(Writer/dealer Tony Gordon offers Day Three observations from his experiences as a dealer set up at the 29th National Sports Collectors Convention).
Day three at the National had two themes going (well, other than the federal agents walking the floor), one being the Green Bay Packers; and two, slow business for dealers.
Several old Packers from the early 1960’s were signing today and Wisconsinites descended on the National en masse. On display were many customers wearing Milwaukee Braves hats and jerseys and even more folks wearing Packer jerseys. I even saw one older gentleman in a complete Packers uniform from the jersey, pants to cleats. I am wondering if the guy is married because my wife would give me a turnbuckle stomp before letting me out of the house looking like that. Those pants were uncomfortably tight and the view was a bit disturbing.
Also, with all the Milwaukee fans walking around, I did not experience an increase in old Braves, Brewers or Packer card purchases. Actually, I did not experience much of an increase in sales in just about anything.
I arrived at the Stephens Center a little late today, even though I live just 10 minutes away. My tardiness was due to a pit stop at my favorite Chicago sandwich shop, Nottoli and Sons, 7652 W. Belmont Ave. The folks at Nottoli’s are more than sandwich-makers, they are artisans and fine art takes time.
Upon my arrival to the show, my table was mobbed with customers. I couldn’t completely set up because people were going through my binders, boxes and leaning over my display cases. However, about an hour into the show, the crowds at my table disappeared for good and sales were real light for the rest of the day.
Some of my selling highlights included 1952 Topps high numbers that I had dug out the previous night while at home to meet the demand at the show. I sold a nice 1940 Play Ball Moe Berg to a gentleman from Oakland, California, along with a 1935 Diamond Stars Billy Werber. The rest of my sales were all commons. I had brought out some 1949 Bowman basketball that some customers had inquired about on Thursday but did not get any interest on Friday.
Friday customers seemed to be largely looking for 1948 and 1949 Leaf baseball and football; and 1961, 1966 and 1967 baseball high numbers. I saw a lot of the same folks from Thursday. The crowd in the room seemed light the whole day. Dealers throughout the show were reporting light sales.
I had some nice conversations with the few customers that found table 1832. One collector from Kansas observed that many of the dealers are more interested in showing off their collections than making sales. He said many of these folks have their cards priced above Beckett and Sports Market Report and are not willing to budge.
Speaking of Beckett, I had a nice conversation with a representative who told me that a lot of changes are planned to the company website including daily updates and blogs. He also said that the Beckett online price guide is more accurate than the guides in the publications.
I also talked with a collector from a small town in Kentucky who was marveling at the traffic in Chicago. He said he had a six-hour drive to the show with the last hour and a half being stuck in Chicago traffic.
Observations from Day Three:
(1) Women do not collect sports cards and memorabilia. The attendance at the show is 95 percent male.
(2) Vintage set builders at the National are seeking one or two tough short prints instead of large quantities from a single year.
(3) The Donruss/Playoff booth was real busy with guys busting boxes of wax.
(4) The Chicago Bulls booth is really cool. Wednesday night they had the Bulls seven championship trophies on display. Today I looked at all sorts of game-used jerseys and shoes.
(5) Several dealers did not bother showing up today. Did they sell out and head home?
(6) The food is terrible.
With horrible food at the show and overpriced restaurants surrounding the convention center, I thought I would throw down some of my local recommendations for folks coming to town. Listed below are some of my favorite places located within five miles of Rosemont.
For Pizza, my favorite is Al’s Pizza, 8530 W. Lawrence Ave., in Norridge, which is about a mile and a half from the Stephens Center. Al’s delivers and if you are
staying at a hotel in Rosemont, order from Al’s at 708-456-8800. Al’s thin crust is the best around.
For an excellent burger, head over to The Loon Cafe on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Arnold Street in River Grove (maybe two miles from the Stephens Center). The Loon also serves a great breakfast. Phone: 708-453-1220. Also, next to The Loon, you can park along Arnold Street for a $1 fee and hop on the Metra Train to Downtown Chicago. Train schedules are posted and you can take an express train and be Downtown in twenty minutes. One way tickets to Downtown cost around $3.50.
A good Chinese restaurant that will deliver to your Rosemont hotel is Dragon
Cuisine, 9298 Irving Park Road in Schiller Park. Call Dragon at 847-928-0800.
Another nearby gem that I really like is Mr. Zee’s Famous Chicken, 3960 N.
Narragansett Ave. (Irving Park and Narragansett), in Chicago. Mr. Zee’s has this Greek style chicken served in a garlic sauce that is delicious. I also like the Souvlaki, which is a Greek shish-ke-bob served with a yogurt/cucumber sauce that is awesome. Best part of Mr. Zee’s is that it is CHEAP. Your meal will cost under 10 bucks. Mr. Zee’s is also a half-block away from a Post Office, if you need to mail out some eBay items.
Other great nearby food options are Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza in Park Ridge, Old Warsaw Polish buffet in Harwood Heights, and Russell’s Barbecue in Elmwood Park.
For more local restaurant tips, many tavern options, sightseeing ideas and some great vintage cards, stop by booth 1832.
For a few National Convention photos, click here.