When I first started in the hobby, collectors and dealers always looked forward to card shows. The hobby was growing and every event seemed fresh and new. I remember I would always save my money for the big Montclair State show run twice a year in the late 1970’s. I would spend a couple of hundred dollars at each of those shows and in the 1970’s that amount of money would buy you a lot of cards. Then, just as with every aspect of the hobby, we had the explosion in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s where there were multiple shows each weekend in just about any area of the country. Even in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, which has always been more of a store-driven area, there was never any shortage of shows.
That’s one of the reasons there has been considerable interest in getting shows going again here. We had actually gotten too far to the other extreme with almost no shows and even no moderate to big shows. We discussed how the Dallas Card Show got going and we also discussed some other promoters who are wanting to run shows. We’ve tried to share some of what’s going on here because I think it’s interesting and even though you may not live anywhere near here, there are some universal truths at work. The best part of this is we’ve generated quite a bit of discussion in both emails, in-person and online and this is as good as time as any to provide some of the feedback.
There was also a Facebook discussion about admission charges and why it seems funny (and I agree in theory) with charging people for the right to spend money.
Trust me, as a person who has attended thousands of shows over the years. I get that. Now some venues, especially where the biggest shows are held, cost a great deal of money to rent and the promoters have to monetize in every way they can. The I-X Center in Cleveland, the Stephens Convention Center in Chicago, the White Plains Convention Center, and many more are all big places with large up-front costs. I always say that the National on Sunday should be free but I get the need to charge. I also understand the need to charge at the smaller hotel shows. Those rooms cost money too. I will say that my share of the profits from our first two shows has been just enough to take my wife out to dinner. Trust me, no one is getting rich promoting local shows.
However. what I do believe in is working on providing “value” for your admission. Whether it’s rotating dealers by natural selection or my first-come, first-served policy, one should always have fresh material for collectors to browse through. In addition, at our Adat Chaverim shows we’ve had significant freebies at the door through our corporate partners and nice door prizes as well. (HINT, we’re always looking for more cards as well so we don’t have to go to the corporate well each show, please contact me if you have cards to donate). At the last show we ran, and we will do the same for the December show, we gave away $10 each hour to be spent in the room. While it may not sound like a lot of money, it became $60 that made its way back to the dealers, which I think they appreciate. And at our monthly show we either let youngsters in free or allow them to be eligible for the free door prizes. And at a $1 per admission, that’s not really a lot of money if they opt for the prizes.
A few other thoughts:
The promoter of the Great Wolf show contacted me this week and we agreed if possible not to conflict again. The November conflict was my responsibility and they had one earlier in the year as well after Awesome Card Shows had announced his dates. We chatted for a while and are on the same page about how two area shows the same weekend does not help anyone, especially the collectors or dealers who have to ‘choose sides’ so to speak. I also got word that there may be another big show coming to the DFW area soon. While we don’t have many details at this time, as the information in still in a confidential stage, the promoter was courteous enough to reach out to me and let me know so we could try to make adjustments in our schedule. That’s the type of cooperation we need in the hobby.
We’d love to have players at our shows, but their appearance fees have to fit within a certain budget. Our goal is to be able to give you a free autograph with the option to purchase more. We got a list from an agent recently, with the exact type of player we’d love to have, but the only problem was, the agent wanted about double what we think would be reasonable and allow us to provide the value we do to our dealers and customers. OUCH! Even retired players who aren’t huge names often have enough money socked away to where they don’t need to do autograph sessions and that’s unfortunate.
But we have our dates just about set for 2015 and we’re excited for next year. And we thank everyone for their feedback. Customers at our shows seem to enjoy coming and many of them have spent hours at the show each month. Now, our next goal is to see if we can pick up even more attendees and allow the dealers to make enough money so they want to come back. The more dealers, the better selection and the happier our attendees will likely be—especially if the cost to come is kept to a minimum.