1899 Morgan Dollar Obverse, Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions      1899 Morgan Dollar Reverse, Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Bourse Chairman

Winter - 2015-16 Report

Our 2016 77th Anniversary Convention will be the third CSNS convention that I’ve been privileged to serve our members in that capacity. I’ve actually been working at coin shows for more than 20 years, since I was in the fifth grade, starting out committing a blatant violation of the rights of the in-house catering firm at the old MECCA Convention Center in Milwaukee by selling candy bars and soda to the dealers at the MidAmerica Coin Convention. Unpacking exhibit cases, placing them on the dealers’ tables, checking electrical outlets, putting lamps out for the dealers, assembling dealer packets and a host of other tasks, some minor and others of considerably greater importance, were among the things I did as I grew up around shows. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from my childhood experiences working at coin shows in my home town of Milwaukee was the importance of details and how they are all related. It just made me feel really good to realize that I had a part, however small, in a much larger production and recognized that what came later actually did depend on me doing whatever my tasks were the way they needed to be done and the sequence they needed to be done in.

I think that some of the dealers who come up to me at the Anniversary Conventions and tell me that they remember when I was just a little girl may feel that they are embarrassing or teasing me. Actually, quite the contrary. It is just nice to recognize that I’ve known some of our booth holders for two-thirds of my life and that I now play a truly significant role in the production of an event that is an important part of the way they’ve chosen to make their way through the world. Especially enjoyable for me is the incredible diversity of backgrounds one encounters in the dealer community. Some are quite polished and cultured, some a bit rough around the edges, but it really is a growth experience to be able to interact with all of you and hear about what it is that you enjoy from your numismatic involvement. One of the reasons I’m here is to listen to you. After all, you are the ones who collectively provide the revenue that enables the Central States Numismatic Society not only to exist at all at our current level, but to undertake and potentially expand the many service and educational programs we operate that are not self-supporting.

Unlike being an electrician, a physician, an engineer or an attorney, there is really no formal educational program to learn how to be a professional numismatist. You just do it by doing it. Your tuition is paid by the mistakes that you make along the way. Although our 77th Anniversary Convention is a full five months away as I write this, I find myself looking forward to the passage of those months with a real sense of anticipation. From my vantage point at the front of the exhibit hall in my bourse chairman’s booth, I have a steady stream of dealers stopping by to sign up for the next year’s convention. The personal contact aspects of my job for CSNS are what I really enjoy the most. It is just such a pleasure to get to know each of you and hear about what you like and don’t like about our event. Judging from the growth of our bourse area over the past three years and the percentage of our booth holders who renew prior to leaving the convention each year, I’m happy to report that the “likes” outnumber the “don’t likes.”

Certainly it helps our organization to be at such an exceptional site. The free parking, the safety of having the bourse and hotel all under one roof are big plusses in our favor. While I’m not certain that the project will be competed for our 2016 convention, the new I-90 freeway interchange literally right next door to our Schaumburg Convention Center and Renaissance Hotel will add to the convenience of attending our event in the future. It will certainly be open by the time of our 2017 convention.

We recently signed a contract extension with the convention center and hotel through 2021. This gives CSNS the security of a confirmed home and will also give other conventions held around our time the ability to make their own plans without being concerned about the impact accidentally landing on our dates would have on their own event.

One of the contributions you can all make to the future vitality and financial strength of our convention is by actually staying at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel when you attend our event. The Renaissance is a very in-demand facility and we are but one of the potential clients vying for the use of the convention center and meeting space in the busy Chicago-area, Spring convention season. The convention center is really there to produce hotel room and restaurant business for the Renaissance Schaumburg, and hotel room taxes for the local community. While coin event attendees regard our event as a major prize for a community, by convention and meeting industry standards we are really a much more middle ranking function. Why? Very simple. Like almost every numismatic convention or show that exists, we use a disproportionate amount of exhibit space versus the hotel rooms that we produce. This is a chronic problem for coin shows in general and the reason why the Whitman Baltimore Expo dates floats over a range of several weeks and why the Florida United Numismatists Convention can’t always be in the highly popular Orange County Convention Center over their desired dates -- lack of documented hotel room pickup.

So -- where does this leave you and us for the future? You can do your part to contribute to the future strength of our convention by staying at the Schaumburg Renaissance rather than somewhere else. Yes, I realize that you can stay for less elsewhere at a facility that is not as nice as the Renaissance. Please keep in mind, however, that the few dollars you save in doing that will be at the cost of jeopardizing our ability to retain our event site versus the other potential clients for the hotel who would like to have our dates instead of us.

One of the biggest challenges that we face at the Renaissance is late fall off from our room block – another problem that plagues many numismatic conventions. For the last two years our room block was at one point sold out and people who truly wanted and fully intended to stay at the Renaissance were turned away. In the two weeks immediately prior to our convention fully 25 percent of the room block evaporated due to cancellations from people who had booked more space than they needed “just in case.” That behavior denied others the opportunity to stay at the Renaissance and many just booked somewhere else, leaving our room block perilously close to a situation where we would have been required to pay substantial penalty charges to the hotel due to our failure to meet the contracted room commitment that was necessary to be able to secure the hotel and convention center in the first place. Are you a bourse dealer? Are you an educational exhibitor? Are you an early bird attendee? Are you a public attendee? Whichever of these categories you fall into, we really do need to have you stay at the Renaissance Schaumburg under our room block for us to have an assured future at this event site.

If you’ll visit our website, www.centralstates.info, you’ll find a section under our “Conventions” tab where you can book on line. Because of the high number of late cancellations that we’ve had over the past several years and the potential for significant financial losses that those cancellations could impose on CSNS, we’ve adopted a cancellation policy more closely aligned with what one typically encounters at a resort property. Our rate is a very reasonable one for a facility of the quality of the Renaissance of $155. When the free parking offered by the Renaissance is thrown in as part of the mix, I think that is a real value.

The Central States Numismatic Society expends a considerable amount of staff time and organizational resources in producing a convention for our members, i.e. you. Please do your part in supporting those efforts by staying under our room block at the Renaissance.

I’m reminded of a World War I British patriotic poster where a woman looks to a well-dressed man in the foreground, with a scene suggestive of combat near the horizon and says “Will you go, or must I?” While that cause was certainly of far greater importance than our numismatic convention, the existential theme is quite parallel. I hope that I can count on you to do your part!