Wow! Time flies! Seems like yesterday that Mark Smith and I were planning for a monthly Saturday show at the Milwaukee Clarion. The first show took place in September of 2014 and we had a tremendous response. The show was strong until June 2015 when it seemed like the bottom fell out. Mark dropped out after May because the drive from Michigan was just too much. I really sputtered until September of 2015 when I promoted my first anniversary with free doughnuts. I learned that Milwaukee sports collectors love doughnuts, especially the free kind. The room was packed that September and I have not had one mulligan of a show since August of 2015. Support from both dealers and collectors has been tremendous!
We have had a lot of fun these past four years. Each show after that September 2015 one saw more and more doughnuts and included coffee. We had all sorts of holiday parties where I brought out sandwiches. Then at the end of 2017 the Clarion was sold to the Marriott Corp. who renamed the hotel the Four Points Sheraton. I was so distraught when Marriott fired Clarion manager Jeff Weaver. Jeff was my greatest champion. He hooked me up with former Packers Dave Robinson and Gilbert Brown. Man, that was fun having those guys sign autographs.
I figured Jeff might have a problem with all the food I was bringing into the show... but he never said a word. He would come into the show and look for autographs for his collection. I think it was September or October of last year when the Marriott replaced Jeff with Jake. Ugh! Jake began his assault on my show from the get-go. We fought over the food. He said I couldn't bring in food. I showed him my contract which had no clause stating I could not bring in any food. I continued to bring in food and he bitched about it every month. I think it was the October or November show where Jake set up the room and did not give me any chairs. I went into a storeroom and found a bunch of chairs and carried most of them into the room myself. I have some elderly folks and others with various disabilities. I need to have chairs in the room.
The Marriott wanted to increase my room rental fee for 2018 and ban food unless I purchased it at quadruple the price from the hotel. Thankfully, Betsy Ignasiak was still there and she gave me a contract at my usual rate, though she had to place the no-food clause in the contract.
The free food was such a hit, I was worried that the lack of food would kill the show. I decided to give away free wax instead of food. There was nothing in the contract that stated I could not giveaway non-food items. I skipped January and held my first 2018 show in February. The wax was a hit. Everyone loved it. It also seemed to draw in more families with kids.
By April, Betsy and Jake were gone and I had to deal with Stephanie, who, like Jake, went after me right away. She demanded that I give her my credit card number and pay for the room in advance. Well, the prior three-plus years, I always paid in cash after the show. I never missed a payment and there was never a problem. Well, most show days, Stephanie was not around and I ended up spending an hour or so after each show trying to find a hotel employee to pay. So I gave in and gave Stephanie my credit card number.
Then Stephanie called in April and said that my June show was cancelled. The hotel had an event taking all the rooms. I told her that I didn't care what else was going on at the hotel. I had a contract and I have spent time and money promoting my June show. I suggested we hold the show in the hotel's restaurant. She said no. Well, I am generally a very nice guy except for when I'm screwed with. I have no patience for people who think they can treat me like garbage. I put on my lawyer hat and drew up a breach of contract lawsuit and sent it to her. No response. I then put on my newspaper reporter hat (I was a newspaper reporter for 11 years prior to entering law school) and drew up a nasty press release announcing the situation to the world. I figured the May show would be my last at the hotel. My press release struck a nerve and got me a meeting with the Marriott Corp. regional director during the May show.
I guess these Marriott folks have a culture of screwing people over and treating everyone like crap. The first thing the regional director says to me is that they never cancelled my June event. My response was that you better be willing to say that under oath before a judge because I have a lawsuit ready to go. As you all know, I am an attorney in real life and spend most every day in a court room. I was prepared to file my lawsuit in the 19th Judicial Circuit located in Lake County, Illinois.
So after a bit of an argument, the regional director suggested we hold my June show in the restaurant -- my suggestion to Stephanie two months earlier. I was so relieved that the June show would go on that I ceased being argumentative and thanked the regional director, who suggested we do lunch, which has never happened.
After the meeting, I thought maybe my troubles with the hotel were over. Not so! That same day, Stephanie brought me a new contract with terrible terms making me responsible for anything and everything that could go wrong in the hotel and out in the parking lot. The new contract also stated that the hotel could cancel my event at anytime without notice. I read the contract and tossed it into the trash. My current contract is still valid, they cannot force me to sign a new one.
I was very apprehensive before the June show. My trust in these folks was completely gone. I had also posted on various websites that the May show was my last. I tried to get the word out that the show was still on.
To my surprise, the restaurant was set up beautifully for the June show. They had given me many more tables than I had asked for and I was able to give most of the dealers an extra table at no extra charge. We also had a very nice crowd and a wonderful day. Stephanie was no where to be found. I met a new manager that day. Seems like everyone who works at the hotel is some sort of manager. I have actually never seen that new manager again.
The show went on all summer with no problems, even though I was expecting Stephanie to pull something. At the August show, I learned Stephanie was gone. Woot! I had been looking for a new location to host the show in 2019 and not having any luck. I figured I could renew at the Sheraton for 2019. The new manager I met in August told me she does not handle event bookings and gave me an email for the new event manager. Turns out the new event manager does not work for the hotel, instead, she works for a management company based in Huntley, Illinois, called Bask Development. Same old story with Bask Development. I sent the event manager an email. No response. Three weeks later I emailed the new manager I met at the August show and told her that the event manager is unresponsive. I immediately got a call from the event manager. I asked to renew for 2019. She said NO! I argued that my event is usually the only event in the hotel and asked why would she say no. She responded that they no longer allow events to book more than a few months in advance. I told her I needed to book for the whole year so I could properly promote my event. She said she would talk to her manager. A week later, she emailed stating I can't book in advance.
After a painstaking search, I have found a new location! The last show at the Four Points Sheraton will take place on December 1, 2018. I am not going to hold a show in January, 2019. The first 2019 show will take place on Saturday, February 2, 2019, at the Salvation Army Community Center, 8853 S. Howell Ave., in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Generally, the show will continue on the first Saturday of the month in 2019. However, like January, there are a few more months I am taking off, namely July and August. The 2019 schedule will be as follows: February 2, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, September 7, October 5, November 2, and December 7.
This show will go on! These past four years have been tremendous! The anniversary show in September had a ton of dealers and was well attended. See my purchases, pictured below.
I decided to try do something unique for the anniversary show and created a prize table manned by my son Kolby. I had a table full of great items like autographs, packs of cards, modern and vintage cards, lots, publications and bobbles. Folks were invited to pull a ticket out of a box and receive the prize on the ticket. I think the customers that partook enjoyed the prize table. Though, I observed that not everyone participated. I don't think I made it clear that I was giving away all the stuff on the prize table for free. I took home a lot of the stuff that I wanted to giveaway. What are your thoughts on the prize table? Was it a bad idea? Confusing? Did you like it? Should I do it again?
Anyway, I really thought of closing down the show this past spring but my enthusiasm for the show has been renewed by the tremendous support I have been receiving from both customers and dealers. I am very excited to move the show to the Salvation Army Community Center next year. In the meantime, I have two more shows set for 2018 at the Four Points Sheraton -- November 3rd and December 1st. I hope to see everyone at those shows!! A big thank you to everyone who has supported my show these past four years. I would not have been able to do this at all without all the customers and dealers. It is a really nice referendum on how I do things. Initially I sought to create a Saturday show, with free admission, and a unique edge, which I think I've accomplished... thanks to you!!! Cheers!!!
Oh, and no thanks to the Four Points Sheraton, Marriott Corp. and Bask Development!!