The National is nigh, and Rob from VOTC has posted a great guide to making it the card show experience of your life. I do have a few things to add, as I see it a little differently than most of the others out there. Obviously, I cant go due to having to work this weekend and being across the country, but I hope a lot of you do. It looks like a lot of fun, and you are really going to have to watch your wallet.
Before you go splurge on your future collection centerpieces, remember that eBay is still the best way to get cards, hands down. Even though this show will pretty much have everything you could ever need, its still a show. Also remember that when you go from table to table, the prices are still show prices, and that most of the regular cards wont be worth your time unless you are trading your stuff away. Even in that case, I would probably wait before handing your collection to a dealer booth, as they will only give you trade values based on them making money(we all know what that means).
What I would suggest is trying to find those cards that wont be available anywhere else. You know there are going to be some ridiculous cards, in a good way, and this may be your time to A) see what is out there B) window shop and C) secure some nice rarities and oddballs. Other than that, I would be very careful if you are going to buy mid to high end stuff at show prices.
Second, the manufacturers booths are the way to go as Rob said. They have awesome giveaways and ways to get free stuff. If you do one thing at the show, its go to these booths.
In terms of buying versus trading, this is a show that has thousands of collectors there for one reason. I would not hesitate to set up some trades with collectors instead of the dealers, as you know that they don’t have to pay overhead for booth space. I have heard so many amazing stories of trades that go down, and I assume that if you look, you should be able to find a lot of the action.
Another great thing is the case breaks that go down, because as you can imagine, collectors from all walks of life will be there. Last year I heard there were so many Cup and Exquisite breaks that they almost devoted a whole room to the people who spend 20K and break it all there. Keep your eyes out as you may see something that you will never be able to see again in that respect. Also, many of these people bust for stuff to sell at the show, so it’s a good chance that you would be able to work out a deal for any card they pull. Not always, but I got an email from a guy last year who said he purchased a Brady Quinn Exquisite Patch Rookie Auto for 20 bucks. The scan alone was worth that.
Of course, Beckett will be there, and they are going to be surrounded by everything that makes them the devil in this industry. They surely will grade your cards on the spot, and they will also have something called “Raw Card Review” like they do at every show. It is the biggest rip off ever created, don’t fall for it. RCR is basically them stealing your money, as they take a quick look at your unslabbed card and give it an “expected” grade. The problem is that these grades are NOT guaranteed to transfer to a slab and are not held with the same premium as the regular slabs. It will still cost you a long wait and some cash you could spend elsewhere. Also, there will be about 100,000 cards they will need to slab in three days, so the attention your card will get will be minimal compared to the regular process. This could work to your advantage, but it could also screw you out of getting a deserved higher grade. I don’t support grading at all, but if you have to do it, wait for better ways, or don’t request on the spot service.
With Beckett, they seem to think that the people at the National justify a lot of their horrible existence, but you will see why I have some of the problems I do with their practices, just from observing their booth. From what I have heard from my industry sources, there may be Panini reps AT the Beckett booth, and many of the Beckett giveaways will be Panini in nature. No surprise there. Either way, I am confident that Tracy Hackler will be sure to give his report of how much positive feedback they get at the show, but as an enlightened collector, I would stay far away from anything they have to offer. That is, unless you actually want to be surrounded by a bunch of price guide thumping idiots who want to suckle at the teat of the hobby’s number one source on douchebaggery. Really, I’m sure there will be enough price guide propaganda outside of the area around their station, as this show will probably be ripe with JCs who don’t know anything about the sheer stupidity of everything Beckett preaches.
Also, Blowout and DACardworld are going to be there and they always have some sweet deals on wax. If you are looking for older stuff, or stuff that has been out for a few years even, check out the booths, they will have some rock bottom prices.
Just be sure to remember that it may be the national, but its still a card show. It will be a blast even if you don’t buy anything, so don’t think you are wasting time and money if you just go there to see the gathering. I think that because so many of your contacts from the blogs and the message boards will be there, it would be a great way to put some faces and personalities to the names. Keep your eyes peeled for good deals, and avoid tables with price guides sitting in prominent places.
Most importantly, send me the pictures!!