Okay, that was fun. I crammed 27 tables into the little Rembrandt Room at the Clarion Hotel in Milwaukee. Each table had either vintage cards or autographs. Like last month, we drew a real nice crowd. I think we lucked out because the Packers-Vikings game was moved from noon to 8 p.m. I'm hoping we keep drawing this kind of crowd all year long. I've been working my tail off trying to get the word out. My efforts seem to be working because I saw lots of new faces at the show. I hope everyone found some cards to purchase. We had a tremendous inventory of vintage cards and autographs in the room once again.
I, of course, bought and sold a bunch of stuff. New dealer Jerry Nelson from Iowa seemed to be the biggest winner. Jerry has an excellent inventory of old stuff. Seemed like most everyone enjoyed digging through the cards on his table, myself included. Jerry said he has been setting up since the 1970s but doesn't get out as much these days. Hopefully, he comes back soon!
Mark started my day off with some purchases of 1964 Topps Football and my 1969 Topps stamps complete set. Larry found some upgrades for his 1972 Topps baseball set. Eric made his first appearance in months and purchased a bunch of cards. There is a really nice couple that is working on a 1968 Topps set that purchased some commons along with my Johnny Bench Rookie. Robin found a bunch of basketball cards and some 1972 Topps baseball. Jason purchased my T206 Ed Delahanty. Ray purchased a Bill Terry signed photo. Jack picked up a large pile of football cards to send out for signatures. Jerome made it out after a few months off and purchased some 1972s. Bill N. purchased some 1952 and 1962s. Quite a few new customers purchased some cards and I ended up having a really nice day.
On the buying front, I picked up a 1970 Topps Ernie Banks I needed for my set from Scott. I purchased a few cards from PJ. I also bought a handful of cards from Jerry Nelson, including a Batter Up Joe Cronin. Bill S. and I made some trades. I love the fact that guys like Bill S., Tim, Cigar, the Koufax collector and others are making the trek north from Illinois.
My Clarion show is going real well. I should have some open tables for the next show set for February 13, 2016. Let me know if you would like to set up. While any and all dealers are welcome, we seem to be drawing vintage dealers en masse. I love seeing all those vintage cards in the room!
The temperature outside was a frosty 6 degrees. Wind chills brought the temp way down into the negatives. It was a scary drive from Lake County, Illinois, to Madison, with snow blowing off farms onto the road. I need to stick with the highway on days like this. Those roads were plain scary. Thankfully, I made it to the hotel safe and sound.
I had three tables. I filled up one with display cases and two with binders. Another nice crowd as usual for this show, despite the cold and snow. I did not have a whole lot of sales but the ones I had, were excellent. An older gentleman purchased a large pile of 1957 Topps baseball. My main regular set builder pulled some more 1970 Topps and hit my newly reloaded 1973 Topps baseball binder. I sold some 1953 Topps to another gentleman. I sold some football cards to a guy wearing Zubas. As an aside, I have a friend that owns a terrific bar in Chicago called Quenchers whose brother created Zubas! A few other guys made some small purchases. These few sales added up nicely!
On the buying front, I picked up a box of late 1960s and early 1970s football cards. Then Gizmo and I made a cash trade deal where I gave him a small pile of really nice cards and some cash for about 3,500 cards mostly from the 1950s.
I wised up on the way home and stuck with the highway which was nice and clear of snow.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016, GONZAGA HALL, MILWAUKEE
Another cold, blustery day. Thankfully, the cold did not affect attendance because there was another nice crowd. Denny McClain was supposed to sign autographs but had to cancel due to a family emergency. Keith said he'll get Denny back to the show soon. Keith's mom Candy was under the weather and we all missed her delicious cake. Hope you are feeling better Candy!
Sales started out really slow but picked up by the end of the show. Bill Nest made my day by purchasing a large chunk of 1962 Topps baseball. Thanks Bill! Mark bought all sorts of stuff including some cards from my newly restocked 1964 Philadelphia football. Thanks Mark! Jack also hit those '64s. Jim picked up some 1957s. Eric picked up a bunch of cards. Terry bought some stuff. A bunch of other guys purchased cards. With this early onset of Alzheimer's, I can't remember what I sold. I don't think I sold much out of the display cases. It seemed like all my sales were from the binders.
I was out the door fairly early. It was sunny out but still very cold. Another great Gonzo show in the books.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2016, INDIAN LAKES RESORT, BLOOMINGDALE, ILLINOIS
Well, I have been battling a cold for the past couple of weeks then on Thursday night I was struck with the stomach flu. After a nausea-filled night, I ended up spilling my cookies Friday morning. I was hoping I would be okay by Sunday but no such luck. I did eat much all weekend and was unable ton sleep a wink Saturday night so I had to call Fred Sunday morning to let him know I would not make it to the show. I slept all day Sunday.
It is a rare day when I miss a card show. I can't remember the last time I cancelled on one. But that stomach flu kicked my ass! I am happy to report that I am feeling much better now.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016, CLARION SUITES HOTEL, MADISON, WISCONSIN
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows with a nice solid group of set builders in attendance. The weather was a nice comfortable 36 degrees. The sun brightened the farms in central Wisconsin as I drove by at dawn. I almost stopped for a photo because it was such a nice, tranquil winter morning. I made it to the show early... I could have slept another hour. doh!
Jim purchased a nice chunk of 1970s basketball. Another set builder purchased a mixture of football cards. He had some graded 1957 Topps baseball to sell but he wanted book! I can't purchase cards at book. I finished off a 1975 Topps baseball set for James. I also finished off a 1976 Topps set for his buddy. Another customer seemed to clean out all of my 1972 Topps high numbers. A customer purchased a bunch of cards out of my newly reloaded 1974 binders, including all of the Aarons. A new customer purchased some 1965 Topps baseball. I sold some 1952 Bowman baseball to an older gentleman. I picked up a nice group of 1964 Topps baseball in a cash and trade deal with Terry.
One of the dealers had a 1927 Strip Card of Babe Ruth. It was cool! See the picture below.
Once again, I had a very nice day in Madison. Unfortunately, I can't make the February show because it is on the same day as Gonzo. I'll be back for the March show.
I'm setting up at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Schaumburg on Sunday. I should have some 1975-76 Topps hockey ready to go before the show. Then on February 13, my show is slated for the Clarion in Milwaukee. I should have some 1975 Topps baseball ready for the Clarion show.
SET UP AT MY SHOW!
I have plenty of open tables for my show on February 13. At $25 per 8-foot tables, my show is the perfect starter show for anyone who has ever wanted to set up at a show. We get a nice crowd and I think you would enjoy yourself.
Here are a few tips for first-time dealers:
(1) Price your cards.
-- Customers like to see a price on each and every card. Many customers do not like to ask for a price because they figure you will be too high since you did not place a price on the card beforehand.
(2) Place higher-priced cards in a locked display case.
-- We have not had any thefts at my show, thus far (knock on wood) but I still recommend placing the more valuable cards in a display case. I have been a victim of theft far too many times over the years and have learned the hard way to protect my cards.
-- In addition to eBay, you can purchase display cases from Penzoni or 707 Sports. Here's the links:
-- I also have a few extra display cases that I will loan out on a first-come, first serve basis.
(3) Bring a discount box.
-- A box filled with dime or quarter cards always generates some sales. There does not need to be a rhyme or reason to the cards you place in the box, just as long as they are cheap!
(4) Be prepared to accept offers on your cards. Most customers will not pay your sticker price. Do not get angry when they make an offer on a card, even if it is a low-ball offer. For example, if you have a card marked at $10 and someone offers $2, your initial reaction is to tell them to take a hike. The more prudent reaction is to reply with an offer to sell the card at $8. You will be surprised how many times your measured reply results in a sale.
(5) Don't price your cards at high book. Nobody pays high book unless your raw card is in pristine condition. You are not going to get rich selling cards but you can make some money if you sell your cards at a reasonable price.
(6) Have realistic expectations. You may sell a ton of cards or you may sell just a few. The best attitude to have when setting up at a card show is that you are there to have fun, if you make some sales great, if not, that's okay too. Some dealers get so nervous, they act like certain death is going to occur if they don't make sales. I always feel sorry for these guys. This is a hobby, enjoy it! Don't take it so seriously!!
(7) Don't accept checks from anyone you do not know. I have been burned on bad checks in the past.
(8) Bring some snacks. It can be a long day and you will get hungry. There is a restaurant in the Clarion where you can order something and bring it back to your table. There are also snack machines up on the first floor.
(9) Alert your card-collecting friends that you are setting up. It always helps if you can bring in some of your own customers. I do a lot of hustling to get the word out and try my best to bring people into the room. However, the best way to generate sales is to foster your own customer base. I regularly take want lists and engage customers at every show to learn what cards they are looking for. At the Madison show last weekend, I brought out basketball cards for Jim because he had asked at the previous show. James called me with his list of 1975s. I went through my backstock of 1975s prior to the show and pulled the cards to complete James's list. It was nice to go into the show with two good sales before the doors even opened!
(10) Engage your customers in conversation. You may have a card stuck away in a box or binder that somebody is looking for. I try to get each and every customer to tell me what cards they are looking for. Quite often, I just may have the card behind the table in a box that I did not have room to place out on the table. It is the little things like this that help generate sales.
(11) Don't bother bringing 1980s baseball cards, they will not sell. Football, basketball and even hockey from the 1980s does sell. Baseball, on the other hand, especially from 1986 and newer does not move.
(12) You do not need a huge inventory, just enough stuff to fill one table will be good enough to start. The more shows you do, the more inventory you will acquire. Inventory seems to grow like a weed. I am at the point where I have enough stuff priced and ready to go to fill at least six 8-foot tables. At most shows, I only have two or three tables so I rotate my inventory in an effort to always have fresh, new items out at each and every show. If you set up at multiple shows with the exact same cards, you will never make a sale. You have to bring new items out to each and every show if you want to draw customers to your table. I spend a TON of time sorting and pricing cards before each and every show. The effort usually pays off.
So now that you are ready to set up, shoot me a line and reserve your table for the February 13 show at the Clarion, 5311 S. Howell in Milwaukee!
Here's to a healthy February!!!