The Wisconsin Sports Collectors Association (WSCA) hit a rough patch last year when their long-time venue, Gonzaga Hall, was sold by the Milwaukee Archdiocese. I was a regular dealer at Gonzaga Hall for 20 years and was absolutely in love with everything about that show. It was the best!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. WSCA president Keith Kilps worked his tail off searching for a new venue. He wanted to keep the show near Gonzaga in West Allis, WI. The only place he was able to find nearby was the Buenavista Banquet Hall and he started operating shows there last year.
I was probably the only person who liked Buenavista. I thought it was easy to get to. I really liked their steak tacos. Most importantly, my sales were excellent.
Others complained that it was too small and the aisles were too tight. I did notice a significant drop in the amount of customers from Gonzaga to Buenavista. Then Keith had all sorts of problems with the owners of Buenavista and shut down the show after the November 2021 show.
Having searched for Milwaukee locations to hold a card show in the past, I can empathize with Keith's struggle to find a new location. Most locations want too much money for the space. A card show promoter can't pay $10K for a room and charge dealers $300 to $500 to set up for a few hours and be successful.
After that November show, I really missed the WSCA shows. Not only because I really like Keith and the crew but my sales and purchases were always excellent at the WSCA shows. I have not been able to find a suitable replacement for the WSCA shows.
So when the news came out that a new venue was found, I was overjoyed. WSCA member Paul Costanzo contacted me and said the show is moving to the Roma Lodge in Racine, WI. Paul and WSCA member John Gehring both belong to the Roma Lodge, an Italian-American club. John's been talking about this place for years.
Paul sent me the WSCA show schedule for 2022. They planned to hold shows every other month with the first one in April. Unfortunately, that April show ran up against the Orland Park show which is now one of my best shows. So I had to miss the WSCA's April show, which I heard was excellent.
The next WSCA show was set for June 26 -- my schedule was clear! Paul told me the Lodge was going to have a concession stand with meatball sandwiches and Italian sausage bombers. Oh my! Two of my favorite things in the world to eat!!
As a result, I did not care that there was a card show on June 26. I was just going to stuff my face with meatball sandwiches and Italian sausage bombers.
My wife's car was still loaded up from the Madison show on Saturday. I added four display cases Sunday morning and few boxes of cards. It was nice to be able to sleep in a little bit because I live just 40 minutes south of Racine, as opposed to the two-hour drive to Madison.
I plugged the address of the Roma Lodge into my GPS and was there in no time, around 8 a.m. I saw Dave Kania loading in and parked near Dave. I saw Keith as I entered into the large, beautiful room. The Roma Lodge is swanky. Keith pointed to four tables near the front. These tables looked larger than the ones I had at both Buenavista and Gonzaga. I did not bring enough stuff! I need to bring more inventory next time!!
I placed out all of my binders and the four display cases that I filled up with oddball cards like Exhibits and Red Man's along with my doubles, as I am saving my regular display case inventory for the National. One of the nice things about this show is that Keith does not allow customers into the room before 9 a.m. so dealers can set up unaccosted.
Although, this was my first time at the Roma Lodge, I felt like I was at home, seeing Keith, his family, all the auction guys, John, and the group of dealers I have known for decades. It sure was nice.
While I was setting up, old friend Dan Salemme came over! What a sight for sore eyes! I can't remember the last time I saw Dan. I was just talking about Dan with our mutual friend Lou a few months ago at the Woodstock show where Lou told me he grew up with Dan and has known him since they were kids.
I met Dan years ago at the Fred Copp card shows in the Chicago suburbs. A nice guy. A great sports fan who is extremely knowledgeable. He always has a tremendous selection of publications at really good prices. His son was helping him out at the Roma Lodge and they had some real neat stuff on their tables. Our mutual pal, Donny, was having a field day over there. Donny also bought some ABA cards from me. Thanks Don!
I also saw a pre-War collector, who I have not seen since Gonzaga. Of course, I can't remember his name. He reminded me that he purchased many T201's from me at Gonzaga. Unfortunately, I did not bring any T201's to the Roma Lodge.
I saw a bunch of my regular customers. One purchased my Red Man Nellie Fox. I saw David Ramsey, who I see everywhere, from Strongsville to Rosemont. David purchased my 1933 Goudey Lefty O'Doul.
I saw Steve, from Jim and Steve's Card Shop in Waukegan, IL, my favorite card shop. Steve really liked the new venue and wide aisles. I appreciated the distance from my tables to the auction, which was not a problem at Buenavista but I was awfully close to the auction at Gonzaga.
Admittedly, I was not a fan of the auction at Gonzaga but I was actually really happy to see it happen again. I realize now that the WSCA auction is one of those things that makes me feel at home after setting up next to them, month after month, year after year, then all of the sudden no show, no auction. It was good to be back!!
My old pal Bill from Antioch was there and we made a cash and trade deal where I ended up with some Batman pins from 1966. Cool stuff!
Early on, I saw Dobi Maxwell, who was set up near me, walk out of the bar with a meatball sandwich. I bolted for the bar and met Guy, the bartender, who made me a sandwich loaded with meatballs, sauce, on a fresh Italian roll. Oh my! That thing was just as advertised! Delicious!! The perfect breakfast!! Later, I went back for an Italian sausage bomber that was equally as delicious. I have to admit, that the best Italian bombers were made by my little Italian mother-in-law, Rosie Gulotta, who left this world 20 years ago. She was so sweet and the best Italian cook I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
While I was munching on that last sandwich, a guy ran out of the bar and told me he is a huge fan of this blog! Thank you so much!! I receive so many kind words about this blog, I am so appreciative. I probably would have stopped doing it years ago if you guys weren't so supportive! Thank you!!
Now, I would like to see some more support for this new show at the Roma Lodge. I see great things for this show! We just need to increase attendance. There were dozens of dealers with excellent inventory. One thing that is unique about the WSCA shows is that there are more dealers with publications and memorabilia than at any other show I attend. This one was no exception. Lots of neat stuff in the room.
The next WSCA show at the Roma Lodge is scheduled for August 21. Unfortunately, I cannot make that one as it goes up against Orland Park again. Though, I highly recommend attending the WSCA show on August 21. I will be set up at the following WSCA show on October 23.
A big thank you to Keith and all the WSCA volunteers for putting on an excellent show. I hope to grow with you guys at this new space!
In the meantime, my show in Oak Creek is growing like a weed! Eighty-four dealers lined up for Saturday, July 2nd. This is going to be a phenomenal show!!
Then on Sunday, July 3, I am setting up at the Holiday Inn in Janesville, which is another excellent show.
Come on out next weekend!!!
Below is a photo of a guy wearing an awesome St. Louis Browns Satchel Paige jersey, Sunday at the Roma Lodge show.