Over the years I have watched many, many card shows come and go. I know first-hand that operating a card show is not as easy as it seems. The most difficult aspect, in my experience, is securing a venue. There just are not that many venues out there that have the right amount of space to house a card show at a reasonable price. Most venues want exorbitant prices to rent their space, making the proposed event cost-prohibitive.
Next issue to overcome is the venue's management which is often hostile to card shows because card shows do not spend thousands of dollars on catering. Venues want big-ass weddings where they can charge a huge chunk of change just for the space and then another chunk of cash for catering. Card shows just need the space sans catering, so often card shows lose out, as was my experience when I started my show at the Clarion Hotel in Milwaukee. After three simple uneventful years at the Clarion, the Marriot Corp. came in, purchased the hotel, and started giving me a beat down, eventually kicking me out. They were up front, albeit ass-wipes, and booted me because they could not make $30K on my event. Thankfully, I landed on my feet at the Salvation Army in Oak Creek and the rest is history.
My pal Curtis has undergone his own battles with his show in Woodstock, Illinois. I am not sure when he started the show, maybe five years ago. He had a nice, quaint location, at a neighborhood church. As I reported previously, the show went on for years without a hitch until a new pastor came in and booted him out.
Curtis then started the difficult task of finding a new venue. I received regular reports and was happy to learn that he found a new venue, not far from the church, a mile or so west, at Woodstock North High School.
The last show at the church was in November. The first show at the high school was last Saturday. Having no idea where this school was located, I plugged it into the Google Maps app on my phone.
Siri took me on a different route than I had been traversing to the church. This route seemed less populated and more pleasureable. Still lots of farms and windy roads.
You may recall that my last venture to the church show in Woodstock resulted in a speeding ticket in the town of Lakemoor back in October. I have since attended court on my ticket which resulted in a nolle prosequi, which is lawyer-speak for a dismissal.
I drove much slower this time around, especially when I arrived in Lakemoor. No issues on the drive. Woodstock North is a huge high school that looks brand new. Folks at the show told me it is about 10 years old.
My high school, on the other hand, is old and crusty. They never cleared off the grime from the class of 1962. Woodstock North is spotless.
The show was held in the cafeteria which is beautiful with floor to ceiling windows, slate floors and excellent lighting. I felt like I was in a nice hotel lobby rather than a high school cafeteria.
I think Curtis had about 30 tables out. He used a little less than half of the cafeteria so he can fit another 30 or so tables in there easily. He told me the venue only has 32 8-footers, so he is limiting the tables to 32. I volunteered to bring my own, if need be. There is definitely room here to grow.
There was so much space that Curtis urged all the dealers to bring an extra card table -- most dealers complied, myself included. With the two eight footers and a card table, I was able to place out just about all of my binders. There was so much space between vendor tables that I even set out four of my bins and placed binders on top of them as well. I think I had just three or four binders that I could not get out.
The school was hopping on this chilly morning. There was a band event in the adjacent auditorium along with a swim meet on the other side of the building. I was happy to see a concession stand where I dined on a brat, which actually tasted more like a Polish Sausage, and a hot dog along with several diet Pepsis.
Nice crowd! I was a little concerned at the beginning, knowing there were competing shows on this day in Janesville and Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, both just an hour or so away from Woodstock. We had a real steady crowd most of the day. Probably a larger crowd than I have seen at any of the church shows.
Leading up to the show, I was not sure what to bring out. The church shows were not very strong for me. I really struggled to lure in vintage collectors/buyers. I initially had just one table for the high school and was thinking to bring out some 1980's/1990's unopened wax boxes and my vintage cheapy boxes. However, I put out a message on my Fat Daddy's Facebook page and several guys responded that they wanted to see the binders, so binders it was.
I was elated to see some new customers first thing in the morning with lists in hand. Vintage set builders are my people. This show had a surprisingly large number of vintage set builders. They all pulled out some cards from various binders.
Long-time customer Angel arrived early. Prior to the show, Angel had requested 1971-72 Topps basketball. My basketball binders have been hit pretty good but Angel still was able to find some cards. In addition, he pulled a large pile from several baseball binders. Thanks Angel!
Quite a few new customers pulled out cards from my late 1970's football binders. Thanks guys! Hope to see you again! I had one new customer that combed through my baseball binders from the 1970's looking for clean checklists. He was very disappointed that all my 1975 Topps checklists were marked. He did find some clean ones in my 1977 Topps baseball binder.
Matt asked for 1965 and 1971 baseball binders prior to the show. He was able to find some cards. Though, I need to reload those as well. I am currently working on reloading 1978 Topps baseball. The '78 is a huge set. I am not sure when I will have that one done.
Also, prior to the show, Phil had asked for 1978 through 1983. I did not bring out the '78s and my '79 binder is low on cards, so I brought out a couple of 10-cent boxes that had cards from 1976 through 1984. Phil did not look through the boxes. He about finished off my '79 binder. Thanks Phil!
Even though I brought those boxes out for Phil, I was surprised that many other guys dug through them and found cards. Big Tom pulled a large pile. Thanks Tom! Tom's pal Kevin pulled out a bunch of cards from my 1962 Topps baseball binder. Thanks Kevin!
Then there is Jim, who I see absolutely everywhere! Jim uses an old Beckett Annual from the 1980's as a checklist. He found a few cards and gave me lots of compliments about the Oak Creek show. Jim says his wife loves the Oak Creek show because there is real nice shopping for her nearby.
Then a few parents from the band concert dug through my binders. No bites. They had lots of questions of which I was happy to answer. Overall, sales were much better than expected.
Also better than expected was the opportunities to buy. I bought a small box of cards from Ron. Thanks Ron! Phil had some George Gervin cards from the 1970's that I purchased. I purchased a 1968 Topps Roberto Clemente Sporting News All Star from a random customer. Then I purchased 1970 and 1971 Topps Super Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. The seller gave me a nice price on the Mays and Aaron cards but was too high on a binder of others.
Then I turned down a few other items. A guy was walking around a few basketball binders from the 1990's. No thank you. Then a lady had a binder filled with 1969 through 1972 Topps baseball. This was her childhood collection and it showed. The cards were beat. She pointed to a 1969 Topps Roberto Clemente and told me it was a valuable card. Unfortunately, her Clemente looked as if she crumpled it up, placed it into her pocket, brought it to school, stomped on it then taped it to her bicycle spokes. I explained to her that the card has practically no value in that condition. The most I could offer for the binder was $100. I am pretty sure she went home with them. I am happy to purchase off-grade cards but I need them cheap because I cannot sell them for much. I just won't spend more than I can earn on reselling the cards. Unfortunately, many folks think their off-grade cards have much more value than they actually do.
I was busy all morning then things quieted down at my tables in the afternoon. Though, there were still people in the room when I packed up and went home around 2:15 p.m.
One last note, remember my buddy Phil who I talked about in my last Orland blog? Well, Phil brought me a copy of his newly released CD which I played on the way home from Woodstock. Sounds like Muddy Waters meets Black Sabbath with female vocals. I enjoyed it. See Phil at the Orland show for your copy!
Next Woodstock show is Saturday, February 18, 2023. I plan on setting up, even though Curtis did not guarantee me a spot. There is so much space here. There has gotta be a spot for me!
In the meantime, I have a double bill weekend coming up. The first one is Saturday, January 28, 2023, in Rockford. The show is no longer at the Rock Church, which double their rental rates. John and Mike found a new location at IBEW Local 364, 6820 Mill Road, in Rockford. Then on Sunday, January 29, 2023, we are back in Orland for a second January show. I am bringing out display cases this weekend. I have a lot of new items priced and ready to go. Let me know if you want me to bring any binders.
A big thank you to Curtis and everyone in Woodstock. I had a really nice time!
In other news, I am sorry to report that our good friend Carl Zechel has died. Carl was a vintage dealer and a regular at just about all of the Wisconsin shows. Carl would set up with his wife Anne. Extremely nice folks. My condolences to Carl's family and friends.
Also, sorry to report that the New Berlin show has suspended its operation until a new venue is found. Gary told me a couple of weeks ago that the venue was raising its rental rate. As I stated earlier, it is soooo difficult to find an affordable venue. I really like the New Berlin show and am hopeful Gary and Andrew find a new location soon! Good luck guys!
Next Oak Creek show is coming up on February 4. I have many new vendors lined up. Vendors, who read this blog, could you please pay me for your space in advance? With around 130 vendors now, it has gotten too difficult for me to walk the building and collect table fee from everyone. Send me PayPal, friends and family, using my email email@example.com