As many of you saw I was planning to give away a card at the Raleigh Card Show this weekend.  I did end up going but not until about 1pm.  No one came up to me to claim the card so I will have to give it away during the week. To sum up the card show in one word “desperate”.

I have been going to this card show for years and have seen it go from every table used by a different vendor, to all tables being used (some by the same vendors), to it’s current state about 75% of tables were used and most vendors took 2 or 3 tables.  I saw 3 kids there (under 15, admission is free), and not too many guys under 25.

The make up of the show was strange, it was either vintage cards (pre-1980) or really new stuff.  Almost nothing from the era of 1983 – 2001.  Some of the interesting items I saw were an old school leather football helmet for $35, lots of Josh Hamilton signed stuff, most sitting at the $50 level.  The usual mix of Carolina Hurricanes, UNC, Duke and NCSU players were all over the floor.  All said I think there were around 40 vendors.  The $5 to get in ($4 with discount printout from website) seemed like a stretch to me.

My take on it, the two hours I was there, was either people were set filling or prospect hunting.  I didn’t see too much in hobby boxes selling, although they did have lots of 1980s boxes.  I went in there looking for a very specific item, 2001 Bowman Chrome Refractor Autographs.  When I asked the dealers if they had any I got a resounding NO.

I really found this very hard to believe, I went through a ton of $1 and $5 boxes and if I was looking for anything but the 01 Bowman autos I could have found some great deals.  Most dealers are just trying to get the 00-09 stuff out of their inventory and it showed, most game used and autographs from that era were going cheap.  Two of the dealers I spoke with said that this is their last year on the hobby circuit.  They cite the fact that the profit margin has gone down the toilet.  With hits costing almost $25 per box, they just can’t make their money on opening cases for resale anymore, they aren’t making more than $10 – $20 on a box and in order to hit those numbers they have to layout money for multiple cases.

The show has already decreased from 3 days (Fri – Sun) to just Saturday.  They used to bring in athletes to get autographs from but even those have been very disappointing lately.  I know this is just a tiny sliver of the pie, but man it was just so depressing.   Since I had on my bet with Mrs. Chemgod, I ended up buying nothing (cringe), although I got home and found a 2001 Essix Snead refractor auto on eBay.  I am afraid card shows are nearly extinct in my neck of the woods, how is it in your areas?

It doesn’t look like this anymore!

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12 responses »

  1. jl says:

    The card show in my area Neshamy Mall, dead just as well. Like you said set fillers are what I see most collectors going to. The main thing I always seem to find is the autograph balls, helmets, plaques, but they are asking way to much for what you can find on ebay. The last one I went on a Sunday, early, no one was there I left, the shows are not like they used to be in my opinion, just to much stuff. I’ll still go, but as for buying, nothing entertains me like it used to.

  2. I am kind of new to the area I am now in (Portland, OR) and I know there is a show every few weeks at a local mall. The shows back in the Northeast, US were kind of the same, although I’ve always seen more people hanging around. The industry is going through a tough time with the prices being high and the economy being down.

    The one thing your show has that mine will never have is Carolina Hurricanes stuff. My favorite hockey team is completely across the country.

  3. nickcee says:

    The new york area card shows are limited. Usually every other month. The small gymnasium style shows were gone years ago. My friend sells at every show. He says the profits are down. He also states that the dealers need to adapt and the fact the UD, and Donruss/Playoff do not have licenses have destroyed things. I do agree. Alot of these people at the shows are looking to sell. We can thank the economy for this. No one has that expendable income anymore.

  4. Jeff says:

    Here in the South Bend, IN area, we only have them every few months. I haven’t been to one lately but plan on going to the next one if only to just feel it out. I’m just now starting to get back into collecting which is why I haven’t been to one recently. But I did start going back to a card shop. I started checking out my old haunts and nothing was left. There used to be 10-15 back in the day, now there is 1 in about a 50 mile radius. And it’s a small one and it doesn’t have that “friendly” feel to it, feels more like a business. They used to be fun to go into, not anymore.

  5. todduncommon says:

    Around the Bay Area, there’s still a strong corridor of 3 related shops that basically run down the Peninsula. I have frequented two of them, the one in Belmont and the one in San Jose (Stevens Creek Sports Cards). I guess I’m lucky:it’s a great shop that lives up every bit to the ‘old days’. Great stuff in the cases, from 19th century to current releases. The customer service is great, and I still have fun just going in there to see what vintage stuff they’ve gotten since last time. However, that’s about it for the bright gems. There are a couple of shops still hanging on somehow. They have great guys running them, but it’s tough when half the shelves are empty, and half of the remaining space is taken up with those binders full of 8×10 glossies of WWE wrestlers.

    I haven’t been to a local card show in the Bay Area in a year or two. The little mall shows have been dead for some time now, and outside of a big annual Tristar show at the Cow Palace, there just aren’t any other shows, I think. At least not only for cards anyway. The Santa Clara Convention Center more recently has had amalgamated collectible shows of antiques/coins/stamps/cards of which sports cards are a component. The sports get lost though. Most of the attendees at those shows seem to be fishing hard for a Carson City mint Seated Liberty Half Dollar in better than AU-55, than they are for a 2002 Mauer.

  6. Paul says:

    They still have a half-dozen big autographs show per year in northern NJ, but there’s not much of a card show component. After spending $10 for admission & however much more on autographs, who has cash left to buy cards?

    There are two or three little card shows each week somewhere in NJ, but they’re small. Twenty dealers would be a lot. Mostly you see new stuff & not-so-great condition vintage.

    I think the economy is going to put most of these guys out of business very soon – if gas hits $5 per gallon this summer, who’s going to have money for frivolities like cards?

    • chemgod says:

      My uncle used to run the PAL Morristown show.

      • Paulie3jobs says:

        Morristown or Parsippany? That show still runs every Tuesday I believe. It’s a bit of a hike from me, haven’t been in over a year. Wasn’t anything to write home about the last time.

      • chemgod says:

        I think it is Parsippany and every Tuesday sounds about right. I think my uncle got out of the promotions business when he closed up his shop, Gordon Sports Collectibles.

  7. Tyler C. says:

    I feel very lucky in that in the Indianapolis area there are 3 card shows a month. They are not very large in size, however, I am able to find plenty of great cards each time. In addition, about an hour a half north in Fort Wayne, card shows occur multiple times per month. There is no fee to get in to any of these shows, however, none have any athletes in attendance.

  8. night owl says:

    I don’t consider a show that sells nothing but pre-1980 vintage or new stuff as unusual. That describes just about every show I’ve been to in the New York area for the last six years. If you want post-1980 to 2000 stuff, you better be prepared to buy an entire box. There sure aren’t any shortages of 1989 Topps boxes at any show I’ve seen.

    The main show I go to used to get all kinds of autograph signees. At one show, two years ago, they had eight signers, from baseball, NFL, TV entertainment. But it’s been slowing down lately. The most recent show they had nothing.

  9. Q says:

    We used to have shows in my area of South Dakota every 2 months or so. We have not had one for about 10 years though. We also went from 6 card shops in my town to one. There are three total in the entire state now.

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