I moved my family to Florida this past year as most of you already know.  I love the weather.  I am a closet Disney fanatic.  I love the shows we have in Florida.  There is a comic book, baseball card, vintage toy, book, stamp, antique show every weekend within driving distance it seems.  Even before living here, I attended and exhibited at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg, Florida.  This ONE is a constant for me.  It was my introduction to collectibles in Florida.  My love for the Sunshine State grew from my attendance every year to this one book fair!  All of the other exhibitions, shows and fairs switch around from year to year.  I AM A BOOKSELLER WITH A VINTAGE TOY HABIT!  NAILING DOWN THE BEST PLACES TO EXHIBIT IS NO SIMPLE AFFAIR MY FRIENDS.  I have many loves and there is most certainly enough time to spread around the collecting and dealing to multiple genres.

I suppose this makes me some sort of collectible tramp???

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I have simple pleasures at heart folks. I love yellow cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting, burgers with ketchup, hot dogs with mustard and collecting just about anything…

I always wanted to be the guy behind the counter at a trade show – selling my goods, eating show food and enjoying the company of other dealers as crazy as I am.  As a kid, I went to baseball card and comic book shows.  As an adult, I go to book fairs, comic book shows and toy shows.  I have not deviated far from the path set out before me in the early 1980’s…

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When I started exhibiting at shows and not just attending and buying at shows, I learned a hard lesson pretty fast.  I don’t quite remember what I expected to happen that weekend, but the actual selling was not that great as I recall.  As time went on, I learned that sales are just a sideline attraction to doing shows.  The real goal is to make friends and build relationships.  We must learn from each other.  We must supply each other.  We must all continue an industry together!  You don’t do shows for on the spot sales, you exhibit and/or attend shows to grow your collection or your business.  There is no better place to market yourself, learn who else is doing what you like, buy cool things, see the latest trends etc…  Fairs are like family after a while.  The dealers, the clients, the food, the drink…  It all mixes together to make this magical weekend soup of fun and comradery.  See you all at Retro-Rama this weekend and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in a month!

Mike Cotter


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