This was my first visit to the new location of the Wilmot Flea Market, which moved from the Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort to the Kenosha County Fairgrounds. I plugged the address into my GPS and it took me to the back entrance. I had a tough time finding the actual entrance. I observed other cars having the same difficulties.
Once through the proper gate, it was slow going in the dealer line. Eventually, I was directed to my spot. The layout for the flea market does not make a whole lot of sense and I heard many vendors and customers complain. Vendors are spread out all over the fairgrounds. It would be much smarter and easier for everyone if there was one concentrated area of vendors.
One of the things I did like about the new location is that the vendor spaces are deeper than the old location. I can easily fit four or more card tables. I'm going to try and pick up some more tables before my next venture to the flea market.
I had a pretty nice set up, pictured above, with sports publications, 1980's-1990's wax, all of my baseball binders from the 1970's, my basketball binders, a few display cases of low-priced vintage, a few posters, along with my regular flea market junk like comic books, jewelry, knick-knacks, children's books and toys. I had a tent over the display cases and binders to block them from the sun.
One customer spent a few hours at my table pulling cards from my binders. He had to go to an ATM to pay me. Quite a few kids purchased packs of cheap 1980's wax. I sold a few publications and posters. I sold some cards out of the display cases.
I was thankful when Donny came by and watched my table for me while I took a bathroom break. Bill brought me some cards to trade. Thanks Bill! It was nice to meet Bill's daughter. I sold some jewelry. I sold quite a few children's books. I did quite well with the toys. Sales were steady throughout the day. The only drawback was that most sales were only for a dollar or two. I went home with a huge wad of singles (no stripper jokes please!).
Set up next to me was an artist who built these neat wind chimes from thrift store material, pictured above. Being Mother's Day, I purchased a chime for my wife and one for my mother. The ladies were pleased with their gifts.
I really enjoyed myself. I just love the flea market. I plan on returning on Sunday, May 29, 2016, weather permitting.
If you recall my previous blogs on Highland, this is the show (pictured above) that is located in an indoor flea market. I complained last time that the promoter did not promote the show. He was on top of things this time around because I saw the show listed in both Beckett and SCD.
This is the closest show I do to Orland Park and I get some of my old Orland regulars here. It is always great to see Jim Colias. I met his lovely wife as well. It was also great to see Rick, who I have not seen since I was chased out of the Orland show. Rick found a few cards. I sold a 1963 Topps Mickey Mantle to Terry. I sold some 1960 Topps commons to an Highland regular. My pal Dave Frazier stopped by and picked up a few 1975 Topps Minis. Another good pal, Paul P. found some cards at my table. Overall, I had a decent day.
On the buying front, I picked up a few cards from Jim then purchased a couple of Tattoo Orbits and a Delong from a random customer. He also had a 1969 Topps Roberto Clemente checklist autographed in green pen, pictured below. I showed the auto to Willie, he thought it looked good. I was just hesitant to buy it without any certification. I might have made a mistake. I also purchased some '75-76 Topps Hockey and some '74-75 Topps Basketball.
I was a frequent visitor to the concession stand where I dined on fresh baked cookies and some hot dogs. I remembered that the sloppy Joe is Manwich and avoided it this time around. There seemed to be way more card dealers at this show than the one held in February. Overall, I had a pretty good show.
Afterwards, Mark and I went over to the Top-Notch Restaurant, which is one of those great Greek diners with a huge menu. We both had T-bone steaks which were awesome. With a full belly, I bid Mark Adieu, and drove to the Stephens Center in Rosemont, Illinois, for the seemingly spur of the moment and small Fanatics show. Rosemont is on my way home from Highland. I parked at the CTA lot for five bucks. I then paid the $10 admission fee. The show was held in a small room next to the Starbucks in the lobby. Most of the stars from the Cubs were there signing autographs. It seemed like a mini-Cubs fest (see picture below). I was the only one wearing a White Sox cap.
I ran into Willie and Larry there. Seems like I was not the only one doing the Highland-Rosemont gauntlet. Honestly, I thought the Highland show was the better of the two. I was able to find quite a bit to buy in Highland. I saw nothing I wanted to buy in Rosemont. Most of all, I was struck with the small space of the Rosemont show. I have never been to such a small show in Rosemont. Even the old Skyline shows were bigger than this one. It also seemed like all the customers were there for the autographs. I don't think the card dealers did very well. I spent only 40 minutes or so at the Rosemont show then went home and prepared for the Gonzaga show set for the following day.
A real nice crowd as usual at Gonzaga. Pictured above are a couple of items from the Gonzaga live auction. I had a bunch of pre-War cards priced new for this show. Ray picked up one of my T201 Mecca Double Folders. Thanks Ray! Quite a few guys dug into my binders. A new customer pulled out a nice pile of 1975 Topps baseball.
I got a little ticked off at a guy who was selling vintage Packers. He was at the last show and I bought a few but felt he was priced too high. This time around, he stood behind a customer at my table who was flipping through one of MY football binders, then tapped him on the shoulder and told him he is selling football cards. It is one thing to show some cards to a dealer but to pull a paying customer away from a dealer table is a serious crime. I paid for the right to place my binders on that table and sell cards to customers. This guy needs to purchase his own table and avoid pulling paying customers away from my table. I had to walk away, I really wanted to punch that guy. Later on, when the crowd died down, he came back and tried to sell me cards. I coldly told him that I saw his cards last month. If he shows up at the next show, I'm sending him on his way with a few choice words.
Then I had another situation involving a random showgoer trying to sell me some cards. I made a rookie mistake when I purchased what I thought were a legit 1956 Mantle, 1956 Clemente and a 1958 Maris. I noticed that the cards looked off but I thought it was just some age wear. Andy from Orlando saved my tail. Andy told me right away I made a mistake. So I matched up the cards with some 1956s and some 1958s from my display case. Andy was right, the cards were fake. The ink on the back did not look right. There was also a light film on the cards and they did not feel right. The biggy, which Andy pointed out, was that each card had the same exact wear on the surface and corners. Someone tampered with the cards to make them look old.
Luckily, the seller was still in the room and I asked for my money back. I told him the cards were fake. He hesitated and wanted Mark Smith's advice. Mark said he thought the cards looked suspicious. The seller gave me my money back but was not happy. He stared me down for a while. I ignored him.
I was blinded by the good price on some high-end cards. Like I said, I made a rookie mistake and need to be more careful when purchasing cards. I owe Andy big time. Thanks Andy!
I did end up purchasing some legit cards of the 1964 Topps variety. I also traded a bunch of stuff with Andy.
Overall, sales were down from last month. The next Gonzaga show is approaching soon. I have been pricing a lot of stuff and should have a large amount of new material at the next one.
I have known about the Pittsburgh show for years, pictured above, and always wanted to attend. I finally got my act together to make this show. Though, attending a three-day show, eight hours away, would have some overhead. To keep costs down, I invited my friend Dave McDonald to join me at the show. Dave has been looking for big shows to add to his regular Fanatics show and the National. We purchased two tables, rented a car, and reserved a room at a Motel 6. I took Thursday, May 19, off of work and we hit the road for Pittsburgh around noon.
It was a beautiful day and we had an easy ride. My GPS brought us to the Motel 6 in Coraopolis, PA. This is one of the nicest Motel 6's I have ever stayed at... and I have stayed at quite a few, some that were positively disgusting. Not this one, score!
This was my first time in the Pittsburgh area and I must say that it is absolutely beautiful with lush rolling hills, tall trees, random old towns along with lots of open space. The show was only a mile or so away from our hotel. We stopped off at Bob Evans each morning for breakfast. Robert Morris University has a real nice campus though very hilly. The show was located in the basketball arena. We could not figure out where to load in. Turned out that load in was at a tiny garage on the top of a tiny driveway.
A few groups of students were loading in vendors for tips which made load in very easy. Though, we were concerned about loading out on Sunday because the load area was much too small to accomodate several hundred vendors. We discussed our escape all weekend long and determined that the best way out was through a side door, down a ramp, and into the parking lot... but I am getting ahead of myself.
We were set up and ready to go around 10 a.m. on Friday. The folks from Main Line Autographs, the promoters of the show, were very nice and provided free coffee and doughnuts to vendors each morning. I saw some familiar faces such as Wayne, JD, Mark and Greg. There were also some dealers I recognized from the Fanatics show and the Moeller show. Then there were a bunch of dealers I had not seen before and enjoyed perusing their setups.
With little action, I decided to go for a drive and grab some lunch around noon. Dave stayed behind because he had customers. I headed north on University Boulevard, drove along the Ohio River, then found a small town aged to perfection. I stopped off at a burger shack and ordered a couple of burgers. I sat down on a picnic bunch and enjoyed the scenery while I waited for my burgers. The burgers were made from scratch and took awhile. A creepy toothless guy showed up and was talking loudly on his cell phone and was uncomfortably demonstrative. I overheard him say his life was shit since he left prison. I sprung up and waited in front of the take-out window for my food. I grabbed my burgers and left the creepy guy talking to his parole officer.
I got a little lost heading back and found myself crossing the Ohio River. I eventually found Robert Morris University. Dave was a little concerned because I was gone for awhile. I dug into my burger and thought my burger was tasty. Dave did no care for his.
The show officially opened at 3 p.m. Our tables were located in the back of the gym, so it took customers till 4 p.m. to find us. I sold a few publications, a 1959 Topps Ernie Banks, some cards out of my 50-cent boxes. Kind of disappointing sales. Dave, on the other hand, had one of his best days ever. I'm thinking next time I set up with Dave, I need that bikini model. Maybe I need to replace Dave with a dealer who sells nothing but 1989 Topps.
While Dave made lots of sales, I decided to walk the room and shop a bit. I found two dealers with excellent inventories and really nice prices. I bought some cards!
After the show, we hooked up with a bunch of dealers and dined at Buford's, located across the street from RMU. Buford's is a Louisiana-styled place. I ordered a fried shrimp po' boy which was delicious. I also drank a few pints of Fat Tire Ale that were tasty. It is always fun trading war stories with dealers. We had a good time.
Dave, who doesn't drink, drove us back to the hotel. We watched some old movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel and passed out. We were back at the show by 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. There was a much bigger crowd on Saturday. The autograph line was steady all weekend long. Our tables were near the signers. I enjoyed seeing Gene Garber, pictured below, Gene Clines, also pictured below, Ron Hansen, Bob Shaw, Jerome Bettis and Tony Dorsett. All the athletes were friendly and interacting with fans.
We hopped on Route 51 heading north and drove through some very old neighborhoods. I really enjoyed the Victorian and Gothic architecture. At one point, we found ourselves at the bridge over the Ohio River that I crossed while lost on Friday. This time, I knew where I was and directed Dave back to RMU. We stopped for dinner at Primanti Bros. Restaurant and saw the dealer gang at a table near the bar. Their table was filled with carnage from dinner, like remnants of nachos, burgers and sandwiches. They were drinking some extremely tall glasses of beer. There was no room for us so we got our own table. Dave ordered a burger while I ordered a meatball sandwich, pictured below, and a Sam Adams Summer Ale. Oh my, that meatball sandwich was awesome. After dinner, we sat with Mark and Greg, had a beer then called it a night.
Sunday was slow going, though I made a little more money than Friday. Overall, my sales were disappointing but damn if I didn't have a good time. I slowly started to pack up around 11 a.m. I took my last load to the car around 2 p.m. and Mark honked at me as he drove off back to Michigan. Dave and I hit the road around 2:30 p.m. We made it to Dave's house around 10:30 p.m. I was home around 11 p.m.
I am not 100% sure I want to give Pittsburgh another try. With expenses, I about broke even. That is a lot of work to break even. Though, I have a little insight into the show and think I could change things up a bit and drum up some more sales next time around. I probably will give it another try next year.
In the meantime, I have already been pricing cards for my show set for Saturday, May 28, 2016, at the Clarion, 5311 S. Howell, in Milwaukee. I have landed two new dealers -- Pat from Joliet, Illinois, and Chad from Indiana. I am looking forward to seeing these guys along with all the regulars and Saturday. It will be nice to be back at my show. As Dorothy said, there's no place like home!
Pictured below my meatball sandwich, are few more photos from the Pittsburgh show. Click on them to enlarge.