Monday, March 1, 2010

The Last Card Show I Will Ever Go To

This past Saturday, I was bored. By bored I mean I was pacing around the house just to give myself something to do. Eventually I decided it was time to get out of the house, despite the fact that my pregnant wife was not happy about it. I ended up at a show near where I live, and all I can say is that I think it was my last one I will ever go to.

First off, the people who set up at these shows are rarely the dealers I consider to be informed collectors. All they care about is making more money than it cost them to come, and they will stop at nothing to make sure that happens. What that means is that many tables were like the phone kiosks at the mall, where the workers shout at you to come over and look at their wares. Most of the tables were filled with junk jersey cards and autos, some had wax, others had vintage. Some guy had Ultimate for 75, but I knew what would happen if I bought in, just from looking at his booth. He had about 30 Ultimate autos and 60 Ultimate 6 and 8 jerseys, and I had a feeling that the two boxes he had left were not going to get me more than what he missed.

Secondly, I quickly got the feeling that shows had become the sleaze of the hobby. Fakes were EVERYWHERE. Every other table had fake rookie premieres or a fake patches littering their case, and I was debating whether or not to stop. I saw three or four fake chrome auto stickers, and two fake quad Peterson rookie premieres at one table, and I made a bad decision to talk with him. He had bought a lot of the stuff off eBay or from other patrons, and he was not going to accept that he had fakes because his looked "just like" all the others he saw on eBay. Well, no fucking shit, dumbass, as the fakes greatly outnumber the real ones. After about 10 minutes of me trying to show him what was what, I referred him to the site and walked away as someone came up to trade him for one of the fakes. Sucker.

I know, I know, im too much of a crusader, and no one in their right mind would ever try to do what I did. Either way, I wanted to see what they would say as kind of an experiment, but there was nothing even close to a rational thought that he conveyed as a reason the fakes were real.

Funny enough, I was recognized three times by readers of the site at the show, but wasn’t able to talk much due to how I was feeling. I was not in the best of health, and I hope they did not take that as a snub. Regardless, it was eerie and weird to have people know me, and yet, somewhat satisfying. I guess I should have expected as much with how many people have seen my ugly mug.

When it came to the prices of the cards, I think I only asked for price on one card. The sellers were obviously charging a whole lot above eBay as not many people were buying more than commons and junk cards. The vintage booths looked busier than anything, but I guess it was because the modern people had nothing to sell. I saw very few pieces out of Ultimate Baseball, National Treasures Football, or even SPA, and I just couldn’t understand why people were avoiding selling singles of the new hot products. When I was standing at one table, three people were asking about both ultimate and SPA, and the guy said, "oh, sorry, those usually don’t sell well." Umm, are you fucking kidding me? You just had three people ask you, and I am a fourth keeping silent. Nice job, idiot.

Basically, there are no need for card shows anymore, as selling with an overhead is pretty much an unsurmountable chip on your shoulder. When customers have eBay on their iPhones and can compare prices, selling by book value is ridiculous. I don’t think I saw any card there that I couldn’t get on eBay, and the people who were available to chat about cards were way below my comfort level. Thanks to message boards, I can get more interaction with informed people than at a show, and I don’t need to pay 50% more than eBay just because someone needs to make money. Yeah, I know how much these idiots have into their cards, but that is their fault, not mine.

I drove almost 45 minutes to get to the venue and it was a complete waste of my time. I was expecting at least something I would want, but the dealers made that hard to get past. There are surely exceptions to every rule, but this show seemed to be without one person who made me want to go to their table. Disorganization, high prices, shady ethics, all of which were present at the show, some tables had all of those in one place. Its like going to a dingy strip club, as you know that most of the time the girls are girls, but the place kind of makes you feel bad for the true customers. That’s exactly how I felt, as I really felt bad for the people who came there with backpacks full of cards. They were the true victims of this outdated bazaar, and after 35 minutes of walking through the show, I left them to their distopia.


  1. Yikes! I went to a "card show" this weekend, too, except it was 6 or 7 tables in a glorified conference room. There was nothing worth even looking through, though I picked up some cheap hits from expensive product. There's a lot to love with these types of events if you're in to relics and lower tier autos!

  2. Sounds awful, I went to a show a few weeks ago in my area, not that many tables, and most of the tables had stuff overpriced like crazy. It sucks when that is a majority of the dealers. At least a couple of the dealers were smart and priced stuff around Ebay prices, which doesn't seem like the case at your show.

  3. sad but true all around. well written again. thanks for the report.

  4. Maybe a follow up to this article would be what makes a good show and who should be there trading/selling cards.

  5. I can totally relate. I went to the monthly card show here in Lexington a month ago. Same time, same place every month. My pregnant wife was also a little upset with my decision, but I didn't really think watching an America's Next Top Model Marathon all day Saturday was "spending quality time together," so I went to the card show.

    I had a certain frequent dealer in mind who had a card I really wanted. This time I had saved enough money and brought a couple of cards to add in a possible trade. Well, the dealer in question wasn't there and there were like maybe 8 tables total. It was pathetic. Then to add insult to injury, there is this one creepy-ass dealer (Randy) who is always there with his mile-long table of junk. He is a "hassler" who will try to push you into a sell and is fucking annoying as all get out. I wasn't interested in any of the items on his mile-long table of junk, but he tried to sell me 3/4 of it for $1,200. There were maybe two good cards out of 200.

    Lots of hassling dealers, which I fucking hate. Just leave me the fuck alone and let me look at what you have to offer in peace.

  6. That's sad. There is definitely a diminishing need for card shows in today's hobby. At least the shows here have a few tables with good prices on wax and supplies. I can't stand the guys that insist on trying to sell cards for 2 or 3 times what you can buy them for on eBay.

  7. "I know, I know, im too much of a crusader,"

    That's about right, because crusader has such mixed conotations.

    FYI it's dystopia.

  8. I ignore how the high-end stuff for the most part. I am a dime box guy. I agree the High-end stuff is always priced higher then net prices.

    The unfortunate part for me is that the West Coast Show is a rude one. Thats something I thought I would encounter here in the northeast. I go to shows every other month or so and in general the guys are pretty low pressure. If the price is so high I don't even feel like haggling - I just walk - no time for that nonsense. But most times the dealers I buy from are willing to work with me.

  9. Card shows are still good for low-end collectors.

  10. The dealers at card shows are the equivalent of the old-timers who play low stakes-limit holdem at your local casino.

    They know their game is antiquated and that the action is long-gone to the world of NL holdem. They know the rake/rent/space kills any possible profit they might be able to squeak out. Hell, they even know if they learn a new game (lower prices or NL holdem) there is a possibility that reasonable profitability could return.

    But no, they'd all rather just sit at the same tables, together, all miserable with the same 10-20 tourists/pigeons who will throw a token 100 dollars their way once a month. They'd all rather mock those young NL players/online sellers as "not paying their dues" and "wait until they hit a dry spell."

    But, hey, one day, they think, one day those glory days will return and it'll be just like 1989 (or 2003 for poker) and people will be four-betting with K4offsuit or buying '89 UD Griffey's for $80.

    That is, if they can find their cards under all of the dust.