There wasn’t any fighting to gain space at dealer tables. No word of any gigantic, historic walk-in item. Still, the 2009 National Sports Collectors Convention seemed to get off to a good start on its first full day.
A fairly steady crowd showed up late in the morning and continued until the 6 PM close. More than one person, however, wondered if the National is doing all it can to bring casual collectors or would-be collectors in the door. We aren’t aware of any online advertising pushes made over the last few months, despite the fact that much of the hobby’s attention is now focused in cyberspace. The National is a show that folks will drive hours to get to–or even fly to–so it would make sense to have a presence outside the metro area.
Vintage cards again seemed to be good sellers, as is always the case in the Midwest. Unopened vintage packs and boxes were flying off the tables at Baseball Card Exchange. Collectors ripped cello packs of 1955 Topps All-American football on Wednesday night and we saw the sale of an unopened 1977 Topps baseball vendor box. Looking at vintage wax boxes, offered in the thousands of dollars, is worth the price of admission.
Auction houses and dealers in vintage memorabilia save their best stuff for the National, knowing some of the serious collectors also save their big buys for this annual five-day meet.
The newly sold SGC 40 graded T206 Wagner drew crowds at Memory Lane’s booth. The company is also passing out 100th anniversary T206 computer mouse pads free of charge, which is a nice touch. PSA was giving away free T206 posters and the chairs at their grading booth were full much of the day. Legendary Auctions, which will run the sale featuring Bob Gibson’s collection Friday night in downtown Cleveland, is set up in the middle of the room.
We saw lines at Donruss/Panini as collectors responded to freebie offers and redemptions. The same for Upper Deck. Both, by the way, have increased their online presence on social networks. Topps does not have a corporate booth which seems strange.
We asked, but did not see evidence of the FBI roaming the aisles. Doesn’t mean they weren’t there, but it’s a question many were asking after they showed up and began asking questions last year. We surmise that since the investigation continues into illegal practices in some quarters of the hobby that when it’s done, the news will be big. We hear the Bureau will have a presence this weekend.
When the National was in Cleveland in 2007, the corporate booth area marked the middle of the show, but this year’s event is decidedly smaller. The corporate booths are now the edge of the show (see photo below). Dealers hope that means a better take for those who invest thousands of dollars to set up at this annual event.