By Rich Klein
It's a little different than it was when it began in 1980 but there is nothing in the hobby like the National Sports Collectors Convention. This event has truly become the only place where all facets of the hobby meet: From the corporate sponsors who produce cards to dealers to collectors and even to a busy autograph pavilion run by TriStar Productions. In addition, it has become the once-a-year get together for dissemination of hobby gossip and a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Sadly, this will be the second National I will not be able to see my late friend and long-time hobby dealeer Steve Gold, with whom I usually had dinner with once a show for oh, about the past 20-25 years.
But there are always new events at the National. Several leading hobby chat boards have active posters arrange for gatherings. Among the chat boards hosting events are the Net 54 group as well as Freedom Card Board. Of course, as an active member of both boards it is disconcerting to have both events the same evening. I really wish they were on different evenings as I enjoyed both events last year. Other meet and greets spring up as collectors gather at the show and meet face-to-face.
I have received several emails from people asking I'm keeping my "streak" alive and yes this will be my 30th consecutive National. I did ten Nationals while working inside a booth, 16 working for Beckett and this will be my fourth overall as just a spectator. In addition, Sports Collectors Daily editor Rich Mueller has alerted me he will be attending as well so seek him out and tell him how much you enjoy these stories.
There are many reasons I'm attending the National and one of those is to drop off cards at the booth run by COMC (formerly Checkoutmycards.com). In addition to not having to pay shipping charges the owner of the company, Tim Getsch, has actually posted that he is willing to meet with users (either buyers or sellers) on that site. I'm looking forward to formally meeting him as I usually work with a CS rep each year.
Now, everyone has different viewpoints but I will point out that I have sold more than 33 percent of the cards I have sent COMC over the last 26 months. In today's world, turning over that percentage of merchandise is pretty incredible. Recently. COMC has issued a series of posts explaining some of their goals for the future and some of the changes both buyers and sellers can expect. The part of that which really struck me is that their biggest customer service issue is people complaining about having to pay certain amounts to have them shipped. I don't know about you but I'm waiting for the day where cards magically transport themselves to my home. Shipping and handling costs are pretty hard to avoid.
In a somewhat related note, I have actually had sales/purchases fall apart because the buyer only wanted to use Pay Pal (which I don’t use). Some of us still prefer to use some old fashioned tools to buy/sell cards.
In addition, one of the reasons I love to go to the National, especially when the event is reasonably close to my old stomping grounds, is a chance to catch up with friends and get material for another round of nostalgic Rich's Ramblings.
In conclusion, if you have never been to a National and live within a couple hours of the show by driving or taking a train (there’s a station not far from the Convention Center), I strongly recommend you attend the 2012 show. The sheer size of it all is hard to put into words and your eyes will open to the hobby in a way you never before thought possible.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]