This past September, I decided to commit to setting up at the Moeller Thanksgiving show. I reserved one table at a pricey $250. I made hotel reservations at the Comfort Suites Hotel near the Kings Island amusement park via hotels.com. My folks came and picked up my kids for Thanksgiving dinner. I ate Thanksgiving dinner with my wife then loaded the car and drove six hours to Cincinnati. There was not much traffic and it was a pretty easy drive.
I awoke early on Black Friday and my trusty GPS placed me safely at Moeller around 8 a.m. Load in was a little tough. One dealer pulled up to the lone garage entry-way into the field house, the building that houses the show. I had a tough time wheeling my cart around him and over a speed bump. All the other dealers parked far enough away from the garage so not to block it. There is always one guy who lacks any semblance of courtesy.
With just one table, I did not bring a whole lot of stuff to Cincinnati and was able to get my wares in with just a couple of trips to the car. I placed most of my baseball binders on the table. I set up two card tables behind the binders and placed three display cases on them. I had some extra room on the card tables and threw down some publications. I also had some space for my 50-cent box out front. This is largely my old Sun-Times set up before I hooked up with Dave and Bob some 15 years ago.
After set-up, I found myself with a good hour or so to kill before the show started. I decided to drive around the area to find some food and coffee. I quickly learned that Moeller High School is located on the edge of Cincinnati next to the beautiful town of Montgomery which reminded me of Long Grove, Illinois, with a historic downtown and lots of shopping and restaurants. I decided to try the European Cafe. I ordered eggs, sausage, hash browns and coffee. All were very good and inexpensive! The sausage came in patties. I am usually not a big fan of the sausage patty, I prefer the link, but these were quite tasty.
Back at the show, my table was sandwiched between two very nice dealers. One was local and had a tremendous vintage baseball set up. I have seen him at the Sun-Times show. My other neighbor, who is from Pennsylvania, specializes in vintage football cards. I have also seen him at the Sun-Times show. There were quite a few familiar faces amongst the ranks of dealers like Paul, who I think is from Cleveland, JD, Chapell Cards, and Wayne Johnson from Indiana. Baggers Auctions was set up along one wall. SCG had a table. Phil from St. Louis made a rare appearance outside of Missouri. There was also a Michigan dealer who specializes in cheapy boxes who I have seen around at various shows. There were many more familiar faces from the Sun-Times show. All in all, an impressive group of dealers with tremendous inventory... at reasonable prices! Pictured below are some photos from set-up time, before the show opened to the public.
The show officially opened at 10 a.m. There weren't a whole lot of people in the room until noon. I was pleasantly surprised to see Craig Lane, who I met through Mark Smith several years ago. When he wasn't digging through cheapy boxes for cards to send out for signatures, Craig spent much of the show hanging out with me. Craig is a super guy and I really enjoyed his company all weekend.
About the middle of the day, I had a rush of customers and was struggling to help everyone at once. I had a flurry of sales. I had a Mint 1970 Topps Johnny Bench and a Mint Nolan Ryan that a customer snapped up. I sold some 1960 Topps to another customer. My newly-made Reds binder saw some action. I sold some publications and some cards out of my 50-cent box. With regularity, guys were searching all my binders for Reds.
The room was jam-packed until about 3 p.m. Dave Concepcion and some other Reds players from the 1980s and 1990s were signing autographs. There was a decent line for the autos.
There was a vintage dealer across from me that had a really nice inventory and a bunch of discount boxes. He was swamped with customers. Discount boxes seemed to be the theme for this show and all the boxes drew crowds. I think the coolest table was the one that had a huge mound of old baseball mitts. I should have bought some but I could not bring myself to pull the trigger.
Another pleasant surprise was the concession stand. As you all know, I am a big fan of the show concession stand. This one was serving up some delicious pulled-pork sandwiches of which I dined upon all weekend. I was a little bummed that they did not have fresh coffee, instead they had instant -- yuck!
Another bummer was the fieldhouse bathrooms -- ugh! There were some big dudes at this show with serious bowel movements and NO ventilation in that bathroom. Oh, it was hell in there.
We also had to deal with the ping sound from aluminum bats in batting cages up on a loft above the show. The high school kids were there all day every day taking batting practice. This was quite an environment!
When the show ended at 8 p.m. on Friday, I was tired and hungry. I dined on some prime rib at the Outback Steakhouse, located across from my hotel. I also enjoyed a Sam Adams Seasonal served in a HUGE mug. I just wanted one glass of beer because it's not so good for my diabetes. I think you could fit three beers in that mug. A few mugs and they would have had to carry me out of the place. Oh, that Sam Adams Seasonal is a delicious beer. I could have sat there all night drinking that stuff. Instead, I went back to the room and enjoyed some cable TV and fell asleep.
Unfortunately, I had to wake up regularly to relive some of that beer from my system and did not sleep very well. I stumbled down to the lobby on Saturday morning for the free hotel breakfast. They had that hotel boiled or steamed bacon. If it was up to me, it would be against the law to cook bacon any other way than fried. Though, I ate it along with some sausage, a hard-boiled egg and a danish. The hotel coffee wasn't too bad either.
There was another nice crowd at the show on Saturday. George Foster and Dave Parker were there signing autographs. I only had one decent sale when I sold my T206 Ed Reulbach Tolstoy back. Overall, I had quite a large number sales on Saturday but they were all for low-dollar amounts and did not really add up. So I bought some cards from the dime box guy and I picked up some cards from Baggers -- a nice haul.
After the show, Craig took me to the Montgomery Inn, a huge restaurant/sports bar with tons of memorabilia on the walls. Across from our table were two framed Pete Rose jerseys. We went with some wings and chips/pork appetizers that were really good. We were joined by Craig's son Brian who lives in Cincinnati. Like his father, he is a super nice and intelligent guy. For my main course, I went with the ribs which were quite good. The Montgomery Inn gets five stars from me and I hope to be back.
I slept much better Saturday night and was up early on Sunday. I went with waffles at the hotel breakfast. I decided to take the long route to Moeller High School. I saw a Speedway with gas for just $1.69. I also found a Starbucks.
There was not much of a crowd at the show on Sunday but I had some nice sales. I sold my 1962 Topps stamp set to one customer. Then Terry, who follows this blog and whom I met at Sharonville back in January, purchased my 1960 Topps Willie McCovey rookie. Thanks Terry!
I decided to pack up at noon, knowing I had a six-hour drive ahead of me. I was on the road by 1:15 p.m. I didn't drive all that far before I stopped off at Skyline Chili, based on Terry's recommendation. Oh my, Skyline is awesome! I had an amazingly delicious bowl of chili. Skyline serves its chili several different ways. You can get it atop spaghetti. It also comes served on a hot dog... more like a hot dog that is served caked in chili with a HUGE mound of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Oh my! They also serve it inside a tortilla. I need to come back and try that chili dog.
Heavy traffic all the way to Chicago. I made it home around 6:30 p.m. Whew! That concludes two 3-day shows on back to back weekends. Man, am I tired! Though, the dealer next to me at Moeller also was set up at the Sun-Times and he is heading to Philadelphia for a three-day show next weekend -- that's something! I, on the other hand, am setting up at my Clarion show on Saturday (December 5) and in Madison on Sunday, December 6. No rest for the weary. Did I ever tell you I have a baseball card addiction? Maybe it is more like baseball card OCD... I just have to attend shows each weekend.
I seem to be getting more calls and emails than usual for my Clarion show this Saturday. I hope the buzz is a sign of good things this weekend. I have some new dealers. Come on out and see us Saturday at the Clarion, 5311 S. Howell, Milwaukee. I plan on having some 1961 Post baseball priced and ready to go!!!
Pictured below are more Moeller show photos and some images of my purchases.