Wednesday, November 21, 2012
A tale of two shows
After three straight days of mega-card show posts, it's finally time to get back into the regular swing of things around here.
Problem is, I'm not quite ready to stop talking about the wonderful world of shows just yet.
I'm hoping this post will both help ease me back into my normal posting habits while letting me get the last of my card show thoughts out of my system at the same time.
With Thanksgiving coming up and all, I can't help but reflect on what I'm thankful for in my life. One particular, perhaps selfish thought keeps popping into my head.
I am truly thankful for the fact that I live about ten minutes from a gigantic convention hall that hosts card shows three times a year, a schedule that will include the National in 2013. (I don't have a picture of the card show actually taking place, but here's a shot of the hall in which it's held.)
People come from all around to attend these things, and yet it's just a short bus and train ride from where I reside.
As some of you have seen in the past three days, there's a reason I keep going back, year after year.
For one thing, the selection of vintage is second-to-none.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a 1960's Post card of Early Wynn for a buck-fifty anywhere else.
Small shows do have their share of vintage, but the quality and sheer magnitude of everything the "big show" offers cannot be touched.
Those of you who are lucky enough to have "big shows" around your area can probably attest to that.
They're hard to match.
Of course, there's the whole dime box thing as well.
Although high-end memorabilia is a prominent feature of the "big show", it's still like the "Mecca" for low-end collectors such as myself.
From what I've found, the pure quality of dime boxes at smaller shows are a far cry from the bigger ones.
I found everything from 1973 Topps to 1998 Upper Deck to 2012 Archives in the dime boxes on Saturday. You just never know what you'll find at the "big shows".
That's what make them so great.
I've been on a bit of an "oddball" kick lately.
For the most part, that's something that the smaller shows don't offer. I don't think I've ever seen a Kellogg's card anywhere except the "big shows".
A few of Saturday's finds were "oddballs" in every sense of the word. In fact, I didn't even know what a few of them were at the time.
Until I got home and checked my handy-dandy card guide, I had no idea that this Joe Niekro was from the 1985 Topps Tiffany set. I didn't even know Topps manufactured those Tiffany things back in '85.
At the time, I plucked it from the fifty-cent bin because it simply "looked different".
It just goes to show you.
"Oddballs" never cease to amaze.
Judging from how much I've raved about it the past few days and in the first part of this post, you might believe that I'm a 100-percent "big show" kind of guy.
Although there aren't too many of them, the "big shows" do have their drawbacks.
I briefly recounted a story in my first card show post about how ten thousand dollars' worth of memorabilia was stolen while I was digging through a dime box.
There's also the hoards of autograph lines. Because of their skyrocketing prices these days, I've never had much of an interest in paying for a guy's autograph at recent shows. Shaquille O'Neal's signature was going for a cool $300 this time around. (My dad told me that he saw a father and his two sons with "Shaq" autograph tickets in hand at the show. That's almost a thousand bucks right there.)
A lot of people are there solely for the autographs, which I've noticed can clog up the rest of the show.
Neither of these events happen at the smaller card shows.
They seem to hold the "low-end collectors" in a higher esteem. While they have their share of more expensive pieces, the vendors aren't looking to "rob" anyone.
They're just spending an afternoon chatting and selling cards.
It's a much more peaceful atmosphere.
Being the more reserved guy I am, I've always felt that the "smaller shows" fit my personality a little better.
Unfortunately, they've been on the downswing in recent years.
There's no doubt in my mind that the "big shows" are unquestioned cash cows for both the promoters and many of the individual vendors.
The "small shows"...not so much.
When I was in high school, I used to attend a monthly show at a bowling alley. Although it was only one room, it was absolutely packed with cardboard. It seemed like every table had a dime box, too.
Slowly, though, the vendors and cards began to fade away. I stopped going soon after that.
A couple years ago, I decided to give it another shot. When I walked in, there was only one table left. Only one vendor left. Only one box to go through.
With a little digging, I found seven cards to buy from the vendor's 7/$5 box. I didn't even need them all. Although I found a couple neat cards, like the above Archives Reserve Joe Morgan, I basically bought them out of sorrow.
This was the part of the hobby that was indeed "dying".
I didn't want to see it go just yet.
Thankfully, though, I'm starting to think that the "smaller shows" might be on the rise again.
A few new monthly ones have started popping up around here.
I try and make an effort to hit them at least once a year.
One thing I've always liked about the "small shows" is the possibility of uncovering a bargain-basement goldmine.
I've stumbled across a couple nickel boxes during my day. I scored an awesome TCMA Billy Martin card from one of those a few years back.
I even found a two-cent box at a garage sale once.
But one of our fellow bloggers has outdone us all. He found a freaking penny box at a show this weekend. (As well as a 25/$1 box, to boot.)
Needless to say, I don't think I've ever been more jealous of another person's local card show.
That's the type of thing a "big show" could never offer.
Small shows aren't cash grabs. They're not ways to make a quick buck. They won't have "Shaq" signing autographs for 300 bucks a pop.
While the treasures and finds might be better at the larger gatherings, the "smaller shows" are where the purest forms of this hobby lie.
They're the true "local card shows".