OMG! What was up with the traffic Friday? Ugh!
My daughter and I left the house for Lansing at 1:37 p.m. on Friday, September 22, 2023, and hit traffic immediately on the Edens Expressway, north of Chicago. I knew there would be traffic once we approached the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago proper because road construction currently has two lanes shut down heading southeast from the north end of the city to Downtown. I did not expect so much traffic on the Edens.
We actually had a relatively easy time of it on the Kennedy because the express lanes were moving. Though, once we were Downtown and off the express lanes and onto the Dan Ryan Expressway, things tightened up immensely. The Dan Ryan was pretty much a parking lot.
We crawled to the Chicago Skyway. I was unaware that there was construction on the Skyway. As a result, it took us ONE HOUR from the ramp on the Dan Ryan to get onto the Skyway. Oh, that sucked!
It essentially took us three hours to travel from the northern suburbs of Chicago to Portage, Indiana -- a drive that is normally about one hour. At that point, we were starving and stopped off at the Texas Corral Restuarant in Michigan City, Indiana. The excellent service and good food at the Texas Corral were sorely needed. I had a steak and ribs combo while the daughter had a ribs and shrimp combo.
It was so hard to get back into the car after dinner but we had hotel reservations in Lansing, so we soldiered on. It took us about two more hours to get to Lansing, traffic was much easier on I94 through Michigan.
We lost an hour due to the time change and arrived at our hotel around 9:30 p.m., Michigan time. We checked in then went to pick up the boy at his dorm on the campus of Michigan State University.
Man, at 10 p.m. the campus was hopping. Kids everywhere. We picked up the boy, who looked like he grew some more. How much more can this kid grow? He is probably the tallest Gordon in history.
Anyway, we hit the Burger King next to the hotel and called it a night.
I fell asleep shortly after consuming my Whopper but woke up in the middle of the night and could not fall back asleep. I was able to pry myself out of bed around 8 a.m. We were out of the hotel and on our way to the Lansing Mall around 9:15 a.m.
I found the promoter Dennis, who directed me to my tables which were located across the room from the tables I had when I was last at this show in July. I had a corner spot, which I do not particularly like. Good thing I had binders and not the display cases which don't work in a corner spot. I had to do some figuring to get the binders and my cheapy boxes to work.
On one end, I was next to a Pokémon dealer who had a shelf on the end of his table. I wanted to place the boxes next to the shelf but I was worried customers would think the boxes belonged to the Pokémon dealer, so I opted to place them on the other end which was on the aisle.
I had two shoe boxes, one with $1 cards the other with discounted cards from $2 to $15 a piece. Then I had two galley boxes of 50-cent cards. Having that open end into the aisle kind of threw me off. So I placed one shoe box and one galley box facing one way then other boxes facing the other way. I figured I could rearrange the boxes if this set up did not work -- I figured wrong.
As soon as I placed the boxes out, I heard someone shout from across the room: "Vintage Cards Cheap" -- which was the sign I placed on the box of discounted cards. Shortly after I heard the shout, two older heavy-set guys were at the boxes. I hadn't even put out any binders yet. One of the guys asked for a chair and sat down for the next hour. The other guy asked if I had any Mickey Mantle cards. I did not, I just brought out commons after bringing out stars in July.
I remember that guy from the July show. Like this show, he was at my tables before the show opened and before I had set anything up. I eventually showed him my Mantles at the July show and he did not buy any of them. I remember that he came to my tables three or four times in July and ended up purchasing some 1966 Topps baseball high numbers.
Just like July, he came to my tables three or four times. When I was finally able to get all my binders out, he was focused on my binder of 1964 Topps baseball coins. Eventually, he asked for a price on all of them. He said he would think about it. Well I guess he thought not to buy them.
Back to the cheapy boxes, man, guys were on those things like flies to a horse's ass! I had two or three guys going through the boxes for the next two hours or so. One guy asked me for a price on the 50-cent boxes which were already discounted at three for a buck. I told him I don't discount my discount cards. He pleaded with me and pointed to a table down the row. He said he sells vintage card lots at that table and needed the cards for his lots. Not my problem. Did I say I don't discount my discount cards? He did end up pulling out a pile then his son came over and pulled out another pile.
Seemed like I hit all my pet peeves this morning. I hate when guys start digging through my cards before I can finish setting up. I also hate when guys ask for a discount on the discount cards, which brings me to another customer. This guy spent a good half an hour or so going through all the cheapy boxes. He ended up pulling out one 50-cent card and asked if he could have it for a quarter. I wanted to slug him but kept it together and accepted the quarter for the card.
It was cheap-o-rama day in Lansing. I had another guy pull out two cards from my 1960 Topps baseball binder, adding up to $2, and he wanted to pay with a check. He was an older guy. I told him I accept PayPal. He did not know what PayPal was. I told him there was an ATM machine in the building. He said he did not have an ATM card. I normally do not accept checks from people I do not know because I have been given fake checks in the past. This guy was pathetic, so I took his check. If I lose $2, I lose $2.
Most of those that came to my tables were looking for Detroit Tigers cards. I do not have any Tigers cards separated; they were all in the books. Most guys did not want to go through the binders to look for Tigers. I am going to start building a Tigers binder, which appears to be a necessity at this show.
I observed that the crowd was much smaller than the July show and there were a lot less dealers. As a result, my sales were way down. I was disappointed. I had a really good show in July where many guys asked for cards from particular years, so I thought the binders would do well here, but that was not the case. About 80 percent of my sales came from the cheapy boxes, which were a last-minute addition. Glad I brought them!
Nobody looked at my recently reloaded 1970 Topps baseball binders. I did have one guy ask for 1959 Fleer, which I just had reloaded. He found a couple of cards. One guy went through my Exhibits binder and pulled out all of my Tigers. Not much else doing. I made my last sale of the day around 12:30 p.m. and sat there until 2:30 p.m. with just a handful of guys flipping through the binders or digging through the cheapy boxes.
The dealer with the vintage lots said his sales have been going downhill at this show. I saw Duke, who lives nearby but travels all over for shows. I saw him last weekend in Orland. Duke told me the crowd was down because of the United Auto Workers strike. One of the dealer's next to me, named Bernie, a real nice guy, said the crowd was down because of the Michigan State football game that was occurring at the same time as the show.
Whatever the reason, sales were way down from July. After my kids were done shopping in the mall, they sat at my tables so I could walk around. I saw a large number of vintage dealers with some really good stuff, albeit very high priced. Normally when a show has this many vintage dealers there are many vintage customers. I guess there were vintage customers today but they were the type that will only pay a quarter for a discounted 50-cent card or the type that will write you a check for two bucks.
Also, it might just have been an off day. With my son living nearby, I will definitely be back. I am not sure when. I know I can't make the October show because I am coming out the week prior to take the boy home for the weekend. I don't see a show listed for November or December. I may try some other nearby shows for those months.
I was so happy to see my son that I did not mind having a bad show. This was the first time I had been separated from the boy for so long. With my daughter there as well, we had a really nice weekend together. I spent Saturday night in Lansing as well and drove home Sunday afternoon. Traffic was much better on the way home, thankfully.
Next up is a new show in South Bend, Indiana. A real nice couple is running this show. They own a card shop in South Bend and put on a monthly show that is normally the same weekend as my Oak Creek show. They are putting on an additional show this Saturday, September 30, at the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds in South Bend. I am not sure what to expect at this show. They seem to largely sell Funko-pops which is a pretty good indication that there won't be much vintage at this show. Thus, my expectations are low. I am definitely not bringing out the binders. I think I'll bring out some cheapy boxes and some display cases.
My pops is going to be joining me for this show. Who knows what kind of junk he will be selling but he is always entertaining. I know a few of you guys have met him in the past. He is a real character from another time. Born in Chicago in 1937, he has lived an interesting life from setting up on Chicago's famous Maxwell Street, selling stuff from his grandfather's hardware store in the 1950's, from working as a beer vendor at both Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park from 1952 to 1962, including working the 1959 World Series.
He entered into politics in the early 1960's, working for John F. Kennedy in 1962. For the next 50 or 60 years he worked on all sorts of political campaigns in Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois, and was campaign manager for many big time Chicago politicians.
He worked as a lawyer in Chicago from 1962 to 1996 representing all sorts of folks including Ernie Banks and Joe Dimaggio. He was a judge from 1996 up until last December when he retired. At age 86, he still as sharp as ever and will regale you with all sorts of stories. Come see us at the South Bend show on Saturday!
Next Oak Creek show is coming up fast on October 7th. Once again, I am behind on returning calls, emails, texts and messages. I hope to catch up soon. I should have 115 to 120 dealers, with the most vintage dealers in the country. You need to check out the Oak Creek show!
Thanks for following along, see you soon!