This was a tough one for me. Work has been crazy busy and I had to work late Friday before the show when I usually drive up and set up the room. Mark and his great volunteers set up the room for me and they did a tremendous job. I showed up very early on Saturday and only had to rearrange a few tables. I was able to get the nameplates out right as the first early-bird dealers arrived.
I think I got there at 6:30 a.m. Dealers, don't get used to it, I don't plan on getting there that early in May. Official set up time is 8 a.m. for dealers and I would appreciate it if everyone arrived closer to 8 a.m.
Speaking of arrivals, man, quite a few dealers arrived late, some well past 9 a.m. At first I thought I had five or six no shows but thankfully most everybody arrived. Derrick's cat had kittens the night before and he emailed me early in the morning to let me know. I think that was an excused absence. Bill Brown texted early and said the guy he thought was going to take his tables did not show up. Dealers, you do not need to find a replacement for your tables if you can't make it. Just let me know and I can pluck someone from the waiting list, which is what I prefer.
So many people called, texted, emailed before the show asking for tables. Sorry! Once again, I could not respond to everybody. Also, again, there was nothing I could do. I was mobbed at the show by people wanting tables. I am feeling a lot of pressure from all these folks that want dealer tables. My waiting list is up to 57 people!! Mark and I talked after the show and we decided to open up a fourth room for the May show. Only issue is that we do not have additional tables for that room so dealers are going to have to bring in their own tables. I am going to start contacting folks on the waiting list. I hope to get 12 to 15 new dealers into the game room next month. I did not realize how large that room is. That May show is going to be quite a spectacle with probably more than 100 tables. Anyone at the June 2015 show when I only had 12 dealer tables? Man, things have changed... for the better!
A ton of people called, texted and emailed about Pokemon cards. What's the deal? I cannot believe how popular those things are. I observed more Pokemon cards on dealer tables than ever before. One Facebook message questioned me about calling it a Sports Card Show, he thought it was a Pokemon show.
I also observed that more dealers are selling wax than ever before. I did buy one box of 2021 Topps Heritage baseball with the 1972 design. I love the Heritage. I pulled a Gleyber Torres red ink autograph variation!
As far as my tables go, I brought out one display case for my graded cards and all of my baseball binders. Unfortunately, we were short a table and I did not have enough space to put out all the binders. I think I'll bring a card table next month to make sure I have enough space. Next month I plan on bringing out all of my football, basketball and hockey binders. I may do a display case of Exhibits.
So I started setting up my tables around 8 a.m. and already had customers there which made set up difficult. Customers! I would appreciate it if you arrived at the show at 9 a.m. to give us time to set up our tables. It is really difficult to set up with customers already at the table digging through cards.
One of the things I don't like when I bring out the binders is that they get moved around. I like to keep them in order by year but they were a mess as soon as I put them out at this show. I kept thinking I would have some down time and could rearrange the binders but I was busy the whole show and never got to them. By the end of the show, I think all of the binders were in three or four stacks.
Early on I tried to sneak away here in there to see if all the dealers had arrived. I observed that we had a late-arriving crowd this month. Usually the place is mobbed by 9 a.m. but on this day, the mobs didn't show up until 10 a.m. I was a little worried at the beginning but it ended up being pretty crowded for most of the day. We had to ask some guys to leave who were lingering around well past closing time of 3 p.m.
Mark told me that he walked around the parking lot and saw license plates from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan. I think it is pretty cool folks are coming in from all over. In the past, I've had calls from guys coming in from Pennsylvania and Colorado, just for the show! At this show in particular, I recognized a lot of folks from the Orland Park, Illinois show. One customer, who is an Illinois State Trooper, told me he made up from the Orland Park area in about an hour and fifteen minutes!
I don't mind other show promoters leaving a stack of flyers at my show but I have to admit that I don't like when they walk around my show and harass customers and dealers about their show. I've never done that. If I set up at another show, I'll place some of my flyers out on my tables but I won't walk around and harass people. Also, I am kind of bothered because I spend a lot of time and money to get this crowd into my show. At the very least these other promoters could ask my permission and take some of my flyers and leave them at their show. Am I wrong? It just leaves as bad taste in my mouth.
Another problem, especially at this past show, is the mass amount of sellers who don't have tables but walk around selling cards. It is okay to offer cards to the dealers but stopping folks while they are at dealer tables and offering to sell them cards is a no, no. One dealer reported that a guy actually placed his cards on the dealer's table and started selling them to customers! The dealers pay for the right to sell at the show and use those tables. It is bad form to come into the show and essentially take money out of the dealer's hands. I might have to start policing this and kick some people out of the show. Dealers! You have every right to tell these people to get out of the building! If you want to sell at the show, get on my waiting list for dealer tables!
Thankfully, I had no reports of thefts which had been an issue the past several months. I even put a note on all the dealer tables to urge them to be on the look out for thieves. One dealer told me that at the February show he was set up when a father-and-son theft outfit approached his table and the sketchy son distracted him while the father took some cards and took off. The dealer told me his own son saw what happened and ran after the thief and got the cards back. Man, alive! Everyone please continue to be vigilant and keep an eye out for thieves. I really want to prosecute these folks and give them some jail time and a criminal record.
Then I have this annoying guy who is militant anti-mask. I also get some anti-mask postings on my Facebook page. WTF? What is the big deal? I don't like wearing a mask either but the Salvation Army requires that everyone wear a mask or there is no show. I would much rather wear a mask then not have the show.
So this one numbnut approaches my table with no mask and declares masks are not required because the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor's mask mandate. I attempted to explain to him that the Salvation Army has a mask mandate for their building and they have every right to do so. We argued for a while. He thinks those that attend the show may file a lawsuit against the Salvation Army for making people wear a mask when there is not statewide law requiring masks.
I tried to explain to him that I am a lawyer and know from Law School 101 that a private business has a Constitutional right to require all who enter to wear a mask, wear clothes, not use foul language and so on and so forth. I further explained that under the law, you cannot sue the Salvation Army for their mask mandate. Your legal remedy is to stay home and not attend the show. No one is forcing you to attend the show. I wish this guy would stay home and not attend the show! End of Rant!
Numbnuts aside, it was another great show. I, once again, had record-breaking sales. I sold almost all of the graded cards in my display case and a TON of cards out of the binders. My helpers for this show were Jason and Rachel who were great! Thanks guys! Their help allowed me to be away from my table for a few hours and manage the show.
I was toying with the idea of not setting up because I was tired, I knew I had to be away from my tables, and there were not enough tables for me to get two. There are a lot of dealers complaining about this or that but you know, I am the lone dealer that really suffers at this show, you guys need to can it! I take the tables furthest away from the front door. If there are not enough tables to go around, I take away my own tables. When, I do have tables, I make sure I have the smallest ones. A ton of guys were asking for 8-foot tables before the show. There are only a handful of them and I allow Mark and his crew to place them wherever, except for my spot. I don't think it is fair for me to knowingly give one dealer an 8-foot and another a 6-foot. I think the fairest way is the luck of the draw. Plus, I really don't have the time or energy to rework the tables to give certain guys 8-footers. So, please, do me a favor, and don't ask for 8-footers! Oops, sorry, I snuck in another rant.
Non-rant: I have to thank Doreen again for getting me a Sloppy Joe sandwich. I would not have been able to eat if she didn't get that sandwich for me. I don't know if I would have made it very long without food! Thanks Doreen!
On the buying front, I purchased a ton of stuff. Normally, I have a pile of cash on me but some guys have been regularly stopping in my office to sell me cards and my pockets were bare Saturday. I thought about bringing my check book but for some reason that I don't remember, I left it at home.
Anyway, guys were offering me cards early on. I made three substantial purchases and asked the guys to wait until I made some money before I paid them. I also turned some stuff down because I did not have any funds. Luckily, sales were fast and furious after, say, 10 a.m. and I was able to pay everybody and take a substantial sum home as well. It was awesome!
Unfortunately, my binders are now bare. The one binder I reloaded for the show, my 1969 binder, I forgot at home! So I guess I have one binder filled with cards. I have plenty of cards to use to refill the binders but I just don't have the time to focus on it. I have been slowly reloading my 1974 Topps football binder and should have that one ready to go for the May 1st show. Some of the football binders and hockey binders are well stocked. Once again, I just cannot keep up with the demand.
All in all, a pretty great day. I had a lot of fun. It was nice to see some more folks attending the show who I have not seen in a while like Mark S., who, like many others, now feels more comfortable attending the show after getting vaccinated. It was great to see Larry Larsen who will be setting up at my expanded May show. Larry, who for years has been one of my top dealers, has not been able to set up for more than a year due to health issues. I am thankful he is on the mend!
So the May show should have 60 dealers and 100 tables -- my largest show to date! In the meantime, I cancelled my April 18th Pop-Up Shop because I got word the Orland show is back and running on that day. I opted to set up at Orland instead of running another Pop-Up shop. The Pop-Up Shop has been great but it is tough to convert my office into a card shop then back into an office every month. I may do it again somewhere down the road. The main benefit for me in doing the Pop-Up Shop is that it is the only way I can present my entire inventory. I am just so limited for space at the card shows and it is really difficult to decide what to bring out for just two tables when I have 20 tables of stuff!
Anyway, I huge thank you to everyone who came out to the show and to all the dealers. I am just one person and I learned early on that I cannot have such a successful large scale show without everyone who participates. You guys are amazing! I love hearing all the comments on this blog. I probably would not write it if everyone wasn't telling me how much they enjoy it. Thanks so much!!!
See you guys in Orland on April 18th!!