January 3-7, 2017: The FUN Show in Fort Lauderdale, FL
January 3rd: Day 1
That was to be the operative word for CRO’s travel planning this year.
Which to us means not waking up at 3 AM to catch the first flight out in the morning, but instead strolling into the airport at 8 like a big shot for a relaxing 10 AM jaunt to Fort Lauderdale where I would arrive relaxed and ready to do business.
So how’s that working out so far? Well let’s see. When you get to the airport at that later hour I was instantly reminded that it is, for want of a better term, a zoo (and not in a good way), with huge lines everywhere, no seats in any of the restaurants or at the gate, screaming children (and adults, actually) and the requisite flight delays.
And while I did make it down here eventually, I hereby proclaim I’m going to revert to our previous wicked early departures going forward.
Anyway, arriving here at about 2:30 I quickly made my way to (an already crowded) lot viewing at the convention center, squeezed into the last available seat and spent a sold 3 hours running through the lots, flagging about 2 dozen to research later before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our annual Tuesday night FUN Show dinner arranged by a local collector at yet another epic restaurant.
Where we ate, drank and carried on expertly, while passing around some of the most spectacular coins anyone has ever dined with.
Like this ridiculous (but admittedly poorly photographed) 20¢ Piece:
This extraordinary Indian Cent:
And what was generally acknowledged to be the greatest Trade Dollar any of us (or our waiter) had ever seen:
Before heading back to the hotel for some very serious sleeping so your author would be in top form for what will be a long, tiring Wednesday which will include more bag schlepping and lot viewing, followed by the first Heritage auction session and then the overlapping start of dealer set-up where we expect to go crazy buying and selling coins.
With the results of which to be described here first thing on Thursday AM. Until then, then.
January 4th: Day 2
Let’s dive right in to Wednesday here in Fort Lauderdale!
Which is exactly what I did, leaping out of bed at 5:31 AM, realizing I had another 29 minutes to sleep, and then proceeding to keep re-setting the alarm in 30 minute increments until I finally and completely got up at 8:30. Hey, I was tired.
And then went through every lot I had highlighted in my HA auction catalog, looked up pricing, checked census info, and then entered my bids over a spinach and sausage omelet which I have to say was deeeee-licious and well worth the 4 times I had to call guest services to actually get a human on the line to take my order.
After which I was ready to head over to the convention center, this time opting for the shuttle bus (instead of hoofing it) since it was raining, and I was dragging our extremely heavy supply bag with me. Luckily, I found a seat (since I was the only guy on a bus that by my estimate could hold about 90 people). Though we did pick up a few more dealers at other hotels during a long, circuitous route to the convention center.
Arriving just in time to race back up to lot viewing for another couple hours before grabbing a snack and heading to the 3rd floor for the start of Heritage’s first auction session, where your author bought a few cool things, watched other not-especially appealing pieces sell cheap and then made my way down to the bourse floor to get in the queue for the 2 PM start of dealer set up.
And it was a really, really big queue, stretching about as far as I could see as evidenced by this photo snapped by your author in ‘CRO Periscope Vision’ (i.e. you thrust your arm in the air and start taking iPhone pictures in all directions) which does make it seem like something really big was about to happen:
Warm too, since apparently they did not turn the A/C on AT ALL until all of us were packed in there, with the result being that I encountered a lot of guys in extremely sweaty shirts during the afternoon, though not all of them – like this dealer, for example:
That’s a real picture, by the way.
And while your author too found it uncomfortably hot in the room, I worked through it, got the table set up and then embarked on an aggressive effort to find some cool coins on the floor.
Almost immediately bumping into another dealer in the aisle who then handed me a big, fat check in payment for a coin I sent to him last week. “Hey, that’s a good start”, I said to myself.
Followed by a few neat finds scattered around the room, then back to the table for a few sales, and then out again to some far flung section of the room, variously finding dealers all set up to do business, some still working on it and others that hadn’t shown up yet, then back to the table, then out again, bought a few more coins, rinse, lather, repeat.
At least until 6:30, when I headed out to meet a few collector and dealer friends for dinner at some spectacular restaurant at the Hyatt surrounded by huge yachts (as is most everything around here).
And then came back to the hotel to get some work done before the rest of Team CRO (i.e. my daughter Aleka) arrived at about 1 AM.
After which we tried to hurry up and sleep so as to be ready for a full and active day here on Thursday in which we intend to fully and completely canvas the floor and meet up with a bunch of our regular, long-time FUN show clients in deluxe, air-conditioned comfort in which everyone is fully dressed.
January 5th: Day 3
Which of the following would be the key to successful coin dealer-ing?
a) A keen grading eye?
b) The ability to clean and jerk a heavy carry-on bag into an overhead bin?
c) Steely negotiating skills?
d) Very comfortable shoes capable to withstand 20,000 steps on a convention center floor?
Sure, all of these things are useful, but I would suggest to you that the correct answer is actually e) Multitasking.
Like, oh, I don’t know, simultaneously working with three different customers at your table at a show, or sorting coins for grading and filling out PCGS forms while eating lunch and explaining to another customer on the phone which Bolivian coins have llamas on them, trying to figure your buy price for a neat group of old holdered type from one person while negotiating a cash and trade deal with someone else which includes a couple of coins you don’t want, but think you can sell to another dealer across the room and having to get his input in real time, figuring sell prices for a group of obscure, rare and infrequently traded die varieties which requires 52 Google searches, treks through auction archives and cycling through scans of catalog pages on my computer while selling a high end mint state Seated Dollar to someone else, or working with a specialist collector on a large group of pillar coinage while attributing a group of well worn colonial coins for another customer.
Actually, I was not able to multitask my way through that last one, instead taking those colonials back to the hotel to study in the evening, but you get the idea.
Which is that it was really, really busy here on Thursday, and we most often found ourselves trying to do several things at once to keep up.
And I’m pleased to say we mostly succeeded, with excellent and steady sales at the table to long time and first time customers alike, while also carving out enough time to run around the floor and find about two dozen coins to buy and then racing back to the table anytime my daughter called to work with a customer or check out various other coins being offered.
With that last category being especially important on this day, with people bringing us coins they thought we’d like, which we always appreciate (more so when they are correct), which allowed us to efficiently add some very cool new things we probably would not have found on our own in this airplane hangar-sized room.
Continuing on until 5 when the Heritage Platinum Night session kicked off thinning the room a little bit, but we soldiered on until about 6:30 before finally saying no mas, packing up and heading out only to bump into a collector friend in the aisle who said he had something we’d want.
Which turned out to be a box of wicked world coins that we quickly perused, locked in the back case and agreed to figure and finalize later.
And then went to dinner followed, amazingly, by a late night trip to the gym which was the last thing I wanted to be doing at that point but which turned out to be a totally excellent idea.
After which we called it a night in anticipation of what we expect to be a similarly busy and exciting Friday during which I predict we will once again be multitasking like crazy.
January 6th: Day 4
Everything was going just great on Friday here in Fort Lauderdale with us continuing to meet customers at the table, sell neat coins, buy others, make our repeated jaunts around the bourse floor seeking interesting material, finding more than our fair share here and there, including at the table of the guy who appeared naked in our Day 2 report. I was actually somewhat trepidatious about heading over there again (for obvious reasons), but everything worked out just fine (and fully clothed) at that table.
And then, just when your author was in the middle of contemplating an XL purchase, the PA system crackled and they informed us there was an active shooter at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and the airport was now closed, which certainly created a ripple through the room, since a lot of people we know were either at the airport heading home already, or were booked on flights to leave later in the day.
Which of course was the major topic through the rest of the day as everyone tried to make contact with loved ones / coworkers / customers and make sure they were OK, figure out where they were now, and what to do next, with no concrete answers for many.
So, while I’d love spend this RR talking about cool coins and amusing gaffes, life doesn’t always work out that way.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We hope our friends and colleagues are all OK. We hope they’ve caught the guy(s) responsible.
We will be back at the show on Saturday, we do expect things to return to (mostly) normal there, we will be continuing to do business, and we will be blogging all about it on Sunday AM.
January 7th: Day 5
Saturday in Fort Lauderdale was certainly not dull, as I awoke refreshed and ready for action, opened my computer and saw that we had received an email in the middle of the night cancelling our Saturday night return flight home and automatically rescheduling it for Tuesday(!).
Which was hardly ideal, since we didn’t have a hotel, or enough clean clothes, and Team CRO is planning to be in NY this coming week for the international show and that would have compressed the schedule in a way that simply wasn’t going to work.
Meaning that instead of going to the gym and eating a leisurely breakfast, I would be working the phones seeking better travel options, figuring out if we could extend our stay at the hotel and generally listening to that awful HOLD music interrupted by those announcements telling you that they were experiencing “higher than normal call volumes”.
The unsurprising conclusion of which was that we couldn’t get any earlier flights, so we extended our stay at the hotel and headed over to the show in a more relaxed manner than a typical Saturday and proceeded as normal.
Until it suddenly occurred to me that we could actually get the last seats on a flight to Rhode Island instead (hey, close enough), which of course left even earlier than we originally planned, and would necessitate checking out of the hotel RIGHT NOW.
So daughter Aleka went back to do that while I kept up our buying and selling here at the show which frankly continued to be way better than you might have expected, with additional sales of existing coins, but also some fished from our NEWPs box that will now not be appearing on any upcoming Early Bird list.
Fortunately they were replaced in a flurry of even better Saturday buying, including a bunch of early quarters, a really cool token of a type we have not owned in y-e-a-r-s, other assorted U.S. coins and an epic 6-figure coin which will be revealed down the road and which is as exciting a find as we’ve ever had.
Others did well too, including our friend Mike Printz of Harlan Berk who showed us the wild 1942 glass pattern cent he acquired in the auction here, which I never knew existed before, and which I of course spent a few minutes looking through like a monocle:
Caution: Whatever you do, don’t drop it (or it might end up like the only other known specimen, i.e. broken in half).
After which I desperately (and mostly unsuccessfully) tried to retrieve our show grading here before we’d have to race off to the airport to catch our now earlier flight.
Where we expected massive lines and long delays, and indeed found them in a terminal in which we saw about 50 other coin dealers, and a grand total of none (0) empty seats at any restaurant, bar or gate.
So we mostly stood around uncomfortably waiting until they (and this was predictable) cancelled our flight due to snow in the Northeast, sending us back to square one, investigating other very poor options (including renting a car and driving home), none of which were possible.
So, this RR is being written from our comfortable airport hotel where we are now stuck for a few more days where there is at least some warm weather and a large pool and can conclude the following: Despite the airport incident and the weather delays, this turned out to be one of the most commercially sucessful FUN shows we’ve ever had, with strong sales and excellent buying such that we’d be delighted if they held this show here every year.
With our next EB to be written from NYC in a few days (assuming we actually get there, eventually).
Until then, then.