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National Sports Collectors Group Faced Obstacles

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The Los Angeles market may have a lot of people, but Mike Berkus’ big job was convincing them to come to the National Sports Collectors Convention.

He was there for the first one and Mike Berkus is still around as the dirt is thrown on the 27th National Sports Collectors Convention. Tired, proud and already thinking ahead to next year.

It’s life as the co-Executive Director of the National, an unusual combination of show and showcase for the sports card and memorabilia industry.

NSCC logo“We spent 240% more in advertising and marketing this time because we weren’t satisfied with the last two Nationals in Anaheim in 1996 and 2000. It’s a challenge for us to find the style and what’s required to succeed in each market. We advertise heavily in southern California because they’re are a lot of diversions here. We’re not the big fish.”

He lives in the area so when the hobby’s big event comes to his home area, he feels even more responsible for it’s success. “We know there are about 20,000 hard-core collectors who will come no matter where the show is. The challenge is to get the sports fan who’s not a collector in here,” Berkus said in an interview at the National.

“You go to venues like Cleveland we get a wonderful reception. We’re the big fish and it’s less stress and worry. We’re a good one for them and we’re treated that way. Southern California is different. There are a lot of other things for people to do.”

No attendance records were broken and there was plenty of room to move around in Anaheim. Yet the concensus among several dealers was that while SoCal crowds are sometimes small, the collectors who do come usually spend their fair share of cash. “The pre-sales of this show exceeded any show by 40% which was a good indicator that our marketing had worked. It’s higher than any of the 27 shows before,” Berkus said.

After working tirelessly on the National, there is a sense of satisfaction when the doors open on Wednesday night and the first attendees come through the door for the sneak preview. “We spend the entire year working with the companies that produce special cards and we get great cooperation out of the trading card manufacturers,” said Berkus who works with partners Bob Wilke and John Broggi.
“Non-hobby sponsors that result in TV and radio commercials help us but that’s a challenge too. The easiest part of the whole thing is the dealers. They buy their tables a year in advance so it’s always sold out. That’s what makes the national the foundation show. It’s owned by the dealers.”
For many dealers east of the Mississippi River, attending the National was simply too much of a logistical nightmare and very expensive, just as an eastern National puts strain on dealers who operate in the Pacific time zone. The 2007 National will be in Cleveland and remains in the Midwest for it’s return to the popular venue of Chicago in 2008.

“The National Convention Committe reviews the site selections and everything that goes with it,” explained Berkus. “We do the research but the dealers then vote on where they’d like to go. There’s no city large enough to host this convention that we don’t review and put the dealers to a vote.”

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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  1. […] thing you can count on is that as I’ve done since 2006 in Anaheim, I’ll again be in reporting mode for much the National, bringing back the stories, the pictures […]

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