Collectible Automotive Hat Pins
Building a Business and Friendships, One Show at a Time
by Kelly, Northwest Classic Auto Mall

David and I have been vendors at car shows for about 12 years now. Each show is different, whether it's the way the booth needs to be set up, the flow of foot traffic, quiet neighbors or ...the noisy ones, great sales or no sales. The show last weekend was different for me because I was going to set up, tear down and run the booth myself, since David was busy with photo shoots. Fortunately, my booth was just inside the side entrance doors, so I was able to load in and out easily. I was almost done setting up when I had the pleasure of meeting my show neighbors, Ron and Linda from California. 

Ron and Linda

Ron and Linda have been vending at car shows and events for 35 years, selling collectible (and often rare) automotive and military hat pins, and a variety of novelty and accessory items. It's clear they've been doing this for a while, with their attention to detail of how to set their booth up to accommodate the customers, yet provide themselves with an orderly workspace. I knew it was going to be an enjoyable weekend, given their outgoing personality and willingness to work together to make sure our booth access worked for both of our customers. Having worked the show/event circuit for as long as they have, they have the ideal set up with a full size motor home that pulls a commuter vehicle. As they travel from show to show, they also keep up on their shipments for their internet orders. I've always thought it would be fun to hit the road with a motor home, seeing the country, vending at shows and meeting people like Ron and Linda along the way. I was looking forward to spending the next 2 days next to them, listening to recaps of their adventures.   

So many collectible automotive pins!

I had no idea how desirable collectible automotive hat pins were and I also noticed the large quantity of military pins their customers purchased as well. Their extensive selection of pins are all NOS (new old stock) and many are quite rare, much to the delight of the show shoppers. Ron and Linda mentioned their large inventory is due in part to so many pin manufacturers having gone out of business. Many of the pins are in limited supply.

If you'd like to check out their pins online, visit their eBay store!

In search of a special pin? Email Linda at with your request!

More automotive & military pins, and automotive keychains!

We weren't able to visit much during the day on Saturday. A steady flow of spectators and shoppers kept both of us busy. With fewer spectators in the early evening hours and many of the show participants off to the show dinner at a local restaurant, the three of us had a chance to relax and visit. They shared how they had met about 42 years ago and what led them to their 'shows on the road life'. While sharing the experiences we had been through with pop up tents, rain, winds, snow and dust storms, we were laughing hysterically. Only other vendors could begin to understand what it's like to be sitting under a tent one minute and then feel a strong wind and the next thing you know, your tent and merchandise are 20, 30 40 feet across the park. They mentioned a 10 x 20 tent next to them at a show one time that had T-shirts hanging from the tent frame that was lifted straight up, then got caught up in a wind gust that took it so fast and so far, that they never found it or the T-shirts...ever!

By this time, we were laughing, uncontrollably. Laughing, not at the lost T-shirts and tent, but because we could see it happen, right before our eyes, exactly as they were describing it. We had all been there, in that same many times. Strong winds are the worst. After you've been through so many wind storms, you begin to cringe every time someone walks by and breathes heavy. You live in fear of seeing the leaves on trees starting to move. While vending is not always a walk in the park, it's meeting people like Ron and Linda and sparking new friendships, that makes it all worthwhile!

Thank you, Ron and Linda, for a memorable, fun-filled weekend! I hope our paths cross again soon! Until then, safe travels, my friends!

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