It wasn’t quite the Running of the Bulls, but at 3:30 PM Wednesday, the doors were opened and the VIP ticketholders flooded the floor of the 2021 National Sports Collectors Convention.
The show is always a big draw, but VIP tickets were long gone before opening day and organizers say four times as many general admission tickets were sold online this year than during the last event in 2019, also in Chicago.
Many of those who came in early headed directly for the grading and authentication companies, dropping off submissions. Within minutes, there was a lengthy line at the PSA booth in the back of the room.
The only option for card grading, however, costs $250 as the company is still working on its massive backlog.
Dealer Kit Young, who has been buying and selling cards longer than just about anyone who will be on the floor of the National, arrived in Chicago Tuesday after a 4,500 mile buying trip.
Young and fellow long-time hobby vet Nacho Arredondo spend a good chunk of the year traveling to purchase collections. This time, it was 2 ½ weeks road, starting in Chicago and driving to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, the New England States, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and places in between.
They bought collections in 13 different states, spending $404,000 before returning to Chicago just in time for the National.
Running a sports card-based business can apparently be very lucrative these days.
Grand Slam Collectibles, a shop in Murfreesboro, TN, flew a crew up in a private plane and stopped by the Baseball Card Exchange booth where owner Nathan Burns dropped a few stacks of greenbacks on a 1986-87 Fleer Basketball wax box live on Facebook. The $165,000 in cash made for quite a photo.
The box isn’t going to go into a break or get opened up in search of high-grade Michael Jordan rookie cards. It’s just something Burns says he’s always wanted to own and he’s going to hang onto it.
Speaking of Jordan rookie cards…..(and some “other stuff”)…
This was dealer Rick Probstein’s booth on Wednesday.
Not a bad box of 2011 Topps Update Baseball opened in the Breaker Pavilion…
— Crain 🔥 (@citizencrain) July 28, 2021
Both Goldin Auctions and PWCC are promoting their “vault” services ahead of the Chicago National. Each company is hoping for submissions of items they will store for the customer with no charge. Customers can opt to have them sold at the time of their choosing or simply store them in a secured environment. Submitting items is free as of now, but auction fees would apply once the items are sold. Each company touts tax savings as one benefit.
Oregon-based PWCC says it will “have a fleet of armored trucks transporting submissions throughout the week to guarantee a smooth and safe delivery to the Vault.”
There is a minimum dollar figure for each card submitted.
We heard that the crowd expected on Wednesday afternoon could equal a typical Saturday crowd at the show. The throng of people inside made conditions in the convention center plenty toasty. If you’re coming, shorts are probably the ideal attire.
Gary Vaynerchuk is not set up or attending the National this year.
A year or so after the peak of a crazy 2020, ESPN.com looks back at how it shook out, what the future holds, the big money that’s entered the market, the impact of NFTs and the grading shutdown.
For full coverage of the show up to now and all week long, click here.
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