Oh, that alarm at 5 a.m. stung like a bee. I could not hit snooze because Dave was coming to pick me up soon. He arrived at my house at 5:30 a.m. I am a slow mover in the morning and was not yet ready. At about 5:45 a.m. I started to load my stuff into his car.
I decided to bring display cases out this morning. I was able to fit six of the aluminum cases into Dave's car and three smaller wood ones. This turned out to be a nice dry run for our trip to the National in Atlantic City this coming July. For the National I would like to bring along a couple of card tables but looks like I won't have enough room. I am going to have to splurge and rent some back up tables from the folks that run the National. The nice thing about the National is that you can rent just about anything you need to set up at the show.
Back to the trip to Madison. We were on the road around 6 a.m. Normally, I take I90 West all the way up to Madison but Dave wanted to try something different, so we drove 94 West to I43 to I90 and into Madison. It took about the same amount of time, about two hours. I like this route better because there are a lot less trucks. I may go this way for now on.
Load in was easy. Dave had his own cart while I used a hotel cart. For the National, we're both going to have to use his cart.
Upon arriving to my regular tables, I observed that someone swiped all my chairs but one. I like to have at least two chairs, one to sit on, the other to place boxes on. I was able to find a second chair. My regular neighbor Mark was already setting up when I arrived. Across from me is a dealer I met years ago but I have forgotten his name. He does cards full-time now and told me he has 18 employees! Wow! Congrats on the success!!
He has a shop and earns his money with live breaks. I have known for a while that running live breaks can be quite lucrative but I'm not into this for the money, it is just my hobby and for fun. I would not enjoy the live breaks world... not my thing. If it does not involve vintage cards, I am just not interested.
Moreover, my concern for him and the others that do live breaks for a living is that their supply of wax will dry up once Fanatics takes over the manufacture and distribution of modern cards in 2025. From what I have read of Fanatics, seems like their goal is to control every aspect of the hobby. They just might not allow anyone other than themselves to conduct live breaks. The owner of Fanatics has said that the current card companies leave money on the table and he is going to change all of that -- just what that means, we will find out soon.
Anyway, I think this was Beau's largest Madison show to date. Like my Oak Creek show, he had three rooms and a hallway filled with dealers. I love how Beau makes a video of every show. Clink the link to the May show below and check out the size and awesomeness of this show!
Madison Card Show Live (135 Tables!) - YouTube
I did not get a chance to walk around the show so it was nice to see the video afterwards. My tables are shown near the end of the video.
I can't say enough about Beau. He puts a lot of work and effort into this show resulting in excellent sales for dealers like me. Beau and I got to chatting during the show. He told me he had several no-shows and last-minute cancellations. As I told Beau, it is tough to operate a card show when guys reserve space and don't show up on the day of the show or cancel at the last minute.
I was a no-show last Saturday for the Green Bay show when my car broke down. So life happens and as a promoter you have to be understanding to some of the no-show and last-minute cancellations. Unfortunately, most of the no-shows are people who just blow off the show. At the Madison show, I saw Matt, the promoter of the Green Bay show and paid him for my tables, even though I was unable to set up. In my opinion, if you reserve the tables, you have a responsibility to pay for them, even if you have an excused absence because the promoter still has to pay for the room and he was relying on your table fee to help cover the cost of the room and other expenses. The right thing to do is to always pay for your tables, no matter whether you set up or not. I told Matt I am taking my wife's car to his September show, so I should not have any car issues for that one. Many folks told me I missed an excellent show in Green Bay.
The Madison show was excellent as always. I think there were 135 tables which was awesome. I did observe that attendance was down like every other show I have attended in May. Sales started slow but once they kicked in, sales remained steady all the way up to 2 p.m. A lot of my regulars were absent which was understandable with the holiday weekend. It is also graduation season, so I know I won't see a lot of regulars around at many of the shows I regularly attend. There was also a new show in New Berlin, WI, on Saturday which might have affected our attendance in Madison.
So now I am battling through the brain fog trying to remember what I sold. I had priced a nice pile of cards prior to the show and had a bunch of new stuff in my display cases. I do remember that a new customer purchased my 1954 Topps Ted Williams, the one with the red background. Bruce drove out to Madison and purchased my 1965 Topps Roger Maris. Thanks Bruce!
A new customer purchased my 1967 and 1970 Topps Hank Aarons. Another new customer purchased my 1962 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star card. One of my regulars purchased some early Bowman football cards. I had one new customer stop by my table and look at cards four our five times before he purchased a pile of stuff.
The big winner today was Mark, the dealer set up behind me, who purchased my 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie, my 1956 Topps Nellie Fox and five or six 1959 Topps high numbers. Thanks Mark!
On the buying front, I knew I was going to purchase some cards as soon as I arrived at my table when I saw that scribbled on my name card was "I have stuff for you!" I knew that could only be Jeff Talamantez, who was set up in one of the other rooms downstairs. Later in the show he brought me a binder filled with a near set of 1974 Topps football and a stack of late-1970's basketball. Jeff only wanted $40 for the football cards which I swooped up but about $260 for the basketball. I did not see the value in the basketball, so I passed on those. I might just complete that football set.
I was kind of hoping the guy from last month, who sold me the Philadelphia football cards, would be back with more stuff but I did not see him. Surprisingly, I did not get offered any other cards to purchase, other than some modern cards that I was not interested in.
Overall, I had a real nice time at the Madison show, as always. I love the faux Starbucks in the lobby. They have surprisingly good sausages for breakfast. Dave's wife also made me a chicken sandwich that I munched on in the afternoon.
Minor Rant: I have probably become a little too sensitive in my old age but after my kids were bullied when they were younger, I get triggered when folks are demeaning. There were a couple of guys at the show who suffered from dwarfism and I did not appreciate some of the comments made toward them. There really is no place for that sort of thing. I live my life by treating others in the same manner as I would like to be treated and believe everyone should do the same. There is no reason to be mean. Nobody is perfect and it is stunning to see folks with glaring imperfections have the gall to demean others. This world would be much better off if we were all just nice to each other and respected everyone. I think is was Socrates who said, "I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, so let's just be freakin' nice to each other!" End of rant.
Normally, at the end of the show, I hustle to pack up and get on the road for the two-hour drive home, but this month Dave and I were making a weekend out of it and reserved a room at the hotel. Our room ended up being right next to the show. It was so nice to be able to take my sweet time to pack up and roll my stuff into the hotel room.
After dumping everything into the room, we walked across the street to Brat Fest which consisted of a carnival, two stages of bands, a petting zoo, a large tent serving up Johnsonville brats with all the fixings, a tent serving up corn, and several beer tents.
On our walk to the fest, we stopped to look at all of the motorcycles parked near the carnival. Dave has been a motorcycle enthusiast since he was a kid. I think I have only been on a motorcycle once and that was as a passenger. Though, I regularly rode mini-bikes as a kid.
I marveled at Dave's knowledge of motorcycles as he explained the different styles of bikes and details about their engines and speed.
Once into the fest, we hit the corn tent, found some chairs by one of the stages, munched on corn and watched this weird melancholy country band. Then we went and got some brats and watched a bunch more bands. One of the bands featured this pretty blond woman who said she was from Madison but currently lives in Nashville. I found it odd how she lost her Wisconsin accent and picked up a Tennessee drawl. Speaking of pretty women, there were quite a few at this festival, which was an added bonus.
I am not a fan of country music. The last band we saw was full-on country with the whole band wearing cowboy hats along with a good portion of the crowd. I saw that as a signal to leave. We went back to the hotel and sat at the bar for a while.
I think folks living on the coasts might think that Wisconsin is a place for country music, cowboy hats and boots but it is not. That is a western thing, not Midwest. There is a lot more rock and roll in the Midwest than country. I look at country music as an invasive species. I just hate it.
Here in the Midwest we have Chicago, the home of the blues. Then there is Detroit Rock City. I have probably been to 100 or so rock shows all over Wisconsin over the years. When I was growing up in the 1970's, you would never see a country band at a summer festival, it was rock and roll all the way. What has happened?
Anyway, despite all the country bands, we had a really nice time at the Brat Fest and at the Madison card show. Our hotel room was swanky. We ended the night by watching the Angels - Blue Jays game on the large flat-screen TV in the room. I fell asleep before the game ended and learned the next day that the Blue Jays came from behind to win the game. A lot of great young players on both of those teams.
Dave and I booked the new show nearby in Janesville, WI, for Sunday. Janesville blog coming soon.
A big thank you to Beau for putting on another great show in Madison. I also appreciate everyone who purchased cards from me on Saturday. Thank you! I'll be back in Madison on June 25. Dave is skipping that one. Looks like I am taking the wife's car. I'll probably bring out binders in June. Someone let me know if there is another festival in Madison over that weekend. I really enjoyed staying at the hotel and would not mind doing it again in June.
Below are some random photos from Brat Fest.