Hobby Musings: What attending a socially-distanced card show looks like – Last week brought the unfortunate hobby news that this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention would be cancelled. Originally moved to mid-December, the show’s organizers made the difficult decision to not hold it for the first time in its history. While the right decision, it’s undeniably a sore blow for the hobby community.

The National became just the latest show to be cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even with the concerns, some card shows have pressed on, albeit with social distancing measures. One such show happened to occur a mere five minutes from my house in Plainville, Connecticut last Saturday. Being put on for the first time since April, the show at the town’s VFW has been going on once a month for 20 years.

The Plainville VFW show normally opens its doors to the public around nine in the morning. When I pulled into the parking lot around 10:30, I was greeted by a very full parking lot. Heading up the front of the building, there were signs for the social distancing measures that needed to be taken in order to enter the show. One of these included having my temperature taken as I prepared to go inside.

It was incredible to see how busy the show floor was inside. Talking with co-promoter Cliff Gorneault, he told me on a good show day, about 150 people come through the door. For this show, he counted 137 people come through by 9:38 am. Part of his duty was consistently monitoring for attendance as they were only allowed to have 50 people inside the building. Because of larger crowds earlier in the morning, he noted that they had to have people wait outside until others came out so they wouldn’t go over the capacity limits.

Talking with Gorneault and the show’s other promoter Alix Langlais, they both noted the biggest difference between this show and previous shows was making sure proper social distancing measures were in place. Besides the temperature check and capacity limits, this included making sure everyone was wearing masks. In addition, it necessitated having to keep people moving around the showroom floor as opposed to being able to linger for a longer time. They also had to have fewer tables/dealers inside the room and not offer food and beverage concessions like they normally do.

While they had fewer people inside the building, they did have some dealers set up outside in front. They also opted not to charge admission as they wanted to give a little bonus for everyone attending their first show back.

Even with all the social distancing measures, the show proved to be a tremendous success. Langlais said they started letting attendees in the door at 8:30 instead of nine because of the amount of people who came early. He also noted they had solid foot traffic and were consistently busy throughout the day. Some of the older dealers who often set up at the show opted not to attend this one because of health concerns. Gorneault said he understood their concerns and added their table spot was waiting for them whenever they were ready to come back.

As far as what was for sale at the show, I noticed a lot of basketball to say the least, as well as a large amount of retail boxes and packs. I also spied some really impressive Fernando Tatis Jr. autographs. As sorely tempted as I was to get a few things, my lone purchase was a pair of Randy Dobnak Topps base rookie cards. The Twins right-hander is from my hometown of South Park, PA, so it was cool to land a couple of his cards.

With a successful August show in the books, Gorneault and Langlais are planning to have their next show in September as long as guidelines allow them to do so. With several shows in the NY/NJ area being cancelled for the year, the Plainville show is allowing collectors in the New England area the chance to have some collecting normalcy and community that goes beyond the computer. I do have to say it was nice to be able to attend a card show again, even with the social distancing measures in place. Based on the atmosphere inside the building, it’s safe to say a lot of other collectors felt the same way.

Hobby Musings: What attending a socially-distanced card show looks like – Image Gallery

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Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.

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