Collecting Wisdom

Sunday March 22nd, 2009 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Another sports card show today but this time it was up in the Milwaukee area at my old standby Gonzaga Hall in West Allis. My friends Dennis and Richard usually have a set up of tables next to each other but today Dennis was set up in Chicago so I filled in for him.

I’ll never get rich selling cards. I know that. I did this for the practice. Just as in comedy there are a lot of different skills involved to make sales. I have to set up my table and then sit there and watch my stuff as potential customers walk by. Then as they rifle through all my hard work and try to chisel me down in price I have to maintain a calm friendly vibe.

It’s a poker game in many ways. None of the stuff is really valuable. It’s just cardboard. The whole idea is to warm someone up and sell them on buying YOUR cardboard. There are also niches. Some dealers sell only a certain kind of cardboard. It’s a lesson in how to be in business and I need that right now. I want to be fair but still find a way to survive.

Tables only cost $25 and that’s very reasonable. The show has been going since I was a kid in the ‘70s and many of the same people show up there once a month. It’s a time warp and a community all by itself. Like it or not, I’m a part of that community. And I like it. It has taken a lifetime of trial and error to acquire my knowledge of the sports card hobby.

It doesn’t matter that I taped the Late Late Show to these people. Over the years a scarce few of these people have come out to see me perform even though I always offer tickets if they want. Dennis and Richard have seen me many times and they’re great but most of all the rest of them say ‘I gotta come out and see that comedy thing one of these days.’ Right.

I don’t mind and to me it’s funny. I know most of them will never come out but they do make it a point to tell me that ‘one of these days’ they’ll be there. It’s been twenty years. I think if they were going to come they would have done it by now. Maybe they’re waiting until a certain night and then they’ll all come out on the same night and really shock me.

After my expenses at the end of the day I made $325. That sounds good but I had to buy the cards I sold and most of what I did sell was to other dealers who took a chance on it to hopefully sell it for more to other potential customers at other shows in other towns. They are all in it a lot more than I am and do it for if not a living much more of a steady hobby.

I admit I just like to fart around with it once in a while. I love sports and I love to enjoy collecting things from my childhood era and before. It’s history and to get a very nice old card in pristine condition really is a lot more rare than one might think. That’s why they’ll sell for such ridiculous prices. There just aren’t that many of them. It’s a numbers game.

All of this is a side hobby but I intend on using it to not only have some fun and make a little extra cash but also to keep learning about business and salesmanship and how to get the most bang for my buck. I see some of these other guys work and they are a lot farther advanced than I am and they make the most of their time and inventory. I want to as well.
I’m really studying sales and sales techniques so I can maximize my comedy more than I am now. The cards are what they are and I enjoy them for fun. Comedy is what I’ve put a lifetime of real effort into and I’d hate to leave money on the table that I don’t have to.

A big example of that is my after show sales. I’ve been horrible at it for the most part of my life and mediocre at best for the rest of it. I’m out of products right now and I need an entire makeover in that area. I’ll bet I’ve left literally thousands of dollars in the wallets of people who loved my show and would have bought something but I didn’t have it to sell.

I’ve had many people ask me for a CD or a t-shirt after a show and I just didn’t have it. I would see inferior comics who opened for me sell piles of inferior crap merchandise for ridiculous prices just because people wanted to have something to take home with them.

A mailing list is another thing I’ve been pretty piss poor in maintaining. I have done this for a lifetime and in all reality I should have THOUSANDS of names of people who liked my show that I could notify when I’m coming back so they can spread the word to others.

Business cards? I’m half assed with those too. I get some and then give them out when I get asked for one but have I ever set up a fish bowl after a show? How about a nice setup of merchandise to browse through so I can sit and chat with people? I have sat to chat but it wouldn’t have been that much more work to have a display set up. I’ve really blown it.

All this is good because it tells me I still have lots of work to do. My shows aren’t going to be the issue anymore. They were for years as I had to build one from scratch. Now I am at a level where I’m a solid headliner but my marketing is very poor and has to catch up.

You watch, I WILL improve my marketing dramatically in this next year. I’m not going to waste my lifetime of work and not get my payoff. It’s not ego, it’s smart business. Why should I not allow people to know I’m around? I’ve been really lax on marketing myself.

That’s why I thought it was so good to set up at the card show today. I observed how all the other dealers did it and learned a lot. Most of them weren’t very good showmen and if I can learn from those who are I can take that showmanship to my display after the shows.

I sure am learning about a lot of things and I love that. I’ll put it all to use as I develop a strategy to market myself as a comedian, comedy teacher and also the King of Uranus. I’ll focus my energy on the marketing because that’s what will put me where the money is.

Tonight was yet another solid Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha. We had a guest who was a pet psychic who claimed she could communicate with animals and she blew us all away. My co-hosts brought their cats and it was all very entertaining.

I’m really loving the vibe of this show but I still don’t know how I can turn a buck with it. Fun is fun but I’ve got too many fun things that aren’t paying any bills. It would all get even more fun if one thing would hit financially so I could keep doing all the rest of them.


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