Enter a drawing at a card show and you might win a free box of cards. The promoters of this past weekend’s All-American Collectors Show in Collinsville, IL have upped the ante. The inaugural three-day event at the Gateway Convention Center near St. Louis featured thousands of dollars in giveaways including low grade Mickey Mantle rookie cards, Goudey Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards, a T206 Ty Cobb, autographed Stan Musial and Pete Rose baseballs and several other items.
“I noticed what other card shows were giving away and they usually had $20 or $25 items, and if you’re trying to attract attention and get people to come to your shows that’s not going to do it,” said Roger Till, a long-time collector and dealer who headed up the promotional team organized the event. There was one giveaway every hour, with a professional broadcaster on hand to provide announcements, handle the drawings and even play some popular music in the background.
The show had about 35 dealers from around the Midwest, some of whom were set up at the National. The vast majority of the material available for sale was of the vintage variety. Autograph guests included Ozzie Smith, Pete Rose, Andy Van Slyke, Whitey Herzog, Bobby Hull, Orlando Pace and Johnny Roland.
The show’s attendance may have not have been what Till was hoping for. School is back in session, the National drew some of the region’s serious collectors earlier in the month and travel may have been an issue for some in the immediate area thanks to road work. However, the giveaways, a Saturday night auction and dinner and other touches made the show unique—and a bit of a throwback to what such gatherings used to be in the 1970s and 80s.
“At one time, the St. Louis market was one of the best in the country. We just noticed that over the last few years, there weren’t too many big shows and a couple of my buddies and I got together and decided to launch this,” Till told Sports Collectors Daily minutes before the weekend’s final giveaway—a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle worth $4,000-5,000.
“We polled several dealers and asked what they’d like to see at shows and took a lot of ideas from a lot of people and this first show we basically did everything that everybody suggested. So we kind of went overboard a little bit but almost everybody we talked to had a very good feeling about what’s going to be happening over the next several years in St. Louis.”
There were opportunities to pick up bargains in the auction, but with a few auction houses represented, big ticket items like vintage baseball card sets, didn’t always go cheap.
“We had a live auction and a silent auction,” Till said. “There were about 400 lots in the live auction and 400 or 500 in the silent auction and it went a lot longer than we anticipated with a lot of people attending.”
Planning for next year’s event began during the weekend with promoters getting feedback from dealers and collectors. It’s hoped that a change in dates will spark attendance.
“We’re going to move the show to May 31, June 1 and June 2,” Till revealed. “We’re going to keep it here at this same facility and we’re going to expand it. We’re going to do the giveaways again and decide what guests to bring in.”
“For the most part, everyone was very happy with what we offered. The next step is to just get more people in here.”