by Rich Klein
This past weekend the brotherhood (AKA the Men’s Club) at my synagogue (Adat Chaverim, Plano TX) celebrated its bar mitzvah and I was honored with giving one of the readings. The event’s coordinator attempted to tailor each reading to the honored person. My part included these words: “There were business associates who wanted more than we could give. There were those who asked for more than they had a right to ask for.” When I read that, I was struck by all the hobby conversation about the recently announced locations for the Sports Collectors National Convention and how true those words rang.
We, as a hobby, do not know, nor should we ask for the profit and loss statements or the bank statements of the people running the National Convention. Let’s just say the National has stabilized from the near death experience of the 1996-97 period and under the management of Mike Berkus and John Broggi, the National runs smoothly each and every year with minimal issues. As an aside, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I did part-time work for John back in the 1990’s in his store. Just from watching him deal with customers and listening to him on the phone I learned an incredible amount about how to run a sports collectibles business on a day to day basis.
In addition, many of the vendors at the show and people who just come to the front see members of his family and friends keeping the show running smoothly. I want to single out my good friend Megan Galinski-Broggi who handles many of the vendor issues on a day to day basis before the show and then helps at the front. We dealers and collectors can be a rough bunch but in all the years I have known Megan and her involvement with the National I have never once heard a dealer complain about her. Many of my friends, who would tell me in a second if there was a problem, have never uttered a bad word about her. I swear she must be headed to sainthood.
There are some things about the schedule I do not like but I make these comments with the understanding that I hope I am not placing any unreasonable demands on the promoter. The first is why go back to Atlantic City in 2016? I grew up near AC. It was my parent’s favorite vacation spot and I miss the taffy. Having said that, Atlantic City is hard to get to if you are flying in and frankly the area still has its share of problems. I understand that we want to be in a larger city but I wish a place like the Valley Forge Convention Center would be considered big enough to handle the convention. The show should be about the collectors and the curious and what type of experience they have at the show. Size shouldn’t be the be all and end all.
This brings me to a hobby memory about National voting. At the 1987 National in San Francisco, Ron Durham. who had experience in proselytizing, gave a presentation which won the evening. The biggest shock was as a “newcomer” he defeated major hobby veterans and I remember the biggest loser that night was Bob Schmeier who was fully anticipating running a National in 1989 in Philadelphia. Needless to say, we never did get a Philly National. Ron’s victory, for Atlantic City, sparked immediate hobby reaction both before and after the show. I would stop by his store at least twice a week during the run up for the National and I will assure you that Ron and Maureen went above and beyond to ensure a good experience for the collectors and the dealers.
Many people have bad memories about the 1988 National in no small part because Krause Publications did a hatchet job on the show afterwards. They were so intent on hammering the show that there was a special column created for the advertising manager so he could join in on ripping it to shreds. To their credit, Frank and Vivian Barning with Baseball Hobby News offered a far more balanced view of the show. As for me, since the show was drivable, I did very well because I could bring extra cards to have behind my table plus I was able to treat my folks to a weekend at their favorite vacation area. After helping me at the show, they did their thing and I did mine. One side note: Being the wiseacre I could be, I even corrected the DJ at the National “party” (yes, they used to have them) who gave wrong information on when a song hit the pop charts. He did not believe me, but had his reference book there and discovered I was correct.
But I do hope by the time we get to AC three years from now, transportation is better and the other issues involved with the last time we were there are fixed.
The other issue has to do with the city rotations. Personally, I believe at this point we could safely drop Cleveland from the rotation but it has been pointed out to me by the promoters if we just stay in Chicago the show could get very stale and become nothing more than a big local show. I think the biggest problems with Cleveland is everything is spread out for the dealers and you have to rent a car to get anywhere. It’s easier to get downtown from the show than to some of the hotels. Again, the I-X Center does fit the space requirements and the Ferris wheel in the middle of the floor is certainly a neat touch.
So where do we go for the National? Since we’re told the show has very specific size requirements and needs, the number of places that can be considred is somewhat limited. If once checks the hobby message boards, there is no shortage of collectors saying locations near them would be a perfect fit. Remember though, since we do not know of the requirements and rules being set in place by various convention facilities around the country, such places may not be so perfect.
And my other comment about the National is one about admission pricing. Again, I do not know (nor should I) the financial details but the proposed $25 admission charge strikes me as a bit high. In fact, that cost strikes me as something which will keep out many customers who might otherwise attend. Me, personally, I would, if possible, charge no more than $10-12 and make Sunday free to the public. Since so many dealers leave early (or don’t even show up because of travel commitments) why charge people to enter? Heck by noon or so, Sunday is usually free anyway. So why not just go all the way with the free Sundays? Again I hope I am not being unreasonable but just stating common sense here.
I’m looking forward to Chicago on July 31 to see my friends and may everyone stay happy and healthy and not make demands on the promoters that they cannot handle.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]