30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Brink of Extinction

Card shows are slowly disappearing in my area... and to make matters worse, the quality and quantity of the ones that actually transpire aren't what they used to be.  I'm not even talking about the plethora of card shows in the 90's.  I'm comparing them to ones that have taken place in the past five years.

The number of mall shows and larger, convention shows have literally been cut in half in the Bay Area.  But that's only part of the issue.  The number of card vendors is dwindling too.

This past weekend I went to the Serramonte Mall Sports Cards, Toys, and Collectibles Show and was shocked at the number of vendors set up.  This show is usually packed with tons of cool items and even when I don't intend on purchasing stuff, it's fun just to walk around and see unique, out of the ordinary collectibles.  If I were to guess, I'd say that there were 10 to 20% less vendors set up than back in January.

My buddy thinks it has to do with the construction going on.  Hopefully he's right, because if this pattern continues then I'm not sure if it's worth me making the hour drive each way. 

Okay... enough of me being a Negative Nancy.  Let's talk about cards and collectibles.  My buddy gave me half of his table space, so I set up at my very first card show.

It was like killing two birds with one stone.  I was able to clean out my garage of stuff I have accumulated over the years at the flea market, while putting a few dollars in my pocket.  At the end of the day, I made just enough money to pay for my food and cover the cost of my show purchases.  Oh... and my leftovers?  I traded it.

Since I had no intentions of coming back on Sunday, my buddy traded me a signed Tom Glavine baseball and an Anderson Silva signed glove for all of my remaining inventory.

He definitely got the better end of the deal in terms of value, but that's okay.  He needed to restock his inventory and the bottom line is I didn't have to pack up my items and store them in my garage.

As for my purchases, I didn't find a lot of stuff to buy.  I was hoping to pick up a few cheap 80's oddball boxes, maybe some discounted sets from the 80's and 90's, and possibly dig through a few dime boxes.

Unfortunately I didn't find any of those items, but I managed to find some quarter bins that were loaded with 90's inserts and parallels.

Purchase #1:  Ninety-Two Sports Cards $23

Here's a closer look at some of my favorites...

Tony Gwynn Inserts and Parallels

Greg Maddux Inserts and Parallels

Frank Thomas Inserts and Parallels

Baseball Inserts and Parallels

Football Inserts and Parallels

There were a bunch of hidden gems in the stack, including a few that sell in the twenty dollar range on eBay.  I'll probably just hold onto them though... since life is way too busy to list things right now.

My only other purchase came from another buddy who set up at the show...

Purchase #2:  Handful of Autographs $25

Ron Ferdinand Signed Sketch

I didn't really intend on spending anymore money, but I noticed this cool Dennis the Menace sketch sitting on my friend's table.  It's drawn on one of those first day of issue caches.  Ferdinand was one of the two guys who took over the comic strip in the mid 90's when the creator, Hank Ketcham retired.

My friend also had this sketch sitting in a frame...

I was definitely interested in both, so I told him to set them aside.  He proceeded to show me a bunch of TTM's that he has received over the past few months.  Most of them were TV stars I hadn't heard of, but I was intrigued by this...

Jeb Bush Signed Cache

It's another one of those first day covers signed by Barbara's son.  The problem with TTM's is that you never know who really signed it.  However he offered to throw it in if I picked up the two Ferdinands, so I took him up on the deal.

We settled on $25, which I considered to be fair since I'm taking a chance on the Bush.  Next year, I'll take it and have PSA take a look at it.  Hopefully it will pass.

Being a dealer at a show kinda sucks if you're by yourself, because you don't want to leave your stuff unattended while buying food or using the restroom.  In this case, my buddy was craving Starbucks.  He offered to buy, if I went and picked them up.  When I got back, he threw in this cool figure signed by David Foox.

Who's David Foox?  I hadn't heard of the guy, but thanks to the internet I discovered that he's an artist and film producer.  This figure was part of a toy line called Organ Donors he created a few years ago.

At the end of the day, I walked away feeling pretty good.  The dwindling number of dealers and card shows as a whole kind of bummed me out, but the fact that I was able to dump all of the stuff I brought definitely made up for it.  

And as soon as my buddy delivers my ball and glove... I'll be even happier.

What about you guys?  Compared to a few years ago...

Are the number of card shows in your are on the rise, decline, or have they stayed the same over the past few years?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. Nice pickups! The baseball inserts are of the type I'd be all over if I could find those at shows around here!

  2. Congrats on a successful day as a dealer!

    There's only one Portland area monthly show I'm aware of, but it seems pretty healthy, always with a solid turnout, and seemed like this most recent show had a few new dealers too.

  3. The number of shows in my area have stayed the same for the past 5 years... because there haven't been any. I have to drive at least an hour to get to any kind of show, and two hours to get to a good show. Let the record show that I live in an area that used to support card shows... We had a quarterly semi-major show, a monthly show at a local hotel (both show and hotel are gone) as well as a few mall shows. I think many of the collectors in my area got fed up when they realized that they couldn't sell the cards they'd bought in the 1980's and 1990's.

  4. I have a local card show coming up later this week, and another one next month. This show is usually a once-every-two-months show that only skips out on very rare occasions.

    There's also a smaller one that happens once every month in NYC but I stopped going because this show never has anything I need.

  5. Those look like some fun quarter boxes!

    Card shows around here have been pretty consistent. Many of the ones in the area have ran for the last decade or so (and are great gatherings), but not many new ones pop up.

  6. There may have been 1 every few months in my hometown growing up, but I still to this day haven't attended a card show. I still hope to attend the National one day.

  7. I've been tempted to set up at one of the two monthly shows run by the same guy that are in my part of Atlanta. There is another one (or at least was another one) on the other side of town that, while still in "Atlanta", is a good hour's drive for me.

    I'm wanting to make the three-hour drive to Charlotte, NC, soon for a show there. There are quarterly shows around North Carolina -- Raleigh and Charlotte in particular -- that are supposed to be pretty good.

    1. Tony, definitely come up for a show put on by Inside Pitch Promotions. They're great, tons of dealers. And let me know when you're planning to come and maybe we can meet up!

  8. There's a semi-annual show that has a good sized crowd throughout the day (it's a 2 day show). I think that one will last but a smaller one every other month (which at times has only a couple dealers) may not make it.

  9. There are very few shows in the Phoenix area, there is one regular show in Northern Phoenix about 30 miles away but that is about it. The last real show I went to was in late 1999 and it was a large convention type show at the Tacoma Dome and it has probably been 8 or 9 years since I even happened upon a mall show.

    If I knew of anything regular locally I would probably stop in to look but it seems like Phoenix has pretty much gone extinct for shows and even most LCS are now closed.

  10. From what I hear the bigger Pittsburgh shows are still pretty good, but the mall shows have went way south.

  11. Mos Def smaller than the one a year ago-Quarter boxes? Must have been put out after I left :(. Anywho at least I got some excercise :).

  12. I don't live in a large metropolitan area and didn't when I was growing either, so the concept of a monthly card show is something that died out around here in the '80s.

    The shows I do have have been consistent for the last 7 years or so, although the one show closest to me disappeared this year.

  13. No shows in over 20 years. No LCS. I have been using social media to stay connected to the hobby. I don't even know a single collector in my area. The hobby is dead in my area.

    On a positive note, love your 90's pickups

  14. Mall shows are extinct in Houston as far as I can tell. There is a small monthly hotel meeting room show I attend about 15 miles north of town and TriStar rolls through twice a year. That's it around here outside of the occasional 'civic center' shows that you can't really count on anymore. I'm old enough to remember when there was a show somewhere in the Houston area darn near every weekend.

    And I'm very jealous of the LBJ cache. (And NOT because of the sig).

  15. Great feedback guys. Some of you guys definitely have it better than others, while the Bay Area falls somewhere in the middle.

    shlabotnik - One of the toughest things I have to do is inform a guy that his 1989 Upper Deck set isn't worth $100 anymore. It's even harder to watch them go into denial.

    Nick - They were pretty good boxes. Lots of refractors and atomic refractors from the 90's with a few rare inserts scattered here and there.

    Jeremya1um - If the National comes back to Cali, I'd love to go.

    Tony - 3 hour drive? Now that's dedication.

    Corky - That's a shame. I'm planning a trip out to Scottsdale and was hoping to check out card shops. Oh well... maybe they have some good flea markets.

    Brady - They were over by Craig's set up. His buddy Steve (Asian guy) had them sitting on his table. They were using the cards as fillers for Craig's dollar boxes.

    Commish - miss the hotel shows... they've been extinct for years in this area

    1. Surprisingly there are still a couple of shops in Scottsdale so you may luck out, it is just too far for me to drive there from where I live. Daniel from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop lives in Phoenix so he may be able to suggest something too.

    2. Thanks. That's good to know. I'll have to email him.

  16. I have a few options. There is a decent show held once a month about 10 minutes away. There is a weekly hotel show every Sunday about35 min away. There is also a big show 500 dealers twice a year.

    1. 500 dealers? You're lucky. The biggest show in my area is Tristar... and I doubt 100 different dealers set up there.