The hobby’s stunning growth over the last few years has played in a variety of ways but maybe the most obvious to those who’ve been involved in it for a long time is the burgeoning interest in shows. While big city events may garner more attention, dozens of new shows have begun to sprout in smaller ones too.
On Sunday, for the first time in at least 20 years, there was a show in Danville, IL–birthplace of Hall of Famer Robin Yount among a few other sports notables.
The guy in charge? JC Lane, a 13-year-old local collector.
“A lot of collectors around here have been complaining about how they had to drive 30 or 40 miles to a show,” he told SC Daily. “We finally got up and said ‘let’s do one here’.”
The inaugural event was held at the local American Legion post with JC and about a dozen other dealers from around the region manning about 30 tables.
The floor wasn’t packed but there was enough traffic from young and older collectors for JC to feel good about his plan to have shows at the same location, about once every four months.
“its gone really well,” JC said about three hours into the show. “All of the other dealers said they’re making some money and everyone’s having a good time. That’s really the most important thing.”
The idea was hatched about a month prior to the event. Local media gave the show some attention, word was spread through the JC Cards Facebook and Instagram pages and flyers were put into local card shops in South Central Illinois as well as other outlets. JC spread the word via his network of collectors. Admission was free.
“Our goal was really to get some collectors here and get people interested in more shows in the future. The biggest challenge was getting the word out and get people here.”
In JC’s case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His dad, Steve, was the last person to promote small shows in Danville.
“He’s really the one who got me into doing this. He’s been collecting for at least 40 years or more. He’s been by my side the whole way.”
About midway through the day, good humored JC–who’s thinking about a career in sports broadcasting–took to the stage to conduct a free raffle for prizes. The first three numbers called didn’t produce a winner.
“Tough crowd,” he joked.
Eventually the three tickets matched up with three winners and the show went on, another entry into a growth pattern that’s playing out in Middle America and just about everywhere else.