We made the two hour trip south from our house to the beautiful suburb of Oaks, PA for the Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show Saturday morning.
We hit the PA turnpike and drove through a virtual monsoon of rain and wind but, as always, it was well worth it.
We decided to bring my daughter this time because she’s become such a fan of sports cards and collectibles. This was going to be my big girl’s first big show.
We got to town around 10 AM. I dropped the girls off at the door and parked the car on the outskirts of the lot and ran in through the rain. There was no one in line by the time we got to the convention center. I’ve noticed at previous stops at the show that they really keep it moving here. The girls got their ticket. I got my credential and we headed in to check out the show.
Upon first impression, the parking lot was very full and the show was pretty packed. Hunt Auctions had a beautiful set up right inside the door to the right hand side as usual. It featured showcases and displays of high end cards in auction and a pile of Phillies autographed gear. Many of the usual suspects were in their standard spots throughout the show floor, too. There were a few new faces which we were more than happy to see as well.
We decided to break the show down supermarket style and do a complete outer lap and then walk our way up and down each aisle until we got to the end of the show floor.
Generally speaking, the shiny new stuff far outweighed the old and dusty stuff.
Some hobby heavyweights were in attendance including Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions and Philadelphia 76ers and Fanatics owner Michael Rubin who I had the pleasure bumping into for a moment. He donned the 76ers chain just for our picture.
Interestingly enough, the very first table we stopped at had a major deal going down. There was a man just opening the showcases himself and stacking cards on the table top. At first I thought he was the owner or someone who worked there but it turned out he was piling up stuff as a part of something that had to be a low to mid five figure deal at the very least. Literally, every single dealer that I talk to said the show was going great for them and, to a man, they were extremely happy with the amount of sales by the end of the day Saturday. That’s great news for everyone involved.
Being only a few hours from home, inevitably, we bumped into a few collectors and friends from our area. One of our good hobby buddies Jake Davis had tables set up at the Philly Show for the first time. He also said he was doing really well and selling a ton of cards that he wouldn’t have sold in his shop in Elysburg, PA.
Like I mentioned, we had the cutest little girl running around the entire convention center. I’m happy to say there were so many, I mean so many, dealers who went another way to include her in the buying process and show experience. So many folks made her feel welcome at the show and in the hobby. Many even offered up free cards and products to her. One dealer offered her a vintage card of the one and only Mickey Mouse. Another generous dealer offered her a vintage card of a Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. The booth that took the award for best customer service to a four year old were the Show Your Slabs guys. They went out of their way to include her and said if she went and bought a Pittsburgh Steelers card (after finding out she was a fan) they would give her one of their big blingy gold chains to wear Flavor Flav style. We did just that and later in the day, we made our way back together to the table and the gentleman there took a good bit of his time picking out a chain for her, sizing it and giving it to her absolutely free, which totally made her day.
The explosion of sports art and sports card art within the hobby was very evident at the show. There were a number of uniquely talented individuals with different art forms and mediums displaying our favorite teams and athletes in jaw-dropping form.
I spoke to the good folks at the Murray Henderson Art booth for some time to inquire about their beautiful Michael Jordan work. With attention grabbing renditions of some of the most iconic sports cards of all time, many of their pieces fall in the $2,000 to 8,000 range, which, as it turns out, is a complete bargain compared to some of the other heavy hitters and super high end artwork in the sports art game. The group said they did really well at The National and we’re doing well at the Philly Show, too. I must say, I would be happy to add a piece of their work to my office wall. The use of the Air Jordan Nike Wings poster and the 1986-87 Fleer Jordan Rookie definitely caught my eye.
There was a nice little food court in the back, which with our four year old, definitely have to hit up at some point around noon for lunch time. After a burger and some fries, I made my way up to the newly revamped autograph pavilion.
When I first walked in, it was a bit cramped and it took a second to get my bearings because it was set up completely different than in years past.
Once I was smart enough to figure out how it was set up, I managed to be on-site for quite possibly the biggest autograph wave of the show which included Philadelphia icons and all around sports icons including MLB hit king Pete Rose, Philadelphia 76ers legend and cultural phenomenon Julius Erving, Baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and Phillies fan favorites Brad Lidge and Carlos Ruiz.
As you could imagine, local fans were incredibly excited to see all these guys sitting at the tables waiting to sign their items and shake their hands.
There was a gentleman (not pictured here) that I overheard having a one way conversation with Julius Erving in a super excited tone as he seemingly rattled off every major Dr. J play and highlight over the course of his historic career and also gave his reactions at the time. That’s the definition of fan and more so fanatic and we love it but I don’t think the good doctor needed to be reminded of those great moments. He’s aware that he had dunked from the free throw line and that he cradled and rocked the baby to sleep.
After checking out the autograph pavilion on my own, I met up with my girls again and grabbed Izzy her last few want list items before we left for the day. She left with a handful of single cards, her on the house SYS bling, a Troy Aikman Starting Lineup she had to have, a Penn State Nittany Lion Funko Pop (a purchase that mom approved of) and a few other items.
In all, it was a great day with the fam at one of the best shows in the country and we are luck to have it so close to home.
I’m already ready for the next one.