Continuing on from here to Sunday, I had 2 shows to attend, within blocks of each other. As it made the most sense to start there from a driving perspective, I hit Dr. Wax's East Dover Fire Department show. The show was in its second month, and as expected because of the competing show and Mother's Day, there were about half the tables of last month's show. Some familiar faces, a few new ones. I was the second person through the door, so I got to hear the early dealer "Oh, we're screwed!"s, but those subsided pretty quickly, even with very slow foot traffic, and the room turned into a group of guys bullshitting and busting each others' chops, while engaging in the secondary activity of buying and selling bubble gum cards. More people came in and were buying by the end of the hour I spent there, but I had fun the whole time. There wasn't a lot there that I needed this month, as it was still pretty Brooklyn Dodger-less (at least within my price range) and there weren't a lot of dime boxes this time, but I managed to snag a few things, lined up a deal or two for next time when I'd have more cash, and checked on table availability for the next show. Sadly, Johnny G did not have the meatball sandwiches on-site (I found out where the restaurant is, though, so I'll get 'em there), but that was understandable considering the low-ish expected turnout. All in all, I had fun at the show and once again, I'll definitely be back for the next show on June 12th (my birthday), probably even to sell some stuff. Perhaps then, I'll get a hit on one of the door prizes that Dr. Wax gives to dealers (yep, he does door prizes for the attendees and the dealers).
From there, I went to the Toms River Elks show, to see what was what there. They've been doing shows in the area for 20 years, so I figured they'd have a decent base of dealers, and they did. What they also had, unfortunately, was a guy at the admission table gloating about the report he'd gotten about slow foot traffic at Dr. Wax's show.
Now, I really don't want to fan the flames on something like this, but I feel like I'd be doing my readers a disservice if I didn't give them a straight account of what I observed, and this wasn't the only thing I'd heard this past weekend. On Saturday, a dealer I talked to at the Ocean County Mall show said that one guy had painted a pretty inaccurate, disparaging picture of the first East Dover show when he'd talked to him about it (it could've been another dealer, could've been someone with the Elks show, or it could've been an attendee; as it's hearsay, we'll take it for what it's worth), and I'd also heard some talk (again, hearsay, but it was there) of dealers basically being strong-armed to stay with the Elks show instead of setting up at East Dover, with thinly veiled threats being made about table space not being there for them if they set up elsewhere.
I understand that this is a business for some of these folks, and that competition can be awkward, but if your product or service is good, the price is right, and you don't come off like a jerk, competition really isn't that hard, and it doesn't require a monopoly, earned, bullied or otherwise. Sometimes, the price doesn't even have to be that "right" for you to succeed if the service is there and people feel good about dealing with you. There's no reason whatsoever to act like this is the Sopranos or the Bloods and Crips. We're talking about bubble gum cards here, people. Money or no money, this is supposed to be fun, and if you don't present fun to your guests, sooner or later, you're not going to have guests.
In fairness, I did meet a few nice dealers at the Elks show, saw a couple I recognized from last month's East Dover show, and found some stuff that was more in line with what I collect than I did at East Dover this time, but even beyond the comments by the one guy at the entrance, the mood in the dealer room at the Elks show was pretty dire. It was quiet, with lots of folks looking at their watches, hoping out loud for a post-church bump, talking about how they shouldn't have set up at this one, and I also overheard a dig or two at the table prices. Not a lot of laughs to be had, and not a very good vibe, especially not where the digs on the other show were concerned. I would probably go back one more time, just to see about picking up a couple of things I missed and getting business cards (if folks had 'em) from the dealers I liked, but that's honestly about it unless I see a HUGE change in the vibe of this show and the chatter around it.
For those who sat through all of this soapboxing, thanks. Again, if I haven't made it clear, I've got no business affiliation with any of the dealers or shows I talked about here. I might set up at East Dover next time, but I haven't set that up yet, so really, the most you can say is that I've bought some cards from Dr. Wax over the past year and had fun at both his store and his shows. I hinted in my preview post about this past weekend that I'd be reporting on what I saw, and sure enough, I just did.
Coming up next, as a reward for everyone who dealt with a text-only post, a mega-mega-card post, showing off Sunday's finds from both shows!