Gearing Up for The National

When it comes to card collecting, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on things. I mean, after all, I have been collecting some sort of trading cards (my interests have varied during my lifespan) for about 20 years now. There are many things that I have experienced and a plethora of things I have learned from The Hobby. There is, however, one glaring hole in my hobby résumé.

Card shows.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been to a card show. The closest I’ve gotten was that one time my dad took me to a county fair when I was about 12 years old. There was a tent with various locals selling a hodgepodge of junk, one of which was a brick-and-mortar card shop who had a nice (at least from my perspective at the time) assortment of cards. But all of that is set to change in just over a week.

I am going to the National Sports Collectors Convention.

The largest card/memoribilia show in America, if not the world.

It’s safe to say that I’m pretty pumped.

National Sports Collectors Convention

But just as quickly as those excited feelings rush in, nervous feelings are right on their heals. I’m nervous because I want to take full advantage of my day at the show (I would probably be far less tentative if I were going for the entire shindig). What if I miss out on meeting certain people? What if I run out of time to scour all of the important booths? What if I don’t come home with any of my “Most Wanted” cards because I couldn’t find them or they were priced too high? At what point will I consider the show a success or a disappointment, especially since I have no idea when I’ll be able to attend again given the recent East Coast snubs by the planning committee?

I need some help here, people, especially from those of you who have attended the National in the past (or even other card shows for that matter). What are some things I should keep in mind? Are there things I should be taking along (besides a camera and limited cash)? I am not really interested in the autograph signings but would love to add some cards to my collections. Should I take all of my have/want lists, or just focus on one or two?

Any advice you can afford would be greatly appreciated.

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4 Responses to Gearing Up for The National

  1. I’ve been to the NSCC when it was in Chicago. Awesome show but you are right, it is very big and daunting. Trying to see everything in one day is next to impossibly, especially if you want to take part in any promotions or events. If there are any giveaways at the dealer booths, get there early enough before they are gone.

    As for lists, I say take them all. You never know what you will find and if a dealer has something, chances are they will have it with them when they get to the show or will be able to set something up with you to get it later. I took a couple lists to my first one and found next to everything I was looking for. The next time, I took everything and found almost nothing…but a dealer had many of my items back at his home shop which I later purchased from him over the phone.

    If you aren’t in for the autos, you will have a ton of time to browse. Pick a side and create a strategy. I find that trying to take a “once around” approach works because then you get an idea of where stuff is that you came for and can easily find it again later.

    I’m jealous. I wish I could go.

  2. jswaykos says:

    Scoop up all the cheap relics you can get your hands on. I bet there’ll be a ton, cheaper than most bargain bins around the country!

    Plus, you’ll feel like you bought a lot.

    You can find singles any day on ebay or COMC or wherever. Take advantage of the distributors being there and try to get a box or two on the cheap.

    That’s what I’d do, anyway.

  3. take a bag, shoulder/backpack type. Bring a couple bottles of water. And snacks. I’m serious, the food there will be horribal and overpriced and slow you down in the lineups.
    Bring ALL of your lists.
    Bring a couple of 100ct boxes to put your cards in as you buy them.
    Bring cash. But only as much as you can afford to spend!!!
    Have fun.

  4. AdamE says:

    Lists lists lists…

    Cash. Always bring small bills. It is hard to try to talk someone down on price if you are paying with a hundred dollar bill.

    Backpack – Find some way to put all your lists in one binder that can easily be carried. The backpack is for the cards you buy. It is hard to tote around a bunch of boxes or even singles for that matter.

    Cruise. Give the place a quick once over before diving in. Look for what type of stuff is where and keep an eye out for bargin bins and then figure out a stragety on how to hit all the things you noted.

    Have Fun

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