I can't remember the last time I was set up in Fort Wayne, maybe five or seven years ago. I used to set up regularly back when there were no Saturday shows in Illinois and Wisconsin. Now, everybody and their mother are running Saturday shows.
But I have been meaning to get back to Fort Wayne and finally had an opportunity last Saturday. The Fort Wayne show used to be at a Ramada along the highway. The show was founded by Brian Mayne, a great guy who unfortunately died a few years ago. I have talked about Brian before. He was a real innovator and an excellent show promoter. Gone way too soon!
Thankfully, the show is in excellent hands as Brian's brother Greg has taken over and is helped by his kids, Brian's wife and her kids. It is a real nice family operation. I love that dealers can text Greg during the show and order some snacks and Greg's wonderful daughter will bring the snacks to your table.
Greg moved the show to the Allen County Fairgrounds a few years ago. Brian was still with us but too ill to visit the show which is located in two large exhibit buildings. I plugged the address of the fairgrounds into my GPS when I left home around 5:30 a.m. Easy drive through Chicago at that early hour. Much of the drive was spent on Indiana State Route 30.
Once I arrived in the Fort Wayne area, and lost an hour due to the time change, the GPS took me through some hyper rural back roads. Corn, corn, corn. I thought the GPS was taking me to some random cow pasture while winding through these little roads dotted with picturesque farms. I was relieved when I saw a sign for the fairgrounds and started to head into civilization.
I arrived around 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The show starts at 10 a.m. I was able to score rock star parking in front of Building #4, the location of the show. I loaded up my cart and walked into the building and was greeting by Brian's wife and Greg's daughter, who walked me over to my tables.
Easy load in as many dealers arrived at the same time as me. I saw Walt as I was being lead to my tables. Walt is from Indiana and sets up at the Orland Park show. Back in the day, I always saw Walt at the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis shows. Good guy.
I brought out all of the baseball and football binders along with one display case that I loaded up with some complete sets and lots. I was able to finish setting up by the opening bell at 10 a.m.
I was located in the back corner of the room. On my right was a dealer I recognized but I can't remember where I know him from. Maybe I met him back when I used to regularly set up at the Ramada show in Fort Wayne. He is super nice and used to have a card shop. On his table was 1980's and 1990's wax which he sold out of by 11 a.m. I was jealous because sales were slow at my tables.
Across from me was a super nice couple that had modern wax and a few display cases of modern cards. The guy had on a Nolan Ryan shirt and came over to talk about his Nolan Ryan collection. I watched them sell a great deal of wax and almost all of the cards in their display cases. Again, I was jealous because there was not much action at my tables.
As I scanned the room, I recognized a few dealers from the old days. One was a guy, a little older than me, who was up against the back wall. Man, he had some nervous mannerisms. He could not sit still. He stood up, sat down, stood up, sat down. He paced back and forth behind his tables then sat down, stood up and paced some more. I watched him as he organized the cards on his tables then reorganized the cards on his tables, only to organize them again... and again.
I walked over and looked at his display case which was chock full of vintage but an absolute mess. It looked like he stuck as many cards as he could, all in Card Savers, into the case then shook it up. Weird.
There was another modern dealer I remembered and am pretty sure he was wearing the same Reggie Wayne jersey when I saw him five years ago.
I also remember a few of the customers, especially this one older guy who came over and asked if I had any 1967 Topps baseball high numbers -- which was a theme this weekend where five or six guys at the Fort Wayne show asked for '67 highs and four or five guys at the Schaumburg show on Sunday asked for '67 highs. Unfortunately, I don't have any right now.
Anyway, that older guy used to beat me up on my prices then try to sell me cards that were way overpriced. You would be surprised how often this happens. There is always someone who will fight you on your prices then refuse to lower their prices when they try to sell you some cards. I don't understand these folks. Didn't they ever hear of quid pro quo?
By 11 a.m., sales started to trickle in. An older guy walking with a cane, sat down and went through my 1960 Topps baseball binder and pulled a small stack of cards. A guy wearing a Johnny Bench T-shirt and told me he came in from Ohio, which is just a short drive from Fort Wayne, pulled some Reds out of my 1975 Topps binder.
A guy who I think buys from me at the big shows in Rosemont spent a good hour at my tables pulling cards from a variety of binders. He pulled a nice stack of cards. An older guy pulled some 1951 Bowman baseball. He came back later and tried to beat me up on my 140 card lot of 1955 Bowman baseball. I have the lot reasonably priced at $300. He wanted the lot for $200, which is less than $1.50 a card. I would lose money at that price. I can't purchase '55 Bowmans that cheap, let alone sell them at a loss. He was really fighting for the $200. No means no. I am not there to give my cards away.
He then asked for a price on my early 1950's Bowman binder. I had to add up all the cards to come up with a price. I hate doing this because nine times out of 10, the buyer does not pony up the cash. This guy was a firm no. I don't know why he thought I would give my cards away. Again, I was there to sell cards, not give them a way.
My next customer was obsessed with 1971 Topps baseball. He purchased a few and we had a lengthy discussion on '71 Topps. He also had a binder of '71s that he was selling for $150, which I thought was a reasonable price but I have an absolutely huge inventory of 1971's and won't purchase any more unless there are some Aarons, Clementes, Mays and Banks in the group. This guy's binder had a few stars like Willie Stargell and Steve Carlton but not enough to pique my interest.
A young couple spent a lot of time at my tables. The guy pulled out a nice pile of cards from my 1975 Topps binder. A lot of other guys dinked around in the binders and pulled out $3 to $4 cards. My last customer of the day was in town from Houston visiting his father. He told me Fort Wayne is at a much slower pace than Houston. I did not have a comment for him because I do not know much about Fort Wayne other than its card shows. I've been to Houston once. My sister lived there for a few years in the 1990's. She was able to purchase a huge house in Houston for the same price of a small house in the Chicago area, where I live.
The Houston guy wanted my 1973 Topps baseball lot of 350 cards real cheap. I told him that I could not sell him the cards that cheap, we did eventually agree on a price.
The day went by pretty quick. Sales were not as good as I would have liked. I did have an opportunity to walk both rooms. There were at least 120 tables at the show. I observed a handful of no-shows. Greg told me he will let those guys back in the show if they pay for their no-show and pay in advance for the next show. I told him I don't let them back into my Oak Creek show when they skip out on me.
It was great to see Greg. In the old days he had some great vintage in his display cases. I observed that he had just modern cards this time around. However, there were five or six excellent vintage dealers at the show. I was impressed with their inventories. Some of them were priced reasonably, others were silly high. I did not know any of these vintage dealers. I wonder how their sales went.
I did see Duke, who I met at the National last year and have been seeing him regularly at the Orland show. I am not sure if he lives in Illinois or Indiana.
So the drive to Fort Wayne was easy. It took about three hours. The drive home was horrible. I was stuck in road construction and traffic galore. It took about five hours to get home.
I really like the Fort Waye show and the new venue but it is just too far of a drive for me. I may set up again but probably not for a while.
I stopped off at a Burger King in Wanatah, Indiana, on the way home. As I was munching on my Whopper this older lady in a Burger King uniform came in and gave me that boss look, like I was slacking and should start mopping the floors. She was intimidating. If she would of handed me a broom, I would have started sweeping.
Then I saw a large map of Indiana on the wall with a star showing the location of Wanatah, which got me wondering about this little burg. The Wanatah Wiki Page says this town was founded in the 1850's and named after a local Indian chief. Only about 1,000 people live in Wanatah. Not much doing in Wanatah. I think Wanatah might be at a slower pace than Fort Wayne and Houston.
Anyway, I arrived home around 6 p.m., ate some food and passed out. It was a double bill weekend. I was set up in Schaumburg on Sunday. Schaumburg blog coming soon.
In the meantime, I have another double bill weekend ahead. I will be set up in Woodstock on Saturday and Root River on Sunday. I am bringing out display cases this coming weekend. If you want to see any binders let me know.
The next Oak Creek show is August 6. I have added a few new dealers and have a couple of spaces still available. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in setting up in Oak Creek. As usual, new dealers have to bring their own table.
Have a nice week everybody!