Last weekend there were two shows in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one we ran and one we set up at. Instead of full-blown show reviews, this is going to be a bit of quick hits about various highlights and topics which came up over the weekend.
Our show at the Southfork Hotel in Plano continues to draw about the same amount of people each month. We draw whether or not there are other shows in the area (as in the show at the Great Wolf Lodge last month) or whether we are two weeks away from Christmas. That indicates, just as I’m sure Gary Sipos would tell me about his New Jersey shows, a stable mass of people who will attend each time. I will also say that it is difficult to have great sales when you are concerned not only about your table but also about ensuring the people come in and pay their minimal $1 admission.
We had one couple come in and when I informed them the admission was $1 each, the wife was very happy to pull out her purse but her husband said something to the effect of “everything is cheaper on-line and I’m not spending $1 to enter a show.” I guarantee you that at just about every show, if you look hard enough you will find something you can flip for a few bucks to cover that dollar if it’s really a hardship. We have a bunch of very reasonably priced vendors and almost to a person they work with all their customers. I think having someone balk at a $1 admission fee (which we use to cover the cost of renting the room and other expenses), was a first for me after more than 30 years of shows.
One of the vendors was not only wholesaling out some mini-helmets they had received as part of a major storage unit purchase but also was smart enough to look for additional ways of alerting collectors to what they had. They posted on several DFW collector sites and on Craigslist about what they had and that they would be attending the show. Good for them. Good for us as those posts did bring some people in the door.
That’s a good reminder for anyone who sells at shows. Promote yourself wherever and whenever you can and invite people to visit you at a show. Roger Neufeuldt is excellent about sending out postcards to his clients whenever he comes to DFW and I try to post on hobby message boards whenever I do someone else’s shows. Frankly, in today’s hobby, every dealer should look for every angle in bringing in customers and not just leave that to the promoters. Many of those promotional opportunities are free, too.
At last count, I try to have notices about the show in about 15 places and am always looking for more places to add to for publicity. That includes obvious old-school places such as Beckett and SCD and new school ways such as Twitter and Craigslist. During the Sunday show, dealer Kin Kinsley was trying to explain to the promoter of the Awesome Card Shows about people in their 20’s-30’s using Twitter. He said, we were able to draw people to your show and frankly that age is among the sweet spot of attendees as that has been the traditional age when childhood collectors return to the hobby.
One dealer at our show had some base sets of a Bowman Chrome Prospects set available. When I asked him about “book” meaning Beckett prices he looked at me incredulously and said something to the effect of “I have not even looked at anything Beckett-related for ten years. I just look at what prices items are selling for on eBay.” And I had some Clayton Kershaw rookie cards in my boxes at levels between 15 and 25 percent of Beckett prices. Now granted some of the boxes are difficult to go through but I had the Topps Update Kershaw rookie sitting in those boxes at $3 each for a long time when Beckett is now $25 and you know no one even cared. Nor did anyone care about the 2008 Topps Heritage Update Rookie Performers cards which I had marked at $10 which are now something like $40. Years ago, collectors would have grabbed those cards while today, since it was not something immediately sellable, they sat at shows for several months.
If you notice, I use the word “our” for the shows. While I’m local and do the bulk of the day-to-day activities, my friend Jeff Johnson out of Mesa, Arizona handles the business aspects. Together, we are hoping to bring in guests either through our contacts. He’s the hobby representative for several players including All-Star Salvador Perez. Our guest next month is Lindy McDaniel, who was a major leaguer for nearly 20 years and we were able to reach him through one of my comments. I will also say that Mr. McDaniel’s price point is reasonable enough that we are able to give one free autograph with an $1 admission. While not every autograph will be that reasonable, that is a goal to have reasonably priced players so our collectors can benefit.
Another local show promoter who believes we are competing with him used the word “carpetbaggers” to describe us as he tried to promote his own shows. I thought that was kind of funny because, for example, if Dallas-Fort Worth were fortunate enough to get a National Convention in the next few years, who would object to the NSCC promoters? Technically, they’d be carpetbaggers, too, but who would really object to people coming in with such vast experience at running a big event and bringing lots of collectors and money to the DFW area? I sure would not, in fact, I would be looking for ways to help them and coordinate with them.
Would you consider Tri-Star Productions in that same vein since they are based in Houston? I certainly wouldn’t. Again, I would look for ways to work with their group to help them run a great show in the area. To call people names is one surefire way to prevent the large shows from coming to Dallas-Fort Worth if promoters don’t want the backlash from certain people. I will also point out one other salient fact. The people who said that had scheduled a show that was listed in Beckett several weeks ago. One of my collecting buddies drove out to their show with several hundred dollars in his pocket and then called me on his way back home. He was furious. They had canceled the show and did not bother to let their Beckett listing contact know about the cancellation, meaning some people drove quite a distance only to discover it was a waste of time.
I will say I think a permanent partnership between the two groups mentioned by the local name-caller is a good idea. James is better at doing publicity and I always see new people coming into his show including a person who brought in their father-in-law’s collection which included a decent looking 1968 set. The other two people are solid card dealers and I think that combination works well as to have James do his promotion and the other two work with their dealer networks makes for a good partnership. One reason the November show did not go off is because the prom if you have more than one person promoting, not all of them have to be at every show. If you have a good partnership, then if there is a reason for one not to be at a show, the other can just run things.
On Sunday I set up at the Awesome Card Show which had been moved from Arlington to Irving. Among my customers was a very dedicated young couple who are collecting Minnesota Twins/Washington Senators cards. They are both interested enough collectors they attended the 2014 National Convention in Cleveland as the young lady grew up in Ohio and got to see family as well. Both are collectors and they found out shows thanks to Kin’s work in getting a DFW group growing through Twitter.
I’m always skeptical of how Awesome Cards and the other shows James runs has an “early bird” admission of $5 and then drops to $2 at 11 AM. To me, I would do the early bird before the doors officially open (Think of National VIP’s) and then have regular admission. While I won’t do that because I’m old school, there just might be something to the early admission for extra dollars.