This was my best Gonzaga show of the year. We had a real nice crowd and sales came early and often. Not a whole lot came my way to purchase. A guy came in with a binder filled with Packers from the 1950s. His prices were real high. I purchased a few 1952 Bowman small.
This was my 19th show at the Clarion. A few weeks before the show, I received a call from Mike, who works with quite a few professional athletes on the autograph circuit. He asked if I wanted former Packer Gilbert Brown to stop in for a quick autograph session in the morning. I couldn't say "yes" fast enough. Gilbert came in shortly after 9 a.m. and could not have been more gracious and kind. He signed some autographs, chatted with dealers and customers and even bought a few items from dealers. Thank you Gilbert Brown!
We had a full house of dealers, including four new ones. I picked up a few magazines from Robin, a long-time collector and first-time dealer. I think Robin had a good time and I am hopeful he'll set up again. Dave, another new dealer at the show told me he used to have a card shop in the 1990s. He is a recently retired school teacher. Like Robin, Dave had some cool stuff on his table. I purchased two empty wax boxes, one from 1974 and the other from 1975. I've always thought vintage wax boxes were cool. These are the first vintage wax boxes I have owned. Another new dealer Alex, sold me some cards from the 1970s. Matt and his dad were also new dealers and had a nice display of autographs. I really appreciate all the new dealers for setting up. Thanks guys!
Attendance was slightly down. I think we lost some folks to a beautiful April day. My sales, however, were once again excellent. I sold my 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle to Tim. Thanks Tim! One customer, Chris, came down from Green Bay after reading about the show on the Net54 pre-war collectors website. Chris has an impressive pre-war collection including a near set of T206s. He brought along his doubles to sell. I purchased a few T205s and T201s. Some other dealers purchased some T206s. Thanks Chris!!
My next Clarion show is set for Saturday, May 28, 2016. I can't wait to see what walks through the door at that one!!
Sunday, April 17, 2016 -- Indian Lakes Resort, Bloomingdale, IL
Again, Mother Nature gave us a beautiful day. Those that attended found some pretty good cards. Scott from Dekalb was set up. I purchased some football cards from Scott, including a 1972 Jim Plunkett rookie. I had a customer purchase quite a few cards from my binders then he went to look at some other tables, then he came back. He pulled out a 1979 Topps Carl Yazstremski. I had the card marked at 1 00. The customer thought I had the card priced at $100. I think he was willing to pay upwards near $100. It was a little awkward when I told him the card only costs $1. He made the purchase.
Another customer approached and was a little irate, stating I "got him" last month when he sold me some low-grade Goudeys. I took offense. I don't "get" anyone. I could have charged the Yaz customer $100 for a $1 card but I'm not out to "get" anyone. I really can't believe that guy accused me of cheating him. I have NEVER cheated anyone. NEVER "got" anyone and will never "get" anyone. I buy and sell vintage sports cards because I really enjoy it. I go out of my way to be fair with everyone. I don't make much money doing this, I do this for fun. To accuse me of cheating, taking advantage, really pisses me off.
I have a simple formula for purchasing cards. I look the cards over, consider condition, book value, what I've sold the cards for in the past and figure out my sticker price. I then make an offer below my sticker price so I can make some sort of profit on the card. I freely admit that I sell cards to make a profit. Though, I don't need a big profit, just as long as I can sell the card above my purchase price. Having viewed eBay, auction houses, and card show prices on a regular basis, I know what amount of money customers are willing to pay for cards. As a result, I purchase cards just below the price customers are willing to pay. So for that customer to state that I "got" him is a real slap in the face.
In addition, I make a concerted effort to purchase cards at a price in which the seller is comfortable and happy. In fact, I always ask the seller for a price first because I want to know that they are comfortable an obtain their price. Often there is some negotiation and I'll try to make it work. I know I asked the "got" guy for a price and he told me a number so I can't understand how he can come back and say I "got" him.
When I purchased the cards, the "got" guy gave me a price, I figured out my sticker price and made an offer below my sticker price. The problem here is that this seller only sells cards to me. He does not sell on eBay. He does not set up at shows. He looks at the high book price and thinks that his cards should sell near the high price. I try to explain that cards with worn corners, edge and surface wear, creasing, do not sell at high book price. Only cards in pristine condition sell at high book price. NONE of his cards were pristine. Most were in the Fair Condition range. One was VG. I will sell these cards cheap, thus, I need to purchase them cheap. I can't pay more for a card than the amount I know I can sell them for. This is a very difficult point to get across to some people. I am not going to sell cards at a loss. So I won't buy cards at a price I know will result in a loss for me. I don't view this procedure at "getting" anyone. Seems like a standard business practice to me. If I sold my cards for less than I paid for him, my career as a dealer would have ended long ago.
He didn't ask but I am willing to give the "got" guy a complete refund on the cards. If he is reading this, all he has to do is show up and ask, return my cash and I'll return the cards. I need those cards like I need a hole in the head. Which brings me to another point. I don't need ANY cards. I purchase them because I enjoy them. When I make an offer on a card, the seller can say "no." I won't be offended. In reality, there are more sellers than buyers. I can always buy cards. There is no shortage on sellers. Regular readers know that I buy cards most every weekend. I prefer buying them from folks who are happy to transact with me... those that want high book price need to stay away. Do I really have to apologize for making some sort of profit?
Sunday, April 24, 2016 -- Hyatt Place Hotel, Hoffman Estates, IL
A much better day at the Hyatt. Nobody accused me of "getting" them. More importantly, the Hyatt has free breakfast and free coffee. I sold a few cards but did not buy anything. I had a real nice day. There is always a great group of people at this show. I was happy that we lured in some customers through our Facebook page. No issues with customers to report, thankfully!
I had originally tried to book the Moeller show in Cincinnati for this weekend but tables were sold out when I called in early March. I learned it is harder to get tables for the April show than the Thanksgiving show.
My disappointment at not being able to attend Moeller quickly turned to joy when I learned tables were available at the Valley West show in Minnesota. This show is run by the Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club (TCSCC). I have being trying to get a table at this show for years. I finally got in!
I convinced my daughter to attend the show with me by promising a visit to the Mall of America. I worked Friday morning then hit the road after lunch. The drive up to the Minneapolis area was easy. We made it to our hotel around 8 p.m. then drove around looking for something to eat. We ended up at an African restaurant. It was a little creepy because there were some sketchy-looking customers. I'm a city kid so I can sniff out trouble. We ordered some funky chicken and beef dishes, got the food to go and raced to the car. I kept the eyes in back of my head open. I saw one guy come out after us and follow us to the car. I pulled away quickly. No issues. The food turned out being pretty good.
We were up early Saturday for the show. I plugged the address into my trusty GPS and we arrived at Valley West in 15 minutes. Valley West is a strip mall. There is an alcove that separates the stores from the street. So you have to go through two doors to get into any of the stores. The card show was held in the alcove which is kind of a tight squeeze. One wall was lined with dealers. There were dozens of dealers. I was placed inside an empty storefront with three other dealers and had much more space than the folks set up in the alcove. This was also the staging area for autographs (Bud Grant and Ron Yary), a live auction and a club pizza party.
I met TCSCC president Dave Bonde who was warm and welcoming. In fact, everyone I met all weekend long was extremely pleasant. I had picked up some Brewers and White Sox pocket schedules for Dave, who collects them. I like skeds as well and Dave gave me some Twins skeds.
I had a steady flow of customers most of the day. A father and son team made my day by purchasing quite a few early Bowman baseball cards. My 25-cent box got a big work out. One guy sat down in front of it and spent a few hours going through the box. I sold a bunch of football cards. I was surprised I did not sell any hockey cards. Of course there were the obligatory Twins collectors who pulled Twins cards. You get these team-centric guys in every city.
The other dealers I met were super nice. One dealer used to set up at the old Chicagoland Sports Collectors Association shows at the Hillside Holiday Inn during the 1970s and 1980s. He had some signed programs from those shows that I thought were pretty cool. He also gave me a nice deal on some Goudeys and Diamond Stars.
The autograph session went from noon to 2 p.m. then a live auction took place. The only live auction I am familiar with is the one at Gonzaga in Milwaukee. At Gonzaga, the auctioneers hold up an item and take bids from anyone. Bidders at the TCSCC auction had get a bidding number then hold up a number card when they wanted to place a bid. There was a staging area behind the auction where club members had lined up grocery bags next to a number. When someone won an item, it was placed in their grocery bag. Bidders settled up after the auction, unlike Gonzaga, where you pay as soon as you win an item. It was interesting to watch.
My sales came to a halt once the auction started. Dave invited Tabitha and I to the club pizza party, which was much appreciated. We chose to close up early and head to the Mall of America, pictured below.
The Mall of America was just a few minutes away from the card show. Oh my, the place was jammed. It took us a few minutes to find a parking spot. Once inside the mall, it was apparent that we were in the Grand Canyon of shopping malls. The Mall of America is four or five stories tall. There is an amusement park in the center of the mall and an aquarium on the lower, underground, level of the mall. The aquarium costs $25 per person. We decided to skip it and I took my daughter shopping. She found some things to her liking. We then went to the Lego store to get a gift for her brother. Then it was up to the third floor which houses the world's largest food court. Did I say food court, I think I should say nirvana. I did not want to leave. They were all there. Hooters, Chipotle, those funky little places that sell "bourbon chicken." So many choices and so little time!! We ended up getting pad thai. My daughter loves Thai food. I couldn't function after the huge potion of pad thai. We went back to the hotel and passed out.
I observed that a few dealers did not return for Sunday. Traffic was way down. I sold a few things and had a lot of time to walk around. There were several vintage dealers with tremendous inventories. I purchased a 1915 Cracker Jack J.C. Delahanty from one dealer.
We were out the door by 1 p.m. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice drive until we got to the Wisconsin Dells area where traffic came to a halt. I got off the highway and tried to find some back roads heading south. I ended up sitting in traffic on the backroads. Wherever we went traffic was at a stand still. It took nearly four hours to get to Madison. Under normal circumstances it is probably a 45-minute drive. We stopped off for food in Madison then continued on our way home. We did not get home until after Midnight.
The next day, I learned there had been a shooting on the highway in the Dells right about the time we arrived. Some psycho, who killed someone earlier in the day in West Allis (right by the Gonzaga show), randomly shot into a van containing a family on their way home from the Dells. The mother was killed. The police were able to shoot and apprehend the scumbag. Apparently, Tabitha and I arrived at the scene shortly after it happened. Scary!
On a happier note, next up is Mother's Day. I plan on setting up at the Wilmot Flea Market on May 8. Please note that the flea market moved from the Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort to the Kenosha County Fairgrounds. I am looking forward to setting up at the flea market this weekend and all summer long. As always, I don't bring out my regular inventory to the flea market. So if you are planning to attend and want to see something in particular, let me know. See you Sunday!!