Notes from a National Newbie Part I: It’s all about the people – I’ve been home from the National for a week, and I don’t know if I have recovered from the “overwhelm” quite yet. The size of the show was overwhelming. The kindness of all the people was overwhelming, and the fun was out of this world.

I went to the show for the experience, but the biggest pull for me was getting to meet several people in person. First, the Go GTS Live crew of Rob, Ivan, and James are as wonderful as they seem on their Thursday night show. Yes, James is mega helpful and always has a toothpick in his mouth. Ivan is full-on-energy in human form. He gave my kid a nickname on day one of the show. And Rob is as kind and welcoming as anyone could be. We’ve communicated by email for months, but at first sight, he gave me a hug. It’s so amazing to feel part of a family in an instant.

Second, Emily Kless of Topps. Need I say more? Seeing her as a guest on Go GTS Live earlier in the year really pulled me deeper into the hobby. I introduced myself to her while she was working the Wrapper Redemption on the 4th day of the show. She had to have been exhausted, but her energy and kindness was unmistakable. I am a forever fan, and hope to one day own her Topps Allen & Ginter card from 2019.

Finally, the Women in Cards Facebook Group got to meet in person on Saturday evening. The group’s founder, Sara Layton, set up the gathering that ended up being the most fun I have had in a long time. Again, I felt a sense of belonging instantly. Each of us had our own story of how we came to be part of the hobby, but we all had one thing in common. We want the hobby industry to know that women want women on cards, and we want to be seen as a serious demographic in the collecting world.

Sarah Layton

The gathering of all ages ranged from new collectors like me to LCS owners who have been in business for years, one since 1983. There were breakers, show organizers, and high school and college educators. One member of the group likes to pre-grade cards for friends “just for fun” before they send cards for real grading. Some of us are just building our PCs, while others are in a place of needing to thin out and focus their collection. As a whole, we collect everything: baseball, football, soccer, vintage, entertainment, male, and female. Some of us PC players or teams, others are looking for grads from their college alma maters, some a particular type of card. The range is endless.

There were a couple of big highlights of the meet-up for me. First, I got to meet Sam of Women of the Hobby (WOTH). She is doing so much to highlight women who love collecting on her Instagram page and her YouTube show, and she is an all-around amazing person. Second, Layton Sports Cards provided three boxes of cards to open: 2021 Panini Select Basketball, Topps 2020 U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team & Hopefuls, and Topps Baseball 2021 Series 2. My pull of the night was a Concourse LaMelo Ball RC from Panini Select. Everyone was so gracious and excited to find things that they knew others PCed. Over the conversation and the raucous laughter, we were handing cards back and forth, making sure we all went away with things we were thrilled about.

When you hear people say, “The National is all about the cards, but more about the people,” believe them. The people I met really did make the show for me.

Come back for my next installment of Notes from a National Newbie where I will highlight my experience on the show floor.

Libby Koch

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