I had been looking forward to the 2023 edition of Grimsby for a long time. I was thrilled with how the 2022 meet turned out at its new location, and I was eager to see if we could improve on the overall operation. Don Goodfellow and I had compared notes in 2022, and we came to two basic conclusions: We needed volunteers, and we needed to streamline the entry procedure. We planned some improvements for 2023, and I was eager to see how things would work out.
Don's display of interesting older plates from Canada and the US.
I made a pre-planned stop on the way to Grimsby to look at a collection of plates. A guy had four large boxes of Canadian and some international plates. There were a couple of items that would go into my collection. The rest was easily tradable, although a good chunk of it had been repainted, which was a major disappointment. The seller drove a hard bargain, but I was confident that I could at least break even, if I took the time to do so. I popped the boxes into my trunk, and drove onward.
Roadside shot of a trunk full of plates! Thanks to Brian Woodard for the lead.
It started raining around Kingston, and it never really stopped after that, except for a little while around Trenton. I stopped at the local ONRoute service centre to take advantage of the pause in the rain. The laneway to the picnic area was closed for the season, so I backed into it and found all the privacy I needed. I did some quick sorting, and consolidated four boxes into three. I knew I wouldn't have time to price the loot properly. I didn't have a big profit margin, so I decided to put high prices on the higher end stuff. If it didn't sell in Grimsby, I would sell it properly over the winter.
Too many plates to price, near the end of too short an evening, with too little brain power remaining.
I eventually arrived in Grimsby after dark, and checked into the hotel. I did my best to try pricing a little bit more, but I was too tired to get very far. I tend not to sleep well before a swap meet, because they're just so fun. It's not unlike the difficulty sleeping on Christmas Eve as a kid.
I got up very early and arrived at the hall to meet Don a little bit after 6:30. It was completely dark outside; not even the parking lot lights were on. While I was bringing a few things into the building, the lights came on suddenly inside a neighbouring building about 100 yards away. Right away, I could hear a cacophony of screeching and howling. Apparently, the Ontario poultry breeders were hosting a large event there; the sound was that of hundreds of chickens, ducks, and geese that had been rudely awakened by the lights.
Our table setup volunteers arrived, and we locked the front doors up tight to keep the early birds out. The table and chair moving went very smoothly, and we were ready to open the doors a half hour early, just before 8 AM. Our reservation system worked very well. I marked the tables with tape and the initials of the person who had reserved it. Each person received their table without any hassle. Not only that, but a number of people had paid in advance, which sped things up at the door.
Rachel (hidden) and Evelyn at the entry table with Frank making sure there's enough chocolate for Cyndi.
Before long, we had a steady stream of people to greet at the registration table. Our student volunteer, Rachel, was eager to please, and worked diligently to make change from large bills and mark off names of the entering reservations. Rachel’s efforts allowed Don and I to leave the table periodically to help people out, fiddle with the PA, or open the kitchen for our food vendor to plug in his coffee dispenser.
Liam Kivits at his first meet. Joe and Dave S. are at their zillionth meet.
Dave Colona had made a run of T-shirts with our 2023 date logo. Whenever I buy a shirt sight-unseen, I always get 2XL. XL often shrinks and then it's like I'm wearing spandex. But Dave’s shirts were true to their size, and so I was swimming in my shirt a little bit. But it was really comfortable!
Modelling is above our pay grade, but we did it anyway.
Dave C., Jake and Thomas chatting about plates and related collectibles. Dave's holding a gift card.
A few people that I talked to noticed that they were quite a few younger people in attendance, more so than in past years. Owen Wilding and Liam Kivits are new collectors to the hobby, and both are still in their teens. Ethan Craft uses his TikTok account to promote the hobby, and, of course, TikTok is any teenager’s medium of choice these days. We had a number of families with kids that came to look around. I remember when I first started in the hobby, I was still in university, and I was surrounded by middle-aged men. There were very few kids, even fewer women, and not a ton of people even my age. Now, three decades later, I am grayer, heavier, and most definitely middle-aged, in a room with moms, children, and lots of people in their college years.
Terry and Liam get acquainted for the first time.
Owen, at his first meet, shows his haul to Thomas, who is a collecting veteran now.
Both Don and I managed to get some time away from the registration table to do some shopping and selling. I didn't get to see every table, because my trips around the hall were broken up by various things, but that’s all part of the game if you want to host a show. I was glad to get one of the PCV plates that I needed from Marlene Shaw. And my timing was impeccable when Terry Ellsworth moved into the hall and set up his table. I'm collecting Ontario motorcycle plates with a bit more enthusiasm now, and Terry had a good selection of 1930s and 40s plates to fill multiple holes in my run. My only regret is that I passed up on his 1946 motorcycle plate, believing incorrectly that I already had one. It sold to the guy in line after me. You snooze, you lose.
Chuck and Joe seem pleased with my fresh fruit boxes from yesterday.
Attendance seems to peak at about 10:30, so that’s when we interrupted the show for the traditional group picture. During the announcements, I handed the microphone over to Thomas Zimmerman so that he could express his gratitude to those many members of the collecting community who have supported him through donations since the summer. Thomas was working in Lake Louise, and the staff accommodation building caught fire due to arson. It burned quickly to the ground. Thomas was able to escape only with the clothes on his back. Sadly, his Alberta license plate collection and his car were lost in the fire, and his employment has been in limbo since then. Thomas still has to replace some outdoor and camping equipment— which is vital to his ongoing travels.
Thomas and Jake show off a pair of reserved Jasper National Park plates. Not to be confused with Banff National Park, which has the lower numbers in the 30000 series, and has the full border painted red.
Chuck found a keeper from my table!
Our food vendor, Ken from Dog Got It, was back again this year in front of the building, cooking up a steady stream of burgers, dogs, fries, and rings, and hot coffee via the honour system inside the hall. Don, Rachel, and myself took shifts at the table, so that the third one could eat. The crowd started thinning out and the registration table wasn’t terribly busy by that point, but there were still shoppers arriving.
Krystian poses with his eye-popping display. Mike poses with a rare war-era Newfoundland.
Paul and Sam, pictured near the end of the day on their way out. Meanwhile, Ethan shows his Ontario design drawing that he created on TikTok while promoting the Grimsby meet!
Don and I looked over the attendance list so we could verify the winner of the Long Distance Award. It was Thomas. He didn’t think he deserved it, since he grew up in Ontario and has only been gone a year. But as Krystian Kozinski told him, you’re from wherever your driver’s licence is from. And for Thomas, right now, that’s Lake Louise, Alberta. Thomas gets to take home a custom-made aluminum topper, fastened to a replica 1911 Ontario plate (obviously a replica as it’s undersized; donated from Don’s collection).
Thomas takes the Long Distance Award home.
The hall was half-empty by 12:30, but there was still some shopping and trading going on. I started bringing out some storage carts and folding up a few tables to get a head start. I didn’t want to do it too early, because people take it as a hint that the show’s over. We had meaningful trading going on right up to official closing time at two o’clock. At that point, the tables became our main focus. We’re lucky to have so many people who choose to stick around and help put tables away, even if they haven’t signed up beforehand. Many hands make light work. The hall was empty, with the lights off by three.
Don makes sure the doors are shut after closing time.
Don and I had said goodbye to everyone else, and we stayed behind to count the proceeds and verify the attendance. Don’s Daughter Katie had dropped by to pick up Rachel and bring her home, and Katie tallied the attendance at 141 during her spare time. But Don pointed out that neither of us were named on the sheets, so we bumped it up by two for a record-breaking total of 143. That’s not too shabby for a Canadian meet! We counted the revenues and found that, with the pre-paid reservations and cash payments from tables and entry, the meet paid for itself. The key to doing that was by raising the table fee from $5 to $10. The West Niagara Agricultural Centre is a much more expensive venue than St. Andrews Church. We had tried keeping the tables at $5 last year, like we had at St. Andrews. But we came up short in 2022, and needed to use some donations to make up the shortfall. This year, we seem to have hit a sustainable sweet spot.
The countdown to next year's Grimsby is already on! But it'll be more than 8 days.
On my way to the car, I noticed that the OPB’s chicken show was still going strong, so I ventured over to the dirt-floor hall to check it out. It's free, so I was able to just walk in. I have to say, it’s the most chickens and ducks and geese I’ve ever seen in one place. My hearing aid overloaded, and I had to put it away amidst the cacophonic clucking, quacking and honking.
Thanks to our volunteers:
Krystian K Kozinski
Rachel (our amazing student volunteer)
Evelyn Steckley (2 shifts!!)
Table & chair put-away:
Host: Don Goodfellow
(site booking, key holder, registration, awards, accounting, lock-up)
Co-host: Jonathan Upton
(publicity, announcements, registration, accounting assistance)
Thanks to those who purchased lunch from Dog Got It!
Group picture. Click to enlarge.
Bonus Grimsby Videos: