I was able to convince my son to travel to Lansing with me by promising a visit to East Lansing and the campus of Michigan State University where he will attend college this fall. I worked all day Friday, came home, ate dinner, loaded up the car and hit the road for Lansing around 7 p.m.
We lucked out because traffic was not bad at all, unlike last week when drove out this way to visit my dad for Father's Day and traffic was brutal. We thought about spending the night with my folks but their house in New Buffalo, Michigan, is still a good two hours away from Lansing. We made it to New Buffalo in an hour and a half and decided to keep driving to Lansing.
We stopped for Taco Bell around 10 p.m. then drove another hour until we hit Charlotte, Michigan, which is nearby Lansing. We spent the night at an America's Best Inn which was a little pricey for the quality. Though, we had an easy drive to the mall in the morning.
When I drove into the mall parking lot, I spotted dealers loading in and followed them inside. I went over to Avery's Shoebox Cards, an amazing card shop located in the mall. The shop is huge and has everything, both sports and non-sports, memorabilia and more. The owner Dennis is the promoter of this show. I asked the kind lady behind the counter to direct me to Dennis, and she happily complied.
It was nice to meet Dennis, who told me his all-time favorite baseball player is Christy Mathewson. Dennis directed me to my tables and when he saw my pre-War cards, he asked if I had a Matty. Unfortunately, I have never had a Matty but would love one! Dennis said he really wants a 1915 Cracker Jack Matty but apparently they are selling for around $30K. I have seen T205 low grade Matty's go for around $1,000.00. Hopefully, I can pick one of those up some time.
Anyway, load in was easy but set up was a little aggravating. I was pleased that I had two eight-foot tables that could fit the eight display cases I brought along. I initially was going to bring out binders but chose to do display cases because they are much lighter than the bins of binders. I had some minor surgery on the Wednesday prior to the show and my doctor advised me to avoid heavy lifting for the next week.
Anyway, when I finished loading up my very first case and had seven more still to load, customers started coming around and asking to see cards in the lone case. I had to shoo them away. Let me set up!
The show does not officially open until 10 a.m. I started loading my cases around 9 a.m. and people came by one after another to see cards while I was filling the cases. This just drives me nuts because if I start showing cards, I will never finish loading all the cases. I need folks to stay away until I finish loading the cases. I prefer customers to come to my table when the show opens, not prior when I am setting up. This drives me absolutely crazy!
Also, I am not a morning person and just don't have my shite together in the a.m. So, I prefer to set up at my leisure but when people are in my face first thing, I feel pressure to set up as quickly as possible, which I did on this morning.
So I was slammed in the weeds early on with all these people that stopped by my tables two or three times prior to me setting up. To a man, none of them purchased any cards! WTF!! I think they just wanted to aggravate me and waste my time. I received a few low-ball offers. No thanks.
After the initial early-bird, a-hole, crowd left, the real customers stopped by and sales were brisk. I spent a lot of time with one collector who went through all eight display cases and pulled out a small pile of cards. He wanted a discount, of course, but was not outrageous, so we came to an agreement. Both parties happy.
I am always happy when I sell cards from the 1970's because they are so easy to obtain and my profit margin is the largest on that era. One customer took my 1968, 1978 and 1979 Pete Rose cards and did not ask for much of a discount. Woot!
Another customer purchased my 1960 Topps Frank Robinson and Eddie Mathews. I had a bunch of guys purchase Tigers. I was super happy when a customer purchased several Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts cards. As I have stated in previous blogs, I have the hardest time selling Ashburn and Roberts. Any sale of those guys is a huge bonus. Woot!
My tables were located near the main entrance which was much appreciated but the lighting was absolutely terrible. Also, whoever is in charge of the air conditioning must have woke up late because the first hour or so was extremely hot and stuffy. With the diabetes, I do not do well in heat. I was starting to fade.
The boy watched the tables while I went out on a search for food. I figured some sustenance might help give me an energy boost. I got a good view of the show and the mall while looking for food. The Lansing Mall is like most any mall these days, mostly empty of stores. I observed a few oddball shops worth mentioning, like the "Daily Dealz" discount store -- what a freaky place! It looked like they were selling stuff they garbage picked or stole some Amazon boxes off people's porches. No joke! Items were sitting out on display still in the Amazon box with the label peeled off. Hmmmm.
There was another shop that sold souped up golf carts. Yes, you read that right, souped up golf carts. They were cool. I wish I had more time to explore that store a little longer.
The card show seemed to cover most of the mall. My area had the most dealers but there were dealers along the whole walk to the food court. I observed that the dealers by the food court had much better lighting.
The food court only had two restaurants -- a Mexican restaurant and a pizza place. I try to avoid pizza due to my lactose issues, so I went with the Mexican. I am a huge fan of Mexican food. I ordered a steak taco dinner for me and chicken enchiladas for the boy. My tacos were Mexican street style and delicious! The boy did not seem to like the chicken enchiladas. They looked good to me but he was disappointed that they were not covered in mole' sauce.
Sales continued when I returned to the tables with the food. I sold a 1955 Bowman Pee Wee Reese. I was surprised at the number of Cubs and White Sox fans I met in Lansing. I had figured that everyone was a Tigers fan. I sold a bunch of Billy Williams and Ron Santo cards. A few guys looked at my Nellie Fox cards but did not pull the trigger.
The crowd at my tables died down and I was able to eat my tacos in relative peace. I fell into a food coma after ingesting those tacos along with some rice and refried beans. I almost went under the tables to snooze a few times. I then found a pop machine and downed some diet Mountain Dew with much-needed caffein to stay awake.
Sales slowed up in the afternoon where I had a lot of lookers but few buyers. Nice crowd for most of the day. One of my afternoon customers was a regular at the Rosemont shows who I met years ago. He purchased a nice stack of 1957 Topps baseball. Of course, I have forgetton his name but it was really nice to see a familiar face. I also ran into one of the guys I regularly see in Orland who trucks in from this part of Michigan. He stopped to say hello.
Then I saw the Cardboard Brothers, Andrew and Jesse, who I know from my Oak Creek show. They saw my post on my Fat Daddy's Facebook Page and booked the Lansing Mall show as well. While I had a four-hour drive, theirs was five, coming from Wisconsin! They drove in Friday night as well. The Cardboard Brothers sell Pokémon and are two of the nicest guys you will ever meet. It was great to see them!
On the buying front, nothing, nada, nope, not going to do it, sorry. The only cards arriving at my tables for sale were seemingly endless Wander Franco cards brought by kids. One kid had a 1990 Topps Griffey Jr. that he thought was vintage. I tried to explain to him that I consider the '90 Griffey a new card and it is outside my purview. All I did was confuse him. Sorry kid!
There were a number of vintage dealers at the show. Most of their pricing was reasonable but not quite low enough where I could purchase a card then sell it for a profit -- which is generally the only method of purchase for me.
I do not know what time the show officially closed. I started to see a few dealers pack up around 2 p.m. and I followed suit as well as I had not had a sale in a while. We were out the door around 2:30 p.m. Most dealers were still set up but the crowd had thinned greatly.
Overall, sales were okay, better than the previous three shows I had attended combined. So no complaints there. My only complaint is the heat! The mall started to heat up again in the afternoon and man, it was also hot outside! It was a relief to finish loading the car and crank the A/C.
We decided to explore Lansing. The mall is on a street called Saginaw. I figured if I continued east on Saginaw I would hit East Lansing and the campus of Michigan State University.
The area of Saginaw by the mall is filled with strip malls and big-box stores. There were also a lot of restaurants. As we continued east, the terrain became more urban, somewhat ghetto with houses boarded up and the only shops seemed to be liquor stores.
Soon we were back into strip mall land and the town of East Lansing. I saw a sign stating Downtown East Lansing to the right, I took a right and before I knew it, I was driving through the leafy campus of Michigan State University. What a beautiful campus! I love this place!
We parked in a parking garage on the north end of the campus and set out to find the Student Union where we planned to purchase some MSU swag. The union happened to be located right next to the parking garage. Easy peasy! I bought the boy a Spartan shirt while purchasing a Spartan baseball cap for myself. The gift shop in the union is really expensive. Next time, I need to find an off-campus shop for my swag.
We then tried to find the art museum but after walking around for a while in 90-degree heat, we decided to return to the parking garage and crank the A/C in the car. We drove around the campus for a while in the comfort of the air-conditioned car. This is a huge campus. They boy is going to have quite a lot of walking from the dorm to his classes this fall. Hope he is ready!
We did eventually find the art museum but it was closed, so we decided to find a place to get some dinner. We drove back toward the mall and onto Saginaw and found a Chinese buffet which both the boy and I enjoy. As much as I love my wife, we were thankful she was not with us because she does not share our love for the Chinese buffet. This was a good one. I could only put down three plates. Normally, I do five or six plates but I think the heat kind of killed my ability to suck down my normal number of plates.
We were on the highway heading home around 5 p.m. Traffic pretty much sucked the whole way. We thought about stopping to see my folks when we finally hit New Buffalo but agreed we were both too tired to stop and wanted to get home. We made it home around 9 p.m.
Looking back, I really enjoyed the show. The drive there was easy but the drive home seemed long and arduous. The next show at the Lansing Mall is on July 22 but I do not think I am ready for the four-hour drive again just yet. I will definitely set up at this show again, I just need to recover from the drive before I book another.
Next up for me is the mighty Oak Creek show coming up on July 1. I have a large number of new dealers scheduled to set up at the July 1 show. I can't wait to see what they bring out. Hope to see you July 1 at the Salvation Army Community Center, 8853 S. Howell, in beautiful Oak Creek, Wisconsin!
Pictured below is a shot from the darkness that was my tables at the Lansing Mall show.