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  #1  
Old 06-29-2004, 11:59 AM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: mzm55 


Hello, my dad and I are going to the national this year, I'm only 14 with little expirence so what should we expect ? How high will the prices be on prewar HOFs, and will the prices be much higher or around the same as what cards are selling for on ebay right now ?


Thank You,

Zach Rice

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  #2  
Old 06-29-2004, 12:28 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: petecld

Zach,

I went to my first National when I was 15. I hope your dad doesn't nag you as much as my mom did (yeah, she'll haunt me for that remark) but if dad gets fussy there will be tables by the food areas for him to sit and relax.

Regarding marked prices, keep track of what cards sell for on eBay and don't hesitate to haggle. Especially if you are buying more then one card. Dealers always set prices high knowing collectors will want to haggle a little. Unless you are collecting something rare or in high grade chances are you'll find what you are looking for again at another table. No need to pay more than you need to, cards aren't worth a premium if they are sold at the National, eBay will always be there.


A couple other suggestions for a happier experience:

- Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be walking a LOT.

- Bring a water bottle which you can refill it if necessary. As much as I pay for some card I feel the biggest rip-off at these shows is the food/soda prices.


Good luck at the show and I hope the experience turns out to be everything you're hoping for.

Pete

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  #3  
Old 06-29-2004, 12:49 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: warshawlaw

I envy you; the first time to a show of this magnitude is like a pilgrimmage to Mecca (or Wrigley Field). For the vintage collector, the National is a great chance to find difficult cards and good cards at good prices, if you shop around.

I usually prepare mentally by making a written list of cards that I will jump on at just about any price (such as a card of my cousin the boxer) and those that I want but can wait for if I cannot find it at a price I like (such as T206s). I generally do not look for anything I can commonly find on ebay or at local shows (such as 1950's HOFers), unless the prices are just amazing. I also make sure my checklists are updated and printed out. You never know when you will run across something from a set you are building, so you want to have checklists available. Don't forget the pencil.

I don't know what your finances are like, but if I am taking days off from work and traveling across the country to attend a show, I'm going in HEAVY; for 3-4 days with at least $5,000 to spend, plus lots of trading fodder.

When I get there, I usually walk through the hall quickly to scope out the likely areas of interest. The shows are big and the aisles are marked. If you see a booth you like, ask the dealer for his name and booth number and write it down so you can find it later on. I recommend bypassing all of the corporate booths and all of the major dealers with banners, and dealers who are heavy on graded cards in shiny display cases with special lighting, unless something really catches my eye. I know those guys are high-end retailers and I don't need anything that badly.

The best deals are in the booths that are a bit sloppier, quirkier, with cards spilling out all over the place, homemade showcases, etc. Be ready to dig right in and plow through lots of crapola in boxes and albums in search of "buried treasure". I've found some amazing cards stuck into corners in booths that look like a teenager's closet (sorry). Remember to haggle hard, even if the prices are good. You never know what you will get by way of discounts unless you ask.

I also avoid socializing (sorry folks) for the first few hours, at least until I've scoped out the show and gotten some idea of what is available. Hey' I'm workin' here!!

Watch the crowds--often, a booth that is mobbed is a "blow out" booth run by a major auction house or dealer looking to dump excess inventory. I've gotten some amazing deals at tables like that, after elbowing my way into the scrum.

If you are really into prewar vintage cards, expect that at least 50% of the tables will be of no interest to you whatsoever. Another 20% will have old cards that will either be (1) unaffordable or (2) too "new" for your tastes. I usually end up buying from no more than 5-10 tables at a National; finding them is the challenge.

Bring a backpack with bottled water and some dry foods that will tide you over. I usually pack some jerky and trail mix. You don't want to eat the food at most convention halls. Not only does it waste time and cost a fortune, but you run the risk of a nasty bellyache. One too many bad convention chili dogs; I've learned my lesson.

Lastly, don't be cheap; buy the VIP admission package. If you are going to the trouble of going to a National, especially from far away, the last thing you want to do is stand in line. I had the misfortune of doing the 1991 National (the legendary 100,000+ attendance show) without a pass. Spent hours in line the first day. Fortunately, a dealer friend took pity on me and loaned me a badge to get in for the remaining days. For all subsequent shows, I've purchased the VIP package and have had no problems.

Have a great time.

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  #4  
Old 06-29-2004, 01:15 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: Mike (18colt)

After waiting 15 years for the National to return to the East Coast, I went to last year's National in Atlantic City (my first National). I went on the last day of the event and found some pleasant surprises.

Get there as soon as the show opens on the last day. The crowds are small, most of the large corporate tables and booths are void of activity, and you have room to walk (and it's quiet enough to hold a conversation). If you see something interesting, write down the dealer's name and location, but also ask what time the dealer is leaving (most leave early to catch flights, beat traffic, etc.). I found some great bargains that last day, and I still got to meet the hobby "heavyweights" (and see some great vintage cards). You may even come across a vintage card that you weren't expecting to have an interest in, and that may start a collection you hadn't considered before (for me, it was a bargain E-96 of Karger in low, low, low grade for $5 -- I've added E-96 to my list of collecting interests as a result).

Another tip -- before you go, have a T-shirt made up with a vintage card pictured on the front. Some dealers don't take younger collectors seriously, but advertising what you collect might catch a dealer's eye, and you won't be ignored. I was in your shoes before, and I know it's no fun to not be taken seriously. Try to be specific as to what you want, too. For example, if you're looking for a card of Ty Cobb, because you don't have one and you want one, ask if the dealer has a T-206, or has an E-95, or has a card from his playing days and not a 1960 Fleer All-Time Greats card. If the dealer thinks you have knowledge, you will seem like a more credible buyer in his/her eyes, and you won't be ignored.

Bottom line -- just try to have fun. I didn't spend a lot of money, but I enjoyed the experience. Good luck.

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  #5  
Old 06-29-2004, 01:23 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: mzm55

I'm not sure about buying the vip pass is it really worth it, or could my dad and I just get there before the show opens and wait at the doors before anyone gets there ? Also my dad is in a wheelchair and I was wondering if this would complicate things any? Is it that crowded that it would be hard to fit a wheelchair through the crowds ?

Thank You,

Zach rice

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  #6  
Old 06-29-2004, 02:14 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: Tim Newcomb

I believe naxcom.com is again offering discounted tickets to the National ($8 per day instead of $15). I did this last year (and again at Chicago Sportsfest last weekend), and it's not only cheaper, but it should get you out of the long ticket lines. At worst you'd have to wait in a short Naxcom will-call line on the first day but you could pick up your tickets for all the days, and after that, you'd sail right in.

Good luck!

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  #7  
Old 06-29-2004, 03:11 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: Julie

to get a VIP ticket, which will get you in early on ALL days, including opening night--fewer people and better choices. Less crowded isles.

I haven't seen a wheelchair at a show (maybe 25 I've been to), but the very first show i went to, there was a guy with a brand new cast, from thigh to toe, being helped along by two friends. They had a ball.

There's some GREAT advice in this column! Think I'll save it...

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  #8  
Old 06-29-2004, 06:16 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: scott brockelman

zach,

glad to hear you are coming to the national. a few of the posters made very valid points, food, water, comfortable shoes, price haggling, lists of wants, pre-planning, etc.

the main thing i tell people is to decide your focus: old cards, new cards, memorablilia, bats, gloves, etc. and remain focused on that as you go thru the IX center, it is a big building with approx. 1,000 dealers. when you go by a table that does not have your interest just keep going, there is no way to stop and peruse every table in 1 or 2 days, not even the 5 that i am there. so just keep whizzing by the areas of non-interest.

do not feel intimidated by any of the dealers, half of them know less about vintage cards than you might know. focus on quality and not quantity as well. the old adage buy the best you can afford is true. in other words buying 1 $50 higher grade card than 10 lower grade $5 cards will usually pay off much nicer in the long run. quality is king.

feel free to stop by my table and ask any questions you may have. i am at table # 1512

scott brockelman

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  #9  
Old 06-29-2004, 06:19 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: scott brockelman

zach,

the aisles are very wide 10' or so, your father will have no problem with them or getting enough close to the tables to see any all of the items as well.

scott

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  #10  
Old 06-29-2004, 07:41 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: honus3415

..... might be nice, if those of you lucky enough to be setting up know you table numbers before hand.

I'm sure some of us would love to be able to avoid the "shiny-card" tables if we're lucky enough to get there.

If you don't know before hand....in the words of Gilda Radner "Neverrrrr Mind".

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  #11  
Old 06-29-2004, 07:54 PM
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Default What to expect at the national

Posted By: bcornell

There's a list of all dealers here: http://natlconv.com/national/national2003/content/NationalExhibitors.xls. You can get the floor plan here: http://natlconv.com/national/national2003/information/floorplan.asp.



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