One of the highlights of Carol’s pin-trading year is the trip to New Jersey each Spring for the “Trade ‘Til You Fade” pin trading weekend hosted by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. She just loves getting together with other traders and CJDPT always puts on a first class event!
The group was founded by John Rick in January 2002 and since then they have held regular pin trading meets. The schedule of events is accessible on their web site at: http://www.cjdpt.com All of their meets are held at the Comfort Inn 255 Davidson Avenue, Somerset, NJ. There are Friday evening events, Saturday afternoon events and two week-end-long events in the Spring and Fall each year. John’s wife Sheila and their good friends Janis Lavender and her husband David are actively involved in all aspects of the group’s activities.
We normally travel to New Jersey with a group of Canadian pin traders, most of them from the Toronto area. Even though I am not a pin trader, I have joined in a few times. The trip is an adventure for Carol and I. Our travel day is usually Thursday and we often stop at the Syracuse NY Disney Store on the way; many of the Disney Stores in Canada have closed and we sure miss them! The store is conveniently located about two hours into our trek so we can stop and stretch our legs. It’s a 364 mile trip from our home to the Comfort Inn but we have a bit of a head-start on our companions from the Toronto area who have to drive a little further, it’s about a 500 mile trip for them.You might expect that we Canadians, since we are foreigners, travel furthest to get to New Jersey but that’s actually not the case. Folks drive from as far away as Miami FL – 1,270 miles but I think the overall the distance award has to go to the dedicated trader from Seattle WA who, a few years ago, flew 2,800 miles to trade pins!
Even though trading activities don’t officially start until Friday evening there are already some pin traders set up at the tables in the breakfast area adjacent to the lobby by the time we arrive Thursday evening. We always stop and renew acquaintances but it’s normally a short night for us. It has been a long drive and Carol needs a good night’s rest to get her ready for a gruelling week end!
We try to plan some other “Disney” activities for Friday morning. This often involves a commuter-train ride to New York City’s Penn Station or a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Over the years our adventures in The Big Apple have taken us on a couple of double-decker bus tours of Manhattan, to Times Square many times and to some fabulous NYC delicatessens for lunch. We’ve browsed some amazing shops along 5thAvenue and taken a peaceful horse-drawn-carriage ride through Central Park.
But, of course, we have to be back to the hotel in New Jersey by late afternoon! The event kicks off Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. when the registration desk opens and folks line up to check-in, pick up their name-tags, goody bags and tickets for several random draws. There are three trading areas, two hotel meeting rooms fill with traders first and once breakfast is over the trading activity spills over into the room where the complimentary breakfast is served each morning. The Comfort Inn and their staff are extremely accommodating. The hotel staff all join in the fun by wearing Disney themed clothing and they allow the group to post Disney posters and signs throughout the common areas of the hotel. It is a very festive and fun filled place! They even allow the group to bring in coolers filled with their own drinks on ice. Most traders bring bottled water, sodas or juices to add to the communal drink coolers and there are also plenty of traders who contribute “snack-food” items which soon fill the counters in the breakfast area. It quickly transforms from a complimentary breakfast into a veritable junk-food buffet!
Carol always does her best trading on Friday nights. This year she traded from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and was delighted with the 20 pins she picked up. Yes, pin traders are an oddly nocturnal group! I have no idea what time things actually wound down but a friend reported that the crowd was thin when he left at 3:00 a.m.
Saturday morning we headed down for breakfast at 8:15. Many of the night-owls had returned, looking remarkably fresh and eager. The two meeting rooms were open and trading was in full swing again but, of course, the breakfast room was set aside for breakfast. Traders who want to set up in the breakfast room once the meal is done simply park their pin cases and pin bags along the wall in the corridor and establish their order in the line. Then at 10:20 or 10:30, when the area has been cleaned up after breakfast, they are given the “all-clear” to file in. Once they settle and get set up they are established for the day and trading resumes in earnest.
The traders who come to these events are not at all like some of the ones you used to meet at those tables outside Pin Central at Downtown Disney. Many of them made their living trading pins and they could be very aggressive, sometimes ruthless. Not so at CJDPT events. The traders here are nice people who are anxious to help you complete your collection. Trading is easy, fun and free of stress. Carol really enjoys this week end; she looks forward to it every year.
This was probably about the 30th“overnight event” CJDPT has hosted and the hotel was fully booked by pin traders. The organizers always negotiate reasonable group rates with the hotel; Carol and I had a two-room suite with a king bed and the rate was only $79.00 plus tax. Our bill for two nights was only $181.10 including a complimentary breakfast each day! Wow!
Registration fees for the pin trading event are quite reasonable as well. Guests registered at the hotel pay a fee of $5.00 to register for all three days. If you are not a hotel guest your fees for all three days will not be more than $18.00. There were 97 people trading pins on Friday night and local traders who “drop in” for a few hours during the weekend swelled the total registration number to almost 200 people. It’s a very popular event!
There are special games, activities, quizzes and raffles throughout each day and night with prizes for all the winners. It’s non-stop trading and there is always a fun-filled diversion of some kind. It’s not always about pins; people also trade vinylmations and other Disney collectibles!
One of the highlights is the Saturday night gift exchange. It’s purely voluntary and not everyone participates but it’s always fun for those who do get involved. It’s one of those exchanges where gifts can be “stolen” and folks can get quite aggressive and quite entertaining as they seek out their favourite gift!
Sunday morning is generally very quiet; those who have travelled a distance are packing up and checking out to start the trip home. We always have breakfast and yak a bit before saying our goodbyes. We strive to be on the road by 10:30 so that we arrive home by about 6:00 p.m. Many folks stay and continue trading until the event officially closes at noon. Every year we see the plenty of familiar faces and several new ones. Carol has always found the group easy to trade with and she always completes a few sets and comes home with some new treasures!
If you are a pin trader and you want experience a fun filled week end with your peers, New Jersey is the place for you. Check out their web site at: http://www.cjdpt.com and make plans to join in a pin week end soon.
Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.
Here you can see Gary at the pin trading event manning the booth while Carol trades pins!