The September 2nd show marked the 9th anniversary of the show. I started the show with Mark Smith back in September of 2014. It has been a crazy ride! It has always been a ton of work and has never been easy to manage.
These days, the week before the show is utter chaos with new dealers wanting to set up, potential dealers wanting to discuss the show and regular dealers cancelling for whatever reason. This time around I had one nutter dealer claiming other dealers were stealing from him. I need more than circumstantial evidence before I kick a dealer out of the show as this guy wants me to do.
Also, this guy was so over the top that he is no longer welcome at the show. I don’t have any patience for anyone who is going to insult and harass me. Good riddance!
With or without nutters, setting up the show is a chore. I used to arrive early in the morning on the day of the show to set it up. Now that the show has grown to 180 tables, I have to come up on the night before.
I also invite any dealers to arrive Friday night and set up because Saturday morning set up has become a cluster#$@% with the Salvation Army closing the front parking lot in favor of a Weight Watchers group that has morning classes at the Sal in a second floor room. This is just a problem when there are more than 100 dealers descending on the building and attempting to load in their wares. So, any dealers, feel free to come Friday night and avoid the Saturday morning chaos.
This month, Lisa and I arrived around 5:30 p.m. on Friday. We were kind of bummed out that the Chapel and Game Room were filled with chairs. It was a lot of work for us to remove all those chairs.
Several dealers showed up to set up. Then our friends George and Kristy came to help set up. Thanks guys! Their help made a tough night so much easier. For some reason, George and Kristy are so much faster at placing the name tags out on all 180 tables/chairs than we are. They claim it is their years working in the postal service that makes them adept at sorting and tagging.
Scotty P. informed us of a Lions Club outdoor festival in a nearby park. I love festivals. Seems Lisa, George and Kristy don’t share my love of festivals and wanted to go to the nearby Watertown Brewing Company. No biggie because the Watertown is one of the best brewpubs around, in my opinion. I had a really great Rueben to eat and an excellent Oktoberfest beer.
Lisa and I did not make it over to our hotel until 11:30 p.m. We spent the night at the Econolodge this time around. Price was right but the bed was sooo uncomfortable. That is a one and done with that place. We were up at 6 a.m. to make it to the Sal by 7 a.m.
This was the first time in 9 years that no dealers were waiting for me when I arrived at the Sal. There were, however, a nice crowd of Weight Watchers people. I brought in my tables and display cases Friday night. Then brought in my cards on Saturday morning. I started to load up my display cases while the dealers trickled in.
As usual, I had several no-show dealers. I have been trying to get them all to prepay in an effort to curb the no shows but there were some dealers that prepaid and did not show up. Sorry, I am not refunding table fees. These dealers have a responsibility to show up!
Then I had some dealers show up, who did not reserve a space. Thankfully, I had some open spots to place these guys. I always get dealers showing up who do night reserve prior to the show, usually I can find a spot for them.
I was set up in the front hallway this month. As usual, I plug myself into a hole vacated by a dealer that cancelled at the last minute. I do enjoy rotating my spot each month. I am about due to set up in the gym and am hopeful I can find a spot for myself in there for the October 7 show.
One of the cool things about setting up in the front hallway is that I can see customers queuing up to get into the show. I thought that was so cool. Prior to the show, I was a little concerned with it being a holiday weekend that attendance would be down. In actuality, we ended up only being down about 60 people from last month with 640 people through the door.
If you know me, I am not really one to toot my own horn but I am so proud of the fact that I regularly get hundreds of people attending my show, no matter what. As you know, I set up as a dealer at tons of other shows and the attendance at all of them, other than the National, pales in comparison to my show in Oak Creek. I am so indebted to everyone that regularly attends my show. Thank you! I must be doing something right!!
Once again, Johnny Adams flew in from Minnesota just to buy cards at the show. I saw some other big buyers in attendance as well. I saw Beau from the Madison show in attendance. He is one of my favorites. A couple of other show promoters were set up like Nicholas Parsons from Bridgeview, IL, show, Matt and Harry from the Green Bay show, and Lake Country Cards from the Oconomowoc show. Thanks for setting up!
Back at my tables, I placed out and filled eight display cases mostly with vintage baseball but a little football as well. Sales were awesome! My best show of the year! My pal Scott purchased my 1950 Bowman Yogi Berra — a cool card that I hated to see go. My main man Jeff purchased a bunch of 1953 Bowman football. Thanks Jeff. The strongest man in Brown Deer, WI, Kevin Wolfe about cleaned me out of 1965 Topps stars. Thanks Kevin!
A new customer purchased my 1933 Goudey Burleigh Grimes. I have a great customer from Madison, whose name escapes me, but he about cleared me out of 1960 Leaf baseball.
Then I met Joe, who made my day. Joe is from the old neighborhood in Chicago, the neighborhood that my great-grandparents settled in when they arrived from the old country in the 1890’s. My great-grandparents opened up an electrical supply shop that stood on Chicago’s Division Street for around 100 years. My cousin shut it down when Home Depot opened up nearby and priced us out of business. Joe remembers the shop!
He said his family arrived in the neighborhood in the 1930’s.
Joe said he and his son took a train from Chicago to Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee then cabbed it to the show. Thanks for coming guys! Joe purchased a bunch of 1969 Topps, including my Ernie Banks. Joe said he coaches baseball at a private school in Chicago and is planning to hold a card show as a fundraiser for his team. I hope he schedules the show on one of my free days so I can set up! It has been a good 20 or 25 years since I set up at a show within the borders of Chicago — there just aren’t any there anymore.
Anyway, after an excellent day of selling cards, I purchased some as well, including a 1962 Topps Lou Brock rookie and a 1962 Jello Carl Yastrzemski.
I tried something new this month and added a Trade Area on the stage in the Chapel. I saw folks taking advantage of the new area and will keep that as a regular feature for the show.
I went through a couple boxes of cards, giving away free packs to kids. We had a TON of kids which is so great to see!
One issue on the day was that we did not have any concessions because the volunteers that regularly work it, had other plans for the holiday weekend. My pal John Nelson said he can run the concessions if I ever run into this situation in the future. Thanks John!
Lisa went across the street and grabbed us drinks and sandwiches at Panera. Thank you my bride! John said that Panera and Jimmy John’s were probably pretty happy we did not have concessions as they were mobbed from showgoers.
We had another issue with lack of air-conditioning in the gym. I walked around the building in an effort to find a thermostat but later learned there is none. Apparently, the A/C is controlled through an app and the guy who knows how to work the app, my main man Mark, was on vacation. I hated to bug Mark but we needed A/C as the temps outside were in the 90s. So Mark and young Justin were able to turn on the A/C in the gym. Thanks guys!
All in all, turned out to be a pretty great day! Most everyone seemed pretty happy. I really appreciate everyone, both customers and dealers for all of your support these past 9 years.
Next show is scheduled for October 7, 2023. There is a competing show scheduled in Schaumburg that day but the better dealers will be in Oak Creek! I don’t think there will be any vintage dealers at that Schaumburg show while we will have between 20 and 30 vintage dealers along with the best modern and Pokémon dealers around! Make sure you come see us in Oak Creek on October 7!!
In the meantime, I am setting up this Sunday, September 10, at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, IL. I can’t recall there ever being a show in St. Charles. I know my pal Curtis sets up at the Kane County Fair Flea Market all summer long. The famous Corky was a regular dealer at the fair up until his passing (miss that guy!).
My good friends John and Mike, who promote the Loves Park and Janesville shows are the operators of this new show in St. Charles. These guys always do a solid job so I know this will be an excellent show. I am planning to bring out binders. I already had a request for basketball binders. I hope the rest of my crew of vintage set builders can make it to St. Charles this weekend! See you there!!
Below are a few more photos from the September 2nd Oak Creek show.