January 3-7, 2023: The FUN Show
January 3: Day 1
After a nearly 2 month hiatus from the big time, get-on-a-plane coin show circuit, CRO was thrilled, no delighted, actually ecstatic to be heading back to FLA for the FUN Show for the umpteenth year in a row. Yay!
Which would begin for us with some extremely meticulous inventory sorting, followed by well coordinated clothes packing and then seat of the pants cab riding so we could arrive at the airport for our flight juuuuust before they delayed it two hours thus wiping out some of our planned lot viewing time in Orlando and putting our strategically planned dinner reservations here at severe risk.
Fortunately, our flight was not delayed as much as originally feared, and despite a nearly 5 mile walk (exaggeration, but only a little bit) from the plane to baggage claim, and the delay of said bags to actually show up on the carousel, we STILL had time to get to the hotel, then dump our stuff at the convention center and make it to the restaurant at 6:57 for a 7:00 PM reservation with two long time industry movers and shakers.
And now back at the hotel we are rested and ready for what figures to be a wicked busy day on Wednesday which will include extensive supply schlepping, lot viewing and then coin dealer-ing during set up which they tell me begins at 2 PM.
With whatever happens there to be described in immense detail right here first thing on Thursday AM.
January 4: Day 2
Your author leaped out of bed at 4:47 AM on Wednesday ready to dive into what figured to be a looooong and extremely tiring day here in Orlando.
First order of business: Attempt to make a coffee in total darkness (so as not to wake up MaryAnn), which went exactly as well as one would expect, right down to dumping the powdered coffee creamer all over the counter (which is sort of my standard MO when traveling).
And then updating the site before hitting the hotel gym here which I would describe as “adequate” in that it includes a stair climber machine, but not one that also does Sudokus like at that hotel we stayed at in Long Beach in 2019.
Finishing that just in time to eat breakfast in the room and then head over to the convention center where I would start out by viewing the entire HA auction(s) as fast as possible, which frankly was even faster than I expected, aided by two (2) super-diligent HA lot viewing assistants who raced around making sure I had every box I needed in rapid succession with zero waiting. I like that. A lot.
Then getting my show ribbon and shiny new badge photo at the registration desk.
Then variously schmoozing and/or kibitzing with a number of other dealers by then assembled in the convention center lobby, looking through various wholesale boxes, finding a bunch of coins to buy and generally keeping myself busy until noon when MaryAnn arrived.
At which time we kept doing the exact same thing until 1:45 when everyone in the place started to queue in front of the escalators leading down to the bourse room for the 2 PM start of dealer set up.
All loaded for bear, some pushing pallets of show cases, or giant piles of supply containers, or with heavy bags in tow, some stacked precariously on top of other bags and including one guy with the largest, brightest orange suitcase I have ever personally seen:
I would say that having escalators leading down to a lower level convention center bourse room like this seems like a terrible design flaw ripe for a minor mishap or major catastrophe, so we are always careful not to get on in front of someone who looks like they are about to lose control of their luggage and wipe out everyone on the escalator below them.
And then suddenly everything stopped, and we all stood around for an unexplained 30 minute delay until they finally opened the doors at 2:30.
After which I am delighted (and sorta shocked) to report that there were no escalator mishaps of any kind, including by us, as we zipped down, then through the doors and straight to our table #612, which was, surprisingly, in a new better spot closer to the door than we have had in recent years. Not sure why, not complaining.
Then set up in no time flat and quickly made our first sales of the day which would include a cool early quarter and fantastic gold CACed $10 that lasted far longer than it should have on the website.
And then began the first of 20-something tours of the bourse floor looking for interesting coins, quickly snapping up some cool Mexican 4 Reales at one table, passing on some neat Seated type that looked good from a distance but failed the loupe test at another, finding some choice type that did work at an unfamiliar table, and then going to visit another dealer friend just as he was in mid-negotiation for some rattler type coins that were spread out on the case. Sure, I was interested in those, but I did not want to insert myself into someone else’s deal, so I steered clear for a while, then moseyed back a couple more times, but they were still at it.
Eventually, though, the collector came by our table with those coins where we quickly bought 3 outta 4 of them, made a couple more sales to 2 other collectors, and then began the process all over again.
Total haul on the day: 13 coins.
Total sales on the day: 12 coins.
With lots of stuff happening all over the room, some of which we stumbled into on our own, some which other dealers called us about as coins or collections that walked up to their tables which seemed like CRO kinda things to them. Sometimes they were right, sometimes not, but in all cases we love getting those calls just in case there is a deal to be made. If there is we buy outright, pay a finder’s fee, or split a deal – whatever makes sense to all parties in the moment.
With the last such call about a collection of deluxe high end British copper at a dealer friend’s table, all raw, that was of high interest, but will take a while to figure. We’ll see where that leads on Thursday, hopefully somewhere good.
By then it was about 7, so we packed up, locked up and began the looooong walk back to the hotel, arranging a last minute dinner with a dealer friend on the way and ending up at some good but loud Italian place right in the hotel.
Finally returning to the room at 10:30ish before summarily collapsing after what had by then been a sometimes hot, fairly humid, super productive, extremely busy, 20,000 step, 18 hour day here in Orlando.
So of course we’ll be excited to do it all over again on Thursday when I’ll have the alarm set for 5 AM, but will 100% for sure wake up before it goes off.
And then accumulate enough new experiences to populate our next installment of the RR which will be posted here first thing on Friday AM.
Until then, then –
January 5: Day 3
Like a regular person with a real job, your author began Thursday by putting on long pants and meeting an industry professional for breakfast here at the hotel at 7:30.
And then heading straight over to the show right after, arriving at our booth, switching on the lights and immediately finding a rare slabbed coin on the floor under our back table, recognizing the price sticker on the back and handing it to the dealer adjacent to us who, apparently in a frenzy of activity on Wednesday, had been launching them all over the bourse. As an aside, I’m not sure how some of these high volume guys do it, with inventory piled sky high (or even higher) in what must be a tracking nightmare. And while I assume that works for them, we’ll stick to our boutique style approach of a few hundred coins neatly presented in easily manageable trays.
Which served us well during this day as we sold 20-something coins to a pleasing combination of buyers who generally fit into one of 4 categories:
- Long-time customers who came to the table looking for specific things
- Random new table visitors making what seemed like impulse buys
- YNs focused on old holders and Gold CACs
- People who came to buy things that we had pre-arranged in advance
Buying, on the other hand, was about as random as it gets, with some seemingly promising opportunities evaporating, but other deals that frankly had no business working turning out great:
- Guy walk up to the table with an XL box of Rattlers piquing your author’s interest, I price out the first few that were nice but not epic and immediately realize we are not even close in price expectations.
- Pass by an unfamiliar dealer’s table, see a neatly toned old holdered coin in the case, ask for a price and get good vibes when he pulls out a Greysheet and, after much studying, quotes a completely generic wholesale price suitable for a blast white coin in a brand new slab. I’m in!
- Get a phone call from a long time dealer friend telling me he was supposed to attend the show where he was promised first shot at a cool coin from another dealer, but now cannot make it and so told the owner I would stop by to see it. So I run right over, see it, figure it and buy it posthaste and will pay a bird dog fee to the guy who called.
- Bought two better O-mint Half Dimes I was surprised to find in the case of a world coin dealer.
- Made an offer on a cool CBH that walked up to the table and was delighted to see that that worked.
- Saw a superb colonial on the floor directly in my wheelhouse, but couldn’t get to the owner’s asking price.
- Snapped up a pair of stunningly toned Canadian coins amidst an entire case of blast white ones.
All adding up to a few dozen new coins so far, a number likely to grow much higher as the show continues, very possibly including some of the coins that didn’t quite work earlier in the show
But while sales and purchases were generally good, grading so far at this show has been pretty much a waste of time, with nothing coming back as we expected, and a few world coins we had hoped to be able to offer at next week’s NY International show being pended back to the office and thus out of commission for a few weeks. That is extreeeeemely disappointing.
Oh well, we can take some solace in the fact that our business model does not hinge on upgrading everything in sight, and we do have plenty of other interesting coins to offer.
Including on Friday, as we refill the cases with cool NEWPS and some never before seen coins we had stashed in the back case.
And then blogging all about everything that happens first thing on Saturday AM.
January 6: Day 4
Slight change of plans on Friday, as we began by meeting a dealer friend in the hifalutin hotel lounge on the 26th floor for breakfast, during which we availed ourselves of the excellent buffet while taking a deep dive into discussions on a wide variety of topics unrelated to numismatics.
Then suddenly snapped out of it and took off on the 2,700-step walk through the nearly endless hotel, out into the crisp 56 degree air, onto the series of elaborate, raised covered walkways and finally reached Hall NB, the site of this year’s FUN show at about 9:45.
The good news: Didn’t find any coins on the floor in our booth upon arrival.
Also good news: It was busy right from the start, as we made our first sale of the day before the show even opened to the public, and then pretty much continued as such for most of the day.
One thing I do notice here is that many collectors at this show are relatively quick to buy something, including people we’ve never met before who were not familiar with us and others who were seemingly not looking for anything in particular, came across something they liked and snapped it up. Almost like impulse buys, but at higher price points that one would not typically associate with that.
Another dealer here mentioned the same experience, and theorized that this was due to some pent up demand / enthusiasm for collectors Jonesing to buy, but I’m not sure about that, or when the word “Jonesing” became an acceptable word in the English language.
I wish I could say we also Jonesed our way into a lot of sexy new purchases on Friday, but I don’t think that can be used in that way, and also it was quite slim pickings for us on the bourse floor and at the table as we found maybe 5 or 6 coins to buy all day. That was disappointing.
We tried to buy a few others in one of the small dealer-run auctions being held here, but the prices on the coins we targeted ended up being higher, much higher or multiples higher than we wanted to pay. That was disappointing.
On the other hand, the few grading submissions we got back contained results which I would describe as perfectly acceptable. That was not disappointing.
We spent most of the rest of the day scouring the bourse floor, figuring possible deals, looking at some upcoming new shows for 2023, collecting checks, writing checks, finishing up paperwork and generally getting as organized as possible since we’d prefer not to have a bunch of loose ends as we head into the NYINC show next week.
But before that, we have a full day on the bourse here on Saturday which in the past has been kinda hit or miss, but which could potentially be busy and productive for us.
And if it is, or even if it isn’t, we’ll blog all about it from the comfort of home on Sunday AM, unless our flight home is delayed or cancelled which, based on past experience, is 100% possible. That would be disappointing.
January 7: The Exciting Conclusion
Now back home it’s time to summarize the just-concluded 2023 FUN show through another series of random CRObservations presented in no particular order whatsoever:
We had several seemingly novice collectors at the show come to the table to ask us about old holders, verify which holders their own coins were in and see if they carried any extra value. I don’t recall that ever happening in the past, which indicates to me that the various CoinWorld articles and other publicity on this topic has brought it squarely into the mainstream.
We had our best buying day of the show on Saturday, including an almost unbelievable Civil War Token, a bunch of raw colonials, a short stack of tasty US type a cool, key date Morgan and some wicked early gold. Adding up to a pretty good haul for the week of even more widely varied items than usual.
Nearly every single dealer I spoke to said they had a good show and several described epic ones, though one guy did say he is not planning to come back to FUN.
From our perspective it was busy and active until about 2 PM on Saturday, with multiple good sales on getaway day.
Another Bass auction at Heritage, another series of sky high prices on epic gold rarities and very highly graded pieces. I have to say though, I really did not like the look of most of those coins. Sorry.
We rode down the escalator to the bourse room on Saturday morning just as a heavyset, middle aged man in front of us was (apparently) stretching his hamstrings by placing one heel on the top of the high handrail and then leaning into it. In a lifetime of escalator riding around the world, I have never seen anyone else do that, and I sincerely hope to never see it again.
Most pleasing sale of the show: An ancient coin we took in trade some time ago.
A collector at the show came by to view a coin in our case about 15 times starting on Wednesday during set up and continuing throughout the show, the last time being on Saturday afternoon mere minutes after someone else had bought it.
We did ultimately have a few decent grading results that came back at the very end of the show, but overall grading was generally an unproductive, unsatisfying experience.
I was about to fall out of my flimsy booth chair when a customer we’d never met before came by and seemed like he was just about to buy a $30,000 coin at about 2 PM on Saturday. Ultimately he needed more time to ponder, but I think this may yet happen this coming week.
Our flights to and from Orlando were only slightly delayed, which in today’s air travel environment is considered a massive win that probably qualifies the carrier for one of those “Best Airline” lists.
Allowing us to get home at about 1:15 on Sunday AM, sleep expertly and then write this blog.
And now we’ll immediately start getting ready for this coming week’s NYINC show from where our next RR will be posted in just two astonishingly short days from now.
Until then, then –