I could not even tell you my name for first part of the week before the show as new meds kept me unconscious. I made it into my office on Thursday and contacted all of the dealers to confirm they were attending the show. As usual, I had more dealers than space available. It is kind of funny that I am always hoping that some dealers will drop out. I just don’t have the space for everybody.
Some dealers will drop out and they will be very sorry and apologetic while I, on the other hand, am relieved because I need their space.
So I almost always overbook the show and need dealers to drop out. One problem I regularly encounter is that when some of my regular dealers drop out, they search and find another dealer to take their spot. These guys have good intentions but they don’t understand that they are causing me problems — I need their spot and do not need them to find a replacement. I have an ever-growing wait list and would prefer to plug someone from the wait list if needed. Usually, I just need the open space to plug in someone I already signed up, not realizing I way overbooked the show.
Another problem here is sometimes the buddies they find to take their spot do not show up. I now confirm with these replacements to make sure they show up. I need to get dealers to stop finding replacements, it just screws everything up.
I had to really hustle to throw this show together this month. I ended up having two or three open spaces on Friday but I did not have the energy to start going through the wait list to add more dealers. I hope to have my act together for the January 6 show and plug in some new dealers.
Lisa had to come into the office Friday to help with the final administrative work that needs to be completed prior to the show. I had my dealer list solidified Friday morning. Next up, I needed to map out each of the five rooms. While I worked on the maps, Lisa worked on the dealer name plates — 110 dealers this month!
I am pretty sure Oak Creek is the largest monthly card show in the entire country. Folks, including other show promoters, regularly suggest that I group dealers together by product. These guys want to see all the Pokémon in one room, all the vintage in another, etcetera, etcetera.
Suggestions are great and all, and I listen to them all. However, most of those making suggestions have never dealt with 110 dealers at once. Having regularly dealt with 110 to 120 different dealers every single month of every single year, I can say from experience that grouping like dealers in Oak Creek is an impossibility.
First of all, most dealers do not want to be grouped together by product. What most dealers want, more than anything, is a certain location in the building and to be placed at that same location each and every show. So I will not be rearranging the show anytime soon to place dealers together by product — it would not be worth the dealer backlash.
It is so strange to me how militant most dealers are about remaining in a certain spot. As a dealer myself, I could care less where my tables are located. In fact, my tables are in a different spot each and every Oak Creek show. It is kind of like Where is Waldo? Or where is Tony?
Sometimes I make inadvertent mistakes and fail to place a dealer in his spot. I had one dealer flip out this month because I did not place him in the same spot he was in the previous month. He even pulled out his phone to show me our texts where I said I would place him in the same spot.
I did not move this guy with malicious intent, I was sick and had very little time to organize the show. I just missed it. Thankfully, I was able to move some things around and get this guy the spot he wanted — but what a hassle. It is so aggravating for me and really difficult to accommodate 110 to 120 dealers every month. I am growing more and more frustrated. Maybe I need to triple table fee on any dealer who requests a certain spot. If they want to cause me undue aggravation, they are going to have to pay for it!
Speaking of table fees, one of the things that makes me unique as a show promoter is that I make a conscious effort to keep table fee low. I understand as a long time dealer that there are going to be some shows where sales are lousy, and high table fees can cause some hurt. My table fee is so low that dealers can never get hurt at my show and I am proud of that fact. Yet it does not stop some dealers from flipping out on me when thing don’t go their way.
For example, I had a young, new dealer recently set up. He was so enthusiastic and I enjoyed having him at the show. However, when I went to confirm his table this month, he absolutely freaked out. He said he is never setting up again because he believes that all the people walking the show with brief cases of cards for sale are taking sales away from him.
My response to him was to remember that this is a hobby and his first order of business should be to have some fun. I attended my first card show in 1978. I have probably attended more card shows than just about anybody currently alive. In that time, I have always observed folks attending with boxes in tow back in the day and brief cases now — it is a part of the show whether you like it or not. It is card show culture. It always has been and will always be.
As I told this young guy, instead of viewing it as a problem, he needs to see the benefits. The benefit to me as a dealer is that I buy just about all of my inventory from these guys walking the show with boxes and brief cases. There are deals to be had! Take advantage!!
Dealers, these folks are not hurting your sales. In fact, you can make significant profit by purchasing cards from these guys and reselling them. I have said this before and I will say it again — dealers having low sales need to look in a mirror. No one is causing low sales other than the dealer him or herself.
Good sales are the result of a simple formula I have been using successfully since the 1970’s — place out good, desirable product on your tables at reasonable prices. It is that simple! Stop blaming others for your problems! Only you can right the ship. I can’t ban everybody from attending the show! It won’t help your sales! Take ownership of your situation and stop blaming others. They are not the problem. You are the problem! Needless to say, I don’t think we will be seeing this young guy set up again any time soon. Which is great for me because I need the space!
So I did not get to put in as much time mapping out the show as normal. I also had to rely on Lisa to properly draw up all 110 dealer nameplates. As a result of all of our last minute labors, we were late in arriving in Oak Creek Friday night. Thankfully, our friends and helpers George and Kristy did not seem to mind. I am so reliant on George and Kristy to place out the name plates while Lisa and I reorganize the tables and chairs. I needed all the help this month like never before!
Somehow, we completed everything in about two hours — a new record! Thank you Lisa, George and Kristy!!
As usual, we went to the Water Street Brew Pub for a bite to eat. With my prostate issues, I begrudgingly refrained from beer. I don’t know if I will ever have a drink again — it is not worth the pain!
Lisa and I arrived at our hotel around 11:30 p.m. and quickly fell asleep. We were back at the Salvation Army around 7:15 a.m. and were greeted by another superstar — Mark Lewis. Mark is in charge of events at the Sal and is seemingly there around the clock. I don’t know how he does it but he is so reliable and incredibly helpful and an integral member of Team Tony. I could not pull this off without Mark and the rest of my team!
We did it! As sick as I have been, the show went off without nary a hitch. Attendance jumped up this month to 720. Again, I would like to mention to the few cry-baby dealers that I only charge $30 for space and bust my ass to bring in 720 customers. Dealers are not getting this kind of value anywhere else and should be kissing my tail instead of complaining!
One dealer who I really enjoy and who never complains is Tom Mularz. I took Tom’s spot this month in the Game Room as he was out in California enjoying the sun, his kids and grand kids. Missed you Tom but I really enjoyed your spot! I had a monster day! I was incredibly busy — all the while woozy from meds. My goal was not to pass out — goal achieved. I sold a ton of stuff! I don’t even know. I also bought a ton of stuff! My goal as a dealer is always to sell as much as I can then buy as much as I can. I always want to go home with more cards than cash. Goal accomplished!
Bottom line is that this is a hobby. It should be fun. Sell stuff. Buy stuff. Most importantly — build relationships and have a good time!
It was great to have Bruce back along with all the Badger football fans who skipped the show these past few months in lieu of Badger games. Welcome back everybody, we missed you!
It seemed like a great day for most everyone. I saw a lot of smiles. A lot of holiday cheer. Along those lines, it is “Bucket Season” for our friends at the Salvation Army. Please fill those bell-ringer’s buckets at the grocery store! Since I have been renting the Salvation Army building these past five years, I witnessed first hand the tremendous amount of good they provide the community from food, clothing and ministry programs to wonderful youth sports leagues. These folks have also been so kind to me that I am forever grateful and appreciate them and all the good they provide for everyone. Thank you Salvation Army!
As I stated before, this is my hobby. I do it for fun and if we can help out those who really need a helping hand along the way, we are all so much better for it!
A huge thank you to everyone who set up and who attended the show. I know I complain, but I truly understand we have something special here in Oak Creek. I hope to heel up soon. It has been a rough go of late and I appreciate your patience. I am way behind in responding to people who want dealer space at the show. I hope to get to you soon!
Next Oak Creek show is January 6. Dealer space is sold out. I will be adding a couple guys from the waitlist. Email your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist.
In the meantime, I have a double bill weekend with St. Charles on Saturday, December 16, 2023, and Orland on Sunday, December 17, 2023. There are also a couple of other shows this weekend I would like to mention. Matt Lambrecht runs an excellent show in Green Bay. His next show is December 16. Also, superstar Keith Kilps and the Wisconsin Sports Collectors Association have a show Sunday, December 17, 2023, at the Roma Lodge in Racine. Keith and the crew are some of the nicest folks in the hobby you will ever meet and I would love to see a big crowd attend the Roma Lodge show. I wish I had a body double and could attend the Green Bay and Racine shows along with St. Charles and Orland. Regardless, there are some great card shows this coming weekend in Illinois and Wisconsin. Looking forward to seeing everybody!
Below are some photos Lisa and I took at the December 2nd Oak Creek show. Enjoy!