Can we talk? Ya know, this show promoting business is really hard to do and tires me out! The time spent confirming space with dealers alone is a herculean task. There was a ton of interest in the November show and I accidentally overbooked it at 190 tables. I have done as many as 184 tables but it is difficult to squeeze so many tables into the building, especially when most dealers are required to bring their own tables because the venue only has 80 of the 180 I need.
I know from experience that some dealers will drop out and others just won't show up, so I generally like to overbook the show. However, I was a little concerned when two weeks before the show I still had 190 tables. I had to start a wait list, which I hate doing. I would prefer having space for everybody who wants to set up. Slowly, some dealers started to drop out, thankfully.
I also spend a ton of time all month long getting the word out about the show. The more I plug the show the more questions I get. So I spend a ton of time responding to questions.
The week before the show is always crazy and this month was no exception. I was in contact with a ton of dealers every day. Some of the new dealers have soooo many questions. I don't understand why because it is such a simple process -- just price your cards and put them out and have fun at the show. Many guys are concerned where their tables are located. They always want to be next to this guy or that guy. With 180-plus tables, I cannot accommodate everybody but I try the best I can. I really wish guys would just take the spot I give them and stop trying to negotiate their placement in the building.
One of the comments I regularly receive is that dealers want to be in the same spot every month so their customers know where to find them -- which is fine if the dealers show up every month, but they don't. So I have to plug someone new in that spot. The new guy always wants to remain in that spot but the old guy comes back the following month and wants his spot back. It is crazy. Some guys even throw a fit if I have to move them one month to the next. It is like dealing with spoiled children sometimes. Man, oh man.
Because I have to deal with these headaches every month, I try to be the most accommodating dealer when I set up at other shows. I could really care less where the promoter places me in the building. My customers come find me wherever I am at. In addition, I much prefer being a dealer than a promoter -- it is stress free and fun to be a dealer while it is constant headaches being a promoter.
It took me all day on Wednesday to create maps of every room that show where each dealer is located. I had to tweak them Thursday and Friday as dealers came in and out. It is soooo frustrating when dealers cancel a day or two before the show. I waste so much time contacting dealers from the wait list and reconfiguring the maps!!
I had four dealers cancel on the Friday before the show. I was able to get three new dealers to replace these guys from the wait list. I decided to move my spot into the fourth dealer's space, who I could not replace. If they had given me more time, I could have replaced them all because I did nothing but turn potential dealers away these past two weeks. Ugh! The guys that regularly cancel before the show are no longer welcome back. I'll try my luck with some new dealers.
Like I said, I am a dealer as well. Something major has to be going on for me to cancel my spot after I have reserved it. I feel it is my responsibility to set up after I reserved the spot and I take that responsibility seriously. I always pay or offer to pay on the rare occasion that I have to cancel. Seems like a lot of my Oak Creek dealers don't want to pay after causing me these problems -- which is why I try to replace those dealers with new ones.
Worse than these guys are the numbnuts who reserve space and don't bother to show up on the day of the show - no contact with me, nothing, they just don't show up. Yet, they always expect me to provide them space at the next show. I have a couple of four-letter words for these guys! Seems like I had five or six guys who just did not show up for the November 4th show -- these guys are no longer welcome at the show. I'll add some new ones from the waiting list.
Friday night was really stressful. Lisa, George, Kristy and I were trying to set up the building but had to keep pausing and refiguring things as dealers dropped out and new ones dropped in. To make matters worse, the dance troupe that rents the second floor on Friday nights, took down the whole set up in the Game Room because they thought they had reserved it.
Turns out they requested to reserve it, but my guys at the Sal told them "no," yet the person responsible for the troupe never told the members of the troupe that they could not use the Game Room. I walked into the Game Room around 6 p.m. and saw that all my chairs and tables had been removed and the troupe started to take down Fellowship Hall. I pleaded with them to stop! I explained why they could not move all the tables and chairs. They were very nice about it and stopped taking down my set up and moved up stairs but the damage was done and extra work was required to redo the Game Room and part of Fellowship Hall. Ugh!
I have to give props to my set up crew! These guys are the best! I'd still be at the Salvation Army today setting up the show if I did not have such great help on Friday. They finished everything in record time, even redoing the damage from the dance troupe! So awesome!
As usual, we went over to the Water Street Brewery after set up and had dinner and a few beers. The stress melted away once I sat down at the table. I ordered fish fry but was disappointed for the first time at Water Street. The fish fry is not good. Very dry. No malt vinegar and very little tartar sauce. Everyone else had burgers and enjoyed them. I had the Weis bier which was awesome!
Lisa and I stayed at the Super 8 again. It was noisy up until midnight then nice and quiet the rest of the night. Our room was nice as well. We fell right to sleep. However, I woke up after several hours and took some of my blood pressure meds and could not fall back asleep. Ugh! I had one of those nights where I laid in bed wishing I could fall asleep.
Surprisingly, I was not in too bad of shape in the morning. I let Lisa sleep while I went into the lobby for coffee. Man, I am spoiled because Lisa is a Starbucks barista and she brews me a pot of Starbucks coffee at home every morning. Her coffee is soooo good. The Super 8 coffee was soooo bad. Lisa explained to me that there are two different types of coffee beans. One is more expensive and has a wonderful flavor which is the one Starbucks uses. Lisa thinks the Super 8 uses the cheaper bean that has a foul flavor. Oh, that coffee was so bad but I desperately needed the caffein, so I drank it while making my sour face.
We were a little late arriving to the Sal. Lisa refused to drink that garbage Super 8 coffee and went and got us some from Panera which has excellent coffee. With the help of caffein, I was able to make it through the day with only several hours of sleep to go on.
Problems right away. One dealer cancelled. Then I received a text from a new dealer and told him to come on down. He arrived an hour later. Woot! Another dealer texted that he was having car issues and did not arrive until 11 a.m. or so. He did pay me for the tables. Props to him! Then a dealer showed up who I thought was not setting up. Luckily, I had a spot for him.
So I was set up in the gym. I was able to put out all of my baseball binders, one football binders and two basketball binders. As usual, attendance was light in the gym in the morning. Eventually folks started to trickle in and I was busy the rest of the morning. Lisa went around to collect table fee while I manned the binders.
Those binders are in a sorry state. Seems like I constantly reload them but they all appear empty!! New for this show was 1953 Bowman Color baseball.
A lot of my regulars attended the show like Robert who was the first to pull some of the '53 Bowman. My main man Jeff also pulled some and was today's big winner, finding cards in many of the binders. Thanks Jeff! Dean was there and found some cards.
Jack found some 1970 Topps that he is going to send out for signatures. Jim pulled a few cards. Big Mike and Kevin purchased some cards. Thanks guys! George is working on the 1960 Topps set and found some cards. Thanks George! Joe purchased a bunch of cards from the 1970's. Many, many guys went through the binders and purchased cards. Thank you everybody!
I am always worried before the show that no one is going to show up. We had a nice crowd as usual and by 10 a.m., every room in the building was filled with customers.
I complain a lot but once the show gets going, I always have a good time. So many people show up at my tables that started out as customers years ago but later become my good friends. It was so nice to see Tim Fritz, Eric, Ken, Barry, Craig, Doreen, Andy, Jim, Johnny Adams, Larry from McHenry, Larry from Chicago and the rock band The Who's number one fan Bob Smith. I also saw some folks I know from the Woodstock show. Thanks for coming to the show guys! I also love seeing all the folks who work and volunteer at the Salvation Army -- such nice people! I got to meet Mark's sister who is super into collecting sports cards. I had no idea! She even has a briefcase of slabbed cards. She told me she owns two of those cases!!
I forgot their names but they are a grandfather and grandson that attend every show. They generally purchase vintage stars. Their favorite dealer is Dave McDonald who has not set up since the summer. They gave me an earful about Dave not being there. So Dave, if you are reading this, please come back and set up! Your fans are waiting!!
Folks always comment that I am not ever in the same spot from month to month. Yes, that is by design because I know I am going to have a dealer either cancel late or just not show up. So in an effort to avoid having an empty table, I plug myself into a recently vacated spot. So this month I was in the gym, behind the Cardboard Brothers, Andrew and Jesse. I love these guys. They sell Pokémon and have been setting up with me for quite a while. I also see them at shows from Wisconsin to Michigan. Last time I was set up by them was at the June 2022 Sports Spectacular in Rosemont, Illinois.
I really enjoyed chatting with them during the show here in Oak Creek. They were busy and observed that I was busy as well. They had some questions about my set up. I was surprised when I saw them purchase some vintage basketball cards. I thought they only dealt in Pokémon. They showed me a Pokémon purchase and said it was the most that they have ever spent on a card. They told me the card is worth about $4,500.00.
I really don't understand Pokémon. All I know is that a lot of people buy them and a lot of people sell them. Unlike Pokémon, I do know a thing or two about food. I think I had my breakfast Sloppy Joe around 10 a.m. I was so busy that it took me a while to finish it off. Lisa was excited that the concession stand added giant pretzels to its menu today and later dined on one. Later in the show, I stopped by the concession stand for my umpteenth diet Coke and was told they just about sold out of everything. Awesome!
I also like hearing that many customers donate to the Salvation Army more than the required $1 admission fee. The Salvation Army is such a selfless organization, and the world is a much better place because of them. We are so lucky that they provide the space for the show and are so accommodating and wonderful. A huge thank you to everyone at the Salvation Army!
Back to the business at hand -- buying and selling cards! Lot's of stuff was offered for sale. An older man stopped me and offered to sell me some slabbed post-war stars like Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. Unfortunately, his price was too high. Another older gentleman offered me some 1933 Goudey commons. He would not give me a price and I was really too busy to analyze the cards and think about an offer for him, so I declined. Did anyone purchase those Goudeys?
My good buddy Eddie dropped off some sets early on and I tried to go through them when I could. There was a 1975 Topps baseball set where the commons looked nice but the stars were rough. Same with a 1974 Topps baseball set. He also had a 1976 Topps set that was just phugly. He gave me a price, I countered, he dropped down a little bit but was just too high based on the condition of the cards. I hate to turn him away because I really like Eddie and he buys a ton of stuff from me but I did not see any profitability in the cards at his price. Hopefully, we can work something out down the road.
One of my T206 guys was there and I purchased a couple of cards. I also purchased some cards from the 1960's from Jim. Then someone gave me a bunch of 1965 Topps baseball. I can't remember who because things were happening so fast. I was selling cards, trying to look at Eddie's stash, trying to negotiate, talking to people, eating, drinking and having a good time!
Then the dealer I met last weekend in Madison came down with his family and brought me a bunch of sets. He had two '75 sets, one '74 baseball set and one '74 football set. We worked out a price for everything. I paid him half and we made plans to meet next weekend where I'll drop the other half. Thanks for trucking to the show and selling me those cards!!
Later in the show, Kevin came by and gave me a real nice price on some 1952 Bowman baseball. Thanks Kevin!
Lisa made faces at me while I purchased all this stuff. I was in heaven... Lisa not so much.
Seemed like most dealers I talked to did pretty well which is always great to hear. I want every dealer at the show to sell a ton cards, buy a ton of cards and have a really good time.
I do have one theft to report. Dealer Nick Parsons had a slabbed autograph of Bart Starr stolen. The autograph was on a notecard that had the words "Pro Football Hall of Fame" on top. If you have any information, please contact me or Nick. Many of you know Nick, a super nice guy who promotes the monthly show in Bridgeview, Illinois. I hate thieves! Let's find this guy!
A huge thank you to all the dealers and all the customers who came out on Saturday. I appreciate you! I hope everyone has a tremendous Thanksgiving and comes back for the December 2nd show!!
In the meantime, I am setting up at the Union Hall, 6820 Mill Road, in Rockford, Illinois, on Saturday, November 11, 2023. I am not sure what I am going to bring out. I might give the binders a rest and work on reloads. There hasn't been a Rockford show since the spring. I always do well in Rockford and am looking forward to Saturday. Let me know if you want to see any binders!!
Below are some photos from the November 4, 2023, Oak Creek show...