It’s not “All about me!”


Forgive me if this rambles, but the adrenaline is still flowing through my system. A person whom I had regarded as a friend of the hobby just called me to tell me how he walked out of a show because he didn’t get his way. I am angry, I am disappointed, and I a little ashamed … all because of a trend that permeates our hobby: The “It’s all about me” syndrome that people try to conceal by saying, “It’s all about the history.”


The guy who called me, I have known for years. He sets up at a lot of shows, is very knowledgeable, and is even a retired military officer. But, apparently, all of that is not enough to cover up character traits that are…well…just too bad.

The story begins with the creation of a brand new military indoor / outdoor show. The man who took the gamble and made the investment to host the show had told vendors, “This is the first time we are doing the show, so there are no guaranteed spots…This year, it will be, ‘first come, first pick of spots’.” Because the vending area was small, registration was limited to two spots per vendor. All of us who signed up for the show knew the parameters when we reserved spots (if they had read the registration material).

The day of the show, I witnessed an altercation between the show promoter and the individual who later called me (for the purpose of this blog, let’s just refer to him as “Kiev.”) I heard Kiev telling the promoter he wanted a spot next to his buddy. The show promoter tried to explain, “The spots are already taken, there is nothing I can do this year.” Kiev turned around and left the show … and his spots.

As I see it, Kiev did exactly what he should have done. If he didn’t want to play by the rules of the show promoter’s sandbox, he should have picked up his toys and left.

He probably didn’t impart a strong message to the show promoter, however. Theoretically, Kiev’s departure would have cost the promoter the price of the vendor spots (I don’t know if he refunded Kiev’s money or not). But what did it cost Kiev?  Gas to get there and lost revenue on what he would have sold and on what he would have bought at this show and sold in the future. In all, probably well more than the cost of the two spots.

But who gained from all this drama? Well, the most obvious is the next dealer who got Kiev’s spots (and apparently would not have under other circumstances, as the vendor spots were all sold prior to the day of the show). If this new dealer did well, then he will reserve early next year, leaving Kiev out in the cold yet again (unless more spaces are added). The promoter gained as well. Had he “caved in” to Kiev’s complaint, then a trend could have been started which could have either spread to other vendors, making it harder to maintain the control and order necessary to conduct a safe and successful show.

Was there any damage to the hobby by this small altercation? Probably not. The public who attended the show likely brought X dollars to spend, and probably spent the same amount that they would have had Kiev been there—only they spent it with other dealers.

So, it appears that while my friend Kiev might have “cut his nose off to spite his face,” he actually did a hobby a favor. He strengthened the position of show promoters by respecting the rules, and he made way for another vendor to come in and continue commerce. While I was a bit embarrassed to see the whole thing transpire, in retrospect, I have to respect what Kiev did. He wanted something in particular, was not able to get it, so he made room for someone else to come in and continue business.


A lot of inappropriate behavior in our world is overlooked. Perhaps it is inconvenient, dangerous, or just too overwhelming to speak up when we witness it. But that wasn’t how I was raised or what I believe. I honestly feel, no matter what the cause is to which we subscribe, each individual is responsible for protecting the viability of the cause.

Now there are a whole lot of causes out there about which I don’t really care. There are probably even scores more about which I don’t even know. But, the causes of preserving our history and the ability to buy and sell military relics are two about which I care a great deal.

I believe, when someone sticks their neck out to organize a new show, that person deserves our gratitude and support. Without the show promoters, we don’t have a place to gather. Imagine what collecting will be like if show promoters say, “We are sick of all the childish behavior in addition to trying to compete against the internet. We are done.”

I don’t want to collect in a world without shows. That’s why I make an effort to go to shows even when I think I can find what I want online. Having the chance to pick up relics, study them, and to listen to stories of provenance are all integral parts of what I think makes our hobby so fascinating.

Remember, at a show, you are only one of many. The promoter is trying to juggle the needs of vendors, security, and the public attendees. Before making a fuss when you feel slighted, take a step back, try to understand that a promoter is juggling all sorts of balls to make the event happen, and most importantly, acknowledge, “It isn’t all about you.”

Our hobby depends on supporting each other: The dealer next to us, the museums, the magazines, the websites, and yes, the show promoters. Let’s try to remember that it takes all of us to keep the hobby strong.

Preserve the memories,

John Adams-Graf

Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine


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One thought on “It’s not “All about me!”

  1. Rickf1985 on said:

    Hi John, Good article. I would like to comment on the “Next to buddy” part. Being this was a new show and the man tried to circumvent the rules then the promoter was justified. BUT, in other circumstances there have been shows where vendors have been moved without notice who had been side by side for years. I am one of those. We had a group of three vendors that all stayed together and it was great because it allowed any of us to wander the show and the ones staying behind would watch and sell out wares. This way everybody got to see the show plus sell there stuff even when they weren’t there. The promoter for reasons know only to them decided to move everyone around and eliminate our entire row of spots. We were told it was for “Traffic control”. My picture of a mega-dollar RV parked in our spots at that next show debunks that theory but never mind that. They split us all up and after discussing it among ourselves we decided the show was just not worth it if we could not leave our spots and we all decide that we would no longer go to that show. That particular show is not doing well with attendance as it is so losing people is NOT in their best interest. Sometimes it is better to listen to your vendors.

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