Wow! Where did the week go? Time flies when you are having fun! Pictured above is me and Dave at our booth on Sunday.
So after looking at piles of doughnuts in the dealer hospitality room on Saturday, I decided to grab one on Sunday, only to learn that they don't provide the doughnuts on Sunday. Ugh!
Same routine as all week long -- rearranging the display cases first thing. As cards have sold, I have been able to add more cards to the display cases each day. It was nice to show new inventory each day.
I did not know what to expect on the last day of the National. I usually do not have very good sales on the last day. However, in 2019, I had a great day on Sunday. I was hopeful this Sunday would be a repeat of 2019.
Sales started to kick in early. I had some guys return who bought cards from me on Saturday. I had a few guys from Joliet stop by my table three or four times, each time making purchases. They ended up buying all of my 1915 Cracker Jack. Thanks guys.
I really can't remember what I sold but do remember that I had many sales early on during Sunday's show. I then spent quite a bit of time walking around, exploring and shopping. I thought one dealer was selling a 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson for $275, which is now a crazy cheap price for that card in nice shape. Turns out the 2 on the price tag was actually a 7. The card cost $725. Looks like if I want any Jackie cards in the future, I am going to have to shell out quite a few Benjamins.
Which brings me to a problem that I foresee: restocking. I sold a ton of cards this week. I know I will not be able to restock those cards at the same prices I paid more than a year ago. The value of vintage cards, especially HOFers, as gone waaayyy up. I am not sure how this is going to play out in the future. Hopefully, I can still find some deals. There certainly were not many deals available at the National. Yet, I really enjoyed walking around the show. I miss the days when I would attend the National as a customer and have all the time in the world to check out the dealer tables.
Surprisingly, I did not have any sales while I was gone from my booth. I have learned that if I am not at the booth, I really do not sell any cards. Sales started to pick up once I sat down behind my display cases. As a result, finding the time to walk the show is difficult.
Back to my friend Craig. Concerned, I texted him because I had not seen him all week. I always see Craig at the National. He texted back and said he was at a convention in Milwaukee. He did not say what type of convention. I advised the National was just down the road from Milwaukee. I am amazed he did not attend the National!
Dave and I were also wondering about our pal Bob because he usually stops in the National at least one day. I texted Bob a photo of Dave and I. Shortly thereafter, Bob showed up at our booth with a Dick Shiner card. It was great to see Bob!
Once Bob arrived, we started to get a crowd at the booth. Both Dave and I had some really nice sales on Sunday. Ross interviewed me for his National wrap up story in SCD.
On my Day 1 report, I alluded to some trouble with PWCC. Generally, they were a good neighbor throughout the show except for Sunday afternoon when they placed a large table in front of my display cases, essentially blocking my portion of the booth. They placed five or six boxes of pizza on the table along with some soft drinks.
See photo below of the table blocking my booth and the PWCC staffers standing in front of my display cases chowing down on crappy pizza.
Normally, I sit around on the last day of the National but this year I was very busy and active. I think the only lull was between 4 and 5 p.m. when we closed up shop. Jon showed up to help me load out and with his help load out went much smoother than past Nationals.
Did I mention that Scott lost his cart early in the week? It showed up at the end of the day Sunday. Apparently, PWCC had taken it.
Once again, Scott, PJ and Dave were able to pack up and exit much faster than me. Jon and I were stuck there long after those guys got out of Dodge. As PWCC started to take down their booth, they started to wall me and Jon in. Luckily we got out when we did.
Man, was I sad to see the show end. I had so much fun. I sold a TON of cards. I can't wait for Atlantic City!
In the meantime, I am setting up on Sunday, August 8, 2021, at the WSCA show at Buenavista Banquets, 7507 W. Oklahoma, in Milwaukee. I am not hosting a show at the Salvation Army this month. I need a break after the National. My next Sal show is Sept. 4. After a week of display cases, I am bringing out all of my binders Sunday at the Buenavista Banquets show. I should have my 1976 Topps football binder reloaded by Sunday. Hope to see you then.
A huge thank you to everyone who purchased cards from me at the National. I appreciate you! It was so great to meet so many new people. I hope we meet again!
Now for some final thoughts on the 2021 National and our hobby in general. Our great hobby is as healthy as can be based on the huge crowds and large sales at this year's National. I saw a report that the 2021 National attendance was the second best all-time behind the 1991 National in Anaheim.
Besides the crowds and great sales, the thing that has struck me most is just how much the hobby has changed over the years. I first started collecting baseball cards as a kid in 1975. Every kid I knew back then collected cards. We had no idea that these things had any value or that they would eventually have value. We sorted the cards by team, kept them in rubber bands in a shoe box, and marked off the players on the team checklist. We placed the cards in the spokes of our bikes to get that motorcycle sound. We taped our favorite players onto our bedroom wall. We bragged to one another about having a Hank Aaron or a Frank Robinson.
I will never forget 1975. It was so much fun. All I needed to do back then was rustle 15 cents from a drawer in my kitchen and walk up to the pharmacy and buy a pack of cards. I loved hanging out with my friend Adam, who lived behind me. We would spread our cards out on his bed and have marathon trading sessions. It is sad to me that those days are long gone. Kids will never collect cards again for the shear joy of collecting because all cards have a dollar value now and even kids see these things as a commodity.
Though, thankfully, most everyone who participates in the hobby is a sports fan so there still is a certain appreciation for the players depicted on the cards. I hope that never goes away.
I observed quite a few booths at the 2021 National that were all about "investing" in sports cards. I really hate the "investors." They are predators in my book. This is a hobby, it is supposed to be fun. If you make some money at it, great. I just really dislike the corporate attitude that is seeping in. I have to wear a tie to my day job, am I going to have to wear a tie to attend card shows in the future? Will I have to obtain the advice of a financial analyst before I purchase a card?
I watched one of the hundreds of YouTube videos from the National. I watched an "investor" drop $10K on a new soccer card then another $10K on a new basketball card. I just cannot comprehend. I discovered vintage cards around 1978 and since then the hobby has been all about vintage cards for me. Modern cards will never have much value in my book, even as I witness crazy money exchanging hands for those shiny things.
These investors are not so much interested in vintage cards, which is actually a good thing. They prey on these modern cards and jack the prices into the stratosphere. I find it mind-boggling the number of folks buying and selling cards at $10K a pop. I just feel like that aspect of the hobby is due for a major crash. Ja Morant is no Michael Jordan and I think the cards of all the Ja Morants of the world are going to be worthless down the road. Somebody is going to feel some pain.
In all my years in the hobby, I have never observed a major drop in the value of vintage cards. I think the advent of third-party grading has caused the prices for high grade vintage to soar into the stratosphere. I am not sure if those cards can maintain their value but I have more confidence in a 1956 Topps PSA 9 Jackie Robinson keeping its value over a 2021 Panini Zion Williamson 1/5. Zion could have a career ending injury tomorrow and no one will ever remember him.
I do not know if it is a good thing for the hobby that modern cards are much more popular now than vintage. It just seems like a bubble to me. I am in for the long haul. This has been my hobby for the past 46 years and will continue to be my hobby until the day I die. I do not expect the bulk of the folks that attended the 2021 National to be as dedicated and to be involved in the hobby for very long. I think many are carpet baggers of sort. They are here today for some quick cash then they'll be gone tomorrow.
At some point, I think the hobby will contract some but all these new aspects will remain such as breakers, vloggers, and investors. I think the card companies are quite brilliant in milking the investors and creating "rare" cards for them. It is as new day in the sports card hobby. It is strange that vintage is now a niche when it was once so dominant.
I am going to continue buying and selling vintage cards. I still enjoy putting sets together. I still enjoy collecting. At the same time it is fun to make some money selling cards but much more fun to purchase vintage cards. I will do it for as long as I physically can. I still look forward to setting up at shows on the weekends. I love hanging out with folks who enjoy vintage cards as much as I do.
Though, I can't help but think about what a strange new world the hobby has become. I am thankful that card shows are still alive and as strong as they have ever been. I went to my first card show in 1978 and have never stopped going. I know that far more cards are bought online these days than at card shows but shows are still viable and still enjoyable. I hope to see you at a card show soon!
Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who came to my booth at the National with nice comments about this blog!! I am honestly thinking about entering the vlogging world but I will need help as this tech is over my head. Anybody able to help?
Now for my Natty pick-up, pictured below. My buying wasn't as good as past National but I did find some stuff....