We received a lot of feedback to my column on National Sports Collectors Convention host cities, both on the SC Daily Facebook page and my own page. It’s definitely a topic of interest among collectors and dealers so here are some follow-up thoughts.
Whenever I write about Atlantic City, I always try to mention how much easier that location is for people from the megalopolis (Boston to Washington DC) to get there than anywhere west. Even though I’m not keen on the 2016 site, many in that region are indeed anxiously awaiting a chance to attend in person. It’s been a long time since the National has been on the east coast and if you live anywhere between Philly and New York, Atlantic City is about as convenient as place to get to as anywhere in the country. It’s also home to a huge collector base. I have not asked good friend and fellow hobby show promoter Gary Sipos about his New Jersey shows recently but I would wager he is having another very strong year for both attendance and also for dealers purchasing tables.
Collectors naturally want the National to be as close to them as possible. If I were from Iowa, I’d probably hope there was a place in Des Moines that could handle the show and if I’m from Evansville, Indiana, I’m rooting for Indianapolis to be the home venue. I’d love to have a national here in Dallas and I do think any of the major Texas cities could handle the show at this point and there would not be union issues either. For a variety of reasons, though, it apparently doesn’t work for the NSCC.
There are a lot of factors to weigh, many of which aren’t obvious to collectors. Show promoters have to keep the cost of what they charge dealers and corporate attendees in line. Hey, I’d love New York City but frankly there doesn’t seem to be a way we as a hobby can afford the hotel rooms, the parking and all the other expenses that go with it. I know promoter Mike Gordon used to tell the story of talking to officials with either Madison Square Garden and/or the Javits Center and asking about the price to hold a show in one of those places. His immediate reaction to the room cost would be “I’ll take it”. Then the staff would explain all the labor costs and the answer would go back to, “Sorry that is way too expensive for us.” Sounds like National co-founder Mike Berkus has the same issues with some cities.
So, what we want as dealers at a National are enough people to buy our goods so we make a profit and what collectors want are easy access to the location and some events for the evening hours or times when we are with family. When I was in Chicago two years ago, I had something doing every night of the week while I was there and suspect the same would be true this year. And the best part was I could walk to nearly all of it—or spring for a short cab ride (well, except for the first night when Mike Kushner drove us to a great Jewish deli and we talked about the old New Jersey dealing days).
Really, though, the NSCC is a gathering point for the very avid collectors. While some casually interested folks come to the show, you’ve got to be pretty serious to toss down several hundred or more on a hotel (if you’re outside the area), meals, admission and maybe parking, too. Many collectors literally spend their entire time at the show each day, have dinner, go back to their room, go through their purchases and rest up for the next day. While it’s great to see the NSCC move around a bit, and from the comments it’s obvious many of us wish it would so we can enjoy new places, the focus is still the show itself. It’s the biggest and best the hobby has to offer in terms of the volume of material available—and maybe the only time all year you can count on seeing a lot of items you can’t find on eBay.