Well, it has been some time since I last set up in Madison. For a while there, a good five or six years ago, I was setting up regularly at Darren's shows in two different locations. Darren promoted shows in Madison for decades. He seems to have disappeared. His shows were always hit or miss for me but I was glad to have the option to set up.
I met the newest Madison show promoter Beau a few weeks ago in Rockford. I observed quite a bit of promotion for his October show and decided to set up. After dinner on Friday, I loaded up my car, realizing I needed to get on the road early for the long drive to Madison.
Oh, it was chilly around 6 a.m. on Saturday when I hit the road to Madison. Rockford did not seem so far as I passed that wonderful town on my way up to Wisconsin. Traffic was not too bad and I made it to the show in about an hour and 45 minutes. Normally, it is about two to two and a half hours to Madison from my house.
I have been driving to Madison from the Chicago area regularly since I was a teenager in the early 1980's. I love Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin. I have had many, many good times there, especially in my youth.
So I felt right at home when I pulled up to the Sheraton. Darren's shows were held at one of the hotels across the street. That Sheraton is a really nice hotel. I was pumped when I saw a Starbucks in the lobby. Then bummed out when I saw that the show was on the second floor. I hate waiting for elevators!
Though, once I saw the room, I felt a lot better. A really nice room, carpeted, black tablecloths on all the tables. Looked fancy. Tables are only six-footers, for some reason I thought they were eight footers and brought out 13 display cases. I was able to fit 10 of them on the six footers.
I brought out my higher end raw cards and recently priced a huge pile to add into the mix. I did not realize I had so much baseball which took up nine of the display cases. I stuffed as much football as I could into that last display case. In the past, football has sold really well in Madison.
Load in and set up took nearly two hours. I finished loading up that last display case around 9:47 a.m. well after the opening of the show at 9. I sold a few cards while I was setting up, which is always nice.
I knew a few other dealers. I saw the Rock Church guys, who actually helped me get tables at the Madison show. Thanks guys! Set up behind me was Mark Amunrud, pictured above and who I met years ago at the Mason City, Iowa, show. Back then, Mark made an impression on me as he was the first person I ever saw use Facebook to sell cards. At that Mason City show, he bought a pile of cards, posted them on Facebook and had them all sold by the end of the show. I'm still impressed!
Mark, who lives in Dubuque, told me it is only an hour drive to Madison from Dubuque. I did not realize Madison is so close to Iowa which explained the large number of customers who told me they drove in from Iowa.
I also saw my good friend Josh Brothers, who was joined by his friendly wife and cute little boy. It is always great to see Josh, who has gone from an all-modern sports card set up to a all-Pokemon set up. Josh told me he used to do vintage as well.
I actually recognized quite a few folks in the crowd from when I used to set up regularly in Madison. It was great to see Tim Fritz who stopped by my table. Tim now sets up at my Oak Creek show with a great display of pre- and post-War vintage. I have known Tim forever, he remains one of my favorites.
After set up, I went down to the Starbucks, ordered some coffee and was pleasantly surprised to see that they offered a full breakfast. I loaded up on hard-boiled eggs and sausage.
Most everyone in the building was wearing a mask. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to wear one as well. I had some with me but was waiting for someone to say something before I put one on.
I am not anti-mask and will wear one when required. I would probably wear one all the time in public if they weren't so uncomfortable and that they keep me in a constant battle with foggy glasses.
It wasn't until after the show that I noticed a sign on the front door explaining, in great detail, why a mask is required inside the Sheraton. You know, if the sign simply stated in bold large lettering "Masks Required" it would have been far more effective and I probably would have noticed it upon entering and would have donned my mask. Anyway, no harm, no foul, right?
Sales were steady throughout the show. I can't really remember what I sold. I know I sold a bunch of Harmon Killebrew cards to a guy from Iowa. I know they follow the Twins in northern Iowa while there are many Cubs fans in southern Iowa. Beau, the show promoter, purchased my 1934 Batter Up Billy Herman.
Now Beau is an interesting guy. He was set up against the back wall and I observed that he had a large handwritten sign on the wall with the number 713,483. Apparently, Beau has set out to obtain one million Chicago Cubs baseball cards and he currently is at 713,483 cards. Pretty cool. You can follow Beau's quest at http://onemillionscubs.com.
Beau is an excellent show promoter. The room was filled with dealers and we had a nice crowd all day long. I was happy with my sales. I was also happy with my one purchase -- a 1934-36 Diamond Stars Mel Ott. The guy I bought the card from said his name was Phil and that the card belonged to his uncle. Apparently, Phil inherited his uncle's sports collection and he showed me a 1948 World Series program, which his uncle obtained at the game and scored it. Phil also had his uncle's ticket stub from the game. I love old memorabilia and enjoyed looking at Phil's stuff.
Overall, a really pleasant day in Madison. The drive home, however, was totally unpleasant. It took me close to three hours to get home. Traffic was jammed the whole way. Once home, I ate some food and passed out, as usual.
I hope to set up at this show again. I can't make the November show and Beau did not schedule a December show. He also has not confirmed his 2022 dates yet with the hotel. Once he has them, I am hoping I can set up in January.
In the meantime, no rest for the weary! I'm setting up this coming Sunday, October 30, at the Lake Station VFW in Indiana. I think I will do a display case set up again. Last month I just brought out baseball for my display cases. This month I plan on putting out my football, basketball and hockey. If there is any room, I'll put out a little baseball as well.
A huge thank you to everyone who purchased cards from me in Madison. I hope to see a lot of friendly faces again on Sunday in Lake Station, Indiana. I've got a blog coming soon on Buenavista show in Milwaukee. I received many compliments on the blog in Madison. Thanks for following my blog!
Pictured below are folks going through cards at the dealer set up across from me at the Madison show. Look at that room! That is one great room for a card show!