I haven't been to a card show in quite a long time so it was cool to get out of the house today and visit one of the most beautiful places in the world - San Francisco. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the skyline and half-million dollar homes that caught my attention on the way to the Cow Palace. In fact if the setting around the ancient building wasn't spectacular hilltops lined with colorful homes and the pacific fog rolling in amongst the tops of the hills - you'd think I was in a less desirable area of the planet.
Like I said, the venue was no paradise - but believe me, this is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Not to mention expensive. $4 Bridge Toll, $20 Meal, $8 Parking - all before we enter the show.
What the heck is a Cow Palace?
Given how popular 2010 Bowman Baseball has been on the internet with people paying $400+ for Stephen Strasburg Auto's (Makes me wonder what his Upper Deck Stuff is selling for) and double the SRP for boxes, I wanted to see what the markup was going to be at the TriStar show. Funny thing was, there was really only a handful of guys selling wax, and only one guy with enough to supply a good portion of the East Bay. Looks like he wasn't marking his boxes up much more than anyone else. In fact I overhead the gentleman running the booth say that a guy came in on Friday (when the show started) and bought several cases from him. He had some good un-opened boxes, all coming from sealed cases I saw behind him. His prices were excellent and even saw someone get $10 off on a Prominent Cuts Box.
The vintage cards at the show were spectacular. I saw cards that I have only seen in magazines and heard about through other more serious collectors. It was amazing to see sellers that have amassed such a huge collection and are showcasing at card shows across the country. Its almost like a rolling museum of sorts, where these guys are in it for profit, but many are showcasing works of art and sports history along the way.
It wasn't like every basketball card I saw was of a 12th man. You always see the LeBron James & Michael Jordan dual signature on the Upper Deck Basketball sell sheets (I should have said used to see) and since LJ and MJ are locked up with someone that is making Lacrosse sets - we might not see beauties like these anywhere but card shows. I wish I had a Black American Express card or Upper Deck made licensed NBA cards - because I'd buy a card like this and I'm a Lakers fan.
Collectors probably make too much about how cards look. The reason 2010 Bowman is sizzling right now is not because it 'looks' great! However, as prospects flame out and sets get hot and cold - we still remember a handful of cards. There are more Wilt Chamberlain autographs in the world. The design, the signature and the elegance of this design makes this the Wilt Chamberlain autograph card. I'm happy I saw it in person today.
There was a mix of extremely professional high grade tables and younger guys that look like they might only be there because the location or timing was right for them. I noticed some dealers with business cards out from as far away as Connecticut. It was a good sign for the hobby. I think I said on my podcast the other day that Sports Cards are as hot right now than they have been in a while. It could be that the reduction in product (that collectors were begging for several years ago) is actually working. It could be that prospects like Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro and others are actually going to be the next generation of baseball stars that follow Jeter, Arod and Pujols when they are done. Not to mention the LeBron James' and Chris Johnson's of the world. Possibly its a mix of both.
I've never been to the National, and I'm not going to fly across the country anytime for that. Besides, people travel all over the world to experience California's summer time ... why on earth would I leave?? That being said, if the National delivers half the experience I had today, it should be one hell of a show for collectors.