On Tuesday night, after getting my son snuggled in bed, I hit up my DVR to catch the premiere episodes of All Star Dealers on the Discovery Channel. Having watched the previews on the Discovery Channel's website, I knew the general premise: Grey Flannel's Richard Russek and team would discuss consignments coming into the auction business – sometimes going direct to the athletes the stuff originated from.
Like other reality shows, the emphasis the producers want (and Russek too) is about making money. Numerous times in the two 30-minute shows, it was uttered how a good or bad signature would determine thousands of dollars gained or lost. Very true, but a company like Grey Flannel isn't going to lose any sleep over a fake Ronnie Lott jersey when real Dr. J example is waiting in the wings.
I did notice Russek said this is a $2.5 billion industry. I'm not sure where that number comes from or what it all includes in the sports hobby, but it is one of the first real figures I've seen tossed abut in some time.
The show focuses on three or four "lots" per episode and provides some background on the piece, estimated value if real and the steps taken to determine if the item is real. For instance, they had a Roger Staubach Navy jersey that was determined to be issued but couldn't be proven to be game-worn. With each piece, they also provide some background on the player the item is related to, offering career achievements and why someone would be after said item. To us sports nuts, this part isn't necessary, but for the casual viewer it provides some context.
The authentication is the best part, as Grey Flannel's Nick Coppola and JSA's Jimmy Spence do the jersey authentication and autograph authentication, respectively. Each provides tidbits on what they are looking for to determine authenticity, which can also educate the common collector. Plus, the bowties Spence wears are worth seeing, as well.
The money angle is played up a lot, there is some swearing, but the show provides a decent look inside the auction business. You see how the product is brought into Grey Flannel, which is interesting because a lot of people have fears of mailing items through the mail, Fed Ex, etc., but here are valuable items coming in just those ways.
James Worthy pitched one of his charitable foundations during a segment, which is probably a caveat in getting him to appear, as well. Seeing Dennis Rodman's storage unit was pretty neat as well - that would have been a lot of fun to go through.
At the end, you get to see what the items sold for at auction compared to the possible value Russek and team give the item initially.
I'll be interested in the show's future episodes to see what direction it takes – same focus on product, or do the people involved start to get the headlines.