the day, there were some big-time buyers wandering around on Thursday night. In those days, I did not mind chatting with folks while I was setting up because I knew those guys were serious buyers. But for some unknown reason, the big spenders have disappeared. It has been years since I had a decent Thursday night sale. In fact, the amount of people that show up now on a Thursday night is about 1/10th of what it used to be. Pretty much everyone stopped coming on Thursday night except the Parade of Goofballs. Though, there are a handful of guys that I know well and I don't mind seeing them. These people respect my personal space and may actually make a purchase. The Parade of Goofballs, however, are a different story.
Anyway, I finished tying down the last binder around 7:30 p.m. and closed up shop. I was up bright and early Friday morning representing a client in the court house in Skokie. I then informed my paralegal that I was taking the rest of the day off. I went home, changed clothes, loaded up some more stuff and had an easy drive to Rosemont at about 11 a.m. Sitting at the booth was the man with the plan, Dave McDonald. I don't know how long I have been setting up at this show with Dave. It may be around 15 years. Our third guy, Bob, was out of town with his family for Spring Break. People asked about Bob all weekend long. I think I may get a little extra space when it is just Dave but I lose a lot of entertainment because Bob is so freakin' funny. Bob's goal in life is to corner the market on 1969 Topps Football Dick Shiner cards, enough said. I also miss Bob's brother Bill who skips the show when Bob doesn't set up. Bill has a great baseball mind with a ton of history stored up there.
So I had a bit more work to do on my set up on Friday. Once every thing was in place, I observed that the room had filled up with other dealers. The dealer on my left, pinched a little of my space by having his display case hang over my card table. He also had a stack of show flyers hanging off his display case that hung over my card tables -- not a good way to get me to set up at your show. Dealers at this show will pinch whatever they can from your space. I was kind of pissed off about the pinching but I accepted it. I kept checking to make sure his display case and flyers didn't inhibit anyone from flipping through my binders. At some point, I am going to have to build a fence around my space, like many dealers do, to block the pinching.
Anyway, I ended up with quite a bit of space because Dave just needs one 8-foot table and one card table. I use the 8-footer, provided by the promoter, and six card tables along with placing my storage bins out as de facto tables. Most of my binders were out along with seven display cases, my cheapy boxes, a stack of publications, and a few framed items. I thought the booth looked cool. I had reloaded my 1969-70 Topps basketball binder for this show. I also put out new binders of 1959 and 1960 Topps baseball that I had been sitting on for months. I actually made two binders of the '59s and '60s a few months ago because I had so many cards. I also had quite a few new cards priced for my display cases.
With things quiet at the booth after set up, I took a little walk around. First thing I noticed was there were a lot less dealers from the November show. Also, many big named dealers were missing.
Once the doors opened to the public, I observed throughout the afternoon that there were far less customers than on the first night of the November show. Other than Tony S., sales were slow. A shop owner I met at the Madison show purchased some cards. Long-time customers Larry and Carol found cards in my cheapy boxes. A few more small sales and that was about it for Friday night.
Buying, on the other hand, was very good. A dealer I know from Michigan had a nice selection of pre-War at reasonable prices. I picked up some T205s. I purchased a few Mantles and some star cards from 1971 Topps like Rose and Munson from another dealer. An older gentleman showed up at my table with a near set of 1975-76 Topps basketball cards. The set is missing six ABA commons. We were able to reach an agreement and the cards are now mine. I think I will find the missing commons and resell as a complete set. All the cards are nice!
As occurred at the last two Fanatics shows, my buying was better than selling. It seems the Fanatics show is becoming a buying show for me. I just can't seem to generate the volume of sales that I need at this show.
Now I want switch gears and talk about rude dealers. While I think it is great that anyone can be a sports card dealer, one of the problems with this freedom is that many guys have no training or do not have the proper character to deal with the public. Case in point, Marty from Marty's Cards. I think he is based out of Kentucky. He is in the same spot at every show and I have to walk past his booth during my many diabetic induced trips to the washroom. On one of my bathroom trips, I saw a childhood friend Jeff and his wife looking at wax at Marty's booth. I said hello to Jeff and introduced myself to his wife, whom I have never met. They live in Phoenix and Jeff was only in Chicago because his dad recently died. I knew his dad well. So we started reminiscing about his father and stood in front of Marty's booth for 20 minutes or so. I will also mention again, that there was not much of a crowd in the room.
Marty came around his table and barked at us for blocking his booth from customers. Well there were no customers other than Jeff who probably would have purchased some wax if Marty did not shoo us away. I assumed that Marty knew Jeff because he is a big buyer. Jeff has money to burn. He is the kind of guy that if he is in front of your booth, you might want to shut everything down and give him the red-carpet treatment. Instead, Jeff and I walked away shaking our heads.
Now I could understand a guy telling us to leave if we were actually blocking the booth from customers but like I said, there were very few customers around. And again, Jeff has money to spend and Marty lost a serious sale because Jeff was going to buy copious amounts of wax. It has been my experience that a little kindness can generate some sales. Nobody wants to be treated like crap. Many dealers just don't get it. I am going to avoid Marty's booth like the plague for now on.
Turning this negative into a positive, I received a great many compliments about this blog on the first night of the Fantaics show. Folks I never met were coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoy Fat Daddy's Blog. Thanks guys! I probably would not take the time to do this if I did not get so many positive comments.
On Day two of the Fanatics Show, Saturday, March 18, 2017, we had a nice crowd early on and sales were brisk. A father and son team, working on White Sox sets, found some 1964s. A customer I know from Madison, Wisc., purchased my 1964 Topps Giants Hank Aaron. Corey, affectionately known as stats, found a few cards to send out for signatures.
A regular customer purchased some 1962 Topps baseball. Another regular pulled some 1956 Topps baseball. A new customer pulled some cards from my cheapy boxes. He told me he was buying Redskins cards for a display he was crafting for his daughter as part of a wedding gift.
A regular customer purchased cards from the 1950s. A new customer found some 1953 Topps baseball. A young customer purchased some 1975-76 Topps basketball cards. Long-time customer Jason from Wisconsin, purchased a bunch of cards from the mid-1960s. Then a bunch of guys hit the cheapy boxes.
My space must have been located right under a loud speaker because there was a deafening sound announcing the autograph guests throughout the show. The public address announcer was so loud that I had to stop conversations every time he made an announcement.
Speaking of these announcements, I found it curious that there was a large number of actors and actresses signing autographs. These folks have nothing to do with sports. Isn't this the Fanatics Sports Spectacular? I heard names like Linda Blair, Barry Williams (Greg Brady), and Christy McNichol, among others. While I am not interested in an autograph from these folks, I do have to admit that I really wanted a photo with them.
Anyway, sales on Saturday were up but still not where I would like them to be. I thought traffic at my booth was okay.
I went to town buying cards again. I picked up a bunch of old hockey, along with more Mantles, a large group of Walter Payton cards from 1978 to 1986, some semi-star cards from the 1960s, and some 1960 Leaf. Once again, I left the show with no money having spent it all on cards. This is starting to get silly.
On Day 3 at the Fanatics Show, Sunday, March 19, 2017, I expected and received my typical Sunday at this show where everything slows down. Both sales and buys were slow. Not a whole lot to report from the final day. As usual, I was ready to leave by noon but there is no way out of this show. You have to wait till 4 p.m. when they allow dealers to drive into the building.
My overall assessment of the March 2017 Fanatics Show is that sales were up, buys were up, I enjoyed myself and will probably be back in November. The Fanatics people are holding a small show in Rosemont in May but I won't attend. I checked out their spring show last year and it was a joke. The only way I would set up at the spring show is if they cut their table fees in half. Currently they charge the same table fee for the spring show which does not generate much traffic at all. Anyway, I am looking forward to the November show.
Sunday, March 26, 2017, Civic Center, Orland Park, IL
I am settling in at my new spot along the wall. Rick was my first customer of the day, just like the old days. Lots of old time regulars settled in and purchased cards like Will, Dan, Gil, Mike and Chris. Many other guys purchased cards, names I cannot remember. Sales were once again very good. Buying was once again very good.
On the buying front, I picked up a collection of cards from 1954 through 1969. I also purchased a nice grouping of 1970's basketball and a handful of 1957, 1958 and 1959 baseball. I came home with quite a haul.
Many folks stop to chat and we talk about completing sets, finding elusive high numbers, finding certain players autographs and what not. For the past couple of months, Joe has been telling me about an old Yankees piece that he is trying to get autographed. He pretty much has all the autos he needs except for Tony Kubek. He has written Kubek a few times with no response and has all about given up on getting him to sign the piece. However, he received a call last week and it was from Tony Kubek! Mr. Kubek told Joe that he has had some health issues and is a little shaky, resulting in a shaky signature. Mr. Kubek offered to sign the piece and that he would try his best to produce a nice signature. I was so impressed. Tony Kubek is a superstar!
Now for a customer who is less than a superstar. If you have ever visited my table at a show, you know that my prices are reasonable. I am not trying to get rich or take advantage of anyone. I place a fair price on my merchandise. Case in point, I recently acquired a 1970-71 O-Pee-Chee Bobby Clarke Rookie Card. The card is in rough shape but high books at $120. It is also a very difficult card to find, especially here in the Chicago area because O-Pee-Chee cards were distributed in Canada, not Chicago, USA. So, based on the condition, I priced the card at $20. A guy I've known for years, stopped to look at it. Now this guy is not a regular customer. He stops by my table to show me his purchases. I love looking at old cards and am always happy to compliment him on his buys. He also regularly tries to sell me stuff always at a price much too high.
Anyway, he offers me 10 bucks for the Bobby Clarke. I say "no." I'm willing to go down to $15 but explain that 12 percent of the high book price is a pretty fair amount and I am not willing to go any lower. He gives me the line that the condition makes the card a "filler." I know he can't find another one in Chicago, I'm the only one selling the card, filler or not. $15 is fair. Now I am not one to regularly haggle over five bucks but I am arguing on principle now. Here is a guy who never buys from me and I have a card that I probably priced too low that he wants for half of my sticker price. No way!
He went away and came back two or three times to check out the card. On the fourth time he offers me a Wilt Chamberlain poster insert from the early 1970s. I don't know much about the poster. I ask him how much he wants for it. He won't give me a number and wants me to make an offer. I hate this, I know very well that he has a number in mind. So I ask him what the poster goes for. He says $35 to $25 on eBay. I tell him honestly that I would buy it for resale and can only offer $15. He says no but wants to cut a deal using the poster for the Clarke. He has two Chamberlain posters. He offers the posters in exchange for $45 and the Clarke. I say no. I lose is this scenario. As much as I enjoy card shows and cards, I must make a profit or I can't afford to set up every weekend. There is no profit for me in the scenario. He eventually offers to sell me one of the Chamberlains for $15. I accept. He then offers $12 for the Clarke. I begrudgingly accept. I still think he gets the better deal but I am not losing money.
Now when I see this guy in the future, I don't want to look at his cards and I don't want him offering me over-priced items. I need to get him to just walk by my table. Maybe I'll put out fake stickers on my hockey cards with high prices. I need to keep this guy away. There are plenty of people who will pay a fair price for my items, I don't need this guy around.
Except for the hockey guy, I had a really nice day in Orland and plan on setting up at both shows in April. In the meantime, come out to my show on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at the Clarion, 5311 S. Howell, in Milwaukee!! I will have lots of hockey at reasonable prices. Lowballers stay home!