by Rich Klein
For the past several months, I have been chronicling the local Dallas area card show which recently migrated to a nice room at the Craig Ranch Event Center in McKinney, Texas. The show is held on the first Saturday of the month and this was another reasonably successful show. As previously mentioned, the Event Center in Craig Ranch is a cool place for a show with ESPN or other sports event running on television and a well-lit, airy room.
Last month, Beckett came and took in submissions for their Raw Card Review process and accepted submissions but this month, they were not set up. While attendance was down slightly, the boost they provided last month definitely continued into the March show. I would estimate that perhaps 150-175 people came through the doors during the show hours and unlike last month, the show definitely did slow down after 1 P.M.
Having said that, I did almost as much business this month, even with my 150 most expensive cards not available due to being graded at Beckett. The dealer next to me was wholesaling his massive inventory of game used and autographed cards and while he did not sell everything, I would guesstimate he did at least $15,000 at the show to other dealers. In addition, one of the promoters told me last month he believed that at least $50,000 was spent at the show. A different dealer came up to me and mentioned he had sold 15 football sets including 1956, 1960, 1965 Topps (with Namath) and some more modern sets at a nice profit from the previous month and still had cards left over. He was thrilled with that sale and the quickness of the merchandise turnover. For a small show, that’s some pretty good action.
The crowd has an interesting mix of collectors in that I see many people who are prospectors and almost as many people who collect older cards. I had a person working on his 1953 Topps set as well as several collectors working on sets from the 1957-1968 range. As I have mentioned this event is as much a neighborhood show as much as a collector's show and as in every other month, there has been a preponderance of younger collectors attending. When I stopped into my local card shop on the way home to give him an update he mentioned that his store was overrun by kids on Saturday as well. At least in Dallas then, between this show and what the owner told me, the return of kids is a very encouraging sign. While we will never have as many kids as during the glory days of the late 1980's and early 1990's. any increase in young people collecting is a great sign. It’s a good parent/child activity and one that does teach many useful lifetime skills.
No show is perfect, and this one had a couple of things go wrong but nothing which cannot fixed in the future. It’s fairly informal with dealers coming, taking table(s) where they want and generally just showing up and selecting their own space. Understand in this room, which fits maybe 25 tables if perfectly laid out and a bit crowded, everyone will see your merchandise so the table selection is not as important as other venues. However, one dealer showed up before one of the promoters did and set up his table space. Only problem, that dealer had reserved tables in April and ended up moving to the back room with a sign. I swear, his area was more busy then some of the tables up front. I have spoken to the promoters and they agree going forward a couple of things will be done. The first, the promoters need to be among the first people there and there has to be a floor plan each month. While I enjoyed the looseness of the previous arrangement, this experience will be an important growth step for the show.
What is interesting to me is the promoters have read my comments each month and almost everything I advocated has been implemented. Last month, the promoter brought in doughnuts to start the show and this month he brought in several pizzas. His comment to me as the pizzas were being brought to the kitchen area was “I take your advice to heart as I know you are just trying to make both your experience and ours a better one”. In addition, the show will remain free admission as even a buck may be a turn off to some people.
A good, solid show every month is what this event has turned out to be and again I had several repeat customers including one who purchased a 1968 Topps Lee May from me. The reason I mention that card is one of my favorite hobby stories involve being a dealer at an Albany NY show back in the day when someone discovered I had six of those cards. He purchased one, told his friends I had copies of that card and I sold out my stock of those cards within an hour. What was interesting was I was asking something like $5 for a card that at the time had a book value of around a quarter and no one complained about the price. It was just a difficult card for collectors to find. Then we started talking about other cards which may be short in that series such as Joe Sparma. When I was with Beckett back in the , I saw a 1961 Topps uncut sheet, confirming our suspicions that not only Bill Skowron was tough but people such as Jim Maloney, Ty Cline and Charlie Neal were also tough in that fifth series. I would love to see a sixth series Topps sheet from 1968 and have that suspicion confirmed. Call that the hobby mystery of the month.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]