Pin Trading in New Jersey
Carol’s pin trading career started about fifteen years ago when she read online about a new series of cloisonné pins being sold through The Disney Stores. It was 2001 and the “100 Years of Magic” series was being sold in small batches every Saturday morning. Since there was a Disney Store only 18 miles from our home just west of Toronto, off she went . . . and as the fishermen say, ‘the hook was set!’
How could we have guessed that fifteen years later her collection would include more than 4,000 different Disney pins? How could we have imagined back then how many wonderful people we would meet through her new hobby?
One of the highlights each year is Carol’s annual trip to Somerset New Jersey for an immersive pin trading weekend!
Back in May 2003 John Rick from New Jersey organized the first “Trade ‘Til You Fade” event, a weekend long affair. It was such a resounding success that he followed it up in October 2003 with another weekend event called “Swap ‘Til You Drop”! The two events have been repeated every year since 2003, one in the spring and one in the fall. John is now supported by an experienced team; his wife Sheila, Travel Planner Janis Lavender and her husband David, who help him plan and deliver a wonderful experience for pin traders from a very wide area.
Carol first attended the “Swap ‘Til You Drop” event in 2007 and enjoyed it so much that she has been back to at least one of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders events at Somerset each year.
It’s a six-hour drive for us, about 375 miles from our home in Canada to Somerset - but it’s a trek Carol looks forward to. She knows most of the “regulars” there and of course there are always new faces too!
Since we live in Canada you might think that we traveled the furthest to get to the event . . . but you would be wrong. The distance honors for April 2016 go to the pin traders who traveled about 475 miles from Ohio. In previous years there have been traders from as far away as Illinois, Florida and even California.
The weekend itinerary is always full . . .
Carol is an avid pin trader; I am not. They really don’t interest me much and I know very little about them, but I travel to the pin events with her whenever I can. Over the years we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We make the south-easterly drive on Thursday in order to have a “touristy” day on Friday. That means sightseeing and shopping. Over the years we have taken several trips into nearby Manhattan. We’ve taken the train to Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park, ridden the NYC Subway to Times Square, enjoyed lunch at Carnegie’s Deli on 7th Avenue, taken a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park . . . there’s always plenty to do in the area.
But we always have to be back to the hotel by 5:00 p.m. on Friday . . . that’s when the event kicks off! On a typical Friday night we connect with some of our pin trading friends and enjoy dinner at the Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurant across the street; then Carol grabs her pin bags and heads to one of the trading rooms. The hotel makes three rooms available to traders, the Breakfast Room, the Board Room and a Meeting Room. Before you can say “Swap” the tables are covered with pin books, pin binders, boxes and bins full of pins. It’s a Pin-A-Palooza!
Carol always does some of her best trading on Friday nights. Everyone is fresh and eager; everyone is looking to complete their collections! The traders, at least those I see in New Jersey, are an interesting group. They don’t seem to be competitive; they seem genuinely interested in helping other collectors complete the sets of pins they’re trying to acquire. It’s amazing how well things can work out when people are cooperative rather than competitive!
When Carol returned to the room at about 11:00 p.m. Friday night she was thrilled with the 24 new pins she was able to trade for. Most of them had been on her “Wants List” for quite some time so she had filled plenty of gaps in her collection.
Saturday was all about pins! Nothing but pins!
We enjoyed our first cup of coffee in the room and then headed down to the breakfast room where I enjoyed a fresh Belgian waffle and orange juice while Carol had a bowl of hot oatmeal.
The hotel treats the pin traders very well. Not only do they give very attractive group rates for the guest rooms and provide a complimentary hot breakfast, but they allow the group to bring in their own snacks and beverages. All the traders bring along cans of soda or bottles of water, chips, cookies or some other snack to add to the communal stock of food and drink. There is always a frosty drink of soda or water and a tasty bite available. Just help yourself!
By 9:30 Carol was all set up in the back conference room. I spent much of the day babysitting her three pin bags while she scoured the three rooms filled with traders, looking for the pins she has on her “wants list”.
As I sat there people would come by, flip through the three bags full of trader pins and then say, “Tell Carol there are three pins in there that I’d like to trade for. My pins are right over there; she can have a look when she gets back.”
The traders come from all over; in the parking lot there were plenty of cars with Disney stickers, decals or vanity plates. Those cars came from Ontario, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and of course New Jersey. There were probably other states represented there that I missed.
On Saturdays the organizers order lunch and put out a small basket where folks can contribute toward the cost.
At noon that lunch arrived, a six-foot turkey sub, a six-foot Italian sub, two salads and some potato chips. Yummy!
During the day the organizers staged a number of games for everyone. There were Crossword and Word-Search puzzles, Pingo, Name That Toon, Disney Trivia; there was even a 50/50 Pin Game and a raffle for some terrific Disney prizes!
By the time the dinner break rolled around at 5:00 p.m. Carol had traded another 32 pins and 2 Vinylmations. That’s a pretty successful day!
We have some good friends who live in New Jersey, about an hour away. They arrived just as we broke for dinner. We relaxed with them in our room and had a few laughs as we spent an hour catching up with each others busy lives. At 6:00 we walked across the road to Ruby Tuesday’s and carried on our visit over a leisurely dinner.
After dinner we spent another few hours in the hotel, laughing and reminiscing about our many adventures together before saying our goodbyes at 10:00.
We missed the “Let’s Make A Steal” gift exchange which always takes place Saturday nights. Everyone contributes a wrapped Disney themed gift (about $20 value) to the gift table then names are drawn in random order. Those who’s names are drawn can pick a new wrapped gift or “steal” a previously opened gift. It’s always a hilarious time as people try to pick up, and hold onto a gift!
After our friends left Carol went back down for some more trading while I relaxed in the room. (Snore!) She was back home at 11:30 to rest up for a day of travel the next morning! Some of the other traders kept right on going until 1:00 a.m.
Carol surprised me; we were both up and enjoying our first cup of coffee at about 7:15 Sunday morning when I asked, “Are you going to do some more trading this morning?”
“Nope,” she replied, “I’m all done and I miss my dogs. Take me home.”
So I did!
We were all packed up by 8:00 a.m. and stopped in the breakfast room for another coffee and a quick bite to eat before we pulled away. We chatted with the organizers and thanked then for a wonderful weekend before we pulled away to begin our 375 mile trek at 8:30.
We made a brief shopping stop near Syracuse New York to pick up a few grocery items that aren’t available in Canada and quickly carried on northbound. We were back in Canada by 3:30, picked up our two dogs at Carol’s mother’s house and were home unpacking by 4:30.
What a great weekend! A total of 93 traders registered for the event. That number included 51 people who live close enough to pop in for a few hours or a full day as well as the 42 of us who stayed in the hotel for the weekend. We had a chance to reconnect with friends and Carol was delighted with the pins she was able to add to her collection!
If you are a pin trader and the New Jersey events sound like something you might enjoy, be sure to check out the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site by clicking HERE. You can find them on Facebook HERE.
If you plan to attend, be sure to book your hotel through CJDPT to ensure that you get the group rates.
Maybe we’ll see you there!
Carol’s next pin trading excursion will be in August when she heads south for the annual Pin Celebration at EPCOT. She’s sure to write a blog about that trip, so stay tuned!