I’m constantly being asked, what was it like 20/30 years ago in the vintage tackle trade?
Well, same medicine but different bottle.
The internet was in its infancy then and had minimal effect on how the tackle antique tackle trade operated.
Ebay was created by Pierre Omidyar in the fall of 1995 and now is a multibillion $$ business partly thanks to your help. This meant that unless you put pen to paper or picked up a phone, you really had to attend meets and tackle shows to grown your collection and knowledge.
The National Federation of Lure Collectors Club facilitated such a demand. Founded in 1976 by Dudley Murphy, John Goodwin and Jerry Routh, it is a non-profit organisation to benefit the member’s interests. It hosts regional monthly shows throughout the USA, its penultimate event being the National meet.
Booking out huge convention centres and hotels it travelled around the US, mainly Arkansas, Kentucky, Chicago. This afforded local NFLCC area club hosts the opportunity to show what they could achieve.
Normally held in the summer, it attracted hundreds of collectors and dealers from all over the US with a few UK, European and Japanese stragglers to boot.
It could be an expensive do, flights, transfers, hire cars, rooms, food, table and show fees, and the beer, oh my wallet, the beer. My head still hurts thinking about it.
That said, wearing my kilt in 30 plus degree heat definitely helps as most beers were bought for the mad Scotsman, a rouse I used for years.
The Brit crew were there and this was how it worked.
The show normally kicked off with set up late Thursday evening, the show opening Friday through to Sunday. You traded in a hall or halls which held hundreds of tables. The first time you go into these aircraft hangar size halls stuffed with tackle, it’s a massive onslaught to the senses.
BUT the precursor was the days leading up to the show.
Based in 1-3 hotels, in part of or in close proximity to the show halls it was a huge logistics operation.
Most people drove or flew in Monday or Tuesday and set up stall in the rooms, the beds and furniture becoming the show area.
Some serious dealers would bring shelving, racking and tools, assembling a complete tackle shop display in their room and paying the hotel for the damage when they left. Worse than that, they slept on the floor on a rota basis so they stayed open for trade 24 hours!
We were a little more civilised to start with and did get the odd hour of shut eye. It was full on adrenaline for 5 days in fear of missing that elusive bargain, nothing has changed.
Constantly patrolling the corridors, popping in and out of rooms indicated by tackle signs outside and watching for new arrivals with new stock provided the ultimate buzz for the tackle junkie. Armed with walkie talkies (pre mobile) a military operation was launched sweeping every possible tackle location.
At the end of the room trading on Thursday you packed everything, trundled down the exhibition centre, set up stall and on Friday ran around like a gazelle for the next 3 days.
The members were to be congratulated on the displays they brought, some not selling but just proud exhibitors of their collection and sharing information.
We all had one thing in common. The exchange of information was the core of these events.
Socially it was excellent, too many stories to recount but a better bunch of folk I have yet to meet.
Over the years I saw the odd laptop appearing, whispered mentions of eBay! And slowly like creeping lava it changed the feel of the shows. Happily collectors realised there is more to collecting than setting a Sniper bid and opening the door to the post man. Online buying and selling is a vital tool in your box, but it’s not the only one.
Whilst the NFLCC or the Florida Tackle Shows may not have the volume of collectors they once did, I support any and all tackle shows. These events where people get together, show off their finds, exchange information and enjoy the camaraderie this hobby or lifestyle affords is what’s its all about.
Finally there always had to be time for fishing.
Many of the local collectors were happy to take “the Brits” out to see what we could do and looking at this lot, there wasn’t much hope of endangering any species.