Klein’s Korner: Shows Change, Stay the same? – Recently, I had the pleasure of setting up at Kyle Robertson’s big DFW area show. The show was quite the success with lots of collectors/dealers either flying in to set up or just walk around from all around the country.
The room had more tables than either the June or August events, but I never felt unsafe. (Full disclosure here – I helped set up the room and Kyle was very specific to ensure the aisles were a minimum of six-feet wide). The room itself was very airy and the loading door (and others) to the back of the show was usually open.
Before the show began, I did go and spend significant time purchasing new inventory from the bargain boxes of a very nice father and son duo whose tables I have now visited for the last three shows in Allen. Other people pulling cards from those boxes included Dr. James Beckett and a nice couple from Austin. Texas. The Austin couple are regulars at the booth as they drive up the three hours and make a weekend of the trip. This time I was curious so I asked them some questions. The husband inherited his father’s collection and is working on finishing all those baseball sets. They are fastidious and have their want lists in two large albums/notebooks – one is for all Topps sets and the other book is for all the other in-progress baseball sets. Back in the day, obviously with less sets, those were pretty standard collectors of whom the preponderance of people you would see at a show were searching for.
Seeing that couple sent my mind way back in the day when collectors such as them were the heart of the hobby. They reminded me of many collectors I used to see at shows long before I journeyed down to Texas to work for Beckett publications. The first National I attended/set up at was the 1983 Chicago event. Some people, including me, consider Friday at the 1983 NSCC the most important day in hobby history. We were busy from 9 AM in the morning till 9 PM that evening with no break. Saturday and Sunday were not as amazing but were still quite busy. Frankly I was hooked at being a dealer at the NSCC after Friday in 1983.
That Friday night, late in the evening, the original by-laws for the NSCC was fleshed out and helped lead us on the journey we continue to this day. The most important of those by-laws was the 400 miles and no contiguous state rule. The National had been stuck in the mid-west between 1981 and 1983 (albeit in three hobby-strong areas) but there was a growing understanding the East Coast needed a National and soon.
My memory says the 1983 show had just 276 tables. Again, my memory said there was a huge jump of tables to 392 for the 1984 show held at the Aspen Hotel in Parsippany. New Jersey. At the time some in the hobby were aghast at the jump in tables. Fortunately that turned out to be a minor issue as the 1984 event was a success.
But with all the changes I just want to specify that it’s fine for the hobby landscape to change. It’s acceptable for the hobby to evolve and we all need to accept 1983 is not coming back anytime soon but the type of collectors who were usually visible in 1983 and still exist to this day are a very important part of the hobby. People such as them (and me) were around before this explosion and will be around if and when this hobby returns to normalcy which existed pre-2020 pandemic. I’m fine with the card show looking a bit like Hobby Hotline come to life and I’m also fine with helping collectors fill their sets or fill their local collecting needs.