Friday, June 26, 2009

The MidAmerica Coin Show: Do I bother to go?

I'm thinking about attending a coin show tomorrow. In the past, I've usually tried to make it to at least one coin show a year. I would look for a show where my business travels would place me close by. As luck would have it, this year I'm in Chicago the same weekend as the MidAmerica Coin Expo. So I'm thinking of going.

I went to this show once before on a Saturday. It was in June 2006. Back then the show was held in Rosemont, IL right near the entrance to O'hare airport. A very convenient location for someone flying.

I was in the area with time on my hands, so I paid my $10 to park and $5 to get in. - I was prepared. - I had a map of the bourse floor with each of the dealers I was interested in seeing marked on the map. I was excited about my prospects for the day and ready to do business if I saw something I liked.

Well, the MidAmerica show turned out to be a big disappointment that year. I had marked down about 10 dealers to visit, not one was still at the show and it was not yet noon on Saturday. Out of all the dealers I had marked on my map, all had packed up and left town. A couple had left brochures or inventory lists at their booths, but no coins - no people - no one to do business with or talk to about coins.

This wasn't Sunday, mind you, when I expect all the dealers to have skipped town, this was Saturday morning. The MidAmerica show that morning was a sea of empty tables. At least the tables I was interested in.

At first I thought the day was a total bust. But then I remembered that Jeff Garrett was the featured speaker at the Chicago Coin Club's meeting at the show that afternoon. His topic was on the Smithsonian's U.S. Gold coins. As a collector specializing in pre-1933 U.S. gold coins, the coin club's meeting would make up for the dearth of dealers on the bourse floor. I looked at the MidAmerica show schedule and saw that I had more than hour to spare before the meeting at 1pm. I was back to being excited about the day.

At 1pm, I showed up in time for the meeting . . . and nobody was there!

I checked my watch . . . it was the correct time.

I checked the room . . . it was the correct room.

So where was everybody?

I headed back onto the bourse floor and made a beeline straight for the Chicago Coin Club's booth. There I talked to one of the club's officers, and found out that Jeff Garrett had skipped town like the rest of the dealers I wanted to see. Oh, he gave his presentation on the Smithsonian's gold coins . . . just three hours earlier than scheduled so that he could catch his flight.

The Chicago Coin Club's members had all been notified of the change, but guests like me had to rely on the MidAmerica show schedule which had not been changed. Not only were all the schedules and notices that I encountered at the show wrong, but the show's website still had the wrong time listed.

So as luck would have it, tomorrow I have the chance to visit the MidAmerica Coin Expo again. This time it's at a new convention center in Schaumburg, IL. It's still near O'hare airport, only a little farther away from the entrance to the airport. It's maybe an extra 15 minutes driving time, but it's still pretty convenient. Admission is still $5, but this time parking is free.

Once again I have my map of the bourse floor with the dealers marked, but my expectations have been lowered. I will consider it a success if I see even one of those dealers.

Also, the Chicago Coin Club is once again holding a meeting at the convention. This time Ron Sirna will be talking about toned coins. I'd like to see his presentation, but as a precaution, a member of the Chicago Coin Club emailed me verifying that the meeting is still at 1pm, just as the MidAmerica show schedule states. This time I'm taking no chances.

I've heard it said that you should try to lower people's expectations so that when you exceed them, they will be delighted. Well the previous MidAmerica show definitely lowered my expectations, so maybe this time they will exceed them.

But the question is, "Do I bother to go?"


At 1:39 PM, Blogger A.C. Dwyer said...

I had a strong feeling of deja vu as stood at the Utopia D conference room. It was close to 1pm, time to start the Chicago Coin Club meeting. The only person there was another collector assuring me that we had the right room and time.

We had both just come from the bourse floor where there was once again a sea of empty boothes right from the start on Saturday morning. Many others had their occupants busy packing up to leave. Even the Central States Numismatic Society was busy packing up.

But this time all was not lost. A little looking around found that the meeting had moved to a room at the other end of the hall. The meeting more than made up for everything else with Ron Sirna talking about toned coins. I learned a lot from that meeting.

On top of that, I liked the new convention center. Parking was indeed free and close to the entrance. Gone was the $11 parking at the garage that then required a 20 minute walk to the convention center. You couldn't beat the location.

My only complaint is that if they are going to let the dealers all bail out after the auctions on Friday night, they ought to at least stop charging the $5 admission fee to get in.

If I happen to be in the Chicago area for another one of these conventions, I'll try to go on Friday. Otherwise, on a Saturday I would just skip the bourse floor and $5 admission and just head straight to the club meetings.


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