It’s been a fixture on the sports collecting calendar since Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys met Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X. The Cranston Sports Card Show is not only older than the National, it’s one of the five longest running shows in the hobby. The annual event is set to return February 5 and 6 at the Coventry High School Gym in Coventry, RI.
Traditionally held on Super Bowl weekend, wrapping up just prior to kickoff, this year’s event will actually take place one weekend earlier. When the NFL added a 17th game to the schedule, the Super Bowl was pushed back by a week.
“We will be back to Super Bowl weekends in 2023,” said promoter Mike Mangasarian.
COVID put the clamps on last year’s February show, which was held in July for the first time.
The show is held as a benefit for several local charities and the 130 vendor spaces are sold out.
“I shut the table capacity off at 130 in November because my help crew of 20-30 kids from Sts. Vartanatz church said it was a difficult task to handle all the dealers at the last event and to please not exceed the 130 until I can hire new added help to deal with the growth,” Mangasarian stated. “I could easily have sold 50 more tables but the growth of the show is dependent on the paid admissions and this has to grow in proportion with our incredible dealers attending the event.”
He’s hoping to expand the show to as many as 250 tables by 2025.
“I recruited the best dealers outside the southeast corner of New England by visiting the GBSCC Show in Wilmington in early November and the prestigious East Coast National in Westchester, NY Thanksgiving Weekend, and the very next week after New York, went to Philadelphia for the very first time and added a few more dealers which represents 50% of our dealer base.”
The rest of the dealers hail from the local region of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
“I could easily have sold 50 more tables but the growth of the show is dependent on the paid admissions and this has to grow in proportion with our incredible dealers attending the event.” promoter Mike Mangasarian said. In one aisle in Philadelphia 50% of the aisle were dealers that set up at the Cranston Show™ representing the high quality of dealers the show attracts.
The show was founded in 1976 by Tom McDonough, who ran it until 2019.
Look for plenty of vintage cards and memorabilia at the show, but there will be dealers carrying recent singles and boxes as well as Pokemon and other non-traditional items.
Former Boston Bruin and Rhode Island hockey legend Bill Bennett will be signing autographs for $5-$10, depending on the item.
Mangasarian is publishing a show program with a feature that should be a staple at any larger show: a free program handed out at the door that lists dealers. Looking only for graded cards? Check the program and you’ll be able to see who has them and where you can find them. Dealers will also be listed in the program alphabetically for those looking to do business with a certain seller.
Being nice to be nice to your customers could pay off for the show’s vendors. In the back of the program is a coupon for guests to fill in one name of a dealer who treated them right. The votes will be tabulated and three different winners will get a free table at the next Cranton Sports Card Show. 2020 winners were Barry Wilson of New York, Bill and Stephen Rush of Cranston, and Bob Perry of Marshfield, MA.
Mangasarian says he creates the floor space to keep aisles five feet wide, with dealers set up back-to-back with eight feet of space behind them. “Nobody bumps into anyone at this show and there are no steps to walk up or down once you get out of your car.” He says the event drew 2,200 paid admissions in 2020 and a crowd approaching 3,000 is possible.
Local kids are always on hand, working for tips by helping dealers load and unload.
There will also be eight supervised tables of silent auction items dealers can offer.
Mangasarian says he’s also trying to bring some fun to the floor with an old fashioned card pitching contest open to everyone with a $10 registration fee. First place will get a $50 certificate to spend on the show floor followed by 2nd place $40, 3rd place $30, 4th place $20, & 5th place $10. This competition will need a minimum of 20 contestants.
The show runs Saturday, Feb. 5 from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 8:30-3. Admission is $5 with two-day passes available for $7. Discounted admission for seniors 65 & older, Veterans, and children under 12 is $3 with kids under 5 free.
An $20 early bird admission for 8 AM on Saturday will be offered for collectors who would like to get on the show floor before the doors open to the public. A collector will have early access to collectibles for one hour without the crowds.
There will be raffles and door prizes throughout the show.
Local hotel discounts are available via [email protected] or by callling 401-601-5703.