I thought there was a decent crowd at the October Gonzaga show, pictured above, but my sales were a little slower than usual. Chuck purchased some 1965 Topps baseball. Jason purchased some 1971 Topps baseball. Several other guys found cards in my recently reloaded 1971 Topps baseball binder. A new customer purchased some cards out of my recently reloaded 1977 Topps football binder.
The highlight of the day was going out to lunch after the show with Larry Larsen and Gary George. Thanks for lunch Larry!
This was my best Orland show since April. Actually, I am on a roll in Orland because I have had good shows in August, September and October. I think the key for my success is to limit my presence in Orland to once a month. Unfortunately, the Orland shows scheduled early in the month are lacking both dealers and customers. Rich is cutting back in 2018 and will mostly have shows once a month, which is wise.
All the tables in the room were filled with dealers. I can't remember the last time the whole room was filled. Attendance was nice. I was busy all day. Rick pulled a nice pile of 1977 Topps football. I haven't seen Neil in quite a while. He purchased my 1953 Topps Satchel Paige. Thanks Neil!
Will is working on a bunch of sets and found some cards. Joel purchased my 1950 Bowman Bulldog Turner. Dennis pulled a large pile of 1958 Topps. Thanks Dennis! Dan found some cards. Quite a few new and old customers purchased cards. Thanks everybody.
I'm pretty sure the thief hit me again. I was talking to some guys and didn't see him approach and he swiped some cards before I had a chance to watch him. I have to be more vigilante. He probably swiped about $5 or $10 worth of cards. I'm not going to let him get me down. I will catch him in the act eventually and see that he is prosecuted.
I was having too much of a good time at this show to worry about the thief. I had a tremendous buying show. I took home thousands of vintage cards. I had one deal worked out before the show. This was one of my better buying days at Orland. Lately, Orland seems to be my best show for buying.
Will, Joe and I went out to lunch after the show. It sure is nice to be back at the sub shop with Will and Joe. I'm sure the spirit of Chuck Thomas was there with us as well.
Well, I was a little worried about attendance because there were two competing shows on November 4th. I worried for nothing because we had tremendous attendance. The show was filled all day long. I also had a tremendous dealer line-up, every dealer table was filled. I gave out packs of 2016 Topps baseball and 2017 Topps baseball Series II. I've already picked up a box of 2017 Heritage Minor Leaguers and a box of 2017 Donruss Baseball for the December 2nd show. I'll pick up another box or two of something else before the show.
I purchased about 100 turkey sandwiches for the November show which were free to all customers and dealers. We went through most of the sandwiches. I will have free ham sandwiches on the December 2nd show.
2018 Update: after some late-hour negotiations, I have signed a contract with the Clarion to bring the show back for 2018. I seriously considered moving the show but could not find a suitable location. Then I considered cancelling the show but the dealer and customer response this year has been so tremendous that I must keep this good thing going. So the show is scheduled for the first Saturday of the month in 2018 at the Clarion, except for January, when the show will be held on January 20. The only drawback for 2018 is that the Clarion will no longer allow me to bring in food. The new manager (where is Jeff Weaver!!) wants me to buy the food, that I give away free, from the Clarion at four-times retail... not going to happen. I really need to find a new venue for 2019 so I can resume the free food.
So in the meantime, twelve shows are lined up for 2018 at the Clarion, 5311 S. Howell, in Milwaukee. I will give out free packs of cards at each show.
Last Clarion show of 2017 is set from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, December 2, 2017. Be there are be square!
Pictured above are dealers Pat and Barbara Lawrence. Pictured below are additional photos from the November Clarion Show. Click on a photo for a larger view.
Back at Gonzaga, pictured below, where sales were much improved from October. My newly reloaded 1972 Topps baseball binder was a big hit. Quite a few guys made purchases from both my binders and display cases.
Okay, once again this show has changed names. It is no longer the Fanatics show. It is now the Sports Spectacular. Whatever these people want to call their show, I think the best name is "Show that Sucks."
I got there Thursday afternoon to set up. Betsy, who ran the show a few years ago, left for a time, and is now back, would not give me a badge. Dave was responsible for getting the spot this time around and apparently he did not pay the full fee by Thursday, so Betsy would not release the badges. Well, we've been doing this show for decades and we've NEVER skipped out on paying our table fee, so I was a little miffed that Betsy would not give me a badge.
The Sun-Times, Fanatics Spectacular, or whatever it is called, attracts some of the rudest and most inconsiderate dealers of any other show that I attend. So when I set up, I usually have to tell a neighboring dealer to remove their items or tables from my space. I also stake out my space as quickly as possible to avoid further encroachment. So, first thing, I told one dealer to remove his table from my space then I quickly set up my six card tables along the back end because the dealer from behind was encroaching.
I then set up most of my binders and tied them down. I realized I couldn't set up anything else without my tablemate Bob. He usually lays out the booth but he was stuck at work and I didn't know how he was going to lay it out. At least all my gear was at the booth. Unfortunately, my plans to work all day Friday were laid to waste because I had to get there early to get my badge that Betsy would not fork over and I needed Bob to set up before I could complete my set up.
I was figuring I could get to the show around 10:30 or 11 a.m. on Friday but again my plans were thwarted. I was defending a client early Friday morning on a DUI in a very crowded courtroom in Lake County, Illinois. By the time my case was completed, it was just past noon. I was in desperate need of sustenance, so my assistant Maria and I went over to the best restaurant in Waukegan, Illinois, which is called Juan's Chuck Wagon. I scarfed some eggs and sausage and drank a few tankards of coffee. Maria had a plate filled with seasoned beef, eggs, refried beans and rice. It looked delicious. I then bid Maria adieu, and dropped in a CD of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," and began the long trek from Waukegan to Rosemont.
Luckily, the garage to the show at the Stephens Center in Rosemont was open. I parked and walked to my booth to pick up the badge from Dave. I then walked back and moved my car to the $15 parking garage. Once back in the show, I finished setting up my booth. Bob gave me the whole back end of the booth which was awesome because I was able to place out all of my showcases. Usually, I can only get out about 4 or so of my 9 showcases. As a result, I was pretty happy with our set up. I noticed that Bob had really cut down on his set up which is understandable because the Rosemont shows are very difficult to load in and out. I considered cutting back my set up but I really wanted all of those display cases out.
Once my space was set up, the long, slow dance began. From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. there really wasn't much customer interest in my 9 display cases, assorted binders, and several cheapy boxes. Wow! I have never done so poorly on a Friday night at one of the Rosemont shows!!
Thankfully, I had other activities on hand to keep from getting depressed at my lack of sales, namely spending money on cards. At the last Orland Show, Jim and I had discussed a deal on some 1966 Peel Offs, 1947 Bond Bread, 1965 Topps Football. He sweetened the deal with a few boxes of Bears from the 1950s through the 1980s. He also threw in some Salada hockey.
I had a chance to catch up with Bob, Bill and Dave. Spending a weekend with these guys is always a great time.
Then my 80-year old dad showed up. My dad is quite the character. If you are into Chicago history or literature, I liken my pops to a cross between Paddy Bauler, Captain Streetor, Studs Lonigan and Frankie Machine.
My Dad was raised on Division Street, same as Frankie Machine. When the great bee-bops of jazz ruled Chicago, my dad learned how to play the trumpet from Dizzy Gillespie. Dad plays the trumpet beautifully. When he could drive in the early 1950s, he would regularly load a pile of junk from his grandfather's hardware store and set up on Chicago's famous Maxwell Street. He learned a lot on Maxwell Street. Some of those lessons he passed on to me when I first started selling cards at the Twin Drive-In flea market in the 1970s.
He wore his hair in the 1950s like John Travolta in the movie "Grease." At Roosevelt High School, class of 1955, he played baseball and football, in between selling beer at both Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park. Like Frankie Machine, he never counted on just his regular pay and figured out side hustles. At the ball parks, all the vendors paid my dad to add up and give an accounting of their sales which they were required to turn in after every game. Dad has always been good with numbers, something he failed to pass down to me.
In 1956, he left Chicago for the first time to attend the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. He joined a frat where they pinned him down and cut off his greasy locks. He got a job at a sorority by lying that he could cook. The only thing he could make was tuna with peas. He was quickly fired.
He eventually became president of the frat and after years of Animal House hijinks, he graduated from U of I and enrolled at DePaul Law School. In 1962, he joined the legal department of Aetna Insurance. Eventually, he formed his own law firm, Aetna scrapped its legal department, and hired his firm instead. It wasn't long before he became one of Chicago's top trial lawyers and was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court. He worked his way up to the Appellate Court where he presently sits and has no plans to ever retire.
On the weekends, he sells framed pictures of athletes at an antique shop in Indiana. I told him to bring some of his pictures to the show and I'll toss them out on my tables. I did not realize that he has never been to the Stephens Center, which hosts the Fanatics show. I tried to explain to him over the phone that he should park in the parking garage across from the convention center and I will meet him in the lobby.
He ended up parking in some sort of office parking lot nearby, did not pay a fee, then went over to the Hilton Hotel, located across from the convention center, and swiped one of those large gold hotel carts. He loaded his photos on the cart, went through the Hilton, up to the walkway to the convention center. He pushed the cart into the show and called me. I told him I would be right over with a badge. I grabbed Dave's badge. Long before I made visual contact with my dad, I saw the large gold hotel cart and knew right away that he swiped it and brought it into the show.
As I approached Paddy Lonigan, he was asking someone attending an auction booth if they knew me; they didn't. I took ahold of the mammoth Hilton cart and pushed it toward my booth. At the booth, Paddy started placing his photos on Dave's table. I tried to show him which tables were mine and attempted to direct him to place his photos on my tables. He kept going back to Dave's tables. You see, Dave's table is in the main aisle, not in the background like my tables. Paddy is like Dave and wants his stuff in the main aisle. I was able to eventually lure Paddy back to my tables, though he complained the whole time.
While he was setting up some boxing photos, a fan of old-time boxing approached and struck up a conversation. The fan, noticing my dad's age, asked him if he ever saw any of the famous fights in Chicago during the 1950s and 1960s. He had. The fan wouldn't leave and he and my dad talked Chicago boxing history for quite a while.
When the conversation finally ended, dad disappeared to find photos to frame for his antique shop booth. I didn't see him much for the rest of the night. He has so many great stories. He campaigned for the Kennedys in the 1960s. He's known all the Chicago politicians from the 1950s and on. As a lawyer, he represented the likes of Count Basie, Ernie Banks and Joe DiMaggio. I was hoping he would share some stories with my boothmates. Maybe next time. He has a great ability to capture a crowd with his storytelling. It is always a good time.
At 9 p.m., I was dead tired. I had a long day in court, a long day at the show, and was suffering the effects of diabetes. Though, the ever-dutiful son, I had to make sure dad got to his car. He loaded his photos back onto the crazy Hilton cart and I pushed it out of the show, down the walkway, to the Hilton. In the Hilton lobby, I ran into Neil, who I know from the Orland show. Neil showed me his purchases from the Fanatics show -- rookies of Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew. All were graded. Neil dropped some cash. I introduced Neil to my dad. Neil said "Hi pops." Dad looked at Neil's tattoos and muttered something under his breath.
Eventually, dad and I made it out the front door of the Hilton with the giant cart. He left me in front of the Hilton with the cart. He then bounded into traffic and disappeared. Yes, at 80, he can still move like Jim Brown, if he wants to. I don't know how he didn't get hit by a car.
A short while later, he pulled up the Hilton driveway. He told me his car was the only one in the lot at the office building and he did not get a ticket. I thought he would have gotten towed. He is the only one I know who can park his car wherever he wants and not pay, and not get ticketed or towed. It is some sort of weird Maxwell Street karma.
It was about 10 p.m. when Dad drove off. I tried to find a place in the Hilton to leave the cart. I went back up the walkway to my car and somehow drove home. At home, of course, I could not fall asleep. I ended up watching "Game of Thrones" into the wee hours of the morning. I don't know how I made it to the show on Saturday. I'm a glutton for punishment.
I actually sold a few cards on Saturday, though, much less than I normally do. The highlight of the day was seeing Rex Ryan walk around wearing a Blackhawks jersey and hat. Rex had a list of cards and purchased some from the guys next to me and across from me.
At the end of the day, I was again dead tired but I really wanted to hang out with my friend Paul. We had been talking for months about going over to Russell's BBQ in Elmwood Park. Paul was kind enough to drive. Russell's BBQ beef sandwich was great as always.
Once home, I binged on "Game of Thrones" again. Sunday hit me with a thud. I actually sold some cards like my 1966 Philadelphia Gale Sayers rookie. Larry and Carol purchased a bunch of cards out of my cheapy boxes. I sold a 1954 Topps Jim Gilliam to a customer from Cincinnati. Overall, sales were still down. I am leaning toward retiring from the Sun-Times show. This weekend was a total loss of funds and time. I'm thinking in March, I won't set up but I will try and come out on the Saturday and do some buying.
I think the last time I set up at the Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale was in June or July. A lot has changed since then. The banquet wing is set for the wrecking ball. Someone told me they are building a new hotel there which is a shame. I love the Indian Lakes Banquet wing, it is something out of a 1960s James Bond movie with an indoor waterfall and fireplace seating. The banquet rooms are spacious and perfect for a card show. I'm pretty sure Fred Copp has been hosting card shows there since the 1980s. Fred had to move his show to the back of the main lobby area where there are multiple small rooms. The rooms are semi-connected and I felt they worked out well.
I had a terrific show. My sales for one day in Bloomingdale equaled the three I just spent in Rosemont, hence, I most likely am done with the Sun-Times show.
A customer from Racine, Wisconsin, purchased my 1950 Bowman Crazy Legs Hirsch rookie. He told me Hirsch grew up in Racine, which I had not known. Eli and his brother purchased my 1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie and my 1967 Topps Wahoo McDaniel. A new customer purchased a large pile of cards out of my 1976 and 1971 Topps baseball binders. Randy purchased my 1961 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star along with some 1959 Topps commons. A bunch of other guys dinked around my binders and the sales added up! Yes, my enthusiasm for the hobby is renewed! I am eyeing the December 31 date to return to Bloomingdale but I can't fully commit just yet.
In the meantime, come on out this Saturday, December 2, 2017, to my show at the Clarion Hotel, 5311 S. Howell, in Milwaukee, for free ham sandwiches, free packs of cards, and to peruse some cards from some awesome dealers!! Show runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.