Learning to Search for “Lost” Joes—As a TEAM
Five months ago, we documented a typical search and rescue mission for a “lost” GIjOE. In that case, it was a Talking Adventure Team Commander in very good condition in his original box. Somehow, the poor guy had become trapped and “paralyzed” within a display case. Nooooo!!!!! When we learned he was going to be put up for auction, an urgent call went out for his immediate “rescue” and all loyal Joeheads in the area quickly came his aid (see story and photos HERE).
In this, the second of our “Searching for Lost GIjOEs” articles, we decided to tag along with members of the Central Illinois GIjOE Collector’s Club (CIGCC) and document their day at the Third Sunday Market (TSM). If you’ve never heard of it, TSM is a massive indoor-outdoor flea market held (as you might expect) every third Sunday of the month on the sprawling grounds of the massive Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois. With hundreds of dealers and thousands of buyers in attendance, we felt it would be a perfect opportunity to witness several successful GIjOE “search and rescue” missions. However, the day did not go quite as the club expected…
Big Crowds Mean Big Delays
Learn from the mistakes of others, dear readers. If you plan on attending a flea market, understand right off the bat that they are popular—and crowded—events. Allow plenty of extra time for travel, parking and dealing with the crowds. Originally, the members of the CIGCC had told us that they hoped to gather at the front entrance to the market at 9 AM. Unfortunately, heavy attendance created longer traffic delays in the parking areas, longer walk-up times and congestion.
As a result, club members arrived at widely different times, some over an hour later than the first. And repeatedly, rather than wait the morning away at the entrance, eager members (understandably) would begin the day’s search on their own, leaving latecomers to their own devices. Upon reflection, it would have been much better for everyone to rally at an outside location, such as a nearby Walmart parking lot, before driving the final mile to the market together, thereby ensuring everyone could park and arrive together (Oh well, live and learn).
Creating a Cell-Phone “Hotline”
After an erratic and disappointing start, the club regrouped and decided to utilize smarter and more efficient “teamwork strategies” to improve their search prospects. Early arriving members had already perused the grounds for over an hour and imparted their advanced knowledge to the newcomers much as a “scout”would do. Such intel can be an invaluable timesaver when facing a large, crowded sale.
Determined, the members dispersed and began their search anew. Spreading out through the masses of shoppers, the individual club members all shared one common goal: “Rescue Lost GIjOEs!” As we followed along, we noticed that their cell phones soon began to buzz back and forth. Whenever a member located a dealer with some sort of “lost Joes,” he described what the items were, and where they had been found.
If interested, the other members would quickly make a bee-line to the site. And if not interested, they would simply continue on their own way. As the club’s search party strategy began to play out, its cleverness became obvious in terms of both simplicity and efficiency. Cell phones were indispensable to the plan’s outcome and are a must-have tool for its successful implementation. Indeed, it was clear to us that being able to fan out and yet remain in constant contact with other members had given the club tremendous advantages over the search capabilities of an individual. One member put it this way:
“Flea Markets like this are just too big for us all to stay together. This one had 2 indoor pavilions, 4 outdoor pavilions and all of the surrounding grounds, FULL of booths and people sellin’. You have to use a cell phone if you’re going to stay in touch. Tell your readers to be sure they share their cell phone numbers with other club members so they can all keep each other updated.
For example, I just found a great booth waaay over there in the corner of this field, and it had about 20 Classic Collection Joes plus a bunch of Jeeps and other 1:6 scale vehicles and stuff. I put out a call, and suddenly —WHOMP! All the other club members descended on it like locusts. Now THAT’S successful teamwork strategy! “
Be Systematic. Be Savvy. Be Helpful!
As our time at the flea market wound down, the success of the club’s search strategy had proven itself time and time again. By using their cell phones like walkie-talkies, the members had been able to cast the widest possible “search net.” If we learned anything from observing the members of the CIGCC that day, it was that utilizing well-planned and smartly executed “teamwork strategies” is vital to a successful Joe-search. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you locate and join a local division of the official GIjOE Collector’s Club in your area. If there isn’t any, start up one of your own! And then, take advantage of your new club’s “strength in numbers.”
Bottom Line: Finding and rescuing any GIjOE figure, accessory or vehicle is always exciting. But sharing that feeling with others makes it doubly so. If you locate something you don’t need, don’t just walk away. Take a moment to use your cell phone and notify other club members as to its location. If you can, wait for them to arrive, even “standing guard” over it if possible. As they walk up, point the item(s) out, and enjoy the expression of delight as it spreads over their faces. You’ll be happy, and and your fellow Joeheads will be even happier. THAT’S what spreading “Joe Karma” is all about!