There is a simple formula to dealer success at a show when setting up regularly at a show -- just bring out new items for each show. Unfortunately for me, work, family and my health make it difficult to spend the time needed to price new stuff each week. I tried to designate the Saturday before the Gonzaga show to sit in the card bunker and work on my 1973 Topps baseball binder but, as they say in the old country, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Complicating matters are the new medications my doc prescribed for my diabetes and newly diagnosed high blood pressure. The new meds are difficult to deal with. As a result, I am not sure if it is my ailments or the meds making me feel ill these days. So Friday night, I did not feel good. I slept deep into the morning on Saturday and got a late, groggy start on the '73 binder. Once work began, the daughter interrupted stating she wanted me to take her to a comic book shop. That kid melts my heart and I'm just putty around her. I wanted to tell her I needed to work on the '73 binder but I just couldn't pass an opportunity to hang out with the girl, especially when she wanted to hang out with me!
So after just a few hours of pricing cards, the work came to a screeching halt. I'm building a '73 binder from scratch because I sold the last one. It is going to take a while to finish the new one.
I was hoping that the daughter and I could make a quick trip the nearest comic book store, about a 10- or 15-minute drive. The daughter had scoped out a shop in Palatine, Illinois, closer to a 25-minute drive and one we had never visited. Our destination was a place called Beyond Tomorrow Comics. I plugged the address, 327 N. Northwest Hwy., into my GPS. When Siri told me I had arrived at my destination, I did not see the shop. We ended up driving around until the daughter plugged the address into some App on her phone that only teenagers know about. We drove up and down a small radius of Northwest Highway until I spotted the shop.
The problem was that every other business in the strip mall, where the shop is located, had a large sign above their entrance. Beyond Tomorrow Comics just has a small sign in the window.
Upon entering the shop, I was hit with the sensation of being on an episode of "Hoarders" because this little shop is packed to the gills, floor to ceiling, with stuff. There is so much stuff that walking through the space is really difficult, especially when there are other customers in the place.
So, upon entry, we were hit with this massive amount of stuff and serenaded with the sound of the owner and a customer discussing the profitability of certain new comic books. I couldn't really see the owner. I am also assuming he was the owner. He was sitting behind a tall counter surrounded with comic books and related items stacked in front, in back and on top of the counter. I had to peer down a slight opening between a $1 box of comics and some figurines to see the guy.
My daughter and I attempted to maneuver around the store. A lot of the displays were blocked off with unopened cases of comics. This place is really a sight to see. I saw quite a few Batman, Spiderman and Superman comics along with all sorts of stuff I had never heard of. While perusing, I could not help but hear the conversation between the owner and the customer. The owner was pretty straight-laced and seemed to be trying to figure out what the customer was looking for and if he was looking for comics that had not yet been released or were soon to be released. The customer was a little off. At one point he started talking about how he was recently married to a stripper and she ran off with his comic collection.
Now I have never personally known a stripper. I actually had a classmate in college that worked as a stripper but I did not know her that well. But I sort of feel like it is safe to assume that strippers are not interested in comic books and I found the veracity of the guy's story lacking. But I was stuck listening to the guy because I was in this comic book hoarder hell and could not escape the conversation. There was no place to hide, just boxes and boxes and shelves and shelves of comic books. I kept hoping the guy would shut up.
At one point, he purchased a few comic books and left. Relief! But as I plodded from one end of the shop, more like a closet, to the other, he came back in! I couldn't take it anymore, I tried to get the daughter to move along.
She finally picked out a few comic books and I attempted to pay for them. The owner started to tell me about some holiday sales at the store and some sort of subscription where purchases would count toward a free comic. I started to feel my blood sugar drop and the owner's voice sounded like the adults on Charlie Brown, "Wa, wa, wah waaaa." I looked around the crowded counter to see if there were any sugary items I could purchase. None. But I did notice new packs of Wacky Packages stickers. Those things came with bubble gum when I was a kid but now, like sports cards, they are collectibles and gum ruins collectibles so the manufacturers no longer insert sticks of gum.
I did not comprehend the sales spiel nor the subscription deal. I needed sugar. I did seem to understand that we were getting a bunch of free comics to go with our purchases. I could not see his hands through all the boxes of stuff that engulfed the counter but the owner was seemingly pulling comic books from space and placing them in a bag for us. I love free stuff! Even with the annoying guy, I would come back to this shop. Free stuff trumps annoying guy in overly cluttered shop.
Luckily for me, the shop was next to a place called Fotos Hot Dogs. I figured the carbs in the hot dog bun would raise my sugar up to a comfortable level. Did not work. I quickly sucked down my diet Coke and replaced it with a sugary regular Coke. Didn't work, my sugar was still low. I then started to drink the daughter's Oreo Milk Shake which tasted amazing, by the way. Sugar started to rise and the place came into focus. I saw a sign that said free ice cream. I got a free ice cream cone. Low sugar problem resolved.
I then realized I was sitting inside a crummy camera graveyard. The place had shelves and shelves of old crappy cameras from the 1950s through the 1970s. I love kitchy stuff. It was kind of cool. I saw many crappy cameras that I had back in the day. Anyway, by the time I got back to the card bunker, I had lost three hours or so. I worked a little while on the '73 binder then decided to price some cards for my display cases. I was unable to finish the '73 binder. I did have some new stuff for the display cases, but not enough to have a good show at Gonzaga.
There was a really nice crowd on Sunday, even with a noon Packers game looming. My sales stunk up the place. Not Sun-Times show bad but unusually bad for a Gonzaga show. My fault, I probably would have had a lot more sales if I had the '73 binder out and some other stuff.
On the buying front, I blew it. Flat out blew it. It normally doesn't happen. I can't remember it ever happening but I just blew it. A guy came by with his childhood collection of 1951 Bowman baseball and football. Some of the cards were minty while others were creased and dinged up. My problem was that I undervalued the football. I thought they were worth much less than they are actually worth. I made an offer on the cards which was too low. The seller said he wanted to shop them around a little and he might be back. I said okay, thinking my offers are usually the highest in the room. The guy never came back. I learned that he sold the cards to another dealer who initially offered a few hundred dollars less than I offered. The seller allowed that dealer to bring his offer up to mine. The seller then told him he had to beat my offer. The buyer got the cards for a measly $100 more than I offered. I was not given a chance to increase my offer. The buyer immediately sold the football cards to another dealer for double what he paid for both the football and the baseball. I screwed up.
However, when one deal flies away another flies in. After the show, I met with another seller looking to move several baseball sets from the 1950s. I looked over the cards. The stars are off-grade. Some of the commons are nice. I just need to raise some funds and I hope to have these sets shortly.
On the diabetes front, I felt fine which was a huge relief after dealing with low sugar at the comic shop the day before. Upward and onward!
In regards to my Clarion show, the hotel changed its name to the Four Points Sheraton. Next show is scheduled on February 3. I hope to have a new blog out before then. - Tony