Once at the show at the La Quinta Inn (pictured above), on Saturday, February 7, 2015, I was greeted by Graig from Fort Wayne who seems to be following the same show schedule as I am. He told me to stop stalking him. He does have some nice vintage cards and I just may continue to stalk him until he gives up that '63 Mantle real cheap. Once inside the hotel, I saw John Dobiecki who was also set up a few weeks ago at the Fishers show I attended in Indy. The promoter for this show is Seth Murray, one of the nicest guys around. Seth directed me to my two tables. I was a little bummed that the room was so small. This is about the smallest room I have ever set up in. Space was tight. It was tough to load in and out. Seth said he is trying to find a new location with a bigger room -- THANK YOU!
I only had two six-footers. I should have gone with three. Seth is crazy cheap on his table fee. I never asked about the price of the table fee before I set up. I assumed it was 50 bucks or so. However, Seth only charges $35 for two tables which is an amazing bargain. So next time, I'm getting three tables.
With only 12-feet, I went with just two display cases and my baseball and basketball binders. There were a lot of football fans in the room, I probably should have skipped the display cases entirely and put out my football binders. I also observed that this is a dime box crowd. Three of the nine dealers had nothing but dime boxes. They were mobbed all day. I spent most of the day staring at vintage dealer Wayne Johnson across the way. We quickly bored of staring at each other and were entertained by two ladies who pulled large amounts of dime cards from John's boxes and spread them onto Wayne's display cases. Wayne did not say anything to them. There really was no point because there wasn't much business for us. Though, there were a lot of people in the room all day long. Next time, I am going to make sure I have some dime boxes on my table.
The most interesting occurrence of the day was when Walt, the dealer set up on my left, sat down at Terry's table, the dealer on my right, and an extremely well-endowed woman moved/smothered Walt to the side with her huge appendages to get at some of Terry's cards. When Dolly Parton's sister walked away, Terry remarked to Walt, "I think that was intentional." Walt was all red faced. It certainly looked intentional. You always see something new at the card show.
The show was not a total disaster. I did make some sales. A customer I remember from the Fishers show, who wears an Indiana Pacers hat, purchased some 1962 Topps baseball and some 1970 Topps baseball. I sold a 1949 Leaf Ted Fritch to a customer who had all sorts of great historical football tidbits to discuss. There was another customer that I have seen on all of my trips to Indiana who purchased all of my 1952 Topps baseball. He wanted to trade me some Three Stooges cards but I preferred the cash. Another customer purchased some 1966 Topps baseball and some 1978 Topps baseball. I had a customer dig through a bunch of binders and pull out a pile. Another customer pulled a large pile of 1960s and 1970s baseball from the binders. One of the dealers I met at the Fishers show was walking around and tried to low-ball me on my basketball binders. I politely declined.
On the buying front, Fat Dave who drives the scooter and who I met at the Fishers show was selling his 1968 Topps set and a 1974 Topps set. He was a little too high on the price and I passed. My only purchase of the day were three Paul Hornung cards from Terry.
My thoughts on this show is that the pluses are that Seth is super cool, table fee is cheap, and he draws a good-sized crowd. The minuses are that the room is very small and there are not a whole lot of vintage collectors. I am going to give this show another try down the road. I think next time I will skip the display cases and make sure my football binders are out and also put out some cheapy boxes.
Pictured below is another photo of the show along with a couple of display cases from Wayne's table.
It is about 235 miles from Indy to St. Louis. For some reason, I thought it was more like 150. The drive from Indy to St. Louis was unpleasant, to say the least. There was a huge amount of truck traffic. It seemed like every truck in America was on I70 on this sunny Saturday afternoon. The speed limit is 70 MPH but I was only able to go 55 MPH most of the way because the trucks were clogging both lanes. It took close to four hours to get to my Motel 6 outside of St. Louis that I had reserved via Priceline. Once out of my car, I had to peel off my coats because the temperature was in the 60s! I think it was in the 20s when I left the Chicago area on Friday.
The guy in front of me in line at the front desk was able to get a room for less than I had reserved on Priceline. So much for reserving rooms. This Motel 6 had sort of a ghetto feel to it. It was run down, flooded in some parts, and there were lots of people hanging around. I thought my cards would be safer in the car than for me to bring them into the hotel in view of all these sketchy people. Shortly after I settled in, my good friend Tony Schaefer came by to pick me up for dinner. We had made plans earlier. Tony is a regular dealer at the Orlando Gardens show in St. Louis. I was incredibly appreciative that he came to get me because I was wiped out and much too tired to drive any more. Tony took us over to a place called Westport where we went into Patrick's Pub, a sports bar. The pub was huge with several dining rooms and a good sized sports bar. We opted for the bar where there were tons of TVs. However, all of the TVs were set to the Louisville-Virginia basketball game. I have never been to a sports bar where all the TVs were tuned in to just one game. Weird.
I asked for a pint from a local microbrewery. The waitress brought me an absolutely delicious IPA. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name. Every time I do a show in St. Louis, I try to get a beer from one of the local microbrews. As I've learned over the years, St. Louis has some amazing local brews. In addition to a great beer selection, Patrick's Pub is right up Mark Smith's alley with all sorts of steaks and ribs on the menu. I went with a prime rib. Tony had tacos. My prime rib was damn good. Back at the sketchy Motel 6, I brought in one bin of cards and quickly fell asleep.
I was up pretty early on Sunday, February 8, 2015, grabbed some coffee and checked out. Luckily, my car was okay. I took Tony's advice and stopped off at a nearby McDonald's for breakfast. Then I had about a 1/2-hour drive to the Orlando Gardens Banquet Hall. I observed a large lodge/bed & breakfast next to the hall and noted that I must investigate that place for my next St. Louis excursion.
This was my first time at the Orlando Gardens. This show used to be held at a banquet hall called Two Hearts. I thought load in was much easier at the Orlando Gardens than at Two Hearts where dealer tables seemed to block the door to the parking lot. I looked over the Orlando Gardens and marveled and the 1970s funeral home decor. I figured that somewhere in this place I must pay my respects to the recently departed.
Promoter Dave Jackson set me up with two 8-footers on a corner. I'm not a big fan of the corner layout and I had to quickly decide how I wanted to set up. Yesterday, I put out just two display cases. I felt like I had room for three today. I placed the display cases next to my neighbor, who had eight tables -- all filled with flea market type stuff. He had flipped one table around so part of it was behind one of my tables. I immediately did not like it because his customers would have to walk behind my table to get at his stuff. As a dealer, you never want any customers behind you where you cannot see them because your items will walk away. I debated on saying something to the dealer but I saw that he had absolute garbage on that table and I did not expect too many people to check that stuff out -- I was right. That table did not see much action at all. In fact, I don't think he sold much at all on all of his eight tables.
Unlike yesterday, where my first sale did not come until 10:30 a.m., I had sales right away -- which is why I love this show. There are always a ton of set builders. My first customer was an older guy working on a 1958 Topps set. He said he had a really nice yellow letter Aaron. He purchased a bunch of cards. A husband and wife team purchased some 1969 Topps baseball. Then Mark, who I met through eBay, showed up. He has purchased a few cards from me in the past on eBay. Recently, he purchased a card via eBay but was having some problems with his PayPal account. I looked at his St. Louis address and offered to bring the card to the show. He gladly accepted. So it was nice to deliver the card to Mark and meet him in person. As a bonus, he purchased a bunch of 1972 Topps baseball.
I sold some 1959 Topps baseball to another customer. A younger guy found some 1979 Topps baseball for his set. A customer accompanied by his two young daughters purchased some 1970s Topps football and a stack of St. Louis Blues from my hockey binder. Ironically, my hometown Blackhawks were playing the Blues this afternoon in St. Louis. The game was on a large flat screen at the bar not far from my table so I was able to check in on the game all day.
By 10 a.m., the show was a mob scene. They were lined up out the door for Bob Gibson's autograph. Mr. Gibson was set up right in front of the bathroom. On my bathroom breaks, I saw him chatting it up with fans. He seemed so calm and pleasant, unlike his baseball persona where he terrified national league hitters for nearly 15 years or so. Dave said this was his largest crowd in five years. Both the autograph area and the main room were jam packed with customers. I had nice traffic at my tables all day long. I was able to sneak over to the concession stand for a burger and some chili along with many cups of coffee. I was pleased that the Hawks seemed to be in control of the game, much to the chagrin of the dealer next to me. I even saw one guy at the show wearing a Patrick Kane jersey.
As I was getting ready to pack up, Jeff came over and told me he is a fan of this blog. How cool is that! I love meeting people all over the country who enjoy my blog. You guys rule! Jeff told me he collects modern cards but still loves my blog. He was able to recognize me from the binders on my table. I believe I was the only dealer in the room with binders. It was great to meet you Jeff and I hope to be back in St. Louis soon!!!
The last guy at my table for the day was a guy with cards to sell. I looked in the box and saw only modern cards. He said he had some vintage but wanted me to look through the entire box of cards to dig out the vintage. I was not interested in looking through a couple thousand modern cards. So he looked through them for me and pulled out a dozen or so cards including a 1962 Topps Warren Spahn and Billy Williams. We were able to come to an agreement on the cards. By the time I started packing up, at least half of the dealers were already gone. With just two tables, pack up and load out was easy.
I could not believe how warm it was when I stepped outside. The thermometer in my car read 68 degrees. It was amazing. I can't believe that just five hours south of wintery Chicago, they are having spring in February. For a moment, I started to plot how I could stay in St Louis and this warm weather. But before I knew it, I was in my car heading north.
Traffic was extremely heavy which was surprising for a Sunday afternoon in the dead of winter. I learned the reason for the traffic when I stopped at a rest area just over the border in Illinois and saw all the red Blackhawk jerseys. I was stuck in traffic with thousands of Blackhawks fans that had driven down for the Hawks/Blues game. Ugh! I was stuck in Hawks traffic for five freakin' hours back to Chicago!! I made it home around 8 p.m. Whew!
It is nice to be home. Next weekend, I am sticking close to home with the Elgin show on Saturday, February 14, 2015, and the Gonzaga show on Sunday, February 15, 2015. I will have my 1974 Topps baseball binder ready to go. I am going to start work on 1951 Bowman baseball but I am not sure if I will get it done by the weekend. Also, the Smith & Gordon show is coming up soon on Saturday, February 28, 2015, at the Clarion in Milwaukee. We will be in the larger Mitchell room and just have a few dealer tables left. It should be a good show. A big thank you to everyone who purchased cards from me in Indianapolis and St. Louis this past weekend. I plan to return to both towns soon. It is time for me to get back to work loading up those binders. Below are some photos of some items for sale at the St. Louis show.