A few months prior to the show, I was saddened to learn promoter Paul Fusco died. I was not sure whether the show would go on until I received an email from Paul's daughter stating she was running this year's show. She and her mother did an exceptional job and had a wonderful display at their table dedicated to Paul.
This was my third year at this show which is all vintage. No modern cards allowed. As a big fan of vintage, I absolutely love this show. However, the previous two years my sales had not been very good. This show is well attended so I figure I am just not doing something right. The first year, I brought out three display cases, eight or nine binders, my 50-cent boxes and some publications. The second year I brought out four display cases and the 50-cent boxes. This year, I decided to bring out all baseball binders. I only have six-feet of space so figuring out what to bring is difficult.
Leading up to the show, I feverishly reloaded my baseball binders from the 1950s and early 1960s along with my oddball binders. I set up with my buddy Dave McDonald and we have settled into a routine. I rent a car on Thursday, pick up Dave and we drive to Strongsville from the Chicago area. It is about a five to six-hour drive.
I think we arrived in Strongsville around 6 p.m. and went straight to the Holiday Inn, where the show is located. Load in and set was easy. Our neighbors Tim and his wife from Iowa were deep into their set up when we arrived. It is always great seeing those guys. Our other neighbors are Dave and his family. I believe they are from Akron. I also saw Mike, another friendly face, who was set up nearby in the same spot as the previous two years. This is a really great group of people who help make a pleasant weekend.
After set up, Dave and I checked into our hotel across the street. The past two years we stayed at the Holiday Inn but this year the room prices were off the charts and the hotel across the street was about a quarter of the Holiday Inn price. In addition to price, the Holiday Inn can be noisy. There were a ton of teenagers there for a hockey tournament at the rink across the parking lot. I bet the Holiday Inn was crazy noisy that weekend. Our hotel was fairly quiet accept for a car alarm going off in the wee hours of the morning Sunday.
Once we checked in, we went out for some grub and decided to eat at the B Spot, the burger place we went to last year. I brought my cheapy reader glasses for Dave because he always forgets to bring his along and can never read a menu. We ate some delicious burgers and marveled at the giant wall of beer cans. The pretty waitress told us the beer cans were nailed into the wall.
We were up early Friday morning and ate breakfast at the Holiday Inn. Most every table was set up. There is a dealer from Toledo who sells junk wax and off-grade vintage real cheap and he was just about the only guy who was not set up. The doors open at 10 a.m. to VIPs, so the room was real quiet until then.
I had quite a few sales but nothing big. My first customer purchased some 1970 and 1971 Topps Supers. Second customer purchased a 1970 Topps Ted Williams. My third customer was my show neighbor Tim who purchased a 1968 and 1970 Jerry McNertney. Tim said McNertney is his neighbor back in Iowa.
A guy wearing a Louisville Cardinals hat purchased some 1964 Topps Coins, and some 1964 and 1968 Topps. I remember him from last year. An older guy bought some 1959 Topps. Then I saw Charlie Wiggins from Milwaukee. I had told Charlie about the show and he said his family was going to be in Cleveland and he would stop in. Charlie bought some 1964 Topps Coins. Charlie is also a big pre-War guy and he absolutely loved the Strongsville show.
A guy wearing a Mackinac Island T-shirt purchased some 1953 Topps. I observed that a lot of folks were drawn to my vintage scorecard binder. Most people seemed to stop and look at it. A guy wearing a Pete Rose jersey bought some 1949 Bowmans. A second customer then stopped and purchased some 1949 Bowmans.
A guy with a mustache bought some 1964 Topps Giants and 1968 Topps Game. Chris from Cincinnati purchased some 1969's and 1970's. George and Christy came in from Milwaukee and purchased a 1959 Topps Phillies Team card. Overall there was a big crowd on Friday and I had many sales. Though, most sales were small.
The Friday show goes until 8 p.m. The place seemed kind of dead from about 6 to 8 p.m. There was some excitement when Paul's wife announced that Leland's, an auction house, would be taking over the show. My initial reaction was sadness because I thought Paul's family did a wonderful job with the show in his absence. I have a lot of concerns about Leland's. First, is the show going to remain all vintage? Secondly, Dave, the guy Leland's assigned to handle the show has no experience promoting a card show. He is also not interested in sports cards. He told me he is into wrestling and regularly promotes signings with wrestlers. He seems like a good guy and I wish him the best of luck, I just hope he keeps the show as is.
As a show promoter myself, I know first hand that a show takes on the personality of its promoter. Paul Fusco was larger than life and he created an amazing show. I have a horrible feeling that the show is going to turn into a wrestling event.
There was a lot of talk about the direction of the show that night at dinner. Dave and I met up with Mark, Greg and Craig at a pub called the Brewkettle in Middleburg Heights. I had an excellent burger and enjoyed a local craft brew. The best part of this show is hanging out with these guys.
We slept in a little later on Saturday. Again, we had breakfast at the Holiday Inn. My first customer of the day was from Detroit and he purchased some 1967 Topps. An older gentleman purchased some 1955 Topps. A guy decked out in Cleveland Browns gear purchased a 1963 Topps Tito Francona. Another gut purchased some 1967 Topps.
George was back for the second day and purchased some 1960 Topps. He had some car trouble on the way out to Strongsville and ended up renting a car near Toledo. Dave from Leland's came by to talk, which I appreciated. He asked me what he could do to make the show better. I told him nothing. The show was perfect, don't change a thing.
Usually this show is mobbed with OBC guys but this year it seemed like there was a lot less of them. One OBC guy purchased some 1976 Hostess from me. A father and son team purchased some 1960 Topps. A young guy purchased some 1964 Topps Coins. There were some kids in the room, which is nice to see, one purchased a 1963 Topps leader card.
Then there was Jim from Pittsburgh, who made my show. Jim was my lone whale of the weekend and he purchased a ton of stuff including inserts and cards from the 1960's. I wish I had three or four more guys like Jim come to my table. Instead, I had a couple of brothers who purchased some 1969 Topps.
There was a guy with a thick beard that also purchased some 1969 Topps. A customer clad in Cleveland Indians gear purchased some 1955 Topps. My last customer of the day purchased some 1970 Topps.
In total, I brought out 23 binders. I figured I could probably fit six more binders or bring out one display case. A lot of customers were asking for star cards which I did not bring this time around.
After the show, we once again went out to dinner with Mark and Greg and met a couple of new dealers. We dined at a nearby steak house called the Brown Derby which was mobbed. My steak was pretty good. I enjoyed listening to stories about Michigan dealers and Michigan shows.
By Sunday, the final day of the show, I was ready to head home. We had been in Strongsville since Thursday. I never make much sales on the Sunday of a three-day show. Also, I had to be at work on Monday mornings, so Dave and I were planning exit strategy.
I did have a few sales though the crowd was decidedly smaller than the past two days. A customer wearing an Indians shirt purchased some 1961 Fleer. An older gentleman purchased a 1957 Del Crandall. A father and daughter team purchased some 1970 Topps.
An older gentleman purchased some 1949 Bowman. Then I finally sold a scorecard after just about every body at the show looking through the binder. A customer bought a St. Louis Cardinals scorecard from the 1930's.
Not much buying at this show. I had a lot more people show up at my table with stuff to sell the previous two years. The dealers around me did not seem to be buying as well. I went around the room on Sunday and purchased a few cards from the guy from Toledo. I also bought some Cleveland Indians scorecards from the 1940's and 1950's from a dealer I had not seen before.
Dave and I did not want to be the first dealers to leave so we waited until other guys started to pack up. We were on the road back to Chicago around 2 p.m. I think I got home around 8 or 9 p.m.
Overall, may sales were not all that great. About the same as last year. Though, I did have a lot of fun. I'm signed up again for 2020. Maybe I'll have a good show then!
If you remember my blog from last year's show, Dave had a sketchy transaction with some guy from out east. The guy wanted to take about 3K worth of Dave's cards and pay him via PayPal once he got home. I made sure Dave didn't give him the cards but against my advice, Dave put the cards on the side. Well, what do you know, the guy actually paid Dave and he shipped the cards. Also, at the National in Cleveland, the guy bought more stuff from Dave. I owe Dave a dinner.
Speaking of dinners, I think Dave paid for all of my dinners in Strongsville. Thanks Dave! Of course, he had an excellent show, as always. Dave is the man! Dave and I will be set up together at the National in Rosemont, Illinois, this summer.
In the meantime, my show at the Salvation Army, 8853 S. Howell, in Oak Creek, WI, is coming up Saturday, June 1, 2019. I've got three former Packers signing autographs. I just reloaded my 1972 Topps baseball binder. It should be a great show, come on out!