There have been a ton of posts on all the blogs already about what happened at the national, lack of foot traffic, dealers not giving two shits about it, etc. And though Beckett seems to think this National was “teh best natty con EVAR,” its become undeniable that something just wasnt the same. It could have been the city, it could have been the economy, it could have been all of that or none of it. One thing remains, however, the national card show has a few problems and they arent going away.
The main thing that I believe is the reason the national attendance has been going downhill is because its a card show. That is one reason that no one seems to get. Who wants to pay $250 for plane fare, 100 bucks for hotel, 8 bucks for parking, 20 bucks for admission, and all sorts of money for food, just for a card show? Yes, there are a lot of people there, but in all reality, there is now a free card show that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in ebay. In any economy where people arent scrounging for money, it wouldnt be too much of a factor. However, when disposable income is at a complete minimum, why even make an effort?
Add in the fact that you have mediocre autograph guests charging hundreds, and there is an even bigger problem than before. When you have someone at the show like Barry Sanders, thats all great and everything, but when he charges as much as he does, it loses appeal for collectors who normally would pay under 100 bucks for a great photo and or football on eBay. The same prices were true for last year, but the economy was different.
Then, when you have hundreds of dealers all competing for the dollars of the few consumers who live in the area or made the trek, you would expect that it would be a buyer’s market. From the many reports I got through email and on the boards, however, the dealers were not able to make it a buyer’s market due to the fact that they were having trouble making rent for the show. Also, they had such poor service that people were turned off by their actions and went elsewhere. Its been quoted on a few places that the dealers’ biggest customers were other dealers, im guessing because so many people needed stuff to sell to the dwindling customer base.
My thought is that even though the economy will rebound, events like this will not. People are starting to wise up on the best places to get deals, and will go to these events more to be around other collectors and to see their favorite card company’s booth. They will not go to buy cards from a dirty old man who charges high book. Beckett wants you to think that the national is the best thing since sliced bread, because they know its the one place where they can do more than average bloggers, and because book value is everywhere there. It makes them seem relevant in the hobby more than they really are. The fact is, many bloggers dont need to go to the event because of the lack of interest to most readers, and because there is already enough communication with the manufacturers outside of the show. Bloggers WANT to go to the show to meet people in person, but I guarantee you that none of them spent more than a hundred bucks or so, give or take.
Under that assumption, I would encourage the bloggers to make a trip next year to Baltimore, but not with the idea of providing the “OMG, we are everywherez!” coverage that Beckett did. I think it should be more about educating the public, showcasing our talents as hobby media personnel, and getting to know the reader base. If you want to do interviews, why wait for a once a year event? Its your responsibility to seek them out for your readers the whole year long. Use the national the way it should be used, as a gathering of the populace, not as a place to show readers that you can get interviews with Scotty Prusha and Tracy Hackler. These are people who would normally scoff at your attempt at providing news as a “cesspool of misinformation,” and shouldnt be the people that get the stage at any time, let alone at a card show.
Bloggers and message boards are the new number one source for hobby commentary and news. Everything else is stale and outdated. Its time to show what we got 24/7/365 instead of just for one weekend.