The National Sports Collectors Convention held at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Chicago, IL. did not disappoint. An estimated 50,000+ hobby enthusiasts walked through the doors and created a vibe of excitement for the ages. I would like to share my takeaways with the experience.
The National – My Takeaways
With all the confidence I can muster I’ll tell you this, the hobby of sports card collecting and memorabilia is alive and well!
I’m one that believes that a day without learning something is a wasted day. In fact, at the end of every article or video, I urge you, the readers to learn, collect, and enjoy.
On the months leading to The National many articles and YouTube videos can be found giving you advice on how to prepare for this grand event, like Baseball Collectors, Tips & Tricks for the National, all very good advice that would do you well if followed.
I’d like to share some observations that I made that may help me or you have a better show experience for the next NSCC you may attend.
1) Ask Dealers “The Question”
When I first got to the convention I quickly found items I was interested in. Just making conversation I asked one dealer, “How do you base your prices?“
And it seemed like that question caught him by surprise, I noticed his eyes got big and you can tell I caught him off guard. I felt like I was onto something.
So when I found something I liked and was interested in making a purchase one of my questions that I would ask the dealer would be “The Question.”
I was surprised to hear many of them say Beckett book value which I’m okay with to a certain extent but that is a post for another day. Some dealers would flat out tell me, “I’m just winging it!” and yet others would tell me, the ever-popular, “eBay comps.”
My favorite dealers to do business with were those who utilized eBay comps to determine their prices and marked their cards with the price. I really appreciate it when dealers take the time to do the homework and mark the price of the card.
This gave me, the consumer, a starting point of what their expectations were. I also noticed there wasn’t one dealer at The National that did not expect to come down on prices. That’s refreshing.
2) Back-Pack Adjustment
Anybody with experience at The National, or some common sense, can tell you to bring a backpack along with water, snacks, card storage supplies, etc. and I 100% agree with this.
However, I noticed a few hours in my lower back aching really bad. While leaning over searching through boxes or looking at display cases the aching just intensified.
But then, I noticed my backpack was sitting low so I adjusted the shoulder straps and that transferred the weight of the bag to my shoulders and off of my lower back.
I also noticed for the first time many people using suitcases instead of a backpack. This is a great idea if your purchasing in bulk and can totally eliminate all weight from your back. I definitely will consider this for next year.
3) Plan B Replaced by Gut Check
My #1 goal for The National 2019 was to find and purchase the 1990 Frank Thomas O-Pee-Chee RC but I couldn’t find one.
Another was the 1996 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant RC but was wanting to do a cash/trade for it and the two dealers I made offers wanted straight cash or Pat Maholmes RC’s nothing else.
By Saturday I had to switch to my Plan B which was PSA Slabs of the ’80s and ’90s RCs. But my gut was telling me Patrick Maholmes RC’s instead. Call it cardboard intuition or perhaps influenced by hobby hype.
However, you can’t argue with what this kid has accomplished in the NFL in only two seasons and by the looks of it, he’s just getting started.
So I set out on the hunt to find my new Plan B. It seemed like many dealers we’re buying and holding on Maholmes.
There were some big-ticket items like insert autos or RPA’s (Rookie Patch Autos) but not much as far as low-midgrade PSA 9’s which is what I was looking for.
I did get lucky and found one dealer that had some and we worked out a great deal for four of them. This turned out to be one of my favorite purchases of the week. When I walked away from this deal I felt accomplished.
4) Make More Time for Socializing
One of my favorite moments was being able to hang out with the sports card YouTuber Community. I was able to meet a lot of guys that I follow on YouTube, this was awesome and I want to continue to make this sort of thing a priority.
My point is, make time to socialize with other collectors. I got a chance to meet so many people and we had so much in common that it just gave a sense of real camaraderie.
I am also very inspired to start a YouTube channel of my own!
Overall, The National was and is la creme de la creme when it comes to sports card shows, unlike my recent experience at a local card show that you can read about here Card Show State of the Union Address.
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.