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January 3-6, 2024: The FUN Show in Orlando, FL

orlando-2012

Prologue

Adhering to our normal end-of-year / beginning-of-year breakneck schedule, Team CRO enjoyed the holidays with family while periodically stepping out of some function or other to answer numismatic related calls, emails, and/or texts, sold more coins than we ever have in December, and bought lots of cool ones too.  And then as soon as the post office re-opened after the New Year’s holiday we shipped out a whole bunch of orders, and grading, and CACing before zipping off to the airport and our annual flight to FUN.

Where we were surprised to find the roads pretty much empty, and the airport even emptier (save for one other dealer we ran into who was on the same schedule we were).

And then flew uneventfully, landed on time, picked up our bags without incident and jumped into a waiting cab which was also utterly without drama, expect for the fact that the driver kept jamming on the brakes for no reason.  None at all.  Which I normally would have found nauseating and unbearable, but since this was a pretty quick trip it was almost tolerable. Including that last lurching stop in front of our hotel.

After which we checked in, unpacked, headed out for a sensible dinner, then returned to the hotel for some last minute show prep so we could be totally and completely ready for lot viewing, wholesale activities and dealer set up on Wednesday where we will unleash a torrent of new coins and try to buy as many cool NEWPs as possible.

And then blog all about it first thing on Thursday AM.

Until then, then –

January 3:  Day 1

I would like to say that we woke up extremely well rested here in Orlando, but unfortunately that was not possible since the heater in our room made an intermittent buzzing noise all night that sounded exactly like an alarm clock going off in an adjacent room that the theoretical guest next door never shuts off.  In fact, I could have sworn that was what was happening, but after checking several times (mostly by expertly pressing my ear against the various walls of our room) I concluded that was not the case.

Anyway, I eventually got up for good, wrote yesterday’s blog, had a coffee, did some show prep, answered emails, and called a few customers before we finally headed over to the convention center.

Which – as has been reported here faithfully at least 500,000 times through the years – is a looooong walk from any of the show hotels no matter which convention center hall they stick us in, with this year’s NB location the furthest of them all.

But we eventually made it just in time to hang out in the giant hallway / lobby with a gazillion dealer friends before it was time to ride down to the bourse floor on the escalator of death (so named because one false move or misstep by any of the overweight middle-aged dealers crammed onto it hauling tons of crap will literally wipe out everyone).

Fortunately that did not happen this year (only because some lady staffer came running up the escalator frantically telling people to stop coming down, eventually using her own body as an impromptu barricade to stop the onslaught).  Wow.  That was exciting.

Allowing us to make it to our excellent booth location unscathed, set up immediately, and start doing business within 9 minutes.

With our first sale of the day a rare gold coin that has never been on our site, followed by the delivery of a cool coin recently ordered off an EB, a couple of high end Buffalos, assorted type, then some new world coins all adding up to an excellent set up period.

Buying was productive too, and included another choice Seated Dollar, a wicked Indian 1c, a couple of colonials, some cool world coins and, eventually, a few type coins at the table of another dealer who did not actually set up until minutes before closing time in what I would term the “reverse-CRO strategy” (i.e. they wait ‘til everyone else on the bourse is set up before putting any coins out).  Not sure I understand that, but that’s OK.

After which we dropped off some show grading, packed up and headed out to dinner at the Greek place nearby with a bunch of dealer friends which as always was excellent as confirmed by MaryAnn, who believe me knows what good Greek food tastes like.

Eventually making it back to the hotel late and immediately collapsing, but only after I shut off that heater thing.  Actually, my intention was to rip it out of the wall, but I decided to try the less dramatic approach first.

So we should be rarin’ to go for the first day of the show on Thursday, and then describe every single thing that happens there in minute detail in our next RR.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that.

January 4:  Day 2

In a mad dash effort to make it to the show in time for the 8:30 opening on Thursday, Team CRO eschewed breakfast at the hotel altogether and assumed that we’d just grab something on the bourse floor.  That turned out to be a terrible plan, since none of the various concession stands were open at that time, leaving us with just some gummy vitamins and a cough drop to tide us over.  That was unsatisfying.

It did however leave us more time to focus on numismatics which we did to excellent effect, buying coins all over the floor including the 3 more choice Seated Dollars, an absolutely wicked Time is Money Token, a bunch of old holders, some early type, a few want list items, etc., etc.

Sales were quite good too, with a steady stream of customers at the table, including many people we’ve known for years only via the website, plus a few visitors we’d never met before.

We were also delighted to renew our long time interaction / argument with a customer who comes by every single year at which time we do the exact same dance:

Him:  I really like this coin
Me:    Great!
Him:  But why is it so expensive?
Me:    It’s a beautifully toned, old holdered gem and I paid up for it.
Him:  But the price guide is much lower.
Me:   I’m sure you could find a different example of this issue elsewhere priced closer to the guide level.
Him:  But I want your coin.

It’s sort of like a Vaudeville routine which (and this might surprise you) almost always concludes with him buying a different coin in our case as happened here.

At some point during that the Crepery opened and I was able to get a proper breakfast of some kind of ham, egg and cheese thing rolled into the shape of an ice cream cone and served in one of those pointy paper cups.  I have to say that was delicious but be warned:  That serving vehicle, while elegant, is not sonically sealed, and melted cheese might shoot out the bottom like a fire hose directly onto your shirt, forcing you to wear your show badge slightly askew all day to cover the stain.   Theoretically.

Undeterred, we kept at it, buying and selling through the day, stopping for a deep dive into the kind of quandary we sometimes encounter in this complex modern market.  In this case finding a cool coin on the bourse floor in what was, in our opinion, an unmarketable package, and then considering all of the possible alternatives for us to improve that in this 3 grading service plus 2 stickerers environment.  Including downcrossing it (maybe even dramatically) to make it more salable.  Honestly that is not how we want to be spending our time – we’d much rather just buy cool coins and offer them for sale, but we try to keep an open mind and consider all alternatives.

After which business continued well until the end of the day, when we finally packed up and headed to dinner at that Italian place at our hotel which was excellent, and served regular-sized portions and not the gigantic ones we sometimes encounter at restaurants near convention centers.

And then went up to our room and took an updated look at the weather forecast which frankly looks ominous for our flight home to New England on Saturday night.  So we tried to find alternatives so as to avoid getting stuck down here for an extra few days and wrecking our schedule for the NYINC show next week.  Complex modern market indeed.

Whatever happens, we’ll definitely be back at it on Friday here in Orlando, looking to buy and sell and wheel and deal at Table #612.

EOM

January 5:  Day 3

In a potentially genius move designed to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s crepe volcano, your author purchased a less dynamic breakfast in the hotel marketplace before heading over to the show on Friday.

And believe me when I tell you that that was an excellent decision, since after we arrived there was never time to do much of anything besides buy, sell, trade, grade and view coins. A lot of coins on a day (and a show) as busy as we’ve ever had at FUN, with an excellent crowd in the room throughout, many of them serious numismatists there to buy and/or sell something to someone.

Including people from all over the county who usually make it here, but also guys I’ve never seen at a FUN show before, including some I typically see only at our local shows in New England who I was frankly shocked came to our table here.  But they did.

And the action was strong in all categories, as we sold a bunch of early American coins, a lot of gold, some world, medals and tokens, etc., ranging from a few hundred dollars to the mid 5-figures.

Somewhere in there I found a few minutes for some last late lot viewing at Heritage before racing back to the bourse floor, selling another 5-figure item, picking up our last show grading and then disappointingly having to pack up since the impending snow storm back home forced us to change to an unbelievably early morning flight on Saturday and miss what we fully expect to be another fantastic day at the show.  Believe me when I tell you that sucks.

It also means that I am typing this RR at my airport gate real fast before we depart, so I apologize for the brevity.

We’ll do better on Sunday when we post our comprehensive final Orlando show report in just about 24 hours from now.

January 6:  The Exciting Conclusion

Now back home and sufficiently recovered, let’s recap the just completed 2024 FUN show starting right now:

This was definitely the busiest FUN show I can recall attending in my 20-something years of coming here, with big crowds filling the aisles and pretty much non-stop action at the table from the moment the doors opened until it was time for us to pack up each night.  So kudos to new FUN Convention Coordinator Katie Williams for an excellent event.

Walking to the show in the AM, racing around the bourse floor all day, going to dinner afterward and then returning to our hotel was at least a 20,000 step commitment.  That’s a lot for us these days, so we opted for Übers where possible.

As I’ve reported here before, I’m always intrigued by the buying behavior exhibited by different customers.  Some people come by the table a dozen different times and ask to see the same coin, sometimes bringing different friends / experts to view and provide a second opinion before they ultimately pull the trigger, while other people (many I’ve never met before) walk up, ask to see a coin and then buy it instantaneously.  And this seems to have no correlation at all to price points, how long the piece has been in our inventory, or any other factors.

We gave away 30-something CRO hats at this show, including all of the new camo versions we brought.

There was a kerfuffle (or possibly a brouhaha) on Friday when security tried to arrest a shoplifter on the bourse floor.  Apparently he tried to make a run for it, but was tackled by three large, uniformed guards in a scene that instantly drew a huge crowd of onlookers, most of whom were filming the action on their phones.  I guess some people like to go view this stuff to see if they recognized the guy or he had been at their table earlier, while others just like to gawk.  We were not among them, since it occurred to us that if you wanted to create a giant diversion on the bourse floor this would be a great way to do it, and his buddy may have been on the other side of the room trying to steal something else while this went down.

Next time I get a crepe here I’m going to put it in a plastic cup.  I suggest you do the same.

During the afternoon on Friday I tried to just zip out and grab lunch about 10 different times and in each instance something new requiring my immediate attention would come up and prevent it: A new customer at the table, another dealer with a coin they wanted to split or sell, a customer with coins they wanted to drop off to have us consign to auction for them, a dealer picking up a coin purchased earlier in the show, a customer picking up a coin purchased off a recent EB which we were delivering here, etc., etc. When I finally did get a chance to break away and go grab something, I got stuck in a line behind someone taking forever and was heading back to the table when a collector – apparently as a joke – thought it would be good to try knock it out of my hand. Now your author loves a good gag as much as anyone, but this was not that gag, and this was really, really not the time.

We submitted a bunch of stuff for grading at this show, but our results were hardly worthwhile on any of them submitted to any service.  I know for a fact that was not everyone’s experience here, as a collector friend had one result so successful that he paid for dinner on Friday.  And it was dinner for 8 people.

When I tried to run upstairs to re-view a few auctions lots for a customers I was stopped by 3 different people on the way for some business of other.  That kind of non-stop action used to happen at shows when I first go into the business, not so much lately.

Whenever we change our flights I always keep track of the one we originally scheduled to see if we made the right decision.  Apparently, and against all odds, ours did actually make it out of Orlando last night, but it was hours late and landed at around 2 AM.  At which time getting from the airport home would have been dicey at best.  Conclusion:  We made the right call, but it’s still painful to think what we might have missed on the bourse floor on Saturday.  As an aside, maybe I only remember the travel hiccups, but it sure seems like every single time we come to FUN there is a storm in New England on Saturday timed perfectly to wreck our return trip, and never on a Thursday or Friday that wouldn’t impact us.  It’s uncanny.

I was just going through the show sales invoices and found some for coins I did not know we sold, which MaryAnn wrote at times when I was not at the table.  So we still have some work to do to clean up the website to reflect all the action.

After we finish that we’ll file all the paperwork, enter all the new purchases into our inventory system, undergo a complete US coin to world coin inventory transition and get everything ready for the New York International Show from which our next RR will be written in an astonishingly short 2 days from now – if the weather cooperates.

Will it?  Check back here in a few days to find out!