Unbelievable! Did you attend the show? Did you see that crowd? Oh my!! We must have had over 500 people attend the show!! I don't understand how we keep topping our attendance? Where is everybody coming from?
Prior to the show I had an inkling that this was going to be a monster show. My phone was ringing off the hook along with a mass amount of texts, emails and Facebook messages.
Dealer tables for the March show actually sold out in February but I kept getting request after request for tables even after posting here and on Facebook that they were sold out. So I started calling dealers to confirm to see if they were coming and a few dropped out and I was able to add a few guys from the waiting list. Unfortunately on the day of the show, I had four no-shows which just pisses me off. If you reserve a table you MUST attend unless you're ill or have a family emergency. I could have let four more guys into the show from the waiting list. That's also $100 I lost. I still have to pay for the room, advertising and wax for my giveaway. It is really selfish thing to do to skip out on a show when you have reserved a table.
There was a time where I would let dealers slide if they did not show up. Now that I consistently sell out and have a waiting list, these no-show guys are banned from ever setting up again. So in the future, anyone who commits to setting up better be there or they will be banned. It just isn't fair to the guys sitting on my waiting list and it is not fair to me when I have so many expenses and to top it off that is such an irresponsible jerk-off thing to do.
If you attended the show, you probably did not notice the no shows. After I finished setting up my tables, I took a quick walk around to see if there were any no shows and advised the dealers next to them to spread out, so we did end up with 67 tables full of stuff, the most tables to date.
As I stated before, I am slowly donating tables to the Salvation Army. They are up to 68 tables but I obviously need many more to satisfy all the dealers that want to set up. I am thinking of adding another row of tables, once we get six or seven more. Though if we keep getting 500-plus in attendance, it may crowd the room if I add another row of tables.
I am considering renting the back room or placing dealers in the hallway but of course, I just don't have the tables to expand right now. I may have to rent a truck, purchase a dozen tables and bring them up on a non-show day. This would be a great expense to me so I have to think that option over.
Anyway, a bunch of dealers showed up at 7 a.m. I would appreciate it if the dealers would show up at 8 a.m. I can't get into the building until 7 a.m. and I need time to layout the room.
I also have customers showing up at 8 a.m. when the show does not officially open until 9 a.m. I am not a big stickler on customers showing up early but I would prefer if they showed up at 9 a.m. and gave the dealers a chance to load in and set up.
So this show has become a monster. It is a full-time job when I already have a full-time job. If you read my last blog, you saw that I requested some help. I also put out a call for help in my monthly email blast.
Young Jason Tworek responded and was hired on the spot. Jason is a super nice kid and was an amazing help at the show. He oversaw my free pack giveaway which is a job in itself. I probably spent a good $500 on wax Saturday for the giveaway, including some 2020 Topps. Did anybody pull anything good?
Jason also watched my tables so I could take bathroom breaks and eat a couple of Sloppy Joes. Then he watched my tables for an hour or so when I had to go around the room and collect table fee from the dealers. I can't thank Jason enough for his help!
But I think the enormity of the show is making me a little flustered. I had a really hard time setting up. I brought out my really old stuff to place in my display cases. I brought out four display cases and then realized mid-set up that I only brought out enough stuff for three. So after I laid out all the cards I had to take them out and redo it in an effort to stretch the cards to four display cases.
Then I flat out forgot/overlooked an entire bin of binders. The bin stayed under my table the whole show and I never put them out even though I had plenty of space to do so. Maybe it is just old age but I can't believe how forgetful I've become.
Anyway, with 500-plus people in attendance, I was busy. Mark bought a bunch of 1964 Topps football out of my newly reloaded binder. Jim bought a bunch of Goudeys. Eric purchased a 1941 Double Play with Stan Hack. Joel, who drove up all the way from the south suburbs of Chicago, purchased my 1952 Topps Minnie Minoso rookie. Thanks guys!
In fact, a bunch of guys drove up from the Chicago area like Tim, Paul, and Willie. Thanks guys, I know it is a long drive for you and I really appreciate the effort!!
Robin purchased some 1970 Topps baseball. A bunch of regulars dinked through the binders. My guy from Green Bay who is working on the 1959 Topps football set found a bunch more cards. Terry Hatch made an appearance and found some '71-72 Topps basketball at my table.
Quite a few guys told me this was their first time at the show and they were impressed. I also had a bunch of guys compliment me on this blog. I really appreciate the compliments. I write it while I'm sitting at work when I really should be working on other things but this is much more fun to do. My co-workers probably think I'm nuts. My desk is covered in show fliers and dealer lists and table layouts.
So my sales were pretty good. Not quite as strong at last month but I can't complain. On the buying front, I picked up a stack of 1952 Topps commons, a box of early 1970's (I know, I know, but this is a good customer and he sold them cheap). I also bought some more 1915 Cracker Jacks and a couple of T206s from Tim.
I had a lady contact me before the show who is trying to sell her brother's collection. The collection is from 1958 to 1966. Mostly commons and no high numbers. There are some stars in there but they are off grade. I made an offer that I thought was really strong but she did not take it. The problem may be is that she has seen the high book value for the cards but doesn't seem to understand that her cards are nowhere near the high book value. The cards are beat and I just can't offer any more money unless I want to pay more than I can earn selling the cards, which I won't do. So, I was a little disappointed, I would have liked to have gone home with the cards.
I had a bunch of new dealers at the show again. A lot of folks mentioned that this is
one of the things they like about the show is that I get a regular rotation of new dealers. It seemed like all the new dealers had modern cards. I think this may have been my first show where modern dealers outnumbered vintage. There was an incredible inventory of modern cards at this show. In talking with the dealers, it seemed like NBA rookie Zion Williamson was the hottest card in the room. The three wax dealers were all happy with their sales. I am really happy that this show can support three wax dealers.
Pretty much all the dealers seemed happy with their sales. I had one new dealer who was selling mini-helmets with Packers and Badgers logos. He said he made the helmets but did not sell one. I was disappointed because I like to see all the dealers make good sales. I think his problem was the price. It looked to me that the helmets were overpriced. I also thought he might have sold some if he had additional teams. I hope he gives it another try some time in the future.
I have already signed up a bunch of new dealers for the April 4th show. I have to sit down this week and figure out my dealer line up for that show. I am a little worried that I oversold it already. Worst comes to worst I'll give away my tables.
Looks like I will start having some retired baseball players come in to sign autographs. I have never handled this on my own before, opting to allow others to bring in the signers. So this will be a learning experience. I need to put some money up front for the players and also purchase photos and blank baseballs. Do I need to buy 8x10 toploaders for the signed photos? I am also thinking that I won't be able to set up on the days I have autograph guests. I hope everybody is okay with that. I will have Jason handle the pack giveaway.
The show is continuing to grow and morph. I appreciate all the kind comments on the show. I really work my tail off on this thing. When I first started the show in 2014, I had no idea that it would ever turn into the show it is today. In some ways, I kind of miss those 12-dealers, 20-table shows at the Clarion. They were so simple to manage compared to this megalith.
I always think about the June 2015 show which was my low point when I had only five dealers and maybe five customers show up. I was ready to throw in the towel after that one but I had a contract with the hotel through December and would still have had to pay for the room seven more times.
So I took some time to contemplate the situation. I realized that dealers would not come if I could not bring in customers. I started to look at the show from the persepective of a customer. What could I do to make this show different, to make this show stand out, and to encourage customers to attend.
I recalled the many morning legislative meetings in Springfield, Illinois, when I worked as assistant general counsel to the Illinois Secretary of State. The head of the Department of Business Services would go out before the meetings and purchase a few boxes of doughnuts from a local bakery. The doughnuts were delicious and there was always a little discussion about them before the meeting. A lot of the management folks seemed much more excited about the doughnuts than the legislative agenda.
Doughnuts, I thought, would save the show. Doughnuts, I observed, saved the show! Prior to that July 2015 show, I advertised that free doughnuts would be available at the show. That morning of July 2015, I saw a much larger crowd than June, and the guys went right through the doughnuts. Again in August, I advertised free doughnuts and the crowd grew once again.
Then I used something I learned when I was publisher of the Chicago Barfly Newspaper, prior to attending law school. The Barfly was a free paper I created and distributed to more than 700 bars and restaurants in Chicago every month from 1994 to 2001. As a free paper, I relied on advertising to pay the bills. I learned that if I could promote certain bars with articles, they would pay for regular advertising. One of my best tools at promoting bars was anniversary parties. The bars would schedule an anniversary party, I would write an article and compliment it with photos, and I am proud to say that we were able to pack those bars for those anniversary parties. The bar owners made a lot of money and were very happy with me.
Thus, in September of 2015, I promoted my show anniversary party, along with free doughnuts and free pizza and low and behold I had a large crowd attend the show. Based on the previous months shows I figured three pizzas would be enough. I was not prepared for the crowd and the pizzas were gone within five minutes. Each subsequent anniversary party I purchased more and more pizzas until the Clarion was purchased by the Marriot Corp. who put a stop to my food promotions. But the food worked and the word got out and more and more dealers wanted to set up. Then more and more customers attended the show. For the past five years, this show has done nothing but grow.
Everyone seems to like what I am doing which motivates me to do more. Thank you all for your continued support. It has been quite a ride since that first show in September of 2014. I honestly can't take all the credit for the success of this show. The credit goes to all the dealers and customers who come out month after month and spread good cheer. As much of a headache that it can be to run this thing, it is still so much fun and I have a great time. The day goes by so quickly because I am so engaged and have such a terrific time.
One oddball thing I noticed Saturday is that a lot of guys would not shake my hand because of the Corona Virus. So I won't be extending my hand any more and will try to put out some hand sanitizer at the April show.
Also, it is much easier for me to respond to emails than to phone calls. I have a pretty busy work schedule and have a tough time answering my phone. Please contact me through email@example.com. Also, if you have a question about cards, go to my Facebook page and post the question. That way the regulars can answer the question and save me some time. Like I said, it is pretty much just me running this thing, no staff, so I can't answer the large amount of questions that come in. The best time to talk to me is at the show.
As I have mentioned before, I have a really good relationship with the Salvation Army. I could not have found a better partner for the show. So I am trying to help out as much as I can. I donate tables and we had a real nice fundraiser for their youth soccer league. Next up, I am trying to help them raise funds to replace the matts in the gym. If you look on the stage you can see that the matts are tattered and worn. We decided to hold a silent auction to raise funds for new matts. I am looking for sports memorabilia to be donated for the silent auction. One incredibly nice lady read about my planned silent auction and gave me $20 at the show. Thank you so much!! We have such great people who come to this show. I turned over that $20 to the Sal and we are on our way.
Again, the next show is Saturday, April 4, 2020. The dealer tables will probably sell out shortly, so contact me for dealer tables as soon as you can. If you commit to setting up, you gotta be there!
The next show where I am setting up as a dealer is this Sunday, March 15, 2020, at Gonzaga Hall, 92nd/Greenfield in West Allis, WI. I won't be at the Sun-Times show but I will have all sorts of new stuff out at the Gonzaga show. Come on out!
Did I mention that you guys are awesome! Thanks again for all your support!! Below are some photos from the show this past Saturday.