A few times a year, I'll find myself set up next to a guy who has a lights out day while I struggle to earn table fee. The October 9th show in Madison, pictured above, was one of those days. My neighbor Mike Johnson sold a bunch of high-end graded cards to a customer for several thousand dollars. I watched the transactions and marveled: (1) that Mike had such valuable stuff, and (2) that the youngish-looking customer had thousands of dollars in his pocket. He kept telling Mike, "Let's get this done, I gotta go play golf." Wow!
I made around 40 bucks that day. So my self-esteem as a dealer was low. When I'm in that position, watching another guy make a lot of money while I earn fumes, I don't get jealous, spiteful or mean, like some other guys do. Rather, I'm happy for the other guy. Mike is a very good dealer, works hard and deserves the reward. I look at it as a learning experience. The first lesson, I need better inventory. You can't make money if you don't spend money. So I have been on a bit of a buying spree since the Madison show and have picked up some really nice cards in an effort to upgrade my inventory.
While I have had two lousy Madison shows in a row, I still plan on setting up at this show down the road. The poor sales are on me, not the promoter or anyone else. As a dealer, I have a responsibility for taking care of my inventory and being knowledgeable enough to place cards on my table that folks want to purchase and at the right price.
I think the Madison show really good. Promoter Darin Blang is a super nice guy who does an excellent job at getting the word out. There is always great attendance at this show and Darin draws very good dealers. Each show has a nice mix between vintage and modern cards. I have had very good sales in the past at this show. My next time out there, I need to place the right inventory on my table.
October 15, 2016, Lincoln Center, Highland, Indiana
I really, really like this show, pictured above. I love sharing the room with a flea market. Roger, the promoter, is a nice guy who seems to really enjoy himself here. While Highland is located on the Indiana/Illinois border near Chicago, there are a lot of customers and dealers at this show that I do not see at other shows in the area. I enjoy seeing these Highland folks. I have done this show enough that I now have some regular customers.
Another positive to this show is that I get to see quite a few people from the Orland Park show, of which my two-year exile is coming to an end. In Highland, I can count on Orland regulars Dave, Paul, Rick and Terry purchasing cards. I also get to buy cards from Orland dealer Jim Colias, who regularly gives me tremendous deals. To top it off, I get to go out for a steak dinner with Mark Smith after the show!
My only negative comments are that the Highland show is quarterly and sometimes butts heads with other shows like the Fanatics show. I would like to see more dates with this show and not have to miss it for the Fanatics show.
Anyway, I had a really nice show there in October. I sold and bought a bunch of stuff. I need to check the date for the March show, hopefully I can make it.
October 16, 2016, Gonzaga Hall, Milwaukee
I set up at the Gonzaga show every month, pictured above. I didn't take any notes at the October show and my recall is hazy. This much I can say about Gonzaga:
1. It is my favorite show;
2. Sales are almost always solid;
3. Buys are generally pretty good;
4. Terrific attendance always;
5. Keith, the promoter, is awesome;
6. Concession stand... need I say more?
Saturday, October 29, 2016, Wrigley Field, Chicago
So a little event called the World Series came to the North Side of Chicago for the first time in 71 years. As we all know, it had been 108 years since the Cubs had won a World Series. My pop came through and got tickets to Game 4 for me, my brother and nephew.
I have been going to games at Wrigley since I was in the womb more than 50 years ago. My mother, a big baseball fan, went to many games in the summer of 1966 while she was pregnant with me. She carried me into games as a baby and toddler. Tickets were cheap when I was growing up and my family went to a ton of games. In all those years, I have never seen anything like this -- the World Series. The Wrigley area was a mass of people. My brother lives a few blocks east of Wrigley and we walked from his place. The nephew wanted some photos under the marquee. The walk from the east to the west was treacherous, to say the least. I tried to snap a few photos but the bubbling mass of people made it difficult.
Once inside, I was disappointed to see our seats were in the upper deck up against the fence looking down on Waveland Avenue. I could not see more than half of the field including home plate. It seemed the folks sitting on the rooftops had a better view than me. To top it off, it was cold and windy. I did not dress warm enough. So while I was truly grateful that the Cubs were in the World Series and I was actually there, I was ready to leave by the third inning and urged my brother to join me to watch the rest of the game at a nearby watering hole. Understandably, he refused, and we stuck around until the top of the 9th. With the Cubs down 7-2, I was amazed that we were heckled as we left. I'm sorry, between my group of four, we've probably watched more Cubs games than any four people in the whole stadium. We knew the Cubs were not coming back that night.
In actuality, my dad and I figured the Cubs were done and Cleveland would wrap of the series shortly. My brother still felt the Cubs would come back and win the World Series. Props to the brother.
My dad and I had seen so many losing seasons that we did not think it was possible the Cubs could actually win the World Series. Those that heckled us were probably in their 20s and had not witnessed nearly the amount of losing seasons as pops and I. My dad was 8 years-old when the Cubs were last in the World Series. He went from 1945 to 1984 before the Cubs were in the post-season again. Also, 1945 to 2016 until they were in the World Series again. You develop some pessimism when faced with that kind of losing history.
Neverthe less, it was pretty special to see the Cubs win the World Series. I'm a Chicago fan, so I also enjoyed watching the White Sox win the series in 2005. I have also gotten to see the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks win championships. So I feel pretty good as a fan of Chicago professional sports right now. However, I also follow a few local college teams and fear I will never see them win championships. If the sports gods would grant me a couple of wishes, it would be for DePaul basketball to with the NCCAAs and for Northwestern Football to win a national championship. Hell, the Cubs just won the World Series, so anything is possible.
Folks around here a pretty confident the Cubs can repeat in 2017. I can't shake this pessimism thing. I don't see a repeat because some key players are gone like Chapman and Fowler. I think the Cubs will be good but not quite good enough. Fowler's value to the team is severely underrated. He reminds me of Mickey Rivers and the great things he did for those Yankees teams of 1977 and 1978. Fowler was the sparkplug for the 2016 Cubs. I don't see how you replace him. As for Chapman, he is a beast. The Cubs will miss him as well. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the Cubs World Series win and be thankful that they won one in my lifetime.