If you see a dealer wearing a New Orleans Saints shirt, don’t figure he’ll have a Louisiana accent. Anthony Panici is an Ohio guy who decided in elementary school that he wanted to be different.
“They came around in ‘67 when I was born,” he recalled while standing behind his table at the National Sports Collectors Convention. “And when I was in fourth grade because the Browns were pretty horrible and everybody else seemed to like the Steelers, I just wanted to pick my own team and I’ve stuck with them.”
Panici doesn’t live within commuting distance of the show, but is close enough not to have to add airline travel to his list of expenses. During the National’s five-day run, he’ll bunk with a sister who leaves in the Cleveland area.
“First time we’ve ever set up at the National,” he said as the show was opening on Wednesday afternoon. “I was here four years ago as a paying customer. I bought the VIP pass and really enjoyed it. I’ve been in the business for about 35 years, though. I had a card shop for about ten years and set up at shows. This one, though, has so much variety and so many different things. There’s really something for everyone.”
Panici partnered with some friends to grab table space at the National. One of them sold his entire inventory before the show even opened. During set-up on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, there are always other dealers hoping to swoop in and clean out the new guys. Sometimes the price is right.
“I set up with a bunch of guys at a monthly show we do in Canton and we started talking about it six months ago that maybe we’d like to split some space at the National. We figured we’d get our money back (through sales) but one guy already sold out. He’s home. He got a $33,000 check and is back home. I was offered something to sell my entire table but I refused to do it because I can’t come up with an honest number. I don’t know who’d be ‘getting’ who. I don’t want to ‘get’ anybody and I sure don’t want to be gotten.”
So Panici and his remaining pals will continue to sell, carrying a mix of new and old cards and a few other items, hoping their table has enough to convince collectors to stop and look.
“In baseball, Gleyber Torres is hot. Mike Trout is hot. In football, it’s a lot of the rookies and who’s hot depends on who you talk to. There’s so much regional diversity. A lot of guys make the mistake, I think, of bringing a lot of Browns stuff up here. The truth of the matter is that all of the locals who attend already have that stuff so I think they’re wasting their table space with it. Basketball-wise, everyone is after LeBron James right now. Michael Jordan is always a consistent seller. People always ask to see them if you have a pile of Jordans. Donovan Mitchell and some of the young Lakers players are what they’re asking for, too.”
Part of the equation for sellers at the NSCC is knowing what to bring. For many, one table just won’t hold everything they’d like to offer.
“I usually have two eight foot tables at the local shows so I had to condense,” Panici said. “It was a very tedious process of going through about 100 three-row shoe boxes to try and figure out what to bring. I finished up last night about 12:30 and I think I did OK.”
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