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The curtain closes on Chicago for 2011

Depending on who you ask, the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention was either a rousing success or a resounding thud. Welcome to the sports collectibles industry in a nutshell.

I always get a kick out of dealers’ comments regarding a show. Ultimately, a show’s success is going to come down to dollars, as in items sold by said dealer during a show’s run. A bad show means little sales and the opposite is true for a good show. You could have two dealers right next to each other with decidedly differing views about the same show. And there are tons of factors that lead to a successful or miserable show.

From my perspective, it’s in a dealer’s hands to make a show a success or not. If you want to move product, price accordingly. If you don’t want to lower price points because of the money invested in items or because of perceived value, well, have fun moving it to the next show you are setting up at.

Stationed where we were at the National, just down from the front entrance, you get a good glimpse at the crowds flowing into the show each day. The Friday and Saturday crowds were very solid at the opening bell. Being toward the front, you can see the collectors with a game plan, as they were off to their first desired booth location. Other groups come in, stand in an aisle, remark about how big the show is and then say, “How do you want to attack this?” I smirked each time I heard this.

Each show I attend these days has huge crowds for the autograph pavilion, and the National was no different. Some people must have spent all day – and several hundred dollars – in that area. I understand the appeal of meeting a particular athlete in person, but for some of the prices listed to get a signed ball or photo, well, there were dozens of dealers offering the same products for a cheaper price just a few dozen feet away.

People always ask, “Was it a good show for you? If you’re looking at getting SCD into people hands, especially new readers, I think so. We ran out of the issues we had on hand by early Sunday morning – something that didn’t happen in Baltimore in 2010. We rolled out dozens of new subscriptions and were able to meet many current subscribers who offered their likes and dislikes, with delivery issues being the biggest complaint.

I was pleased to see so many of the same people over multiple days. To me, that means the show has staying power.

I wish I could have roamed the show floor much more than I was able to, but from what I saw there wasn’t as many “wow” items that I remember from previous National conventions. It seems unopened product is very popular, and I even witnessed some felt pennants an attendee had that weren’t identifiable to date. I’ll have photos in a future issue and we’ll solicit some input from Bob Lemke as well.

Heritage and Legendary Auctions conducted sales during the National, and both showed that extreme high-end rare material will still get high prices even in this economy. The other levels are taking a bit of a hit, which is why you are seeing set collectors filling in missing pieces and/or upgrading what they have instead of jumping to higher levels in the collecting food chain.

All in all, another pleasant experience and I’m looking forward to hitting the Inner Harbor in Baltimore again next year.

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