As my waiting list for dealer tables has grown, I have been looking for options to get more dealers into the show. I thought maybe I could do a second show at a larger venue but was unable to get any response from the venues I contacted. My guy at the Sal, Mark, has been offering more space in the Salvation Army Community Center but the venue is out of tables and dealers would have to bring in their own tables. I saw a lot of problems with this option but after seeing the Game Room last month and having my waiting list top out at 70 people, I decided to give the new room a shot.
I was surprised at the number of people I contacted on the waiting list who did not bother to respond to me. It took much longer than I figured to line up the new dealers. Mark and I estimated we could fit 24 tables in the Game Room. I initially had 17 new dealers but there was one numbnut who would throw things off. When I contacted numbnut and told him he would have to bring his own table, he wanted to negotiate the table fee. Problem is, I had to pay full price for the room, thus, I had to charge full price for the table -- a measly 25 bucks. I am probably the only 100-table show in the country that charges just $25 for table space. If you can't pay $25 for space at a card show, you probably should not set up.
Initially, numbnut told me he could not set up at the May 1 show because he was going to set up at a flea market. Now, I know from experience, that flea markets do not provide you with tables and charge more than $25 for the space. So I was a little aggravated when he asked for a reduced table fee. I told him I was going to move on down my wait list and offer the space to someone else willing to pay the $25 and who won't be a hassle. He responded that he would pay the $25. Fine, I thought we were good.
Then he texts the morning before the show stating he can't make it because he has a doctor's appointment Saturday morning and he forgot about. Ugh! I contacted four more people from the waiting list, but none could do the show with such short notice. So I am pissed off at numbnut.
Luckily, it worked out because 23 tables in the Game Room proved to be awfully tight. I knew it was going to be a crazy morning in the Game Room with 16 dealers bringing in their own tables. As I predicted, some took too much space and others took too little space. One of my new dealers didn't bring a table. Prior to the show, I told him that he could only set up if he brought his own table. Ugh!
Luckily, the Sal put out more than the 73 tables I requested and I was able to put this new guy in the hallway. He sold all of his cards around 10 a.m., paid me and left. Then another dealer, who arrived way late, took the table in the hallway. I also screwed up in the gym and forgot to print a nameplate for a couple of long-time dealers. Luckily, they arrived early enough and we were able to switch things around and get them their regular spot in the gym. Sorry guys!
It was a crazy morning. I got there around 6:15 a.m. and saw that my guys at the Sal did a tremendous job setting up the rooms the day before. I just had to get those name plates out as soon as I could because the dealers were starting to arrive. Once again, no one pays attention to my official set up time of 8 a.m.
I placed myself in the Game Room so I could monitor the placement of the dealer tables as they arrived. However, I found myself running all over the building dealing with my goof ups and dealers who wanted to switch around so I could not keep track of the Game Room. One dealer in the Game Room took up way too much space and created a bottleneck in the room. Thankfully there was the numbnut who cancelled because there wasn't any space for him. I now know I can only fit 23 tables in the Game Room. Mark worked with several of the dealers to clear up the bottleneck. Afterwards, I thought the Game Room looked pretty cool. I loved having all those new dealers in there! 100 tables! My largest show to date!
Mark said we could even expand to another room. I still have a ton of people on the waiting list but I want to get that Game Room under control before I add another room where dealers have to bring in their own tables. This is becoming the labyrinth show with all these rooms. I just need some knights and dwarfs roaming around for full labyrinth effect.
So the Game Room is a fairly large room and I think it sucked out customers from the other rooms. Some dealers commented that they thought there were less customers than last month. I disagree, there is just a lot more space for the customers to roam. Look at that photo up top. Sure looks like a lot of customers came out to the show!
Business was brisk at my tables in the Game Room early on. I brought out one display case that I filled mostly with 1951 Bowman baseball. I also brought out all of my football, basketball and hockey binders. I know some regular customers were disappointed that I did not bring out the baseball binders but with just two tables, I have to rotate my inventory each month. Last month, quite a few guys were disappointed I did not bring out the football and basketball.
Mark S. was one of my early customers and he picked up a bunch of stuff including some 1965 Topps tall-boy football. Robin was there as well, filling in some basketball sets and 1978 Topps football. Robin sold me some cards as well. Thanks Robin. I actually had a bit of a buying frenzy early on. Todd was there with some football binders to sell. We negotiated a deal and I took the binders. Thanks for working with me Todd. Then Tom came by with two amazingly cool posters from the early 1950s that were essentially schedules for the White Sox and Cubs. I paid more than I would have liked but I have never seen these items before. Looks like they were posted on passenger trains. Normally, I buy for resale but these puppies are going up in the card bunker. To top out my buying was a new guy who had a variety of stuff including five or six Johnny Unitas cards and a 1960 Topps Duke Snider. He came by twice with cards to sell and I bought them all each time. I ended up with a nice haul and dropped a pretty penny in the first hour of the show!
I am so thankful for Craig and Doreen. Craig always buys a pile of cards from me and Doreen snags me a sloppy Joe sandwich. Nothing better than one of Ken's Sloppy Joe's for breakfast. Thank you Doreen!! I actually was able to get away from my table late in the show to snag a second sloppy Joe. I also took some home and dined happily on it all weekend. My wife is a big fan of the sloppy Joe as well. My kids are picky and missed out!
Some other regulars purchased cards like George and Kristy. We hope to get together soon and take in a White Sox game. I had a bunch more regulars purchase cards whose names escape me. Then I had a ton of new customers. One guy complained that I had my 1970 Len Dawson cards priced at 10 bucks a pop. Well, the cards are Minty, book at $20 and would probably go for $40-plus once graded. I just let the guy talk. I know my cards are priced reasonably. He did buy a few cards.
I had two autograph hounds that I had not seen before. One of them told me he was just a few cards away from completing an entire autographed set of 1958 Topps. Pretty cool I thought.
I chatted with quite a few folks at my table which is one of the aspects I love about the show. I sell vintage cards because I flat out love them. I love the history of sports and the history of collecting. I also love hearing stories. One guy was telling me about buying 1958 Topps at the store when he was a kid. He said he pulled so many Mantles that he got sick of them and threw most of them away. Wow!
My helpers Jason and Rachel arrived at 11 a.m. so I could get out there and collect table fees from the dealers. I started my rounds with Harry by the front door in the gym. When I got there, I observed a guy at the corner of the stage with boxes of cards spread out and selling them. I kind of felt that he should pay me a table fee! I asked Harry if he had a problem with the guy basically selling cards right in front of his table. Harry seemed to be okay with it and didn't want me to tell the guy to move on. I still didn't like it and asked a few other nearby dealers what they thought about this guy setting up on the corner of the stage and selling cards.
Jeremy didn't seem to mind and said the guy came to him first and offered him the cards, which is the right thing to do. I have no problem with folks offering cards to dealer but when they start selling to customers at the show, I feel they need to get on my waiting list for tables and wait to purchase a dealer table before selling cards at the show. It is not fair to me. I spend a great deal of time and money to bring these people to the show. It is also not fair to the dealers who pay me for the right to sell at the show. More and more, I think I need to hire someone, maybe a retired or off-duty police officer, to police the show.
Jeremy also commented that the guy selling cards, who was rather large, was rather stinky. I've noticed this for years, not just at my show, but all card shows. There seems to be some hygiene issues with a segment of the card show public. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for spending a day, sitting at home, watching TV, eating food, and not bathing or having a care in the world, but, when you are in public, I think it is a common courtesy that you bathe before leaving home and avoid stinking up the joint.
Then Jeremy told me about another recent Sal show where someone either at his table or nearby had some gas issues. Jeremy learned of the gas when he took off his mask to take a drink and almost passed out when he inhaled a snout full of some heavy doody putrid magma. Jeremy said a customer at his table complained he could smell it through his mask. He also said that before the gas attack, his table was full of customers but when the putrid air encompassed the table, the folks viewing his cards fled for cleaner air.
Attention all! Please do not fart in my show!! If you have some gas, take it outside! Nobody wants to deal with your farts!! Along those same lines, nobody wants to deal with your BO. Please bathe before attending the show!
Getting back to the guy set up on the edge of the stage, much later in the show, I saw that Jason's dad purchased all the cards. I warned Jason that the cards may be stinky.
As for the ongoing theft issue at the show, a dealer reported that he observed a kid, about 8 years old, shove a pack of cards into his coat pocket without paying. The dealer was kind of pissed off but figured he only lost about $4 and did not make a big deal about it. I think the dealer should have told the boy's parents what he witnessed.
As for the ongoing of issues of other show promoters preying upon my show, they were at it again. PJ asked if I was talking about him in last month's blog. No, I was not talking about PJ, who has been passing out flyers at my show for the past four years. I know PJ is going to pass out flyers at my show and I appreciate that he always offers to take some of my flyers and place them out at his shows -- which is the right thing to do. I handed my flyers to at least two show promoters who came up to me asking if I was going to attend their shows. You folks need to check in with me before you promote your show at my show.
I have never walked around a show going table to table harassing people about my show. When I am set up at another show, I'll place some flyers on my table. I just don't think it is right to harass people at other shows with my flyers. This is another reason I need to start policing this show. I think the thing I am going to do is put out a table for other show promoters to place their flyers and forbid them from walking around. I hate when people try to take advantage of my good nature and my hard work.
Another thing that bugged me about these show promoters (not PJ), is that at the April show, I saw dealers with stacks of flyers for these other shows on their tables at MY show. Not cool! I sent a note to each dealer at my May show and asked them to come see me for flyers to place out at other shows where they set up. Only two guys bothered to see me -- Josh Brothers and Scotty P. I appreciate you two guys, thank you!
Which leads me to another thing I want to talk about which is how to be a good dealer. Josh and Scotty are good dealers while many others are not. In my 40 years of setting up at shows, I've learned a thing or two. Every once in a while, I feel a need to share my experience with the general card dealer public. Especially, after the May show where I had so many new dealers.
Some dealers complained to me that their sales were not very good at the May show. On the other hand, most dealers reported excellent sales with one dealer running up to me to point out a guy who dropped $10,000 at his table. So this part of the blog is directed at those dealers who reported poor sales.
In those 40 years of setting up at shows and flea markets, I've rarely had poor sales because of the work I put in PRIOR to the show. You can't just put out your cards at a show and expect them all to sell. It takes work to sell cards and much of that work is done before the show.
(1) Market Yourself. You must get the word out about your inventory and where and when you are selling. Before the advent of social media, I used to make up small flyers that would list all the shows I was setting up at for the next several months. The flyers were great and helped me gain regular customers who would follow me around from show to show and buy cards from me at each show.
Now with social media and the internet, it is sooooo easy to market yourself. You are all sucked into my marketing right now by reading this blog. The main reason I write this blog regularly is to lure people to come see me at the show and buy some cards. It works! Every show, folks buy cards from me and discuss this blog. And not just at the Sal show. Folks from all over the country read this blog and when I set up in their town, they come out to see me and buy cards and discuss the blog.
Now you can't write just anything and expect folks to read the blog and visit you at shows. You must make it interesting. I have a journalism degree and am a former newspaper reporter and editor so I am able to incorporate the things I learned from my journalism career into this blog. Generally, I write a blog that I myself would like to read.
I also get customers from my social media posts. I post all over social media and get a tremendous response. Social media is the best! I don't know how the world functioned without it!!
It takes effort to do these things but if you want a regular cadre of customers, you must put in the work before the show.
(2) Inventory. All the marketing in the world won't do a thing if you have crappy inventory. One of my newer dealers at the show Saturday had nothing but late 1980's and early 1990's baseball out on his table. Well, this is about the worst inventory you could possibly have at a card show. Nobody wants this stuff! Everybody already has it... by the truckload.
If you are not a collector of cards, it is going to be hard for you to be a dealer. I love vintage cards. I collect vintage cards, so I sell vintage cards. They sell well. They have always sold well, even back when I started out selling in the late 1970's.
That dealer who had the $10K sale at the show Saturday sells modern cards. He understands his cards and his customers. You must learn and know what is going to sell and what is not going to sell and bring out inventory that you KNOW will sell. If you do not collect, you are going to have to learn from trial and error and it may take awhile before you figure it out.
(3) Pricing. If you have a good inventory and are still not selling any cards then you are priced too high. It is that simple. Lower your prices.
(4) Sourpuss. Don't be a sourpuss. Nobody wants to approach a table where the dealer looks stressed, upset, angry, or bored. Card shows are fun! Have some fun!!
(5) Don't Complain About Your Location In the Room. I prove it show after show, your location in the building means diddly poop. I purposely take the supposedly worst tables at the show. I had a pretty good show on Saturday in the Game Room. I didn't come near my record-breaking show in April but it was still one of my better Sal shows. I am not even at my tables most of the day and people are still buying cards from Jason and Rachel when I am not there. Why? Because I have properly marketed myself, I have excellent inventory, I am priced reasonably and Jason and Rachel are extremely pleasant people.
Several dealers complained that customers told them they were out of money. These dealers complained that since their tables weren't located in the first room, the gym, customers spent all their money before they arrived at these dealers' tables.
The statement "I don't have any more money" from a customer is code for "your prices are too high." If you lower your prices, you will no longer hear people say that they are out of money.
I know every dealer wants to be in the gym but, obviously, I cannot fit 100 tables in the gym. Frankly, it does not matter where you are in the building. My sales are pretty dang good and I am never in the gym. If your sales are bad in the gym, Fellowship Hall, the Game Room or the Hallway, YOU are the problem, not your location! Practice the above, and you will be amazed at how your sales increase.
End of sermon.
I had a great time at the show Saturday. It was great to see Eric S. and Rich who waited to get fully vaccinated before attending the show. I love seeing more and more regulars return to the show. Get vaccinated and get out to the show!
A big "Welcome Back" goes out to dealer Larry Larsen who returned to his rightful place behind a dealer table after more than a year out due to the pandemic.
Did you guys like the new room? I just loved the new room. It was so fun to be in a room of all new dealers. Set up across from me was a group of high school kids. I don't know if they made any money but they had a ball. They did some live breaks and cheered the breakers on. It was fun.
I love seeing that we get folks from all ages and all walks of life at this show. I am a big fan of people, ALL people, and I love to see everyone at the show getting along and having a good time. My show is the only show where I consistently see lots and lots of kids. I loved going to shows when I was a kid and find it so satisfying to see kids at my show.
One father contacted me prior to the show to see if there would be anything his young son could buy. I told him there would be plenty for him to buy and he would have fun. I saw quite a few 10-cent boxes out on dealers' tables on Saturday.
All in all, a great day. I sold a ton of cards. I bought a ton of cards. I ate sloppy Joe and talked about cards all day long. Thank you everybody for making this so much fun!
One final note on the show, someone left a bag of bobblesheads. Please contact me at email@example.com.
Farewell Brian Mayne
As you know, I just love card shows. There was a time when I traveled the Midwest and would set up at a show or two every single weekend. One of the shows I regularly set up at was the Fort Wayne, Indiana, show run by Brian Mayne. Brian's show is monthly on a Saturday. Generally, all of the Indiana shows are on a Saturday.
Back in the day, I pretty much had to drive to Indiana if I wanted to set up on a Saturday because there were none in Wisconsin and very few in Illinois. I actually started my own show because I was tired of driving to Indiana or Ohio for a Saturday show.
Though, one of the Saturday shows I really enjoyed was the Fort Wayne show. I always meant to get back there but every time I thought about doing it, the drive was always a deterrent. When I was younger, I used to love to drive. In my old age, I hate driving and want to stick closer to home.
Man, I wish I made it to Fort Wayne one more time because my friend Brian Mayne just passed away from complications due to parkinson's disease. Brian was one of the best card show promoters in the country. He put on an excellent show and recently expanded to a larger venue and added a second show in Michigan.
One of the things I really liked about his shows was that a waitress from the hotel restaurant would walk around the room and take food orders from the dealers. As my regular readers know, I like to eat and I just loved having that waitress take my order and bring my food to my dealer table. Brian's show was the only one I ever set up at where a waitress would come around and take food orders.
Brian was a wax dealer and he was the first person I ever saw conduct a live break. It was always one of the high points of the show and drew customers in and created a lot of excitement in the room.
He also attracted a wide variety of dealers. There was always a nice mix of modern and vintage dealers at the show. I would often see my pal Mark Smith set up at this show and I made many other friends at the show.
Then there was the time I had to call Brian from the road to let him know I was going to be late because I got pulled over for speeding. I thought about driving back to Indiana to fight the ticket but ended up paying it off to save myself from wasting an entire day.
Brian was as friendly as can be. It was always a pleasure to chat with him. He almost lured me to moving to Indiana when he told me how cheap his property taxes are. Property taxes in Indiana are crazy cheap when compared to Illinois and Wisconsin.
Then I learned so much from Brian on how to be a show promoter. He was the one that introduced me to promoting my show via social media. He explained to me how he created several card show pages and received a tremendous response and turn out from those pages. I copied him with my social media pages. If you like those pages, you have Brian Mayne to thank for them!
Even though, I haven't set up at his shows in years, he always checked in with me to see how I was doing. I am going to miss that and I am going to miss Brian Mayne. What a good guy and gone way too soon. RIP Brian.
Thankfully, Brian's brother Greg is going to continue on with the shows, so Brian's legacy will continue and his excellent shows will go on.
Next up for me is the Orland Park show on May 23. I had a great show in Orland last month and am looking forward to the May 23rd show. I'm thinking I am going to do a display case of 1950's White Sox cards and a second display case of White Sox memorabilia -- just to do something a little different. I am also going to bring out most of my binders. I have been feverishly working on my 1970 Topps baseball binder and hope to have that one done by May 23rd.
Again, thank you to every one who came at the Salvation Army Show on May 1. My next show at the Sal is June 5.
Hope to see you soon!
Pictured below are some cards on dealer Nick K's table at the May 1 Salvation Army show.