Hobby Musings: 2019 NSCC shows the strength of the hobby – The 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention is officially in the books. The 40th edition of the show, made its return to Chicago this past weekend. Arguably the strongest location of the current three sites on rotation, the show was well-attended and reflected what is, overall, a strong hobby market right now.
Speaking with sellers and attendees alike, the general reception to the show seemed overwhelmingly positive. The National’s John Broggi concurred, saying, “We couldn’t have asked for a better show. The crowds were huge each and every day of the National starting with the VIP Party on Wednesday and continuing throughout the week. All our exhibitors seemed to be very pleased with the event. Lots of activity going on every day.”
The crowds on Wednesday and Thursday were the biggest and strongest I’ve seen for a National in the eight years I’ve been attending. The rest of the weekend, including a typically slow Sunday, were also hustling and bustling with activity. While the National doesn’t release specific attendance numbers, Broggi did say attendance surpassed last year in Cleveland. Elaborating, he said, “Ticket sales exploded during the week of the event.”
The showroom floor was expanded this year to allow even more dealers the chance to set up. The variety of items at all the tables was quite impressive. Vintage cards seemed to dominate the showroom floor once again. That being said, there was also a good collection of both graded and ungraded modern cards.
Wax was once again a popular choice as attendees flocked to the corporate booths for National wrapper redemptions. I’ll have more on this next week, but all of the companies did a nice job of providing great value in their redemption packs. Upper Deck in particular had a creative solution for when they ran out of their redemptions packs heading into Saturday.
The auction houses were also at the National in full force and provided some of the best visual sights of the entire show. While the amazing memorabilia pieces were too numerous to count, there were a few things that caught my eye. Among Heritage Auctions’ amazing displays, a high school jersey worn by President Barack Obama was the thing that stuck out to me.
Also on display was an Indians cap worn by Charlie Sheen during the first Major League film. SGC had a trio of incredible jerseys by their booth. Appropriate for the Chicago, the jerseys of Cubs legends Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance were on loan from a private collection so fans could see them. In addition, SGC also had an amazing Ernie Banks jersey, with a zipper up the front no less, on display.
Something that’s often lost in the National experience is just how amazing an opportunity it is to see rare memorabilia there. Attendees are so often busy with the business of buying and selling, it can be easy to forget to take a minute and enjoy the sights. I’m just as guilty of it as anyone. Either way, walking through the National can be just as satisfying as going to a Hall of Fame for the visual spectacle it can provide.
The show also had plenty of special guests. In addition to their other activities, Topps featured appearance by Reds prospect Hunter Greene, chef Graham Elliott and artist Greg Kreindler. Signing autographs and taking pictures with fans, the appearances provided an extra bonus for fans who had the chance to meet them.
Hobby Musings: 2019 NSCC shows the strength of the hobby
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk had a big presence at this year’s National. In addition to setting up his own booth and mingling with fans, Gary Vee spoke at a VIP reception on Wednesday and the Mike Berkus Main Stage. Based on the traffic I saw at his booth, there’s no telling just how many autographs he signed and how many selfies he took. Either way, it be will be interesting to see what his impact on the hobby will be going forward.
Asked to pick his favorite aspect of this year’s show, Broggi couldn’t narrow in on a specific. Elaborating, he said, “It’s hard to pick just one thing. We were all pleased by the number of young people at the National. We are very proud that we have allowed children 12 and under to attend at no charge for nearly 15 years. The Case Break Pavilion was a beehive of activity all week with pop culture guests like Gary Vee and James Holzhauer. But the backbone of the show is our dealers and corporate exhibitors. Just walking through the aisles, you could feel a vibe of excitement.”
The TRISTAR autograph pavilion was also incredibly busy with activity. Headlined by guests like Mariano Rivera, a lot of ink flowed as attendees got their various items signed. With a large VIP-ticket attendee base this year, the free signers like Jack McDowell and Gary Beban had incredibly long lines.
With 2019 in the books, the National and its attendees can officially look ahead to 2020 in Atlantic City. Returning for the first time since 2016, the National announced last Sunday that dealer space for the show has already sold out. Asked for his thoughts on the 2020 show, Broggi said, “We are truly looking forward to being back on the east coast. If you remember, people were skeptical when we returned to Cleveland in 2014 after a 5-year absence, but it turned out to be a very successful National. I think you’ll see the same thing in Atlantic City. The population base we draw on there is huge, and they’ve waited 4 years for us to return. We have sold out all booths on the show floor so we expect another great event.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more images from the 40th Annual National Sports Collectors Convention, see the Go GTS Live Twitter feed which Kelsey rocked during the show here.
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