That'll teach me to act like a know-it-all. With the Packers-Bears scheduled for noon on Sunday, December 15, I thought nobody would show up to the Gonzaga show. Instead, the place was jam packed. I was helping three-four customers at a time in the early morning.
I didn't bring any display cases because I had thought the room would be empty and the display cases take a long time to fill and unfill. I wanted to get out of the show early and watch the game. I also decided to leave the display cases at home because I brought them all out last month. Of course, customer after customer asked if I had this star card or that star card. I told everybody I'll have them next month.
My pal Jerry Kvasnica told me last week at my show and again at Gonzaga that he is planning to retire from being a sports card dealer. Retire? This is retirement! It is too much fun to be a real job. There has to be pain and suffering for a job to be real, said someone very famous, I think. Every time Jerry tells me he is going to retire, I tell him he can't do it.
As much fun as this hobby can be, I find it depressing when a dealer or customer leaves the hobby. You develop relationships with folks and you expect and look forward to seeing them at the show on Sunday. I have known Jerry for 20-plus years having first met him at Fred Copp's old Oakbrook Terrace show in Illinois. Over the years we have made many trades and I have purchased many cards from Jerry, including this past Gonzaga show when he sold me a 1950 Bowman Tony Canadeo football card. Jerry is a great guy and an excellent vintage sports card dealer. He always comes up with amazing stuff. I can't imagine the Gonzaga show without Jerry manning his corner. He has been a huge supporter of my show and will leave a major hole in the dealer line up when he retires. Some people you just can't replace.
He has mentioned that he has some physical issues and setting up at shows has become increasingly difficult. I say, endure the pain and keep on setting up! What else are you going to do? I am kind of in the same boat. This stupid diabetes has given me a beat down. I had a really tough time of it Sunday morning but I made it through and ended up having a really enjoyable day. I can only hope Jerry reconsiders because I, for one, enjoy seeing him regularly and think he is a great addition to any show where he sets up.
It is mind boggling when I think about the Gonzaga show and the many dealers and customers who are gone from when I first began setting up around 20 years ago. I think it is a testament to the health of the hobby that Gonzaga continues to have a waiting list for dealers and continues to draw a large crowd, even when the Packers are playing the Bears at noon!! It is also a testament to Milwaukee which packed my show last week then Gonzaga this week. The hobby is alive and well in Milwaukee. Now, is not the time to retire!!!
Getting back to when I first started setting up at Gonzaga around the year 2000. I had great difficulty getting just one table back then. Once I was in, I had greater difficulty making sales, which is hard to believe if you saw the crowd at my tables this past Sunday. But in the beginning, customers avoided me like the plague. A handful of guys took the time to go through my stuff and buy a few things. I saw one of those guys this past Sunday. Unfortunately, I don't know his name. He does not show up regularly any more. He is an older guy with a hint of a German accent. He was building a 1954 Bowman baseball set when I met him 20 years ago. He was still working on that Bowman set when I saw him this past Sunday. He has purchased many '54 Bowmans from me over the years. I think it was Jerry who finally got him his Ted Williams. I have never had that Ted Williams card. One of these days, I am going to own that card!
Anyway, this old customer brought out his son this past Gonzaga show and they were doing some final upgrades before he sells his set next month. He told me he has a deal lined up but the buyer wants some upgrades. I told him how sorry I was to hear that he was going to sell his set, knowing the time and effort he put into building that set as well as my own contributions to the set. He told me he has some heart trouble and is going in for surgery soon and is worried that he won't make it out alive and figures it will be easier for his family to have the cash rather than the set. My thoughts and prayers are with this old friend. Hopefully, I see him next month building another set!
Speaking of set builders, they were out en masse on Sunday. I sold a ton of cards. My newly reloaded 1967 Topps baseball book got a work out. I probably don't have any high numbers left in there. I noticed that I am not selling as many basketball cards as I normally do. I have a really nice inventory of 1969 through 1971-72 Topps right now. I am wondering if I should keep those at home and bring out something else next time.
Another issue, an on going issue for just about most every dealer, is what to do with Junk Era cards. Over the past few years, my inventory has grown as I purchased some nice vintage collections but the sellers made me take their junk as well. I have been pricing whole binders of say 1990 Topps for just five bucks but can't get any takers.
Dealer Larry Larsen had a good suggestion when he advised I unload the binders and place all the cards in the box and allow customers to fill an entire lunch bag for ten bucks. I think I am going to give Larry's suggestion a try. I'll report back on how the box 'o junk works out.
Getting back to this past Sunday's Gonzaga show, I caught the results of the live auction for a box of 1980 Topps Supers. I remember buying these cards back in 1980. They are great glossy 5 x 7 photos of the players of the era. Unfortunately, they have no value... or so I thought. The box of supers went for 90 bucks in the live auction! I saw a complete set on eBay for $40. I would think you could find an unopened box somewhere for a lot less than $90. Maybe I'm wrong and the price has gone up on those. I was just shocked when I heard the final price of $90. I haven't tried to sell any 1980 Topps Supers in years but when I did bring them out I could not give them away. I might have to dig them out.
Well, at about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, the show died. Man, if there wasn't that football game I may have had a monster day. I can't complain, though. I had a much better day than expected and I am still in awe at the size of that morning crowd.
I purchased some cards as well Sunday but may have overpaid because I had money burning a hole in my pocket and I was eager to make some purchases. I picked up a box of early 1970's basketball and another box of 1950's baseball and 1960's football.
I was on the road home by 1:30 p.m. and pulled up to my house around 2:30 p.m. The football game was just entering the Fourth Quarter. I couldn't watch because the Bears were getting stomped. I think I was one of three Bears fans at the Gonzaga show. I ate some food and took a nap. Another Gonzaga show in the books.
Next up is the Orland show. I skipped the December 8 show, choosing to sleep in the day after my Oak Creek show. I just can't set up at two shows in a weekend any more then go to work on Monday. I need at least one day each weekend to chill out.
As always, I am stuck in a rut trying to figure out what to bring to Orland. Last month, I brought out five or six display cases and my baseball, football and basketball binders. I filled the display cases up with all my baseball star cards and football stars from the 1950s. So I am thinking of brining four display cases and put out my 1960's and 1970's football stars along with basketball and hockey. I may bring out some Exhibits because someone asked me for them last month. I think I'll leave the basketball binders at home. I hope we have some decent weather on Sunday. See you guys in Orland this Sunday, December 22, 2019 -- my last show of the year!!!