Man, it was dark on this unusually warm and muggy October morning. I woke up around 5:15 a.m., loaded the car, and was on the road to Rockford by 6:13 a.m. The sun finally started to rise around 7 a.m. while I was plugging along I90 West to Rockford.
I have been to Rockford many times but have never done a show there and have never been to the Rock Church. So I asked Siri for directions. Unfortunately, Siri took me about 15 miles west of the Rock Church to Harrison Road. Rock Church is on Harrison Avenue, not Harrison Road.
I will say this -- the country-side west of Rockford is absolutely beautiful. Still very green for October, hilly, rivers and some beautiful farms. Harrison Road is a tiny carriageway dotted with big red barns and shiny corn silos -- not an ideal place for a card show.
I was able to convince Siri to give me directions to Harrison Avenue and made it to the Rock Church by 8 a.m. Man, that was a long ride! So the Rock Church is actually really easy to get to. Harrison Avenue is the first Rockford exit from I90. It will be a much smoother ride next month!
Once on Harrison Avenue, I was guided to the church by many signs along the side of the road declaring "Card Show" with an arrow. I really appreciated those signs. It was nice to know I was no longer lost.
Promoter John Craig greeted me as I pulled into the lot, directing me to double park by the front door for load in. I met John at the Woodstock show a few months back and he invited me to set up at his show. I finally took him up on that invite.
John allowed me to pick out my tables. I chose two in the back row. This is an excellent space for a card show. It is a large gym with nice wide aisles and plenty of space between dealer tables on the sides and the back.
I am not sure how many dealers were there but it was just about a full house. There were quite a few dealers. I was happy to see a whole bunch of friendly faces like Jason Galleske, Reed Pentek, Dave Kania, John Dobiecki, Tom Mularz, Curtis Payne and Phil Bucaro. It is always nice when setting up at a show for the first time and seeing all sorts of familiar faces. I felt right at home.
It was great to see Phil, who I have not seen in a couple of years. He was set up with two buddies and they seemed to be having a great time.
Then I saw a couple other dealers I knew, who came to the show to buy, namely my pals Gary George, Jeff Talamantez and Lloyd Ramsby.
Dealer John Dobiecki reported great sales.
For my set up, I decided to bring nine display cases and filled four of them up with vintage football, one with vintage basketball, one with vintage hockey, and three with pre-War baseball and some early post-War baseball.
After set up was completed, I took advantage of some of the snacks John brought in for the dealers and munched on a couple of doughnuts.
Not a whole lot of vintage in the room other than me, Tom and Reed. The rest of the dealers were modern. One guy had a bunch of signed jerseys. A lot of young guys setting up. One of the young dealers purchased my 1971-72 Topps Bobby Hull. I loved talking to this kid. He is a huge Hawks fan and schooled me on all the wrong moves the Hawks have made the past several years.
There were also a lot of kids in the room as customers. They were not much interested in my vintage cards but it was cool to see so many kids at the show. John, the promoter, does an excellent job with this show. At one point, he had all the kids surround his table for some live breaks.
It is nice to see some younger promoters like John. I also met another young promoter, Beau, who runs the show in Madison, WI, another real nice guy. I hope to eventually get up there and set up. Gone are the days when all the promoters were angry old codgers. I think the hobby is in good hands!
Most of the folks attending the show were into modern cards, though, many stopped and marveled at some of my old stuff. I sold a few cards. A young guy picked up my 1960 Topps Bart Starr and Paul Hornung. A customer wearing a Frank Thomas jersey, who told me he attended Palatine High School, purchased my 1978 Topps Walter Payton. He was interested in my Gale Sayers rookie but I would not discount it enough to his liking. I'm happy to keep that card rather than sell it too cheap.
Another young guy purchased my 1971-72 Topps Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. I sold a few more hockey cards and handful of football cards. One guy, building vintage Cubs sets, found some 1950 Bowman Cubs at my table. Overall, sales were a little disappointing but I never expect much when I first set up at a show. My experience has been that I need to do the show for a while and build up a following before I can expect a good amount of sales. So I booked the next show on November 13. Gary said he is setting at that show, so if Reed and Tom come back (I think Tom said he will be out of town), that will make four of us with a pretty great selection of vintage cards. Dave also always has some vintage on his table. Vintage collectors, mark your calendars and come see us at the Rock Church on November 13.
Quite a few guys mentioned this blog. It is always great to set up at a new show and be met with compliments for my blog. I always appreciate the kind words. Thank you guys for regularly reading my sports card misadventures.
Speaking of the blog.... I kind of let all the no-show-late-canceling dealers have it with my last blog. I am happy to report that one of the no-shows did show in Rockford and paid me for his table from the last Oak Creek show. So that is one guy to delete from my shit list. I told him he must give me at least a week's notice if he is not going to make it. I need time to contact folks on the waiting list and they need time to prepare for the show.
Back at the Rock Church, I think the show goes until 3 p.m. but I took off around 2 p.m. I was really hungry and tired and wanted to get to the Burger King up the street in the worst way. I had a really long drive home. I made the mistake of exiting I90 at Roselle Road which had a ton of traffic. I wanted to avoid the I90 and Route 53 interchange which is kind of suicidal. One of the worst designed interchanges in the Chicago area. So it ended up taking me two hours to get home where I fell into bed with my fluffy Golden Retriever and slept for hours.
There are so many shows right now! Seems like a new one is popping up in Wisconsin and Indiana every week. Illinois, on the other hand, is lacking. I'd love to see a new show in the northern suburbs. With all these new shows, I'm a busy beaver and will be setting up at two shows next weekend. These are actually older established shows next week with Woodstock on Saturday, October 16, and Orland on Sunday, October 17.
I've got just one table for the Woodstock show at St. John's Lutheran Church, 401 St. John's Road. I'm leaning towards bringing out four display cases and one dime box. I'm going to bring football cards for the display cases. If you plan on attending the Woodstock show and want me to bring out any binders, let me know. Newly reloaded binders are 1972 Topps baseball and 1972-73 Topps Hockey.
On Sunday in Orland, I plan on bringing out all the binders and maybe two display cases filled with vintage baseball from the 1960's -- though, that could change. With the Bears-Packers at noon, I'd like to be able to exit the show quickly and catch the game. Sometimes I get guys who are not football fans camping out and going through all my baseball binders when I am itching to leave to watch some football. I might just bring out display cases. I can fit 10 cases on my tables in Orland.
Anyway, I am rambling. Have a great week everybody and hope to see you next weekend!
Pictured below are some of the football cards I brought out to Rockford. I'll probably bring these to Woodstock next weekend.