March 12-15, 2009: The ANA National Money Show in Portland, OR
It’s a landmark day for the RR, as we are, for the first time, writing this in the great (and surprisingly cold) state of Oregon.
For those unfamiliar with the territory, flying into Portland is pretty spectacular, with enormous snow capped mountains off in the distance (but not that far in the distance) and cool scenery pretty much unlike anything we see elsewhere on the coin circuit.
Energized, we zipped over to the hotel and had a few hours to catch up on email and actually buy a coin on Ebay (true) before heading over to the convention center for dealer set-up at 3 PM.
A scene which I would describe as “dark”, possibly due to the fact that only half the overhead lights in the room were on (I don’t know why), creating the ambience of a romantic restaurant (if that restaurant were housed in a high school gym, and filled with 175 coin dealers).
And though it was pretty crowded, we saw (and/or heard) that a few of the regular dealers on the circuit had decided not to attend this event, which may have explained why the room was relatively subdued and lacked the buzz you sometimes feel at these events.
Even so, we did manage to sell a few coins during the afternoon, which was surprising, and surprisingly good.
We also walked the floor and tried to find a few key things on customer want lists, and then submitted a huge pile of cool stuff for grading, with the goal of having it back and photographed right here at the show on Saturday.
Which led us up until 7 PM, and time to face the cold wind on the way back to the hotel for a fantastic dinner with a good customer.
Tomorrow we’ll see the public for the first time, and look forward to some exciting coin dealering Pacific Northwest-style (ideally with the lights on).
“It was like a hotel in Puerto Rico”, said Kraljevich.
That would be coin dealer John Kraljevich, explaining the fact that he back-dated his invoices today and wrote March 12th in order to avoid using the superstitious Friday the 13th date, much like hotels on the island skip the 13th floor.
I have no idea if that’s true, by the way, or if what they do in Puerto Rico is different than what they do anywhere else, but felt that it made an intriguing opening for today’s RR.
And actually that was just one of many interesting comments (most of which are unsuitable for a family website) made during a celebratory dinner for birthday boy David McCarthy of Kagin’s, as a bunch of us coin dealers headed out to a place called Wildwood for a spectacular meal.
Which was a fitting culmination of a really, really good day on the bourse floor in which there was a nice sized crowd and we exceeded any reasonable sales expectations by a factor of about 6.
In total, we sold what numismatists call a ‘boatload’ of federal coins, a few colonials and a bit of esoteric material, while buying a number of cool coins in all categories.
In fact, the only thing really negative that happened today was the incredibly annoying, unbelievably loud, high-pitched alarm which went off at about 9 AM and had half the room (and all dogs in the surrounding neighborhood) covering their ears. The fact that it continued for a good 30 seconds or so was pretty bad, but not as bad as the fact that it happened again at 6 PM. You would have thought that someone would have identified the problem the first time, or at least how to make it stop, but evidently you would be wrong.
Not that big a deal a though, and certainly no impediment to selling a lot of cool coins to a lot of different people.
Which we sure hope to repeat tomorrow (though in a far quieter room).
Saturday began only minutes after Friday ended, as I woke up with a medium-sized hangover at about 3:30 AM, wrote yesterday’s blog, drank all the free coffee in the room and completely recovered just in time to meet Mark Goodman in the hotel lobby at 7:30.
Which I did.
Interestingly, after having worked together for a few years now but never meeting in person, both Mark and I both concluded that the other guy looked nothing like what we were expecting. I thought Mark would look like one of those National Geographic photographers with the khaki, multi-pocketed vest, while he apparently thought I would look like Roger Ebert. Wrong on both counts.
Anyway, soon Dave would join us, and it was time to drive to the convention center (which took slightly longer than walking), but which was absolutely necessary, since this time we were hauling just under 400,000 pounds of heavy camera equipment distributed unevenly in two small bags and one gigantic one.
Which we (meaning Dave and Mark) then needed to haul from the parking garage to the show (a distance of perhaps 11,000 yards), up 3 escalators, through a giant group of 9 year-old cheerleaders and past 3 Starbucks. That’s all true. Apparently the cheerleaders were there for some kind of competition, which of course is the perfect compliment to a coin show. I can’t explain the number of Starbuck’s though, except to say if any of the ones within the convention center prove unsuitable, you can always visit the 4th location directly across the street.
Anyway, we did finally make it to the show at 8:15 or so, at which time we discovered (as specifically cautioned against in our most recent Coin Commentary) that it didn’t open until 9. Fortunately, a helpful security staff member allowed us in early to drop off the gear, freeing us up for some of that delicious Starbucks coffee with dealer Chris McCawley (who evidently had not read the schedule either).
And then it was time to enter, and set up the camera equipment and wait for the rush of customers to storm the table like a numismatic tornado.
Which they did, though today there were way more tire-kickers than buyers (including many, many kids here with their parents), and we sold just a few coins at the table and several more memo’ed coins on the floor. Not huge numbers, but not bad either, resulting in a show-so-far total that would have thrilled us a week ago (and still does now).
We also met many collectors we’ve known only via email and from the various chatrooms, which is always fun, though (as earlier) no one looked anything liked what we would have expected.
That was interesting, as was having Mark set up right at the table and shoot a lot of cool coins for us better than anyone else in the world can. It looked like hard work though, and it took him hours.
Anyway, the show continued apace until about 3 PM, when it seemed to thin out noticeably.
So we schmoozed for a while, then headed out a bit early for dinner with Mark at some cool Italian place on the other side of the river.
Which takes us right up until now, where I am typing this blog in my hotel room.
Tomorrow will be a short day, with just barely enough time to pack up, get organized, head to the airport and give a shout out to our loyal reader Ellen.
No matter how carefully we plan, or how much time we have to pack up everything and head to the airport, it always seems to turn into a fire drill at the end of a show. Which is exactly what happened today.
There I was, having a leisurely lunch before packing up the last of our gear when Scarsdale Coin’s Jon Lerner – with whom I was sharing a ride to the airport – suddenly announced that we were leaving immediately lest the driver go without us. So I dropped everything, shoved all our coins, show supplies and paperwork indiscriminately into my bags, and ran out the door at precisely 11:55 AM.
The good news is that I am about 85% sure I didn’t forget anything.
On the other hand, I am 100% sure that I didn’t miss any last minute sales at the show, since there weren’t any today. And not because the room was empty, or devoid of collector attendees – there were actually a lot of people milling about. It’s just that, in typical Sunday fashion, they weren’t buying very much (at least from us).
In fact, the numismatic highlight of the day might well have been when David McCarthy offered me a VooDoo Donut, and I (of course) selected the one encrusted with Captain Crunch:
Anyway, despite the slower weekend, the total CRO show results were quite good, and we head home with great enthusiasm. And that’s good, because we’ll need it as we prepare our next ad (due Tuesday), draft our next EB (also slated for Tuesday), think about my schedule for the Bay State Show this week (which is not officially on our schedule, but which I will now be attending for part of the time), see when Dave can head into NYC for some Stack’s lot viewing (since we won’t have time to see much in Baltimore before the auction begins), and wonder when we’ll get through our mountain of Portland show paperwork somewhere in-between.
But before any of that, I am going to relax and unwind for a little while, which may well include collapsing on the couch, and putting my feet on the coffee table.
Our next RR will be on Thursday, March 19th and will document dealer set-up at the Bay State show.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.