I never expected such a long lay off with my last show being March 7, 2020. Seven months later with a lot of planning and a lot of work, I was able to make it happen with a lot of help from the kind folks at the Salvation Army.
COVID has made this the craziest of times, not to mention all the other events occurring in the U.S., making this not only the craziest of times but also the most trying of times. I really want to get back to some sort of normalcy. In July, I started bothering the Salvation Army and was told they would not allow the show to occur in August and September.
Just when I was ready to give up on 2020, I was contacted by the Salvation Army in early September and told that they had an administrative meeting about the show, they came up with a plan and I could hold the October show. Woot! They had the whole thing mapped and charted out. I was impressed. Their plan called for one entrance to the gym and a separate exit. They also decided on one-way traffic through three rooms, with dealer tables separated by at least six feet. Everyone had to wear a mask. Hand sanitizing stations would be placed throughout the show.
I quickly agreed and set about the momentous task of determining the dealers for the show. I had been in sporadic contact with my regular dealers over the past seven months and had received a lot of inquiries from new dealers. I decided to start with all the dealers that confirmed for the April show, which was cancelled. I found that I did not have contact information for everyone and did my best to get in touch with as many as I could. If I never contacted you and you would like to set up at the November 7 show, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several guys expressed a concern for COVID and did not want to set up, decisions I totally respect. I think it is a wise move for anyone with pre-existing conditions that would make them susceptible to COVID to stay away. For me, I am pretty sure I had COVID back in March but was unable to get tested at that time. As you may recall, tests were not widely available back in March. It took months for tests to be available for the general public at large. I am hopeful that I have some sort of immunity but I am also confident in the restrictions in place. I really don't see a big difference between going to a show and going to a grocery store.
As for my mental health, I really needed to attend a show. Actually not only just my mental health but I needed to attend a show for my soul. I can't deal with being cooped up for so long!!
I had to really put the pedal to the medal to get this thing together. I had to contact 40 guys that booked for April than another 25 or so more that had asked for tables. It was crazy. Guys would commit one day than drop out the next. I had all of these back and forth phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook messages. Ugh! On top of it, I'm extremely busy at work. I almost lost it when a bunch of guys cancelled at the last minute and I had to contact a bunch of people on my waiting list the night before the show when I was burnt out from a rough day at work. This affair did not help my diabetes.
Then I had to deal with endless phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook messages from folks that wanted to attend the show but had all sorts of questions. There is one question that I regularly receive and I really hate to answer: Are any of the grading companies going to be grading cards at the show? NOOOO!! The grading companies have never, ever, never, ever, been to Wisconsin. I don't ever foresee them coming to Wisconsin in the future. You have to contact them and submit your cards, through the mail, directly to them in California, Texas or Florida. They aren't in Wisconsin! Unless Joe Orlando gets wind of our amazing Sloppy Joe, he is not coming to the Salvation Army in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
I totally understand folks that contacted me to confirm the show and don't mind those inquiries. It is the stupid questions that drive me nuts. How many dealers? How many tables? Do they have toilets in the building? Can I bring my dozens of 1988 Topps sets and try to sell them to the dealers?
I am just one person and I can't answer all these questions. I try my best but I can't get back to everybody. Just come out to the show and see it for yourself! This is a tremendous show with tremendous dealers. If you collect cards and sports memorabilia, you are missing out by not attending this show. I am in awe at how the show has grown and increased in quality. We had some dealers on October 3 with inventories that rival any dealer at the National. Did you guys see Tommy Larsen's table? Oh my! I think he had 15 Gehrigs, 30 Cobbs, five or six Ruths, Christy Mathewson, Shoeless Joe -- Amazing!!
Amazing cards aside, if you have never run a card show, or run one with 40-plus dealers, you have no idea what a cluster@$%# it is to do. The worst part is the no-shows. I had two no-shows on the day of the show which drives me absolutely nuts because once someone commits to setting up, I expect them to set up. I also turn dozens of people away each show because I don't have enough dealer space for everybody. It just sucks that someone who wants to set up can't because some jerkoff reserved a table then doesn't even bother to show up.
I might have to start making every dealer sign a contract, pay in advance then file a lawsuit against these people that don't show up. It is just not right. These folks need to take an iota of responsibility and call me if they can't make it. Give me a chance to fill the space. Don't blow off the show if you registered to set up!
I apologize to all the guys that wanted to set up but could not get a table because I thought I was sold out. I wish I could have everyone set up who would like to but I just don't have the space... especially now that we are social distancing all the dealers. I thought about moving the show to a larger venue but then I would have to double or triple table fee and most importantly I would lose the best partners in the world -- the Salvation Army. I can't say enough about Mark and everyone at the Sal. They really went the extra mile. They had to set up three rooms, place arrows on the walls and the floor, and make sure everyone wore a mask.
For the most part, the crowd was pretty good at keeping their masks on. I had a few complaints from dealers and customers who observed other dealers and customers not wearing their masks. I asked a couple of guys to put their masks on. They said they could not breath with the mask. I get it, I have trouble breathing with it on as well but I find that the longer I wear it, the easier it is to breath.
Then there was one dealer that was militant about not wearing his mask. I told him before the show that he had to wear a mask and he did not protest. I then put a list of rules on every dealer table, including the one about everybody wearing a mask. He was fully informed that he was required to wear a mask. Why be a dick and not wear one?
Here is my main issue with the guys who won't wear a mask at the show -- the Salvation Army will shut down the show if everybody is not mask compliant. I, for one, want the show to continue every month. I think it would just suck if the Salvation Army shuts it down because one or two guys are absolute jerk-offs. Don't set up and don't attend if you have a problem wearing a mask!
Also, attendees who observe folks not wearing a mask, please ask them kindly to put on their mask. Making your complaints to me requires me to leave by tables to enforce the mask rule. I would prefer to be able to stay at my tables during the show.
More about masks. I don't care about the politics regarding masks. I just want to have the show! So wear your freaking masks so we can have the show!!! My card show is not the place to protest the mask edict. Do it somewhere else!!
Despite that one jerkoff, I had a really great day. Turn out was tremendous. It was so great to see everybody after such a long lay off. A few guys brought some cards over to my tables to sell. I bought a bunch of hockey with several Bobby Orr cards.
My sales were much better than expected. I had paired down my set up because I only had two 6-foot tables. Plus, I had some cards stolen at the March show so I did not want to leave anything high-dollar out on my tables as I can't man them the whole show. Little "fires" erupt during the show and I have to leave my tables to put them out. I also have to collect table fee from all 40 dealers and keeps me away from my tables for part of the show.
As a result, I kind of had a junky set up while the show was filled with some superstar dealers. Did you guys see all the Mantles in Mike Slinkman's case? Wow! You modern dealers and collectors are going to have to tell me the cool stuff on the modern tables. I have no knowledge about that stuff other than what I have read about concerning exploding prices for modern cards.
As far as vintage goes, this was by far the best vintage show I have had since I started the show in September of 2014. If I wasn't so busy, I probably would have dropped some serious coin.
So everyone who attended had to enter through the west door, go into the gym, into the back meeting room, then into the chapel. While I wanted to give myself the best tables in the house, the ones facing the entrance, I thought the right thing to do was to take the tables closest to the exit. I observed that it took awhile for folks to venture through the gym, meeting room and into the chapel where I was set up. We had some amazing stuff in the chapel and it filled up by late morning.
I brought out my cheapy boxes and they saw quite a bit of action. I brought out three display cases and sold quite a few cards. I have 15 display cases total and can fill them all up with cards, so three was a huge reduction for me. I did not have a whole lot of room for binders and just put out my 1970's binders for baseball. Surprisingly, the binders saw a lot of action. I also brought out a few sets and Bruce was kind enough to purchase my 1976 Topps baseball set. Thanks Bruce!
I was surprised I was even able to set up. I initially gave my tables away to another dealer who ended up cancelling at the last minute. I'd be surprised if there are extra tables for me at the November show. If there are, I don't know what to bring out. As I said, I suffered a theft at the March show. Someone took out all the Milwaukee Braves from my 1962 Topps baseball binder and did not pay for them. It was only around 30 bucks, but still, the fact someone would steal from me, really dims my enthusiasm for setting up when I can't be there to watch for thieves. There are some kind folks who have offered to watch my tables for me but I really need an experienced dealer who has an eagle-eye for thieves. It is amazing how bold some of these thieves are.
Another bummer about the show was no Sloppy Joe. The folks at the Sal felt with COVID, they shouldn't serve anything other than bags of chips and soda. I understand but was really hopeful that I'd get a few Sloppy Joes.
I stopped off at some place called the Charcoal Grill after the show on Howell. Decent place. I had a Rueben which was pretty good. I was also able to watch some college football on a big screen.
I did not get home until 5:15 p.m. It was a long day. I know I complain. I like to complain. I think I am very skilled at complaining. But despite my complaints, I had a great day and am looking forward to the November 7th show. Since I was stuck in the chapel for most of the show (is someone trying to tell me something?), I would love to hear your stories about the show. Most every dealer reported excellent sales. What did you guys do or see at the show? Let me know!