June 10-13, 2009: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Greetings fellow numismatist! (Though I have recently learned that our readership includes non-numismatists as well – ranging from those who like travelogues to people who are simply extremely bored at work – and so hello to you as well).
Anyway, things may seem calm now, but trust me, they weren’t just an hour or two ago when I discovered that an a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y critical Excel file had become corrupted on the CRO mainframe. Fortunately, I was able to resolve this issue successfully by first going absolutely berzerk and throwing a variety of the objects I keep on my desk, then by swearing repeatedly, and finally by calling the AppleCare help line and talking to someone who knew exactly how to fix it. Which of course was by (you might want to grab a notepad so you can write this down) shutting down the computer and then restarting it. Voila! Problem solved, and just in time for me to finish packing and head on down to Baltimore.
And we have medium to high expectations for this show. Generally the summer Baltimore show is the weakest of the three, but we’ve managed to come up with some wild stuff in the couple of weeks since Long Beach and can say, without hype or hyperbole, that we will have things at Table #304 that even some extremely crusty collectors and dealers have probably never seen before. Ever. Never ever.
Which should make for an interesting Day 1 at the show.
Whatever happens, you can read all about it right here in about 24 hours from now.
Day 1 (Thursday):
There was no especially interesting breakfast on Thursday, and no particularly amusing incidents on the way to the convention center. We just walked down the street, got our dealer ribbons and walked into the bourse floor with the dozens of other dealers all there for the 8 AM start.
And we bought our first coin not 3 minutes later.
Followed by more buying, and then some quite robust sales to dealers and early-bird collectors alike during dealer set-up from 8 to 2, then accelerating in the afternoon when the show opened to the public.
No huge coins changed hands, but we sold a lot of nice mid range pieces in all series, creating lots of empty spots in our display cases (and on the site) both of which were mostly filled to the brim in the AM.
But not everything was perfect on this day.
For example, we were dismayed to discover that the lobby snack bar had replaced that terrific Chili we enjoyed so much at the last Baltimore show with some kind of crab soup.
But probably not as dismayed as dealer-friend John Kraljevich, who arrived at his table to find that the large sign hanging above his booth listed him as “John Draljevich”.
But at least “Draljevich” had to have been pleased to get a warm spot on the over-air conditioned bourse floor, unlike the good people of Disruptek, who manned their booth all day while wearing matching Nanook of the North parkas. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Through it all, we did our CRO thing, culminating with some late afternoon lot viewing and then rolling straight into the Bowers session starting at 6 PM. During which we bid on just a few things, ate dinner, and bought one coin before leaving bids on the later coins and heading back to our hotel.
Friday we expect some more of our regular customers to attend, and we look forward to more good stuff happening.
Possibly including some Chili.
Day 2 (Friday):
I couldn’t decide if we should begin Friday’s recap at the beginning (which of course started with some blog writing at 4 AM), or the end (with an excellent dinner at Pazo, our favorite Tapas restaurant, in which 5 coin dealers had about 38 small appetizer plates on the table at one time), so of course we’ll go with the middle, which included a little cardboard cup of snack-bar chili and some rip-roarin’ sales activity of a retail nature.
In fact, it was one of the better single sales days we’ve had at any show, in which we placed a lot of cool coins with a lot of different people (all good), further decimating our inventory (good and bad), meaning that we really need to reload (good), unless we can’t find enough cool stuff to buy (bad).
Generally speaking, though, the show wasn’t especially busy overall from our vantage point (which may be different than your vantage point), with what looked like a typical to light crowd for a June Baltimore – but the people who were here seemed to be almost entirely collectors of a serious nature who evidently came here (and specifically to our table) to buy coins. And we tried very, very hard to accommodate them.
Other than that, it was a lot of grading, scouring the floor for interesting coins, talking to customers on the phone, schmoozing with other dealers and generally having a very nice day in Baltimore.
The only really negative thing that happened is that we picked up one box of grading submissions in which we got hammered with grades that could best be characterized as “these grades suck”. Oh well.
Saturday we will be working on a big sale / trade deal (that started late Friday and is likely to continue for the next week or so), and then running around like crazy which is standard operating procedure for CRO on the last day of any show.
Our next RR will be posted either from the airport (if I have the time), or from New England (if I don’t).
Day 3 (Saturday):
Day 3 started with your author checking out of his hotel, and thus saying farewell to his bizarre (and bizarrely large) hotel room.
Not quite sure how I ended up in there, but when I checked in on Wednesday the woman at the reception desk asked me (in a difficult to understand accent) if a “suite” was OK. I said of course, thinking I was getting away with something and picturing a series of luxurious rooms, a Jacuzzi tub of sufficient scale to accommodate even the largest numismatist and a well stocked mini-bar. Then she muttered something about the “bed being a little small”, which I assumed meant it was a queen size or something, and which frankly seemed odd for a luxurious suite (ominous foreshadowing), but I figured I misheard her and said fine.
But that’s not what she meant.
Because when I opened the door I saw what at first appeared to be someone’s garage, but when I flicked on the light it revealed itself to be a large, mostly vacant room with the sparse furniture pushed out to the walls, a gigantic open space in the middle (suitable for ballroom dancing) and – the piece de resistance – a tiny Murphy bed tucked in the corner.
Now, I haven’t had time to verify this, but I believe that was the first time I’ve ever slept in such a device, and, after a very thorough 3-day test, can say that it is a near ideal contraption for folding into a wall, and really a horribly uncomfortable bed. Also, I noticed that the alarm clock was plugged into the nearest outlet a full 25 feet away (across the dance floor), but it didn’t really matter since I always wake up before they go off anyway.
Apparently this “suite” is intended for people who want to hold meetings in their room (or dances), neither of which I did.
Anyway, that exciting experience behind me, I made my way over to the show just in time to stand in line with everyone else for a few minutes before filing in to tackle Saturday.
And it turned out just as good as Thursday and Friday, with lots of sales of all kinds, especially high in unit count, and basically including a large percentage of the new coins we bought and planned to list in the EB.
But never fear, we managed to hold a few things back and will have plenty-o-cool-things to offer. Though note it is going to be on Wednesday this week, as we have some customer meetings on Tuesday.
So, in total, I’d say this show was a solid A on the selling side, and a decent B on the buying side. But I guess what we bought was pretty good since we sold most of it within 36 hours – so let’s make that a B+.
Than I flew home, seated directly behind a couple of newlyweds who were making me and everyone else within 6 rows really uncomfortable with their PDA, and a guy next to me who was obsessed with measuring the seats and who kept shouting at me “WILL YOU LOOK AT THIS? THIS SEAT CAN’T BE MORE THAN 16″ WIDE!”. In other words, it was a very typical flight.
Our next RR will be posted from the great state of Illinois in about 2 weeks, as the CRO Road Show rolls into the MidAmerica Show with a pretty good head of steam.
And now your author will be going to sleep in a regular old bed with no folding parts in it whatsoever.