A Bum Phillips era Houston Oilers reunion was just part of this past weekend’s big sports card and memorabilia show in Houston. Tri-Star Productions’ event is one of the biggest in the western half of the country with football players past and present joining their baseball colleagues for a big autograph session.
Dealers competing in a still challenging modern era card market are there, too, hoping to move some product to those collectors still buying the new products.
Frank Thomas canceled late in the game, but you could find everyone from Goose Gossage to Whitey Ford, Ken Stabler to Billy “White Shoes” Johnson grabbing the Sharpie over the three days of the event at Reliant Arena.
Tri-Star’s business has shifted over the years from card show promoters to autograph wholesalers. The company’s paid autograph guests spend time meeting fans and collectors but they also sign hundreds of items for the promoters, who will offer them to online and mail order buyers around North America.
The autograph business is just part of what the company is doing these days to make a buck, riding out the tough times while giving smaller dealers the chance to make a buck on the volume of signed items Tri-Star is able to get through its deals with the players.
The Houston Chronicle stopped by the show to take the pulse of the sports memorabilia business.