The Winter FUN show, January 2014
Mere days after we got back from the Concord Coin Show, we were up at the crack of dawn once again to head across the country to the FUN (Florida United Numismatists) show! One of (if not the) biggest coin shows in the country, the winter 2014 show was my first FUN show, and I couldn’t’ve been more excited to go!
We got to LAX on Tuesday with plenty of time to spare, and a few giant cups of coffee later, it’s time to board the plane. Working our way back into the bowels of the tin can that is to be our home for the next five-and-a-half hours, I finally arrive at my seat only to find someone seated there already. “Do you want to trade seats?” he asks. I’m about to say “No, thank you,” when he holds up his boarding pass. “It’s first class … I couldn’t get another upgrade for my son.” So, I did what any sane person would do: I snatched it out of his hand and ran back up to the front as fast as I could.
And when I say “ran” I really mean “floundered up the one-way stream of traffic as best I could.” I’m sure that I should have given the first class ride to either Mal or Shelley, but hey — a girl deserves a break once in a while!
Eventually we find ourselves in lovely Orlando, and after checking in to the Rosen Center we decided to get a bite to eat at one of Mal and Shelley’s favorite haunts, FishBone. I had never even heard of stone crab before, but apparently they’re a pretty big deal in Florida, and as a lover of crab and seafood Uncle Mal insisted that I must try some on my first night on the east coast since I was a child. It was delicious.
Dealer setup day dawned bright and early, and it’s always a strange mix of laid back and out of control busy: while some people are taking their time to get into the swing of things and shooting the breeze with old friends, others are rushing from table to table to try to find “the best coins” before someone else buys them up, and frequently the setup day will end up being our best day for sales.
About an hour before setup is to begin, we get a phone call: your Brinks flight is still in California, and it won’t arrive until 10pm. When considering things that are completely out of your control, think “the weather” and “on time flights”, then combine them into the most helpless phone call ever. With nothing to be done about it, we strolled up to the convention center floor without a single coin to our names.
It only took me about 10 minutes to set up the computer and printer and get all of our paperwork ready to go; after that, we didn’t have one thing we could do. I joked about sprinkling pocket change into our cases, just so they wouldn’t like quite as sad and pathetic. We stayed for most of the setup day before leaving early; Mal went to go have dinner with Larry Hanks (Mal’s best friend and one of my favorite people on the planet) and Ken Alterman, who gave me a “bullshit protector”. Where has this been all my life?
I had dinner by myself at the hotel’s Tapas & Tequila bar, where I had neither tapas nor tequila, but pork sliders and rum. It was a rather uneventful night, and I think we were all anxious to turn in and get up early to hit the second day of the show with our coins actually available to us!
Early the next morning, we’re grabbing a coffee and getting ready to head over to the show at 8:15am when we get a call from the infamous Robbie Chramosta telling us that there’s already a line of dealers camped out at our table waiting to get the first shot at our coins. We were just letting dealers go through boxes, and it didn’t really slow down enough to the point where we could start putting coins into the cases for several hours.
We went to a nice dinner at Charlie’s with Larry Hanks, Ken Alterman, and Mike Stroime who I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before. It turns out he’s a crazy-hardcore rock climber with some absolutely fascinating and terrifying stories. It’s okay though, don’t worry — he’s only come pretty close to dying a couple times.
After dinner I went to the Rosen Center’s bar and was only there for a matter of minutes before two of my friends, Jenny Gulde-Muenzer and Steven Schuch show up and we commence with the day’s recaps. We fled to the back patio where it was far less crowded, eventually being joined by Preston from US Coins and his gregarious and hilarious coworker Crystal, and ‘Amandi’ (I am so sorry, I’m probably butchering the spelling of his name) from Stack’s Bowers. It was a fun night, and this is one of the things I like most about the shows: I’ve seen Preston hundreds of times in passing, but never had the opportunity to just sit and talk and get to know him before. It’s always such a pleasure to get to know people outside of their specific business role, title, or company position!
It was pretty crowded inside the bar itself, and as the drinks continued to flow and the hour got later, Jenny talked more and more with her hands. It was probably only a matter of time before a glass went hurtling to the floor and we were officially labelled the ‘rowdy table’. Truth be told, I just had to include this in the recap because she was so embarrassed when I took a the picture that she turned about as red as the wine clinging to the shattered remnants of the glass!
Most of the rest of the show went by in a blur of 10 hour days, buying, selling, familiar faces, and new friends. I had intended to take more copious notes throughout the show so that I could further regale you with tales of FUN, but I ended up jotting down bullet points at the end of each day that aren’t necessarily in chronological order. In keeping with the Concord Show Recap, and what I think may well become a tradition, here are bullet points from the rest of the show in no particular order of things that I thought were humorous and/or interesting:
- Met my first CoinTalker — Chris! I could have sworn he said his CT name was something like “coincentric”, but I can’t find anything like that on the forums. He was just looking around my booth and recognized me from my pic on CT!
- Thor’s younger brother bought a diamond from me. No really, I would have sworn he was Chris Hemsworth’s younger brother.
- Super cute 13ish year old page who took special care of us one day brought his little baby brother in a stroller, who was rockin’ a faux-gold necklace and waving a pretend gold bar around like a scepter.
- On Thursday sold a metric ton of loose, certified diamonds. Just a TON.
- The Pine & Oak Trees we picked up in Concord were sold.
- A customer demanded to a dealer-friend who doesn’t work for us but happened to be at our table that I be given a raise, which elicited many chuckles.
- Met more CTer’s! I was outside smoking when “some guy” called my name and waved so I wandered over. He said “Look at the hat and glasses”, and then I had his avatar flash to mind and knew immediately who it was! It was none other than GDJMSP, with Larry aka ldhair! Saw Larry once again on the patio back at the hotel later that night and we got to chat for a while!
- Ran into Green18 for about 30 seconds (and I still feel bad about that, I would have liked to have had the chance to talk to him more!)
- John Schuch Jr, Jenny Gulde, Steven Schuch and I had all talked about going to dinner Friday night, and eventually I get a text that just says “dinner at 8”. So we go, and imagine my surprise when Jenny walks in and says “reservation for 10”.
- Also at that dinner was Dave with lots of Tattoos (can’t remember his last name or who he worked for, but super cool guy), Nina Phan, and the Southern Bullion Girls (Beth, Juana and Loren).
- Nina is so much fun!
- Had to fight with the computer for most of the weekend, and call back to the IT guy twice and wake him up at 7am his time to send him into the office to fix stuff which he was very pleased about.
- Abandoned Shelley and our piano bar plans to hang out with the Stack’s Bowers crew. I’m a bad, bad coworker.
- Heard some very interesting stories from the ‘gold days’ of numismatics, most of which can’t be repeated — ever.
My two favorite little stories from the entire trip though have to be these two:
- While doing the usual “who are you and who do you work for?” first-meeting conversation with a nice young man whose name I unfortunately don’t remember, I introduced my self and of course said I worked for the Alhambra Coin Center. He didn’t recognize the name, so I said “Mal Varner and Shelley”, which elicited another blank stare. In unison, the 10 other people present say “Shell-ey Rod-Ri-Guez!?!” as if to a child. Another confused look, at which point a “mucky muck” of a “very large coin company” went on a tirade and only appeared to be half joking. The tirade went something like “You don’t know who SHELLEY is? SHELLEY?? How can you be in this business and not know SHELLEY?! I should fire you right now!” I’m paraphrasing and omitting a lot of colorful language … I think the poor guy barely escaped with his job!
Only one CTer actually made it through the crowd to sit at our table, and that was none other than the infamous El Cheapo! The others I had met said they tried several times but were unable to stop by because it was too crowded. While I wish I would have been able to get to know them more, I’m glad to hear it was that busy!
Well, that about wraps it up. I had a lot of fun at my first FUN, and can’t wait until the next show!!