Wednesday, November 7
The Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot-Machine and Jukebox Show in St.Charles, Illinois is a bi-annual event and Coinopwarehouse has been present for it as long as I have known Lloyd. In fact, Lloyd has been coming to the show for about 20 years.
This year, Ben and Amanda left in one truck, pulling a trailer full of equipment to deliver at the show and also along the way. Lloyd and I left in another truck. The plan was to leave on Wednesday morning and make a leisurely trip out of the 12-hour ride. Then, a call came on Tuesday that a forty-foot sea container needed to be loaded on Wednesday for France, and that took all day, so none of us were able to leave until nearly 5:00 pm on Wednesday.
After days of preparation for the trip, it was a relief to finally be in the truck on our way. Lloyd and I drove for 4 hours, stopping at our warehouse to load up for a delivery in Pennsylvania. We met our buyer in a parking lot behind a Perkins Restaurant in Cranberry, PA to move his equipment from our truck to his. Then we quickly found a Chipotle Grill to grab some dinner. Lloyd had something nicer in mind, but I was too hungry by then to wait for that. We decided to stop for the night there.
Thursday, November 8
Thursday morning, we rose early and were on the road again by 8:00 am. We still had 8 hours of driving ahead before we would reach St. Charles. We drove past endless fields and farms with soil as black as coal. I thought how easy it is to see why this Midwestern land is the breadbasket of North America! Where we live there is an abundance of red clay instead.
We broke up the trip by stopping at the Maumee Antique Mall in Ohio. It felt good to stretch our legs there and Lloyd actually found several interesting items to buy there, including a 50’s light-up sign, that was new in the box. Those were quickly posted to the Coinopwarehouse Facebook page.
We finally arrived at Pheasant Run Resort where the show is always held, and found Ben and Amanda in the parking lot, where Lloyd moved an antique neon clock into the trailer so it wouldn’t be rattling behind our seat in the truck any longer. People were already milling about, setting up for the next day. One guy came over to our trailer to see what we had inside. He was really excited to be at the show for the first time and introduced himself as Slider Bob. He explained that the nickname comes from the fact that he buys and restores slider style soda coolers. I hope that Slider Bob enjoyed his first Chicagoland show! Then, we saw Mike Boerschinger of The Midwest Sell-It Now Store. We helped him load a 1650 Wurlitzer into the back of his van.
Lloyd and I checked in at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street, while Ben and Amanda went to their rooms at Pheasant Run to get ready for dinner. We spoke to Jimmy Thorpe of Thorpe Music and Glenn Streeter, the former owner of Rock-Ola, there in the lobby. Curtis from Memory Lane Restorations and Larry Garland came through as well, and stopped to chat. I got changed and then we picked Ben and Amanda up an hour later and went to ZaZa’s Trattoria for a nice Italian dinner. Afterward we returned to the lounge at Pheasant Run where many friends in town for the show were hanging out.
As we walked into the lounge we saw John Papa of National Jukebox Exchange and Mark Brosso, and we stopped to talk to them a while. John does beautiful restorations of jukeboxes and antique arcade games, but to me, the most amazing thing he does is produce incredible reproductions of very rare antique arcade games. It was a privilege to see his private collection at his home a New York a few years back.
Here is a video link to see the items that John had at the show in his booth.
Mark also has an amazing antique arcade collection that I had the honor to see at his home once. He is doing some renovation of his home and he talked about paring the collection down to a smaller size.
Later, we joined Jim of Northland Jukeboxes and his son. He entertained us with stories of mutual customers. One of those customers has a parrot that dials his owner’s cell phone. Jim relayed how the parrot has called him and they have chatted. “Hello,” he answers. “Hello,” says the parrot. “How are you?” Jim asks. “How are you?” answers the parrot. Jim mimicked the parrot’s voice as he told the story and we all laughed. Another mutual customer was once unhappy with him and threatened to go and get a gun and kill him. The customer obviously did not follow through on it, but later, when asked to do a delivery for the same guy, Jim charged him double for it to make it clear that he had not appreciated the threat.
Lloyd and Ben used to come to the show to sell jukeboxes, parts and games out of the back of their truck and trailer. Most years they did not have a space inside, but instead sold their wares out in the parking lot on Friday morning. Friday is the day the dealers are all setting up inside the show, but a lot of the action happens before the sun is even up, outside in the parking lot. Dealers and collectors are all out there with open box trucks and trailers buying and selling in the cold early morning air. This year, and in recent years, Coinopwarehouse didn’t bring anything to sell because the trucks and trailer were full with deliveries. I am told that you have to be out there very early because buyers quickly run out of money to buy and space to put their purchases.
Friday, November 9
All four of us were out in the parking lot of Pheasant Run early Friday morning. It was cold! Things got hectic for Lloyd quickly. People were coming to our trailer to pick up equipment that we had brought to the show for them. Lloyd was trying to direct customers to Ben at the same time his phone was ringing with business calls from our warehouse in Hagerstown. Amanda stayed with the trailer while Ben and Lloyd tracked down those who still needed to get their machines from us.
I headed back to our hotel to grab some breakfast and had the pleasure of dining with our friend, Jimmy Thorpe, who runs Thorpe Music in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
After returning to the parking lot, Lloyd and I found Mickey Treat. Lloyd had bought three jukeboxes from Mickey and needed to pick them up and bring them back for his customers as they were already sold. In the truck next to Mickey was a Watling lollipop scale that Lloyd needed to pick up. As we wheeled it back to our truck, we were stopped by another dealer in the parking lot who wanted to know how much Lloyd wanted for that scale. A deal was made on the spot, and the scale never made it back to the truck after all.
Meanwhile, Nimko from the Original Jukebox Company in Holland needed someone to haul his purchases back to Maryland, where he would be loading a sea container and asked if we would help. Curtis also had bought more than he could haul back to Maryland, so we agreed to help him also. Our truck and trailer would be just as full on the return trip as it had been getting to the show!
While Ben and Lloyd worked, I had a chance to look around. Amanda was helping to hand out gifts of Coinopwarehouse mugs and coozies.
I saw the pink-hats. They were busy gathering up the machines that we brought from Maryland for them and all of their other purchases. They are a group of collectors from the Netherlands who work together to get purchases and then share a container to Europe with a dealer.
After the deliveries were taken care of, Lloyd was able to join me to walk around the parking lot and inside the ballroom where the dealers were setting up.
There were lots of beautiful original slots that had been restored and also some shiny reproductions.
There were lots of gumball machines to see also.
I saw fire -fighter collectibles.
There were antique gasoline pumps, trade stimulators, beverage dispensers and vending machines of all types.
One dealer had a gorgeous double ball-bowler.
There were jukeboxes of all kinds, including an AMI Singing Towers, which I don’t see that often. I also saw a Chicago Coin Band Box. We have had a few of those and they are pretty cool.
Later in the afternoon, as we walked through the parking lot, Lloyd and I saw several very nice jukeboxes for sale in the parking lot. They were in great condition and priced so low that even a wholesaler like Lloyd had lots of room for resale at a profit. This particular seller had no idea who Lloyd was and asked him if he had ever seen a Rock-Ola. I had to hold back my impulse to laugh. Lloyd politely responded, “Yes. I have seen a few.” That had to be the understatement of the year. Lloyd bought 3 of the jukeboxes for sale, a 1455 Rock-Ola and two Seeburg G’s, and explained to me that the only reason he was able to make such a good deal was that the seller had set up in the parking lot too late in the day, after most buyers were played out and no longer even looking in the parking lot. We had them quickly loaded into the back of our pickup for the ride home.
After dinner, Lloyd, Ben and Amanda returned to Pheasant Run to relax. They enjoyed the company of Eric, a coinop museum curator that we know, and Frank Zygmunt, Jr. Frank continues to run the business that his father began. He sells slot-machines and Wurlitzer One-More-Time jukeboxes, along with a lot of other stuff. I opted out for the comfort of a hot bath and bed after walking more in one day than I have in quite a while!
Saturday, November 10
Saturday morning we enjoyed walking around inside the ballroom for a last look at all of the interesting things that the dealers had brought to the show. The show is different now than last time I came. Some of the dealers that I had looked forward to visiting were not there this time. I missed the beautifully restored grocer scales and candy scales that I saw last time, all of the antique cash registers, and Primeau’s candy-colored radios. Scott Primeau was there, but didn’t bring his radios this time. I didn’t see the antique photos or music cylinders that I saw before. I asked about these things and was told that some dealers have dropped out of the show. There seem to be fewer wives and girlfriends coming along to the show to socialize with now than before. It’s still fun, but different.
We headed out about 11:30 in the morning to put some miles behind us. We stopped for the night in Sandusky, Ohio.
Sunday, November 11
Sunday was the highlight of the trip for Lloyd. A friend who works on nickelodeons called Lloyd about a rare early jukebox that he discovered in the basement of a friend’s house. It was a Western Electric wooden jukebox from 1927 with a radio inside. Lloyd knew of other Seeburg jukeboxes from that era that were similar and also rare, but this was the only one he had ever heard of that had a Western Electric tag. Western Electric was secretly owned by Seeburg in the 1920s to stimulate competition among dealers, so the machines were similar but not the same. His friend was going to leave it because it was too hard to get to move it out of the basement and up the stairs. Lloyd said, “Don’t leave that! I will come help you get it out. I want it!”
Lloyd arranged a time to meet his friend at the house. The steps were narrow and steep and the jukebox was very heavy. The other guy pulled up from above and Lloyd and I pushed from below and finally had it up those stairs and into his trailer. Then, Lloyd and I met his friend in a parking lot down the road to examine the machine and parts and to pay our friend for the jukebox.
We agreed that something so rare should be in a museum, and it was acquired by one in the Netherlands by the next morning. That find really made the whole trip worthwhile for Lloyd. Here is a photo of the Western Electric jukebox, safely back in our warehouse.
We had a good time on this trip. Ben said it was exactly how he had hoped it would be. For once, Lloyd and Ben took their time getting there and back, taking two days each way. Usually they leave on Thursday evening, arriving at 3 a.m. Friday morning to grab 3 hours of sleep before heading out to the parking lot Friday morning. I told Lloyd that I am ready for the next show!