All of these daily COVID news reports are starting to scare the daylights out of me. I was very worried that the Salvation Army would cancel the show because the Wisconsin COVID numbers are skyrocketing. Many others felt the same way based on the large number of inquiries I received leading up to the show.
Adding to my fear was one dealer cancelling because he had contracted COVID. Three other dealers cancelled because they were sick but did not know whether they had COVID. Two more dealers cancelled because they had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. One dealer cancelled because he was watching the numbers, like me, and got spooked.
Thankfully, I never got that call from the Salvation Army. However, this particular show was especially difficult to do. I had all those COVID-related dealer cancellations then a number of other dealers cancelled in the days leading up to the show for other reasons. Ugh!
The COVID-related cancellations appear to be the new norm. The non-COVID related cancellations just suck. I need to be able to turn in an accurate table count to the Salvation Army early in the week so they can properly set up the tables before Saturday. It is just impossible to do with so many cancellations. Thankfully, I seem to have an endless waiting list of dealers so I can plug folks in shortly after receiving a cancellation... but it still sucks and is a ton of extra work.
I am tossing around some ideas to stem the dealer cancellations. One is I make everybody pay in advance and you lose your table fee if you cancel. Two, those that cancel without a legitimate reason, can't reserve a table again, they may opt for the waiting list but I will never again allow them to reserve a table a head of time.
Option one is tough because it creates lot of extra accounting work for me. Option two, may just work out. So for now on, any dealer that cancels without a legitimate reason, will not be allowed to reserve a table ahead of time and can only be on the waiting list. Repeat offenders will just be banned.
I have the luxury of being somewhat harsh because I am overwhelmed with dealers. It is a rare show where I can get everyone who calls for a table into the show. I am amazed and appreciative of the popularity of the show which continues to grow, even during the pandemic. It boggles my mind at the number of dealers that are out there. Where were you guys in 2015 when I was struggling to find dealers?
It is a new era, the December 5 show is already sold out of dealer tables. So anyone that wants to get on the waiting list needs send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I was able to get everybody on the November waiting list into the show. I am hopeful that I don't have the same number of cancellations for December as I did for November. Man alive! But if you want your name on the waiting list, let me know, I will most likely be able to get you into the show.
Would you mind if I complain some more? Thanks! Cancellations aside, these dealers are so needy! In four decades of setting up at shows, I rarely asked a promoter for a certain location in the room. I don't care where my tables are located. Just give me a couple of tables, I'll set up my stuff and I'm good. Not so with my Salvation Army dealers. Gee whiz! I am overwhelmed with dealers requesting certain locations within the building. I just can't do it. For one, I don't set up the room. The staff at the Salvation Army sets it up on Thursday before the show. They never set it up quite the same. Often, I have to rearrange many of the tables to match my constantly fluctuating dealer list on the morning of the show. Then there are the number of dealers who arrive early, hindering my ability to arrange the room. Dealers! Please don't show up before 8 a.m. I need some time to properly arrange the tables and to place the dealer nameplates on the tables.
Anyway, the rooms are set up differently each month, so when dealers ask for the same spot, I don't know if that spot will actually be there for the next show. Plus, there is no way for me to chart the rooms because they are set up differently every month. It is just too hard for me to commit to giving anyone the same spot each month. All I can do is try.
Along those lines, everybody wants to be in the gym. I don't have enough space to place all the dealers in the gym. I figure the fairest way to do it is to give the gym to the dealers that set up every single month. So, if you are a new dealer, you are most likely going to be placed in the meeting room or the hallway. When one of the gym dealers drops out, I can move you into the gym.
Regardless, I think many dealers place far too much emphasis on location. I have been selling cards since the late 1970's, and have probably set up at thousands of shows at this point, and not once did I feel my location made any difference in my sales. My sales depend on the number of customers at the show, the quality of my merchandise and my pricing. Also, being friendly goes a long way. Nobody wants to stop at a table manned by the Grinch.
For the November show, I gave myself, what most would consider, the worst tables at the show, which were the tables located furthest from the front door and the last two tables anyone who attended the show viewed as they left the building. You know what? I had a phenomenal day selling cards. I had five or more guys pulling cards out of my binders all day long. I don't need to be in the gym and I am really tired of guys asking for specific locations because it is a real hassle for me and I do not believe it will improve sales one bit. Plus, I am just one person who is trying to sell cards along with managing 40 needy dealers and 500-plus customers. I can only do so much. Rant over.
While it was stressful at times, I really had a great day and overall really enjoyed myself at the November show. I was too busy selling cards at my tables to walk around the show, so I do not have a whole lot of observations as to what occurred. We seemed to have a nice flow of traffic in the hallway where I was set up.
Seemed like we had more people at the November show than we had in October. Dealer reports on sales varied. Some dealers reported outstanding sales while others reported average. A few guys reported that their November sales were down from October. My sales were up and a big thank you to the multitudes of guys that bought cards from me. Also, a big thank you to my helpers, my daughter Tabitha and my friend Jason. I would not have been able to have a table then manage the show without Tabitha and Jason. Thanks guys!
With my pockets brimming with cash, I was not shy when it came to buying. I bought just about everything folks brought to me at my tables. I picked up some vintage Pittsburgh Pirates from Jim. I got some 1969 Topps Decals from Bruce. A new customer sold me some 1951 Topps Red Backs, and I picked up some 1957 mid-series from Terry. Thanks guys.
At noon at every show, I go from table to table collecting table fee. Well, my collections process turned into a buying spree at the November show. I purchased a binder of 1960's commons from Eric, a box with all sorts of stuff from Jeff, including 1962 Topps football, and the piece de resistance -- a 1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle and a 1954 Bowman Willie Mays from Bill, with an assist from Tim.
If you recall, back in March, when shows were shut down, I decided to fill the time building a 1954 Bowman set via eBay. Wow! It turned out to be a really frustrating process. I have been down to just two cards to complete the set for months, the Mantle and Mays. I was consistently outbid on eBay for the cards. Earlier I ended up purchasing a Yogi Berra from Tim on eBay and asked if he had the Mantle and Mays, which he didn't. But on this day, Tim saw the cards in Bill's case and even brought over the Mantle. I eventually went over to Bill's table and purchased both cards at a nice price and my set is now complete!!! I never thought I would complete that thing. Wow!
This little pandemic set build taught me a lot about eBay and card shows. I learned that card shows are a superior place to purchase cards over eBay. While the selection may not be the same, the pricing and ability to view and hold the card in person can't be overstated. Plus, no sniping!! Man, it felt good to complete that '54 Bowman set!!
Overall, I had a really great day, one that seemed to fly by (though if you ask my daughter, it went very slowly). I am looking forward to the December 5th show. I already have 40 dealers lined up on 65 tables. Dealers from November who did not confirm and want in on December, you need to confirm quickly. I will start to give away your tables as I build a waiting list.
I recently created a Frequently Asked Questions section on this site. Click on FAQ tab above. I'm hopeful the FAQ will help limit the multitudes of calls, texts and messages in the week leading up to the show. See you December 5th!
On a final note, I received a request from collector Wayne Villarrubia, who lives in New Orleans, for help completing his 1962 Jello set. Wayne informed me that the 1962 Jello set was a regional set, only distributed in Wisconsin and Illinois. He is seeking the following short-printed cards:
1 Skowron, 13 Stafford, 63 Pagliaroni, 69 Keough, 70 Tasby, 95 Stephens, 112 Gilliam, 113 Larker, 115 Williams, 116 Coleman, 179 Law, 180 Haddix, and 181 Hal Smith.
"I am also interested in the other 8, if any pop up. Here are the other 8 SPs : 2 Richardson, 117 Freese, 118 Blasingame, 156 Maye, 157 Spangler, 166 Flood, 167 Simmons, and 168 Grammas. These 2 are not quite as rare, but still tough : 84 Martin and 143 Miller."
Wayne can be reached at the following emails:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.