On this sunny morning, it only took an hour to get to Highland from Northern Illinois. I used my trusty GPS this time around so I had no issues in finding the Lincoln Center. I was utterly amazed when I pulled up and observed that the old crusty edifice from memory no longer exists. In its place is a nice modern building, complete with a health club and other amenities. I walked in, past the health club, and saw a door leading into a large field house which held a humongous indoor flea market. On my last visit here, the card show had its own room so I tried to find another room holding the card show only to learn that the card show was located on the far end of the flea market. Many years ago, a Chicago area dealer Steve Zinn held shows at the indoor Wolf's Flea Market in Elmwood Park, Illinois, and I did very well at those shows. Based on that experience, I did not mind sharing the room with a flea market. Plus, I generally love flea markets.
So I pulled around back where there were wide large doors. Load in was easy. Once inside, no stench! I was then greeted by Dave F. who was there as a customer and already buying stuff from the dealer set up next to me, a very nice older gentleman. My pal Mark Smith was along the wall to my right. I recognized one of the other dealers from the Orland Show. Set up behind me was Bill and his grandsons, who I also know from the Orland shows. Then there were six or seven other card dealers that I have never seen before. They all had good stuff on their tables. The card show consisted of about two rows while the rest of the rows of tables in the field house featured flea market vendors.
I looked at the two six foot tables I reserved then scanned the room and decided to forgo setting up my display cases. I suppose there may be flea market customers willing to spend $400 on a 1950 Bowman Ted Williams, but I reasoned it was unlikely going to happen today. So I spread out my binders onto the two tables along with my newly created dime box. Without the display cases, set up was quick and easy. The dealer to my right did not show up and Roger let me spread out -- eat your heart out Orland dealers! I actually got three tables for the price of two!!
Pictured below are my binders and the dealers set up across from me as the show was opening up.
Dave made my show by purchasing my entire 1975 Topps Minis binder and a large pile of 1970s basketball. Thanks Dave! Then Larry W., who I know from the Orland shows (seemed like quite a few customers skipped the competing Orland show and came out to Highland), brightened our day with his presence. Larry is working on 1976 and 1977 Topps baseball sets. Unfortunately, I recently sold my entire 1976 binder so I could not help him with those. Luckily, he found quite a few 1977s at my table. I love talking with Larry, a retired district commander for the Chicago Fire Department. Larry has his own brand of eloquence and I just enjoy selling him cards, joking around and talking with him. Here is a sample of our conversation on the sale of the 1977 Topps.
ME: You have $15 dollars in cards, I'll take $10.
LARRY: Give me a #$@%^& break! You'll take #$%^&@ $20! Come #$%^&* on!
Not much I can say after that. Larry is the best!
I seemed to have quite a few sales in the morning. An Orioles fan purchased a 1967 Topps Poster of Boog Powell. A customer purchased a nice pile of 1978 Topps baseball. I customer wearing a Bears jacket purchased a bunch of 1969 Topps baseball. A customer wearing a Blackhawks jacket purchased some 1978s. An autograph collector/dealer that I have seen around forever, purchased a few autographs from my autographed baseball card binder.
I sold some non-sports cards to another customer. Oddly, a different non-sports collector, one who I have been seeing for years at the Orland and Sun-Times shows did not purchase any cards from my non-sports binder. I was amazed he did not purchase one single card when for the first time I actually had some non-sports cards. Anyway, another customer purchased some football cards from the 1970s and some 1951 Bowman baseball cards. Then Mark sent a customer, Ken, over my way. Ken purchased a bunch of 1954 Topps including a Willie Mays. I was definitely buying Mark lunch after the show! Thanks Mark!! Thanks Ken!!
Sales came to an abrupt halt around noon after an older gentleman purchased some 1959 Topps baseball cards. I'm not quite sure why I couldn't sell any more cards the rest of the day. The flea market was open until 3 p.m. and there were still plenty of people in the room but I could not make a sale. I would have been concerned except for Dave and Ken had already made it a good day. So, I did what any self-respecting baseball card dealer would do -- I ate a bunch of food.
The Highland Indiana Women's Club had a large booth located outside the field house in the hallway of the Lincoln Center. Oh my. I about melted when I saw the amazing display of homemade baked goods. In my mind flashed a large neon sign reading: DIABETIC SEIZURE. So, I willed myself past huge chocolate chip cookies, fresh-baked cupcakes flowing in frosting, brownies sparkling with powdered surgar, fudge, frosted cookies, sugar cookies, rice krispie treats, chocolate covered marshmellows......
Sorry, I drooled a little.
I ended up purchasing some homemade sloppy Joe which was pretty darn good. I even had enough will power to avoid potato chips.
After the sloppy Joe, I found another food area just outside the door behind Mark's tables. Of course there were more baked goods. I decided to not even look at them because they are only trouble. I found a very nice lady selling some of the most amazing tacos I have ever eaten. The meat was so well spiced that I could have just gotten a large bowl of the taco filling and sat there with a spoon and been happy. Knowing I was going to lunch with Mark afterwards, I stopped eating after the tacos. Though, I could have continued to eat those delicious tacos the rest of the day.
I then walked around the fieldhouse and checked out the flea market items. There was all sorts of brick a brack, board games, antiques, clothing, and other collectibles like coins and dolls. I called my Dad, who also loves a good flea market. I knew he was heading this way after taking my kids out to breakfast. Unfortunately, my folks arrived after the flea market was over. Dad was still able to find a few political buttons by razzing vendors while they were packing up.
After the show, Mark and I went over to the Purple Steer Diner -- my kind of place with a huge menu. I went with the BBQ ribs which were pretty good. Mark went with rib tips. Overall, a really pleasant day. I now feel foolish waiting eight years to return to Highland. The next show/flea market is May 9 which conflicts with the Smith & Gordon Show. I'm going to shoot for the October 10th show in Highland. The Highland show has just risen from the bottom of my show rating list to near the top.
I was up bright and early on Sunday, March 15, 2015, to load some more stuff into my car for the Gonzaga show in Milwaukee. The temperature rose up to the 60s on Saturday, so I walked out of the house without a jacket on Sunday morning. While the temperature was not nearly as cold as last month (negative 9), the 30 degrees was too cold for a simple short sleeve shirt. I quickly grabbed a jacket, finished loading up the car and hit the road to Wisconsin.
I don't know if I will ever get used to seeing the empty space just inside the door at Gonzaga Hall where Mike Rodell used to hold court. Mike passed recently, as I discussed in a previous blog. He was always the first one to greet me when I entered the room at Gonzaga. In my mind, I find myself looking at that empty table and saying hello to Mike.
Anyway, I arrived to Gonzaga a little earlier than usual. I was hoping to finish my set up by the opening bell at 9 a.m. When customers started to come in around 8:45 a.m., I was only half-way finished with loading my display cases. I had priced a bunch of new cards for this show including a pile of T205s and was eager to show them off. I did not finish loading up the display cases until 9:30 a.m.
I got to talking with one of the volunteers from the auction who told me he was heading to Phoenix in two weeks to participate in a charity golf outing hosted by Fergie Jenkins. The event supports research for juvenile diabetes. We discussed Fergie and what an upstanding guy he is. He was able to find a 1972 card to get signed at the event.
It was fun to show off my new T205s to Jason, an avid pre-war collector. Jason purchased a few along with a T206 Fred Clarke. My next customer purchased some 1971 Topps Coins. Jim, my Milwaukee-based White Sox fan, purchased a bunch of 1959 and 1960 Topps baseball cards. Another collector purchased some 1970 Topps baseball cards.
I was then greeted by Bruce and his grandsons. I know I have probably said this in the past but it bears saying again, I absolutely love these guys. Bruce's grandsons appear to be between the ages of 8 and 10 and they absolutely love pre-war cards and are amazingly knowledgeable. You can just see the joy Bruce gets out of bringing the boys to the show and buying them cards. It is one of the coolest things I get to regularly be a part of. They ended up buying most of my T205s along with a 1940 Play Ball Mickey Owen and some post-war cards like a 1952 Topps George Kell and a 1953 Topps Mike Garcia. Thanks guys!!
Next up, a customer purchased some hockey cards from the 1970s. Jeff, the world's most perfect customer, purchased a large pile of 1952 Topps baseball cards and a smattering of football cards. Jeff collects post-war baseball and football cards along with modern baseball cards. He also collects comic books. I am pretty sure he has an amazing collection which I would enjoy seeing one day.
Then I sold a card that I thought would never sell -- a 1970-71 Topps Lou Alcindor (Kareem) in which someone erased Kareem's eyebrows and drew them in with a pen. It is really disheartening to see this type of attack on one of the coolest cards around. It came to me as the result of a purchase of a large group of cards. I placed it in my newly reloaded '70-71 binder at a really low price, ever hopeful that someone would purchase it. Amazingly, the card now sits in the collection of a collector who was happy to buy it.
We had a real nice crowd today at Gonzaga. The room filled up quickly with customers. Brisk sales continued with an older collector who purchased some 1952 and 1954 Topps baseball cards. A customer wearing a Brewers hat purchased some 1971 Topps Coins. A set builder found some 1963 Topps baseball cards. My pal Mark, who works for Miller Brewing, purchased a nice pile of cards. A husband and wife team purchased some 1970s hockey and basketball. Eric purchased a 1986 Jose Conseco rookie but I can't remember if it was a Topps, Donruss or Fleer. Eric also purchased some 1964 Topps baseball cards.
Pictured below is world-famous dealer Jeff Peterson attending to customers at the past Sunday's Gonzaga show.
I did not buy anything today. I was too busy to walk around the room and nobody brought anything to my table to sell. I saw other dealers buying stuff but I did not have any opportunities on this day. Which is just fine by me. I never mind going home with a pile of Monopoly money.
Then I actually turned down a free lunch from Gizmo, even though it is against my nature to turn down anything that is free. I was just tired out and wanted to get home and take a nap. The drive home was quick and easy. I inhaled some chicken thing my wife cooked then took that nap.
Since the Gonzaga show, I have had a crazy week. I have been trying to prepare for the Sun-Times Fan Fanatic Show this coming weekend while starting a new job in Downtown Chicago. It has been very hectic, to say the least. I was originally planning on arriving in Rosemont to begin set up for the Sun-Times show on Friday morning. But my new employer has me hitting the ground running and I have all sorts of work to do on Friday. I am going to try and set up Thursday night and hopefully make it to the show by the opening bell of 4 p.m. This should be interesting.
I have reloaded some Exhibits, some 1970 and 1971 Topps Supers, some non-sports and some autographs. I am working on 1973-74 Topps hockey. I was hoping to reload 1953 Topps baseball but I don't see how I will have the time now to get it done. I have some craziness in store while trying to complete training at the new job, getting new assignments completed, prepping and setting up the Sun-Times show, working the show, then going to work Downtown on the Monday morning after the three-day show. I think that nap after the Gonzaga show may be my last nap for a while....
Anyway, I am looking forward to the Fan Fanatic Sun-Times Show this weekend. I'm setting up in my usual spot with all-around good guys Dave McDonald and Bob Downing. Stop by and say hello!!