The National Sports Collectors Convention is the “Super Bowl” of sports collectibles shows, maybe even more like “Super Bowl Week,” depending on how many days you might attend.
As a veteran “floor-walker” of five National Sports Collectors Conventions (NSCC) I have come up with a shortlist of tips that can enhance your experience, if, at any point, you are looking to attend the annual show, which started in 1980. Some of these items might not have crossed your mind, or are perhaps gentle reminders, or maybe a blend.
1. Carve out a couple hours to do some basic prep at least a few days before you head out the door to start your adventure. Part of that prep is looking at the show’s floor plan and making some notes as to the top five booths/dealers you want to visit, plus putting together or finalizing a basic current want list for your collection.
2. Once you have a list of items you are looking for, make a couple of hard (paper) copies of the list and put one of them in your bag/suitcase and another in a second place (like a wallet) that you know you will have with you.
3. If you have your want list on your computer, send a copy of it to two different email accounts with two different companies (such as Google and Yahoo!). What are the chances you would have both email accounts lock up on you at the same time, if you needed to access them during the show? If you have a cell phone that can hold readable files of decent size keep a want list on there, too.
4. Determine how much money you can spend at the NSCC beforehand and consider bringing some of it in cash, or at least (hopefully) having access to an ATM at the show. Cash can still be king at card shows, much less The National.
5. Wear comfortable shoes with decent tread on them (and insoles, too—don’t laugh) to walk/stand in, because you will be on your feet, a lot. The National normally has hundreds of dealers, and many of them have multiple tables. The first time you attend the big event it can be a tad overwhelming to say the least, like a kid in a candy store, granted where much of the candy is made of cardboard, but you get the idea.
7. Bring some water and snacks to at least supplement anything you might also buy to eat at the show. The National is like a big hike, in many cases, and yes you could just buy something while checking things out but that can add up quickly, in both money and time, and it takes you away, sometimes too much, from searching for what you want collectibles wise—and other things you might just stumble upon—which is part of The National’s magic.
8. Strongly consider bringing a gym bag or the like with wheels, so you do not have to carry your items around the show. After an hour or so lugging things around by hand can really drain the fun. Toss an umbrella and a few larger plastic bags in the mix.
9. Build in some time to stop by a few of the corporate booths, some may have lines of people that might not take an hour to get through, but 20 minutes here and there adds up, if you have not planned for it.
10. If possible, set aside a certain amount of money to buy one or two items that you were not planning or even considering purchasing. You will know what it is/they are when you see it/them. Splurge, hey, it’s The National.
11. Pace yourself. If you go for just a day you might have to speed things up some, there is so much to see, but at least it is just one day. If you go multiple days it is more like a marathon. Whatever amount of time you spend there consider stretching for ten minutes after the show each day—your legs and back and many other body parts will thank you for it.
12. Enjoy the show and jot some notes to yourself on how to improve and customize The National (or perhaps a large regional show) for the next time you attend.