Monday, August 12, 2013

Takeaways from the National Sports Collectors Convention

With a week to process everything and recover from the 34th National Sports Collectors Convention, I finally found some time to jot down some notes from the show. I've pretty much said all I can say on the 8, yes 8 Cardboard Connection Radio shows that we did LIVE from the show floor, but even that didn't provide enough time for everything that went on. It didn't help that Wizard World's Chicago Comic Con was in the same exact building less than a week later.

Before I get into the recap of the National, I often get asked which event is better, so here's my standard answer. I enjoy them both, but as far as meeting people and the amount of traffic at the show, Wizard World owns the Donald E. Stephens convention center. The show continues to grow. I think the main difference is the interaction with the celebrities. That kind of access doesn't happen at the National. Instead of a pavilion, the guests at Wizard have their own table and staff, so the process is not only fast, but a more personable experience. The National could learn a lot by attending a comic-con to see how it could continue to grow. Opening the show up to a few new ideas could go a long way. It's also a different crowd. There is a lot of crossover, but for the most part it is two different audiences, in two melting pots of pop culture.

I picked up some fantastic new additions to my personal collection at both shows. Some, I had no idea I either wanted or needed until I saw them in front of me. At the National I was not expecting to find vintage non-sports wax boxes. I usually make it a habit to pick up supplies and singles towards a couple of older sets I am trying to build. I also go out of my way to find a fun junk wax box to open with my kids. When I saw a dealer with a table full of vintage non-sports wax, most for less than $10, I couldn't help myself. Here's a sampling of what I bought.

O-Pee-Chee Batman Returns: $3, Rocky IV: $12, Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles:$5, Robin Hood: $5, Back to the Future: $10.
One of the other additions came from the awesome case break of Panini America Rookie Anthology Hockey. I am a Red Wings fan and there were some amazing pulls from the break including a redemption for a Steve Yzerman #'d to 5. I have his autograph a few times as he is my favorite hockey player, so I didn't really pursue that card, but up until now, I hadn't added a Pavel Datsyuk autograph to my collection. Now, thanks to a loyal customer, I made a deal and now own a pretty sweet one. Have a look, and thanks to the member of the Cardboard Nation that hooked me up!

Just as the show was ending, I stopped to look around just a little more. Believe it or not, I had very little time to check out the whole floor or the show. We were BUSY! I did pick up a half a case of Leaf History of Baseball for $150. I also opened up a box of Leaf Inscriptions. Here's what was inside:

The final autograph I picked up was easily my favorite of the show. Two years ago, we brought our first autograph guest to the National. It was Santa Claus. People thought we were crazy, but I knew it would be something fun and unforgettable. Santa signed nearly 300 autographs in just over an hour, and he took a ton of photos with collectors, and industry pros at the event. This time I wanted to bring in someone that would be a fan-favorite, with a little local flavor. When I called Rob to discuss our National plans, the first name that came up was professional wrestler, Squared Circle owner, and friend -- Lisa Marie Varon. Luckily her schedule was open, and we couldn't have been happier as she was amazing with her fans, and our listeners. Here's a sample of what attendees that stopped by our booth received: 

I can't talk about the 2013 National without mentioning the Panini America VIP party. It was truly an unforgettable experience. It's going to need a post of its own. Watch for it soon.

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