Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On the Eve of the National: Hey Rookie!

If Twitter is any indication, there are a handful of bloggers who will be busting their proverbial National Sports Collector's Convention cherry this year and the blogsosphere will better for it as a result. For them and all other first time attendees, some words of advice from a veteran.

I urge you to display restraint, and caution even, as you enter the hallowed halls of sports card and memorabilia Mecca. Use a discerning eye and an even tempered approach when haggling with dealers.

Bypass the pricey convention fare that truly sucks anyway and eat a big breakfast instead. Bring water. Sit occasionally. The National is a marathon not a sprint, treat it accordingly and pace yourself. Divide and conquer. Designate a particular day to a certain section of the show floor and then another in subsequent days.

DO NOT BLOW ALL YOUR MONEY IN THE FIRST DAY! This is a classic rookie mistake that has gotten the best of many collectors leaving them to ogle other collector's purchases with wanton lust or to bust out the dreaded plastic and face the wrath of wife upon your return at the show's end. When in doubt, phone home. Her response to your pleaded begging for that "must have item that is so awesome but out of the budget by a mile" just might surprise you. When that fails, and you run into the next "must have item that is so awesome but out of the budget by a mile", remember the wise saying of National goers before you, "it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission".

The show's conclusion lurks like some distant fantasy on day one but rest assured, it will end my friends, quicker than you think and  leaving your legs sore from miles of walking and your back sore from bending over endless 5,000 count boxes looking for '90's inserts and vintage gold. 

Butt chaffing is a serious possibility so Gold Bond yourself. You'll thank me later. 

If you believe in suffocating your cards in plastic, forever sealing them in a permanent state of entombment, take advantage of onsite grading specials which will save you money on shipping. Take advantage of the wrapper redemption program even if you don't specifically collect the cards being given away. You can always sell them on eBay.

Find out where the Steiner Sports after hours party is and GO. Get there early and stay late. You never know who you will meet. If you do have the opportunity to meet an athlete, remember that the story and the experience will be better than any autograph you could ever get, so don't be THAT guy. (Unless other people are and then it's totally cool!)

Challenge Mark Sapir and Clay Luraschi to a game of against the wall. BUT be careful what you wager, they are very, very good. Stop by Panini and tell Tracy Hackler you appreciate all the information he divulges on the Knight's Lance. Tell Scott Prusha thanks for all the giveaways they do throughout the year. Tell Chris Carlin and Greg Kohn at Upper Deck that SP Signature is the biggest abomination in trading card history and to just admit it. But, if you are a hockey collector, acknowledge their quality products during the years of monopoly licensing. Tell Brian Gray to keep kicking in the door of conventional thinking in product development and licensing. Tell Brian Wallos of Benchwarmers that he is the luckiest man in the world! Tell Dr. Brian Price, and damn well refer to him as DOCTOR, to keep up the quality work but to lighten up on the sticker autographs he swore at one time he would NEVER use.

Be prepared to stand in line and wait and wait and wait some more; for your VIP passes or tickets, for redemption programs, for autographs, for food, for cabs, sometimes even for the bathroom. Just chill out, make sure you have Twitter on your phone and follow the #NSCC hashtag so you stay connected and don't miss anything while you are w . . a . . i . . t . . i . .n . . g.

Most of all have fun. Don't be a jerk. If in doubt, let the kid have it. Use your manners. Take pictures. Don't forget to ask someone to take pictures of you with people and at places. They will. Just ask.

To all my friends, fans, readers and followers, enjoy the National!


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