As more and more of the restrictions are relaxed in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, promoters are feeling enabled to resume their sports card shows. Among the first to test the waters is Kyle Robertson. The proprietor of the Dallas Card Show is back in business with an event scheduled for this weekend in nearby Allen, Texas. Robertson is believed to be the first promoter in the country to host a show with more than a small number of tables since the pandemic put a halt to large gatherings in March.
With around 70 dealers expected to attend, the show returns to the Watters Creek Convention Center, next to the Delta Marriott Friday, Saturday and Sunday (June 12-14).
“We’ll be following Texas and CDC standards with sanitizers at different stations around the hotel and face masks will be encouraged,” Robertson said Tuesday. “We’ll have six foot physical distancing with 14-foot aisles in between tables so we’ll have plenty of room for the six-foot distancing and we’ll guide traffic to flow down each aisle because safety is our number one goal on this.”
While guidelines on gatherings have kept shows off the calendar in some areas of the country, much of Texas has opened, albeit with some social distancing still in place. Unlike some of the smaller shows that have begun to open up again in hotel ballrooms or other smaller facilities, the convention center attached to the hotel may make it feel like the last bigger show you may have attended.
“It’s only a year old so it’s a perfect place to have a show,” said Robertson. “Across the street there’s shopping, bars, and restaurants so it’s all almost totally opened.”
Vendors Anxious to Return
Full-time dealers and “weekend warriors” who regularly set up booths at card shows in the region have been off the circuit because of restrictions on gatherings for nearly three months. In that time, the hobby has seen significant growth, much of which has happened online. Some will be looking to buy while others will be looking to earn cash by bringing cards to sell.
“There’s been a surge of new collectors that came in and now the dealers are looking for inventory and hopefully they can come down here and get re-supplied,” said Robertson, who also buys and sells. “Instagram and Facebook have really become hot marketplaces and doing auctions (on those platforms) has left dealers with a shortage regarding their inventory so it’s a good time to have a show.”
Robertson tells us he hasn’t turned any dealer away yet due regarding space requirements. “It’s almost worked out perfectly as I probably have just enough to space out a show so we can have ample room for social distancing and just the right number of vendors.”
Some are opting to avoid prolonged public contact, however, at least for now.
“We had a certain number of vendors that didn’t want to set up at the show but they’ll be attending because they just want to see how it’s going and see how everybody reacts.”
No Autograph Guests
While Robertson usually brings in some current or former pro athletes to sign autographs at his shows in the Dallas area, that practice is on hold.
“We considered autograph guests or allowing pictures to be taken and we would love to have them but we felt because of social distancing it would be impossible to keep that six-foot standard so safety was a concern for us.”
Attendance and Space
Robertson says the number of people who can be in the facility at any one time will be smaller than normal. “On the turnout for this one we’re limited to 50 percent capacity so right now we’re hoping we have a great turnout and we don’t want to turn away anybody coming in to buy cards,” he said. “With the new surge in the interest in card collecting we’re thinking it’s going to be a little bigger than normal and continue to grow hopefully with everyone getting in the building and being safe because that’s the bottom line.
“We’ll be spreading it out over 50-thousand square feet and 200 tables for what would normally be a 350-table plus show so we’ll have plenty of room to be safe and that is our number goal to stay safe and make sure everybody comes in to enjoy the show.”
Robertson is planning for another three-day event August 21-23, potentially with up to 500 booths.