For this blog, I am going to try and catch up on my three regular shows, since work, family, and prepping for the National have limited my blogging time as of late.
ORLAND PARK CIVIC CENTER
The Orland Park shows have been consistent. Each show seems to have real nice attendance. I am so appreciative that the show now has food. I think in my last Orland blog I complained about some of the customers. My complaint was that it seemed like most customers were there to buy my stuff for resale which is really frustrating. I am not a wholesaler. I don't move cards in bulk. I cater to vintage set builders. These are my people. Thankfully, I have seen a lot more set builders in Orland as of late. I had an absolutely monster Orland show in June, it was kind of like the old days.
The last Orland show, which occurred just a few days before the National in July, was a big surprise based on the number of dealers and the very large attendance. I didn't bring out my good stuff because I was saving it for the National. So, sales were naturally down and I think some guys were upset with me. The thing is, I was heavily invested in the National with both time and money and I needed to make sure I had decent sales at the National, so I didn't want to unload all my stuff just a few days before in Orland. I will have all the good stuff out this Sunday, August 18, 2019, in Orland. Come see me!!
SALVATION ARMY COMMUNITY CENTER
The May and June shows were excellent. I had a huge dealer turn out for the May show with dealers from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. My sales were excellent and, of course, I bought a ton of stuff.
The June show may have been the coolest show I have ever done as a promoter. Three former Packers -- Calvin Jones, Diryal Briggs, and Gary Brown -- attended and signed autographs. The players could not have been nicer and I really enjoyed talking with them. Calvin Jones hung out at my table for a while and it was so fun to talk to him. He sent me a Thank You card afterwards. What a great guy!
David Lionheart, who was at the show with Gary Brown, stopped by my table as well. He was excited when I gave him two free packs of cards. He told me that he created a charity called Play For Your Freedom, of which Gary Brown is a participant. Their charity is a fundraiser for Veterans and David, Gary and a host of other former college and pro football players travel the country and play exhibition flag football games and hold fitness events to raise funds for Veterans. To learn more, go to www.playforyourfreedom.org.
The June 1 show was held in the gym at the Salvation Army and was a perfect setting for a show and autograph signing. The folks at the Sal told me they will put us back in the gym whenever it is available. I'm not sure yet where we will be for the Sept. 7th show. I'll let you know as soon as I find out.
So I took a little break this summer and did not hold shows at the Sal in July and August. I know the break disappointed some folks. July is just the best month for me to take my family on vacation. As you all know, I am a lawyer in the real world and the courts are slow around the 4th of July. This year I took the week off of work and shows and took the family to the Wisconsin Dells. We stayed at the H0-Chunk Casino in Baraboo and had a blast -- except for when the kids put me in the stockade at the Pirates Cove Adventure Golf.
Okay, so I, like most everybody else, have been having Salvation Army Card Show withdrawals. I am happy to say that we will be back at the Sal on September 7 and then the first Saturday of every month through December. I need to get to work and hammer out my Sal show calendar for 2020. I will probably skip January again. Are you guys okay with that? Let me know.
The spring shows at Gonzaga were pretty good then attendance fell off over the summer. While my sales at Gonzaga may have slowed this summer my purchases have increased ten-fold. Oh man, I bought a TON of stuff at Gonzaga this summer -- a sampling of my summer purchases are pictured below.
The National was held July 31 through August 4, 2019, at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Once again, I joined forces with Dave, Scott, Jim, Danielle and PJ, who was able to snare the same location we enjoyed in 2017.
Wednesday, July 31, was a really long day. I had planned to arrive at the show around 10 a.m. but overslept and did not get there till 1 p.m. The Stephens Center is always a nightmare for set-up and exit. This year did not disappoint. I parked at the North End of the convention center where I usually load in, only to be denied by several convention center employees. I did not yet have my vendor badge and the security would not let me load in. I was able to reach PJ on his cell phone and he directed me to a garage in the southeast corner of the building. I was able to drive into the garage and walk into the show without being accosted by security. The only bummer was that the garage was located much farther from my booth than the north-side entrance.
It took three trips to load in. Once completed, I moved my car to the $15 parking lot across the street. I was exhausted by the time I got back to the booth. The show opened officially at 4 p.m., which gave me about two hours to set up before opening. I had to hustle. First off, Me, PJ and Scott had to figure out how to lay out the booth which was hampered by a bunch of crap our neighbors, PWCC, left in our space. We were able to get PWCC to move their stuff a little bit and set up began. I had a ton of space! I brought 9 card tables and was able to set up seven of them along with a couple of tables I think belonged to PWCC. I know PWCC is the subject of much ire in the card collecting community but they were actually a very good neighbor and gave us most of their tables because they were not using them.
I had purchased two new showcases for the show and laid them out along with five others. I then proceeded to layout my binders and tie them down, which is an excruciating process. I completed my set up shortly before 4 p.m. and was dead to the world. I may be getting too old for this. Thankfully, Dave had a sandwich for me. I was too tired to walk around the show and check it out. I figured I had four more days to see it. I just kind of sat there exhausted for the next several hours.
A steady flow of customers came to our booth. Dave, as always, was very busy. My sales were slow, unlike past Nationals where sales were strong on the first day. All in all, I was just happy to be done with load in and set up.
Dave and I argued a bit over the controversy surrounded our neighbor PWCC. Dave has been a big supporter of PWCC these past several years and he took offense to the accusations that PWCC may have had knowledge that they were selling fraudulent high-grade cards in their eBay auctions. I have been regularly posting about this scandal on my Facebook Page. A great deal of evidence has been presented on www.blowoutforums.com. There has also been a great deal of debate on www.net54baseball.com.
The FBI is involved and I think sooner rather than later we will know the results of the FBI investigation. I personally think that some folks are going to jail a la Mastro. I also think there needs to be some government regulation of the third-party grading companies because collectors are getting screwed over and PSA, especially, just does not care. They just want your money.
Anyway, I sort of expected some sort of riot at PWCC because they are at the epicenter of this scandal. Instead, I heard crickets at their booth all week long. So, no riot but I think collectors spoke loudly by generally avoiding the PWCC booth.
PWCC aside, the first day of the National is a day to renew old acquaintances. I may not have sold much, but I was busy gabbing away. After the show, Scott, Jim, Danielle and I headed over to my place. They were spending the night. It was about 9 p.m. and I found that the City Barbecue in nearby Vernon Hills was open till 10 p.m. We had a much needed dinner. We were all pretty tired and went to sleep soon after dinner.
I was up early Thursday. I had to be in court and planned to get to the show as soon as I could. Scott, Jim and Danielle agreed to watch my stuff. I finally made it to the show around noon. Jim was a superstar and sold a ton of cards for me! Thursday was going to me a much better sales day than Wednesday.
With money in my pocket, I began to buy cards. Dave brought me a bunch of '57 Topps baseball. I also bought a box of Red Sox from the 1950's through 1960's from Junior. A couple of dealers tried to sell me stuff but they were asking retail prices. I never understand when dealers offer me cards at retail. I only buy cards to resell them for a profit. I can't make a profit if guys try to sell me cards for the same price or higher than I would sell them. I was perplexed.
Sales continued to stay strong as the afternoon went on. Guys were pulling piles of cards out of my binders. Then I saw Craig from Akron, one of my favorites. He is an autograph hound and may have the largest autograph collection out of anybody I know. I think Willie S. is a close second.
After the show on Thursday, I walked across the street with Craig and Jack from Milwaukee. We dined at the Five Roses Pub, located in the Rosemont entertainment district. Craig and I went with the Fish & Chips while Jack had a Chicken Pot Pie. The Five Roses' version of fish & chips consists of a large hunk of moist breaded fish, most likely cod. I found it delicious. Jack's chicken pot pie looked awesome, unlike the TV dinner chicken pot pies that I am used to.
Just outside the pub was a little festival with food and drink stands and a stage featuring a Pink Floyd cover band. I would have stayed and listened to the band if I wasn't so dead tired. I went home and passed out.
Friday, was much like Thursday. I had to go to court and represent clients on two cases. Again, I made it to Rosemont around noon. Sales were once again solid, beginning with the sale of my Pete Rose rookie. I walked a few rows of the show and marveled at all the memorabilia and pre-War cards. Though, I was pretty busy at my booth and could not spend much time away.
After the show, Dave, Paul and I went over to Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park, a short drive from Rosemont. I drove, having lived in the area for 10 years, I know my way around. If you are not familiar, an Italian Beef sandwich is a Chicago creation and staple. Guys like me, Dave and Paul, grew up on the stuff. The Italian Beef is also the subject of much discussion amongst locals. We are always debating on which place makes the best beef. For my money, it is Johnnie's in Elmwood Park. Johnnies is just a shack with no inside seating and a handful of picnic tables outside. It has been around since the 1940s and is much the same today as it was in 1947. We each went with the combo, which is a sandwich consisting both seasoned beef and Italian sausage piled high on a large Italian bun. I ordered my sandwich juicy, some places call it dipped or wet. I also like giardiniera (another Chicago creation featuring spicy marinated vegetables) and sweet peppers on my beef.
With no place to sit, we stood at the counter facing North Avenue. I was still wearing my work clothes and was able to consume this delicious mound of goodness without dripping anything onto my clothes. Man, that was some good eatin'.
I had wanted to attend the Net54 banquet that night but we got back to Rosemont too late. So home I went, looking forward to spending a complete day at the National without stopping in court to handle a few cases prior.
Saturday, was great. I sold a lot of cards. I bought a few. I walked around the show. I talked with all sorts of folks. If there is a heaven, I hope it is just like the National, which is heaven for me.
Saturday after the show, Dave and I went over to the Rivers Casino and enjoyed the buffet which is absolutely delicious. I then played video poker for a few hours and won $158. Not bad.
We were actually very busy Sunday morning at the show. At past Nationals, Sundays have been dead. Tony S. bought a bunch of stuff from me. Thanks Tony! Then a collector from Phoenix bought a ton of stuff and I ended up having the best day of the five on Sunday. I was a little worried that I wouldn't reach my sales numbers from 2017 but ended up surpassing them.
Then loomed the dreaded load out. I don't think I had anyone at my table for the last two hours of the show. Another good friend named Paul hung around to help me, which was so much appreciated. I probably could have began packing at 3 p.m. but waited until after 4 p.m. By the time I finished packing up, Scott, Jim, PJ and Dave were long gone, leaving me with Paul and PWCC. I decided to load out through the north side. Thanks to Paul's assistance, I was able to get out in two trips. Most dealers were gone by the time I was ready to leave at 6 p.m. I got home at 7 p.m., another National had done come and gone.
What a great week! I had so much fun. I sold quite a few Goudeys, a large number of 1972 Topps baseball, many, many Exhibits and at least one showcase full of cards. I also bought boxes and boxes of stuff. A sampling is pictured below.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing everyone in Orland on Sunday!!!