I don't like shopping. I've said that a number of times on this blog and in person. It agitates me. And, when I'm doing it, I get the distinct feeling that the process of shopping doesn't fit with my makeup. It's plain to me that I do not have the shopping gene, so I don't know how to act when I'm doing it.
This dislike even carries over into card collecting. Although I like card shows very much; enjoy the process; and probably could be there for hours if the dealers didn't have to do things like, you know, go home; I need things just so for me to be productive. Tinker with the time or the venue or the layout or the dealers, and I'm pretty much lost.
Well, yesterday's card show tinkered.
And I was lost.
It had been six months since I had been to a card show (yes, I know some of you haven't been in years, but I also know some of you go to one every month), and I had squirreled away probably as much cash as I had ever accumulated for a show. Yet, I left with a significant portion of that money still in my pocket. That's how discombobulated I was.
The state fairgrounds layout is so massive that there are a number of shows going on at the same time. Animal shows, garden shows, gun shows, outdoors shows, so I imagine there is a lot of coordinating with the schedules. The card show is normally in the Horticultural building. I like it there. It's familiar and it's way in the back of the complex. There's plenty of parking and the layout inside is easy to navigate.
But yesterday's show was in the Science and Industry building. It's up at the front, next to the street. The parking is tight, winding and cramped. As I searched for a parking spot, I had some woman with her darting kids yell at me, "we're not leaving yet," as if I was waiting for them to back out of their spot. I don't do that stuff. I was waiting for her kids to start walking like humans.
When you get into the fairgrounds, there are attendants directing you to where you need to park. As I approached and started to talk, the guy said to me immediately, "Collectorsfest? Turn left here at the corner."
How did he know? Is there something about me? My whiteness? The kind of car I drive? I can see I don't look like a farmer, so the animal show is out, but it's a little disconcerting knowing I have a collectors "look."
Anyway, I found a spot without too much trouble and found the building pretty easily, too.
After paying my admission fee, I snapped a photo of the new venue:
This show was divided into two rooms. I guess you'd call this room "the atrium." It's relatively small. (I know people accustomed to gym or hotel shows see spaces like this all the time, but I expect something more from a show that bills itself as "The Largest One-Day Show in New York State").
Check out all the winter coats. It may be April, but I saw snow that night.
The table up front features quarter boxes on the left. I decided to begin right there, and started pulling a bunch of cards.
They turned out to be cards for several fellow traders. Being a Dodger collector, I know how quickly Dodgers get scarfed up (another example in a bit). But there were lots of cards from other teams.
I pulled these minis from the quarter box. Pretty nondescript players, yet every one makes my A&G frankenset binder.
Also, please notice the Diamondbacks. There were so, so, so many Diamondbacks in the two different tables of quarter boxes I went through. Nobody wants the Diamondbacks. Please, everyone would like your team to just go away.
I was at the first table quite awhile, so long that the dealer, a leathery retired guy just back from Florida, took note and started throwing team bags at me.
The gold Kershaw at the top, which I have already -- I told you I was disoriented -- and the two cards below were the only Dodgers that came out of the quarter boxes.
I accumulated quite a stack of other teams, paid my 8 dollars, and decided to check out what else was going on with this new layout.
I noticed right away one dealer that I buy cards from every show, made a mental note, and scanned a lot of other unfamiliar tables in an unfamiliar room. I started to get that feeling I get when I'm in the housewares section at a store I've never been to -- and that should never happen at a card show.
I stepped under the arch and entered what I called "the inner sanctum":
That's because the buildings at the fairgrounds are huge, but it's also because there weren't as many tables as previous shows. I found out that there was a show in Buffalo going on at the same time -- and since at least a couple of my favorite dealers are from the Buffalo area, that was bad, bad news.
Sure enough, the one guy from Buffalo who has all my vintage needs -- the guy I was going to go to in an attempt to get as close as possible to finishing my 1972 Topps set -- was not there. That killed any '72 hopes. I did see some '72s here and there, but it was all stuff I had already. Pretty jarring when something you were sure was going to happen doesn't happen at all.
That's when I started to wander. My plan was falling apart. And there were so many unfamiliar tables. And the vintage that is usually all over the place, was barely there. But I tried to stay calm.
I went back to the dealer I knew with the current sets and found the 2015 Topps binder. Time to finish off that set.
Those are the last cards I needed -- I checked and rechecked. The very colorful, very enjoyable 2015 Topps set is finished.
Inspired, I hunted down the 2015 Update binder. And grabbed two cards I needed:
I thought I was done with that set, too, but after reviewing the binder at home, I still need the Craig Kimbrel card. Expect to see that on the Nebulous 9 very soon.
I was happy to find a 2016 Topps binder (the last time you'll read that sentence from me). I plucked the two Dodger cards I needed to get that stinky thing done.
An Alex Guerrero card without a scuffed top left corner and a league-leader card celebrating WHIP. I don't know enough about the 2016 set to know if this is true, but apparently Topps isn't featuring strikeout leaders anymore? They weren't in the 2015 set. And that doesn't seem to make sense.
Happy to have finished off what I thought were three sets at the time, I found a 2016 Heritage binder and looked to grab the five Heritage Dodgers I still need.
However, all five had already been taken -- this happens all the time to this Dodger fan. My team is so adorable and desirable. But it's pretty frustrating at card show time. I had expected the short-print Clayton Kershaw card not to be there, but I thought Chase Utley was the devil now. Nobody wants his card, right?
This was irksome. But I had money to spend, and that can chase away the irks.
I spotted this card and it was mine. This is one of those ridiculous color-swap cards. The letters in the word Dodgers have swapped colors! Isn't that some hijinks??? If I can't get the regular, normal Kershaw SP card then I'll just wave this in the face of Kershaw collectors.
Before leaving one of the few familiar tables in the place, I added one more card:
Yeah, it's another parallel, but it's Joc and it's purty. I am happy with this one.
At this point, I knew I was venturing into uncharted territory. Unfamiliar tables, unfamiliar wares. I knew I would have to physically shop, put effort into it, all that stuff I hate about shopping.
I wandered from table to table, recoiling in horror at some of the prices and items. And I picked up a few random cards.
This will be good for whenever I decide to tackle the 1973 set.
This allows me to put ...
... this back into the "first cards I ever bought" binder, where it belongs. The other one goes into the Dodger binder.
This is the only buyback I spotted, and I'm guessing Thoughts And Sox might be interested.
What the heck, might as well pick up one '90s card for myself, right?
The show was looking more like simply a random stroll through some mildly interesting cards, kind of like a show you would expect if you went to a show every month. But I had waited six months and I wasn't finding anything I really wanted.
Then I saw a familiar face. He was the guy who sold me my 1956 Duke Snider. I knew he had to have some '50s Dodgers. So I asked him to show me what he had.
After debating over the prices (I think I probably spent too much at this table), I settled on three cards:
These are the first 1952 Bowmans I have ever owned, and are immediately the oldest Reese and Hodges cards I own.
Finally, the show was a success.
I did another loop around the tables -- they were spaced much too far apart and it was too dark in the one room, adding to the disorienting feeling -- and then headed back into the atrium.
I found a table of nothing but vintage, and started paging through a binder of 1957 Topps. I noticed all the big Dodgers were still in there -- Gilliam, Snider, Erskine, Dodgers Sluggers. I couldn't afford Koufax or Drysdale, but I did find the last middle-set number Dodger I needed.
Rene Valdes has been an elusive pain for a long time.
The guy gave me a price way under what I expected to pay and it was my happy last purchase of the day.
Afterward, I started to see some cards that I had thought about landing on this trip -- the 1963 Fleer Koufax, etc. -- but I was so unfamiliar with the layout and the tables that I kind of lunged at the first cards I saw.
It also explains this:
The cards on the left are for you. The cards on the right are for me.
I guess things worked out pretty well anyway.