Card Show State of the Union Address

Mr Speaker. Mr Vice President. Members of Congress. My Fellow Americans. After celebrating the birth of my Savior I enter the New Year with much anticipation and hope. The Flagship: Topps Series 1 Baseball is due to release in two weeks or so. And collectors across our great land eagerly anticipate Wednesday mornings for the release of this weeks Topps Living Set.

I was reminded this past week when I got a notification on my phone. I entered this in my calendar over a month ago. It was a local card show! And it was on pay-day week, it was on my day off and it was about 15 minutes from my house. It doesn’t get any better than that (…well maybe The National). I’ve been visiting card shows in my area quite frequently, it seems there making a come back.

I haven’t had much luck finding things that fit into my current collecting goals but I like to attend local shows to show my support and meet other collectors and dealers. Typically, I am a supportive, optimistic, encouraging person. But then there are times that the manager in me sees things that could use some improvement. Have you ever had an experience at a card show and you couldn’t believe what just happened? Or how things were handled?

I want to share my experience and observations I made this past weekend and with your permission I’d like to share my opinion to collectors, card show dealers but especially show promoters. My opinions are by no means meant to criticize or tear down but rather to build up and support. Constructive criticism I believe is the term. Lets just say, I’m the undercover boss. The outsider looking in. Here’s what I saw.

My Observations at a Local Card Show

  1. Empty Tables – if 40 tables are advertised but only 25 are filled perhaps we can remove some of the empty tables and consolidate the dealers. Leaving large gaps of empty tables between dealers seems awkward. Or having dealers spread out their inventory is a good concept if they have it to spread. When we spread out too thin and just toss top loaded cards on an 8′ table with no rhyme or reason it gives the impression that we are unorganized.
  2. Complaining Dealers – When I can I like to get to a card show within the first hour or two waiting till the end leaves you with all the left overs, the good stuff is gone. Right? Dealers that are ranting about running late, complaining about everything and everyone for the reason they are late is the ultimate in unprofessionalism. I understand frustration and can even extend some grace due to character flaws in our personalities but when you’re ranting becomes prolonged rudeness, when you have this negative vibe surrounding you, well… you take all the fun out of a card show. Sorry. Not Sorry.
  3. Missing-In-Action Dealers – so when you leave your table unattended to go shopping yourself. When people are looking to ask questions and you’re at the other end of the card show makes me want to say, C’mon Man!
  4. Clueless Dealers – I came across dealers that would not come down on their prices. I came across another dealer that knew nothing about cards and if you had any questions he had to call the owner of the cards to get the answer and wouldn’t you know it sometimes he wouldn’t answer the phone. Dealers that don’t realize what they have set out on the table is a bunch of five cent commons in top loaders and screw downs no less. Clueless dealers that do not have a pulse of the hobby and they have no idea what current market values are.

My Unfortunate Experience at a Local Card Show

So here’s my experience. A certain Missing-In-Action Dealer had one Super Shoe Storage Box on his table. None of the cards were displayed on the table but I noticed some PSA slabs in it so it caught my attention. I approached the dealer on the next table and he didn’t know where the person went. I made my rounds and came back to the table, this time to find him in the middle of a deal with that one box in between him and the customer. This deal took about 30 minutes. When I circled back around there was another guy going through the one box so I waited my turn.

Finally got a chance to look through it and I choose 8 cards to purchase. I did a little bit of research on my phone and made an offer. I then asked him, “where are you at?” He proceeded to mock my offer and created this perception that I was trying to get one over on him. I pleaded my case and assured him that my offer was just that, an offer. I asked him to counter my offer but all he could do was laugh and try to get others around him involved. I also reassured him that I am a collector not some guy trying to flip for profit.

walter payton

I tried to get a dollar amount from him but it was obvious he did not know, he was wanting me to look up recent sales and tell him what their worth. We debated for over 10 minutes about an 1985 Topps Walter Payton Box Bottoms Hand Cut in a PSA 7. Recent sales on eBay only showed two that had previously sold one in a 4, the other in a 6, neither one sold for more than $15.00 he was wanting $75.00 for his 7. I passed on the Payton even though I really wanted it. He did meet me half way on the other seven cards I chose but he did so hesitantly.

It All Comes Down to this One Thing

On my drive home I found myself perplexed. I asked myself, what the heck just happened back there? I was trying to figure out if I was offended, I felt a whole array of emotions then it hit me. I was disappointed. I’ve attended shows and I’ve done card shows, I was a card show dealer for just over 10 years. I’ve never came home disappointed but what exactly was my hang up with this whole thing?

Then I realized. It all comes down to this one thing called etiquette. Dictionary.com defines it this way, conventional requirements as to social behavior; the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other. You see what we had here was a failure to be professional. The very basics of a business etiquette seemed non-existent.

I love our hobby too much to see this type of activity and just turn the other cheek without saying something. I consider it my responsibility to see a wrong doing and calling it out. I say this with the utmost respect and love as my hobby brothers and sisters… Lets clean this up. Card dealers let’s be the first ones there and the last ones to leave. Let’s treat customers with the utmost respect. Let’s do a little bit of homework before we set something on a table.

In other words let’s have the decency and the dignity to perform sports card shows with a code of excellence. Let’s embrace the formalities of being professional and organized. Let’s watch our p’s and q’s and exhibit proper behavior towards each other but especially with customers. In the end doesn’t this all seem like common sense?

God Bless You and God Bless America.

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

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Victor Roman Sr

I've been collecting for over thirty years. My goal is to inform and inspire collectors of cardboard. I believe there is nothing that holds its value better than rookie cards of Hall of Famers, nor is there anything more rewarding than learning the history of the All-Time Greats. I summarize it this way- LEARN. COLLECT. ENJOY.

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