It won’t be long before I hop on a plane and head to the National Sports Collectors Convention. I had been to more than 30 in a row until my streak came to an end last year so I’m really looking forward to being back in Chicago which was the location of the first ever National I attended way back in 1983. In fact, I still remember a few days before the show, it was obvious to my work colleagues my mind was already on vacation a few days before I left. I remember one of friends, a burly man my age named Roger Smith saying, “You are already mentally in Chicago, aren’t you?”
That show and the others I attended through 1990 were all easy as my role was to set up at the show, sell cards, have a good time, pay for the trip and head back home. The 1990 National became a demarcation point as the day after the event, I had my interview with Dr. Jim Beckett, toured the company and about a month later, accepted a position at Beckett Publications.
My role through the next 16 years or so was basically the same: speak to dealers about pricing trends, be a glad hand to the dealers and continue to maintain many of my relationships old and new which benefitted the company.
I always loved finding items at the National and many times I came home with really neat material which took a couple of months to process for entering into the Beckett data base.
After leaving in 2007, my roles at each National have been somewhat different. I set up at a couple of them, helped a few dealers who needed it, had a few interviews and more recently, gathered notes for my columns. Mostly, though, I was trying to maintain my old collecting contacts, catch up with old friends and of course, bring home a few things.
This year, I’m wearing so many different hats while at the show I’m reminded of some old comments Dr. Beckett made back in the day when he owned the company. He would meet with various groups and explain that his roles included being the ultimate decision maker as needed, the chief hobbyist, keeping an eye on the budget to ensure the company remained profitable, and, when necessary to step in and give guidance on various issues without having to make the final decision. While my responsibilities do not involve running a 100+ person company, I feel like Dr. Beckett in terms of all the different hats I’m now wearing in the hobby.
For the first time since 2009, which was the last time I set up at a National, I have a home base for people to see me if they wish. It’ll be the Just Collect booth (#903) and having known Leighton and Scott forever and a day, I’m excited to be working a bit with them at the show and afterward as well. I’m grateful for a place to park, too, because walking around on a concrete floor for hours can take its toll. So come by, pick up some chocolates to keep your energy up and if I’m there, I’ll be glad to chat.
As always, though, I’ll be walking around the floor and meeting as many people as I can. As many of you know, one of the great joys of Rich’s Ramblings is to not only talk about the present but take trips back to the past. After missing 2014, I’m sure I’ll hear or have my memory jogged for many hobby tales past and present. And seeing many people for the first time in two years will be fun as well. Just re-connecting on a personal level is always a real treat. So there should be plenty of nuggets for future columns.
I have also become a show promoter since I was last at the National. Yep, while it seems forever, I have now “promoted’ about a dozen shows since then and I’ll be talking with some regional dealers about our events and do some networking about possible autograph guests We will also continue to maintain our relationships with the various card companies and other hobby entities. Now that is a lot to do in just four days and it doesn’t include any possible dinners or events after the show. So, please feel free to say hello during the show as Chicago is truly a great place for the National Convention.