This year’s National Sports Collectors Convention (a.k.a., the National) isn’t until later this fall. The event will be held at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Oh. from August 1-5. We’re still a few months away but that doesn’t mean you should be sitting on your hands.
Do you need to be making arrangements for what you’re going to wear? That might be going a little overboard. But here are five things you should already be doing to prepare.
1. Book Hotel and Travel Arrangements
The first step is actually to determine if you need lodging. If so, how far away are you willing to stay? What kind of accommodations do you want? While there may be something in the vicinity late, the closer hotels or hotels with amenities you want may be all gone by that time.
And if money’s the issue, keep in mind that many hotels won’t even charge you until you show up for your stay. Make your reservations early.
2. Save Your Pennies
This can take a variety of forms. For some (me), it might mean eating out less often and saving some extra money.For others (also, me) you’ve got piles of dupes that you have been meaning to sell but haven’t been motivated enough to do so. Or maybe you simply need to do some odd jobs to make a little cash. Whatever the case, start your planning now.
Again, this is the National. We all have budgetary constraints but the last thing you want to do is show up at the event, prepared to stay for the weekend, and be fresh out of cash on Day 1. Whatever your budget and plans look like, make sure you have enough to accomplish your goals.
Spoiler: You will never have enough money at the National…but it helps to have a fat wallet.
3. Plan for Autographs
Each year, the National has one of the largest lineups of guests and this year won’t be any exception. While some late additions are possible, there’s already a pretty outstanding lineup so far.
If autographs are your thing, make sure you’re already making plans for which ones you plan to get and for acquiring any items you want to have signed. The sooner you start looking (if you don’t already own them), the easier things will be on you later.
4. Consider a VIP Package
Tickets are on sale for the event and if you’re buying a run-of-the-mill general admission ticket, there’s no real hurry. But if you are considering a VIP package, make sure to start giving serious thought to it now rather than later.
A standard All Access VIP package and a All Access SUPERVIP package are both available and there are a total of only 350 packages available. These passes give you first-in-line privileges for all autograph guests, five free TRISTAR authentications, two photo opportunities, authentication line priority, and more, including access to all five days of the show, early admission, some free autographs and some National-exclusive cards.
The passes are mostly about the autographs and aren’t necessary for everyone but if you’re considering buying one, make sure you realize there are a limited number.
5. Begin Formulating a Game Plan
This one’s a little tricky. Since the show is still a ways off, you may not need to start getting your want lists in order just yet. That’s really true if you’re a particularly active buyer because chances are that your want list is going to change between now and the event.
Still, it’s not too early to start thinking about the rarer or big ticket cards you might have on your want list that you aren’t likely to secure before the show. Get a list together of some of the more important things you’re planning to look for and don’t worry about having to modify it a little. Changing your game plan over the summer is going to be better than just starting one.
The plan might not merely include making a list of cards. You might want to check with certain dealers in advance to find out what they might be bringing and let them know you’ll be there looking for something specific.
Dealers are there to buy and auction houses will be accepting consignments. If you’ve got some quality items to sell, start thinking about what you want to take with you and maybe even make appointments (not totally necessary, but not a bad idea, either). Some will be happy to meet with you a day or two before the show.
Think about your transportation plans and whether they factor into getting items to and from the show.