As some of you know, I’ve been setting up at the local Dallas Card Show for about the past year. Having had a successful run at that show, but not seeing any new show set up on their website, a friend of mine offered to have me split four tables with him at another local show on Sunday.
This particular event, put on by Awesome Collector Shows, has had a few problems and beforehand, the promoter and I had a serious discussion about some of what I’d written awhile back. I had to explain to Jimmy that there is nothing personal about anything I had written but just stated my opinion as an attendee at several shows. My intent, as always, is to offer constructive critiques and suggestions as a collector (and as a dealer if I’m set up).
Like much of the country this past weekend, the Dallas-Ft. Worth area was in the deep freeze. In fact, the area had been placed in a winter weather warning the day before and let me assure you that a drop of ice can shut down the entire DFW area for what seems like a week. Thus, many people, instead of braving the cold and possible wet, just stayed home including several dealers who had secured tables for the show. The funny aspect of this is even at 7 p.m. Sunday night, there still was not any precipitation and thus the whole scare was totally without merit. It was a situation for which Jimmy had no control over but unfortunately, it may have played a role in keeping attendance to a minimum.
There are, however, other areas of opportunity for improvements in the show. While at least one other dealer and I championed just going to free admission, I do understand the cost of the room is something the promoter has to recoup somehow. During our discussion, I described one of my articles in which I explained the pro and con of the National Convention’s $25 general admission charge a few months ago. Our synagogue men’s club, of which I’m the treasurer this year, took a gamble and went from charging $54 yearly dues to $0 with the hopes of getting more members. While we have done OK with that, the end result is about the same as we have had a couple of larger donations from some of our more well-off members. Free admission is not the be-all and end-all but at the last Dallas Card Show, we had a nice line outside the door 15 minutes before the doors opened.
There is also an “early-bird” hour between 10-11 A.M. That charge is $5 with the charge being reduced to $2 at 11 A.M. I counted approximately 5-6 collectors who waited till 11 A.M. to walk in the door. My suggestion was, if you are going to charge an early bird fee, push up the hour to 9-10 AM from 10-11 and go earlier with the regular admission, In addition you can also go earlier with the set up time. Heck even though the official set-up was 8;30 AM, the room was set up and ready to go before 8 A.M. There is nothing wrong with pushing up the set-up time and adding that hour earlier the day. While I disagree strongly with an ‘early-bird” fee, to me the earlier this is completed gives the dealer an extra hour to sell their good.,
With the approximately 40 people who walked in the door, only three of them during the early-bird hour means the promoter barely took in $100 in admission fees. To me, all of this also runs with the concept of the “door prize”. If I had a choice of having a $50 door price or a couple more dollars for the table and an way to get in extra people, I would say skip the door price and just let the show rip. The Dallas Card show has not had a door prize in several months and there is no reason to have a door prize return as no collectors I know of had been asking for it.
As you know, usually I write about a wide range of cards I have bought and sold and enjoyed the day. This show, I sold only a small grouping of Dallas based cards and did not cover my table fees even with three tables spread out with my merchandise. Please note as of 3:30 I was one of at least three vendors who had not covered his table fees. There was at least one vendor at the show who told me he always does well as Jimmy’s shows and although his sales were off, he had what was for today’s show a terrific day.
So my takeaway for the show I set up is: Free admission works at the show, according to Jimmy he charges admittance to keep away “tire-kickers”. I do understand as a promoter you want to monetize the promotion. My opinion in today’s world is such sites as COMC and eBay enable collectors to look at cards without paying a penny so why charge collectors today? Setting up at Jimmy’s show reminds me of what dealers in 1990’s must have been doing and while some shows were better than others, the show reminded me of what shows were 15-20 years ago and not what they should be in 2013. Because of the weather issues, I would certainly give Jimmy one more chance as a vendor but I hope that he makes some adjustments going further.
So in conclusion, it was an off-day but going forward, if some of these adjustments I made are adapted I think this show can improve after all these years and become a win-win for all concerned. And my area of opportunity suggestions may or may not help but they certainly could not hurt. In fact an article I will write in the near future will cover a recent discussion I had with my compadre who owns Triple Cards in Plano, TX and a need for some adjustments there as well. And what I will suggest for that store is what I told Al to his face the day before this show.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]