I first learned about the Nash-Ional over the summer when I saw a Facebook post stating the show would have 700 tables. My sales have been excellent the past few years at the larger shows, so I decided to sign up.
Then trouble started to brew when I had a court hearing scheduled for October 28, the first day of the Nash-Ional. I scrambled. Tried to find someone to cover my tables on October 28 with no luck. Ah, but luck would find me as the judge rescheduled the hearing.
Next issue was hotel. I have been to Nashville once before and I felt it to be a sketchy place. I did not want to book a hotel where my life could be in danger. I spent hours reading online reviews of hotels. I wanted to spend around $100 a night for hotel. Seemed like all the hotels in that price range had some flaws, either sketchy neighborhoods, bugs, mold, filth or bad service. I finally just gave up and randomly picked the America Inn in nearby Franklin, Tennessee.
I worked a half day on Thursday, October 27, then hit the road to Nashville around 1:15 p.m. Traffic through Chicago and into Indiana was heavy and slow, as expected. The roads opened up once I made my way to I65.
I seemed to fly. Not a bad drive at all. My only problem was that I was craving Burger King and I wasted some time trying to find one. After hitting three separate exits, I finally found a Burger King that I could actually go inside (some were drive-thru only), use the washroom, and get my whopper. All was then right in the world.
After driving all day and most of the night, I stopped around 9:30 p.m. in Bowling Green, KY, and spent the night in a Super 8. This was an exceptionally nice Super 8. I was hopeful my room for Friday night in Franklin would be as nice as this one at the Super 8.
Excited for the show, I was up around 6 a.m. Friday, October 28. I stopped off at a Denny's for breakfast. I then had an easy drive to the Nashville Fairgrounds. I think I arrived around 9 a.m.
I drove around the fairgrounds for a while before I figured out where the load in was located for the show. I was required to pay for my tables before I was allowed to load in. The nice ladies working the front did not accept credit cards. I did not have $400 cash on me for the table fee. Luckily there was an ATM which let me take out the funds in increments of $200 and charged me twice.
I paid, got my badge and met the promoter Jeff Roberts, an awfully nice guy. Jeff escorted me to my tables which were located in the back room. The show consisted of two huge rooms. Jeff said he had 730 tables total and thanked me for setting up.
I immediately recognized my neighbor Johnny Adams, an old-time vintage dealer from Minneapolis. Johnny is at all of the big shows and has been for decades. He is recognizable by this large magnifying contraption he wears on his head that he uses to get a better view of cards.
I giggled to myself when I saw that my neighbor was Johnny Adams as my good buddy Dave has had some run-ins with him. Johnny can be an impatient ornery guy and I had a front-row seat to some fireworks. Though, we got along famously.
Johnny was with a group of four guys from Minneapolis. One of the other guys was Jerry Nelson, who set up at my Milwaukee card show back when it was at the Clarion Hotel. I remember that Jerry had a great show at the Clarion and I was amazed that he never came back. Well, he booked my December show. He has since retired and has free time to travel to shows.
Johnny, Jerry, and the whole Minneapolis group next me are all vintage dealers. I felt at home. We were also some of the few guys in the room who did not speak with a southern drawl. It was fun to be immersed in southern culture. I even found myself speaking with a drawl and had to stop myself. Everyone I talked to had that twang.
And speaking of vintage -- there was a TON of vintage dealers at the show. I did not know most of them other than J.D. from Indiana, who is one of the best. Oh my, there were some great vintage cards in the room. I, along with everyone who passed by, drooled at Johnny's 1949 Bowman Satchel Paige.
Anyway, load in was kind of a pain because I had a really small cart, as a tire on my regular cart blew out at the last Madison show. I still need to get that fixed or get a new cart.
I had people at my table while I attempted to set up. I am not a fan of folks hovering over me while I set up. I wish there was a way to block off the view of my tables while I set up. I priced up a bunch of new inventory prior to the show and felt I had some good stuff. I had two six-foot tables and was able to fit six display cases. I brought a seventh smaller case, hoping I could squeeze it in but to no avail. I prepared for this scenario by bringing along my dollar boxes that fit nicely in the remaining space.
I am one of those guys who likes to use every bit of space on my tables. I hate having any open space.
After I completed set up, I saw a few guys I knew. One of the guys is from Phoenix and I have known him for years, but of course, I cannot remember his name. I do remember that he is an eBay seller, doesn't set up at shows, but travels to shows all over the country to pick up his inventory. I see him everywhere. Years ago, I sold him a 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle at the Gonzaga show.
Then I saw Duke from Michigan. I have only known Duke for about a year and half. I met him at the 2021 National in Chicago where he bought a TON of stuff from me. Since then, I have been seeing him everywhere, just like the Phoenix guy. I learned that Duke sells vintage cards full time. He occasionally sells at shows but told me he has regular buyers and attends shows, purchases cards and brings the cards to his buyers.
Duke said I made a big mistake by not bringing out my binders to Nashville. He said Nashville has a good number of set builders and they would be all over my binders. I told Duke the binders are bare, so I brought my showcases which are brimming with inventory.
The show officially opened at noon on Friday. I had my first sale at 12:15 to a local collector who purchased some of my 1949 Bowman baseball high numbers and a pile of cards out of my $1 boxes.
I had a tough time keeping the dollar boxes clear. The young guys selling modern cards on my right kept placing stuff on my boxes as did their customers. Ugh!
My next sale was to this kind older couple who told me they stopped at the show on their way to visit their son in Murphysboro. I only know of Murphysboro through the Beckett Show Calendar as there are regular shows there. The couple purchased my 1953 Topps Bob Feller, along with some 1955s, 1956s and 1957s.
A guy wearing a Twins cap purchased a 1971 Topps Johnny Bench and some 1966 Topps baseball high numbers. His buddy purchased some 1956 Topps baseball.
My next customer was a guy with a terrible moustache. You know how some people just look wrong with a moustache. He was one of those people. He purchased my 1965 Philadelphia Jim Brown that I had just priced up before the show.
I observed that some of those in attendance were wearing masks. I can't blame them. Folks are still getting sick with COVID. One of these maskers purchased my 1971 Kelloggs Don Sutton. I have had that thing forever and was real happy to sell it.
I had a nice chunk of change in my pocket after just these first six customers. Woot!
Then I saw David Ramsey, another guy I see everywhere. David was set up in the other room and he had some really nice high-end graded vintage. Did I say there was some vintage at the show? There was a TON! Hella great selection!!
Next up, the cutest couple came by. The girlfriend was wearing a Harry Potter hat. The boyfriend purchased my 1967 Topps Carl Yastrzemski. We got to talking and I was amazed at this guy's collection. He collects those various turn back the clock cards and then tries to match it with the real card and places them side by side in a photo album. I thought it was the coolest thing.
My next customer was a golden goose. He was wearing a University of Kentucky shirt and purchased piles and piles of cards. I can't remember everything, but I know he purchased quite a few 1955 Topps All American Football cards then just about all of my 1950 Bowman football. There were some big stars in there. I was cooking!
My next customer reminded me of Vanilla Ice. I have noticed that this look seems to be coming back. I remember the first go around in the 1980's. It did not work then and does not work now. Vanilla Ice purchased some 1970 Topps baseball high numbers.
When my belly started to rumble, I did not have to look far for food. As my tables were right across from the cafeteria. The other room had a pretzel stand. The cafeteria opened at the same time the show opened at 7 a.m. I grabbed some much-needed coffee early in the morning.
The cafeteria menu consisted of burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chips, candy, pie along with one serious entre and sides. Today's serious entre was roast beef and gravy. I chose for my sides steamed carrots and green beans. The folks working the cafeteria were so nice and my food was soooo good. Oh my! Around dinner time, I had a burger that was pretty good. The cafeteria gets an A+.
While munching on my roast beef back at my tables, I am pretty sure Stevie Nicks walked by. This is Nashville after all.
Earlier in the day, I had a young guy look at a bunch of stuff out of my display cases, mostly cards from the 1950's. He did not make a purchase then but did come back later in the day and buy my 1958 Topps all stars of Ernie Banks, Warren Spahn and Frank Robinson. Woot!
So the cards in my dollar boxes are generally worth $3 to $5 each and I discount them down to $1. An old man came by who wanted a discount and my discounted cards. I begrudgingly gave him a discount.
My sales seemed to die after 3 p.m. The show went to 7 p.m., so I had a lot of down time. Johnny Adams told me he liked my haircut. I offered to give him the same one for free.
I lost some teeth from my next customer as he really beat me up on my 1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene rookies. Then he wanted a discount on my discount cards. Ugh!
The late afternoon monotony was broken up with some fireworks at Johnny's table. Johnny spent most of the day walking the show buying cards. Everyone and their mother asked me about his '49 Bowman Paige. One particular guy, I have met before as he has been to my Oak Creek show. We chatted and I told him Johnny was out shopping and advised he come back later.
In addition to the Paige, Johnny had what looked like complete sets of 1957 and 1958 Topps baseball in plastic sheets in his display case. That one guy came back and asked about the '57's and '58's. I distinctly heard Johnny tell him that they were sets. The guy asked to look at them. He noticed that the cards in each set were organized by team and there were many empty spots in the binders.
"Is this a complete set?" he asked.
"It is a set," Johnny responded.
"But is it complete?" he asked.
"It is a set," Johnny responded.
I should have paid more attention. I looked away and things got real heated with Johnny being an absolute dick and the guy telling him off in response.
I honestly did not understand what was going on. I think Johnny did not believe that this guy was a serious buyer. He could have asked me because I have seen this guy spend big bucks in the past and I felt bad that Johnny treated him so poorly. I went up to him after the show and told him that I was sorry and I am not associated with Johnny. I don't treat people like that.
Earlier, I was considering purchasing those sets. The condition was terrible but I would have made an offer if they were complete. Clearly, they were not complete, so that ended my interest.
I did find some cards to purchase. I bought a 1970 Topps Hank Aaron SGC 4 from a younger guy. Another guy stopped by and asked if I buy cards. I nodded. He pulled out two half full wax boxes of 1974 and 1975 Topps football. He said he inherited them from his father. I checked the recent sales on eBay and packs were going for $60 to $70. I declined to purchase them at $140. Though, they were freakin' cool and it hurt to pass them up because I really wanted them.
At the end of the show, I could not decide if I should take my cards with me or leave them locked in my cases. I forgot to bring my tarps. I did observe a large amount of security at the show and decided to take a chance and leave my stuff. I locked up all of my display cases. Pulled the tablecloth out from under them. Stacked the cases. Covered them in the tablecloths and chairs and went to check into my hotel.
I had about a 20 minute ride to the hotel. I took note of the many hotels I passed up on the way to Franklin. I noticed that folks were driving like maniacs on the highway. I tried to stick with the slow lane without getting killed.
The hotel was a dump. My room was carpeted with large patches missing. The walls were scraped up and the bathroom was moldy. Oh well. You get what you pay for. The room was cheap.
After I brought in my luggage, I set out to explore Franklin and find some food. Franklin is hilly and it is tough to get a good view of the road and the restaurants. I had to drive down a bunch of hills to see what was out there.
I settled on Bar-B-Cutie which had a drive through window. The kind young lady working the window was indeed very cute. I got some smoked turkey with a side of baked beens, potato salad and hush puppies. All were very good.
Well, that was a wrap for Day One in Nashville. I don't have much in the way of photos because I was not able to walk around. I spent most of the time at my booth.