No rest for the weary. After a quick two day trip to Nashville, I was back at work Monday and had a really busy week. I was stuck in a hearing pretty much all day Friday and got a late start to Oak Creek Friday night.
With 115 dealers and 170 tables scheduled for Saturday, I needed to head up on Friday to set things up. There was no way I would have time to get it done in the morning. I made it to the Salvation Army around 8 p.m. Man, was I tired! But duty calls!
The volunteers at the Sal layout the tables for me, usually on Thursday, but they are never done correctly so I gotta spend some time rearranging them. Then I have to place dealer name tags on all of the tables. I start in the gym then move to Fellowship Hall which knocks out about all 80 tables that the Sal has in their possession. I always have to carry some tables to the stage in the Game Room and then four for the front hallway. I place chairs with name tags on them in the remaining 90 dealers spaces in the Game Room, Hallway and the Chapel. Those dealers bring their own tables. It takes quite a while to set this all up.
Slowly but surely, I figured out where all the dealers were going to go. New this month was the Chapel. I guesstimated that I could fit 40 tables in there. I started placing down chairs around 10:30 p.m. The cleaning crew arrived and were very inquisitive.
As I was laying out the Chapel, I realized that I guesstimated wrong. I continued to layout chairs until 11:15 p.m. and conked out. I planned to come back in the morning and try and squeeze some dealer spaces in all of the other rooms.
I got home around 12:15 a.m. and hit the sack. I was up at 5:15 a.m. Showered, dragged Lisa out of bed, loaded the car and was back on the road to Oak Creek. We arrived in Oak Creek around 6:45 a.m. New dealer Carl Hechel was already there. I informed him that he was way too early and I still needed to arrange things inside the building. I tell every dealer that set up begins at 8 a.m. Seems to always go in one ear and out the other.
My main man Mark was there and let us in. One of Mark's volunteers was there as well and he let another Carl, Carl Johnson and his grandson Damon in. They wanted to help. Together we placed chairs throughout the building, created a new row in Fellowship Hall and seemed to have a spot for all of the dealers.
I opened the doors to the mass of dealers at 7:30 a.m. Problems arose quickly. Apparently, I forgot to make space for four or five dealers. Some of them I thought were not coming. It took a while but I was able to find spots for everyone. Then there were the 8 or 9 dealers I told previously that they would be in the Chapel but I had to move them out because I did not have enough space. So, I spent most of the morning directing new dealers to their spots or finding spots for dealers I forgot to give space to. It was tiring.
I picked a spot for myself in Fellowship Hall, across from PJ. Like most of my dealers, I bring my own tables. I loaded my tables and bins of cards into Fellowship Hall and slowly set up the binders.
I think I finished setting up around 9:30 a.m. and the show was well underway. Lisa and I were in desperate need of coffee. She went to the concession stand and volunteered to brew a pot of coffee. After we drank our coffee, she went back and procured us each a Sloppy Joe sandwich. Real good batch today with generous helpings.
After I finished my sloppy, I walked the show to see if I had any no shows -- at least four guys did not bother to show. One texted me early in the morning and stated "something came up." What? Is this the Brady Bunch?
Guys that book the show and either cancel at the last minute or don't bother to show up just suck balls! I turned countless dealers away prior to the show. I could have filled those spots with other dealers. I think we still ended up with 170 tables because there was that group that showed up and I either forgot to include them or they weren't even registered. So it worked out but I am still pissed off at the no-shows. Those guys will not be setting up again.
I pretty much spent the rest of the day collecting table fee from all the dealers while Lisa watched my tables. Generally, the dealers in the gym have been with me the longest. Some the entire 8 years. I really appreciate those guys!
Some are not happy with the growth of the show and feel they are losing sales to the other dealers. I disagree. If you have quality merchandise and reasonable prices it does not matter who else is set up in the building. Another thing I have observed over the decades of setting up at shows is that more dealers bring in more customers. I learned long ago that customers don't want to just see me, they want a variety. If I had the same 40 or 50 dealers every month, the show would have died long ago. It is these new dealers that bring excitement to the show and they bring their friends and family who purchase cards from the veteran dealers. It all works out in the end.
One thing I have noticed over the past several months is that the crowd in the gym is down. The gym used to be wall to wall people. Some dealers have asked that I rotate entrance to the show from the front to the side doors into the gym. I find that a reasonable request and next month the entrance to the show will be those side gym doors. I don't know if I want to rotate the entrance every month but I think I will do it occasionally. I think we have a better flow overall throughout the building when the entrance is at the front.
We had a real nice crowd at this one. Around 600 people total, which is the most we have had in months. Some dealers reported excellent sales, some lousy. Dealers have to realize that they are just not going to kill it every time. All you can do is make sure you have new product out from last show, make sure that product is desirable, and that it is priced reasonably.
I have one older dealer that is my king complainer. He bitches every show. This one was no exception. He has great stuff but it is soooo overpriced. I saw customers at his tables all day long. I do not know what he was bitching about but he was extra nasty this month. He clearly does not like the increase in dealers.
Here is the thing -- I don't need him. Like I said earlier, even with 115 dealers, I was still turning guys away and I continue to have a waiting list. Don't set up! I don't need you or your aggravation!! I am not the only show around, just the biggest and the best. Go set up at the others and see if your sales improve.
My sales were okay. Lisa was learning by trial by fire. She did a great job! Thank you everyone for being so kind to the Lisa. I really need her help and hope she continues to assist me.
Thankfully, there are quite a few folks who appreciate me and the hard work I put into this show. I got lots of compliments Saturday. One dad booked space for his young son and a friend. They had a great time and he thanked me for "making my son's dream come true." Aw shucks.
The bottom line is that this is a hobby and it is a fun hobby. If you are not having fun, you should not be setting up or attending the show. Try and have some fun, for Pete's sake!
I was pleased that no thefts were reported this month. A young guy was busted last month in Loves Park, Illinois, stealing at a show. We think he was the main culprit that stole from us back in September. This was the second show where I had my undercover police officer working. We showed him photos of the kid and his dad that were busted in Loves Park. He kept an eye out for them. With the size of the show now, I am going to have the undercover police officer at every show.
The officer is a big expense on my part but I think it is worth it for the peace of mind. Speaking of expenses, my rental fee more than doubled this month with the expansion into the Chapel and the increase in hours of the show. So I bumped up table fee by five bucks and everyone seemed fine with it. I am still one of the cheapest shows around when it comes to table fee. I hope to keep the fee down for dealers.
Man, was I exhausted at the end of the day but felt good. Things went smoothly with the new room. There really weren't any major issues to report. Seems like it was a great day for all involved.
We are going to fire it back up on December 3. Some dealers have dropped out so I should have a bunch of new ones. Also, the smart ones will have a bunch of new inventory out on their tables December 3rd. A huge thank you to all of the dealers, all 115 of them! You guys rock! Also, a huge thank you to everyone who attended the show. I saw lots of new faces on Saturday. I appreciate you!! I gave out three boxes of cards at the show and plan on giving out more next month!!
In the meantime, I get to go back to being a dealer, which is so much more pleasant than being the promoter. I am setting up Saturday, November 12, at the Rock Church in Rockford. Come on out! Let's talk about the crazy Oak Creek show, or cards, sports, food! See you Saturday!
Below are some photos from Saturday's show in Oak Creek.