By Rich Klein
In a previous Ramblings, we discussed some various hobby changes past and present and how change can be difficult. Earlier, I wrote about COMC.com and how well my new cards did when they hit the system and how November may possibly had been my best month ever. In discussion with a couple of other users, that has been the case for many other sellers as well. One long-time hobby veteran used the words: “I think they (COMC) has really turned the corner.”
I’m convinced one of the reasons why COMC has really picked up is their advertising campaign in the Beckett publications. As Beckett is the only hobby publication left with a newsstand presence, those magazines are as close to mainstream media as the hobby has. In my opinion, that is really good news for both COMC and their buyers and sellers. As a note, I have another shipment just about ready to go and I expect the cards to go out in the next week or so.
Another change we discussed was the local Dallas area card show. That show has recently moved from a hotel in Allen, Texas to a “town square” event center about three miles away. I did the show recently and there were tons of differences between the last event at the Hotel venue. The first was the room is in a new building and the room actually has a cable TV connection. There is something so cool about having an important college football game playing while the buyers and sellers are walking around.
The promoters have done many good things for the new location, which included lowering the table rates from what the rates in the hotel had been. Since so much of this business is dealer to dealer, that brings more merchandise into the room and more money had well. One of the promoters told me they would probably have a slight increase next month and I agreed with his assessment of the new table fees. In addition, there could be another few tables added as well without hurting anyone. The room can not hold more than 25 tables so that change should not hurt any of the dealers.
When I finally found the room thanks to the nice receptionist at the spa across the street who explained to me what I had missed, the pack in and out was fairly easy. And then the doors opened to the public and I originally thought we were heading for a repeat of the hotel show as I counted nine people through the door in the first 90 minutes. However, the buses let out and I would guesstimate that at least 100 people walked in during the show including some “walk-ins”. Granted two of the three walk-ins I saw were the typical overproduced era material, the third walk-in had some interesting items highlighted by a 1929 New York Yankees team-signed baseball. I did not get to see the baseball close up but there was quite a crowd around the table when that baseball came out of the duffel pack.
A few things struck me as interesting. The first was this was for the most part truly a “local” show. One of the vendors, who is a really nice guy and sold me some more cards at a significant discount, is a local resident and helped to arrange the usage of this really airy, well-lighted room. The show is heavily promoted through the “Craig’s Ranch” web site and many of the people who attended were not only interested in learning about cards but also were beginning again. It an encouraging sight to see people walking in that are new face many of which were kids. In fact one young man who I sold some material to, has with the help of his dad, completed Topps sets back to 1976. Another parent told me his kids actually counted down the days until the next show because they had such a good time at the last one.
Now there are a few things that could make this show even better and most of these are at this point reasonably easy fixes. And, as an FYI, most of these I have discussed with the promoters. Since the local area is covered, the only improvements I would make is to see if I could get involved a bit more with the youngsters that go about two miles away and play sports. That is a natural built-in audience for more collectors. In addition, I would also write a release and send that to the local “newspapers’ such as the Plano Star-Courier which is a neighboring town. Any mainstream media, no matter how local can only help gather more people to come. There is also the case where there the closest place to eat is 10 minutes away. Perhaps the dealers and promoters can work out a way to get some food ready as the show goes from 9:30 to 4 and with set up time, etc it can be nearly eight hours between meals. I know I’ll be ready next month with a sandwich to place in the fridge to grab later in the day.
Another adjustment I’d make is to seek out the “cheaper” players and let them sign in the back room (kitchenette area) where there are some tables set up already which actually make a good set up for a signing. The autograph guest would have his/her own area and would be a true add-on for the show. In case anyone thinks this is a brand-new concept I still remember getting the late Earl Battey’s autograph at the first Montclair State Show I went to in the 1970’s and Battey was in a separate room. In addition, at the 1983 Chicago National, I could have sworn that I had to go to a different room to get both Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso autographs. Of course, that was such a different time and all three of those autographs were free.
I’m sure there are some retired Dallas Cowboys players who you can procure at an affordable rate and would be happy to sign for a couple of hours and if the crowd is not there, the player signs for you and you have a nice inventory of items to sell.
These adjustments are all fairly minor but I was very encouraged by seeing a lot of new hobby faces and if the hobby regulars show up the way they did to the Allen location, then we very well may have a runaway hit show on our hands. Remember, while doing things on the computer is nice, going out and being with like-minded people makes for a really fun day. If you are fortunate enough to have a local show or store please go to visit before the holiday season is up.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]