Pretty easy morning drive down to Orland. Load in went smoothly. I brought out all of my binders and still had some space left over on my tables. I had figured I might have some extra space on my tables but the binders fill up nine heavy bins and I just did not want to bring anything else. It is getting harder and harder to move around those heavy bins. As it was, I was drenched in sweat after loading in. The heat in the Civic Center did not help as well. How about some AC?!
Jim and Tom hit me up with cards to sell while I was setting up. I ended up spending much more money than I wanted. I need to save some cash for the National. I also bought some cards from Jeff and Walt. So much for saving money!
The best part of bringing the binders is that set up is quick and easy. I was open for business by 9 a.m., however, there were not many customers in the room. The main room and the back hallway were filled with dealers, who outnumbered customers early on. Slowly folks started to trickle in and there was a steady flow of customers all day. Though, attendance was down from June when the place was jam packed all day long.
I had a much easier time managing my tables than last month when it was just a frenzy. It was nice to be able to chat with everyone. Last month, I was just running back and forth from one end of my tables to the other trying to take care of lines of people. It was much more leisurely this time around.
A bunch of my regulars showed up early on like the guy who has been purchasing early 1950’s Bowman cards. He complained that I had not reloaded the old Bowman binder. Once again, I am very behind on my binder reloads. Last fall, with shows suspended for the Pandemic, I was fairly caught up but since shows began in October, the binders have been wiped out.
I was able to reload the 1971 baseball binder before the show and it got a decent work out. One new customer said he was 12 cards away from finishing his set and found nine of them in my binder. I did not bring out the football binders last month and brought them all out this month and sold quite a few cards. I am working on reloading my 1976 Topps football binder and will have it out next month.
I sold a ton of basketball. Those binders must be getting low. There was a couple from Indiana that purchased a TON of cards. I think this was their first time at the Orland show but they remembered me from the 2019 National. Thanks for the purchases!
I also sold quite a bit of hockey. Pictured above are two new customers that had a blast going through my hockey binders. I had forgotten to bring the hockey out in June and made sure I brought them for the July show. Glad I did!
It was nice to the see Rick for the second month in a row after a long hiatus. Rick purchased a bunch of hockey. Gil showed up for the first time since the Pandemic began in March of 2020. He found quite a few 1971 baseball for his set. I sold a bunch of Exhibits to a collector from Milwaukee. Milan is working on upgrades and said he is having a tough time finding the cards he needs. He is working on 1960 and 1961 baseball and could not find much in my depleted binders. I hope to reload them soon.
Dennis found some 1960 Leaf baseball in my recently reloaded oddball binder and asked if I had any more. I have a tough time finding 1960 Leaf and they sell pretty quickly after I place them out. I am not sure when I will have more 1960 Leaf.
Many regular customers dinked around my binders. One customer asked for my quarter binder which I did not bring out. I need to remember to bring it for the August show. I had quite a few new customers dink around the binders as well. It is always great to have new customers. There were a lot of young folks in the room and a few stopped by to get some vintage cards. Though, it seems most of the younger guys like the modern cards. I also noticed that most of them seemed to carry brief cases. Donny came by and joked that he was going to get a brief case and walk around with it at the National with his hair slicked back.
For the second month in a row, Will was the big winner having purchased a large pile of 1958 Topps baseball and 1970 Topps baseball. Will also purchased my 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle. Thanks Will!!!
My pal Chris brought in his unique collection to share. He has a binder where there is a different theme every few pages like cards depicting players sliding into home, players making great catches, players from the Chicago area, pitchers batting, adult themes, players with names of the week and more. It was really fun to look at. Thanks Chris!
Overall, a pretty fun day. Sales were down from June but not too bad. I think next month I need to bring out some display cases to spur more sales. I was holding off on the display case stuff because I want to keep my inventory sharp for the National.
Speaking of the National, it will be my next show and runs from July 28 through August 1. I will be set up with my buddies Dave McDonald, PJ and Scott Zeigert in Booth 1070, our same spot from the last several Nationals. I plan on just bringing out display cases, no binders.
I am just starting to get excited for the National. I am never totally prepared and have a lot of work to do before the show starts up in a week. I am really strong on 1940 Play Ball, both raw and graded, and will have some good stuff to show off at the National.
While I am getting a little gitty for the show, I am dreading the first day which is always a bit rough. The Stephens Center is the absolute worst venue to load in and out. They could not make it any more difficult if they tried. They have an immense amount of security on that first day and seems like their only purpose is to harass dealers, i.e., you can’t park here, you can’t load in from this door, you have to go to that door, blah, blah, blah. I hate those @#$%@&ers!
Booth 1070 is not near any doors so we have to traverse a gauntlet to bring our stuff in from the street to the booth. My biggest problem early on is getting my dealer badge from PJ. Security will not let me load in my wares without a badge. They also won’t let me in to find PJ. Cell phone service is terrible inside the building so I usually call and text PJ dozens of times before he is able to receive my messages and respond. So I am always stuck standing by one of the outside doors with all my stuff waiting to get my badge.
Once I finally get my badge, loading in nine card tables, 15 display cases, and bins of cards is just a bear. It takes me three trips in and I have to traverse a maze of aisles to get to 1070. There are always dealers blocking the aisles during load in. Then there is the Stephens Center staff blocking aisles with huge machinery. Then it is quite a long walk from the side door to 1070. After one trip in I’m ready to die. After I load everything in, I have to go back out to move my car or it will get towed by the friendly Rosemont towing. The walk from the over-priced parking lot to 1070 seems to be miles long. I am always freaking dead tired after load in then, somehow, have to set up.
I did not feel well after load in at the 2019 National. Add in the expected huge crowds for this year's National and fear is settlings in. I decided to pay my brother to help me all five days. Hopefully will ease the strain and my diabetic body and I won’t feel as tired and sick.
I game plan before every show I do, especially the National. I usually bring both binders and display cases to the National but I currently have a large inventory of display case stuff while my binders are battered and in desperate need of reloads. So I decided to just bring display cases. Having never done a display-case-only set up at the National, I am not quite sure how this is going to go. We have a good-size booth and I am bringing nine card tables and am figuring I should be able to place out 15 to 18 display cases.
We do the walk-in style booth where customers are invited into the booth unlike the vast majority of sellers who place their tables along the aisles. Usually, Dave will have a table in the aisle as is his preference. I always place my tables behind Dave and it has worked out well. Dave and I have been setting up at the Chicago Nationals together since 2008.
Anyway, I’m rambling now as I prepare for the National. I have a feeling this will be the biggest and best National to date. Should be fun!
A big thank you to everyone who bought cards from me at the July Orland show. I appreciate you and hope you come see me at the National!!
As always, I am available at the National for advice for dining and sight-seeing options as I lived a mile away from the Stephens Center for 10 years and am a fourth-generation Chicagoan. I am also a former Chicagoland newspaper reporter and have awritten a book about Chicago taverns. I have yet to meet anyone who knows Chicago as well as I do and I am always happy to share my knowledge.
See you in Rosemont!