Crowds of fans and collectors filled the aisles at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Ill., on March 28-30 at the Chicago Sun-Times biannual show. Behind a solid autograph lineup of football stars, recent baseball Hall of Fame inductees and other notables, show co-promoter Brian Schwartz said the show was a success.
“For the first time I can remember, Sunday was actually a stronger lineup and bigger crowd than Saturday, mostly due to Adrian Peterson, George Brett and the two newest Hall of Famers, Dick Williams and Goose Gossage,” said Schwartz. “The crowd seemed to be really buzzing. That’s always our goal. To make sure people are everywhere, lots of people in the Autograph Pavilion aisle, lots of people at the vendor booths; from the looks of it, the show was every bit as solid as last year’s November show, which was strong.”
The autograph guests were a mix of former and current players. Colts running back Joseph Addai said it was exciting to rub shoulders with some of his heroes. He also noted that doing autograph signings at card shows has opened up his eyes to collecting his own memorabilia.
“I love doing these shows to meet the fans face to face and also share something with the fans,” said Addai. “I’m a fan first and being a young guy and looking at guys like Barry Sanders the same way as everybody else does, I kind of share something with them in that way.
“I’m trying to collect all my game jerseys so when I’m done, man these careers go so fast, that I want to have some stuff to be able to reflect upon once it’s all done,” he added. “When I was young, I collected football cards; now people come up to me and are collecting my cards. It’s crazy.”
Rick Giddings of Gizmo’s Sports Cards said that Chicago shows are always good, and this Sun-Times show was no different.
“It was a great buying show for me,” said Giddings. “On the selling side, there were a few more tire kickers than usual. I think the economy has affected the market a little bit, but the show was basically good all around.”
Also on hand was Upper Deck, which displayed some of the company’s Upper Deck Authenticated products and also handed out promotional items to show attendees.
“A lot of people were impressed that we were here,” said Jason Yenglin, account executive for dealer support. “We were giving out some packs of SP Authentic cards, and we handed out cards that talked about our Kids program, so this was a good opportunity to showcase that.”
The Sun-Times spring event marked one of numerous major card and memorabilia shows that will take place in the Chicago area this year.
Despite a possible perceived overabundance of Chicago shows during 2008, most dealers don’t seem to mind.
“Chicago is always the best market in the U.S.,” said Giddings. “I’ve never been to a Sun-Times show or a SportsFest show that wasn’t great. This year, the top four shows in the nation are right here in Chicago.”
Dennis Jose, owner of Chicagotix.com, agreed.
“Thankfully, Chicago is centrally located,” said Jose. “People say, ‘Are you going to be at the National, what else is going to be coming up this year?’ So, they start marking their calendars. With all the shows being in Chicago, the buzz continues throughout the summer, and they won’t forget if the next show in the area isn’t until months away.”
Dave Czuba, who works for Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen, acknowledged that Chicago hosting so many shows may not be the best thing in the case of dealers who want to purchase cards from collectors.
“Overall, buying from the public was fair,” said Czuba. “Not a lot of things seemed to come in this weekend. I think it’s a sign of the Chicago shows where there’s so many right now. We did not buy as much as usual. It did seem that there were a lot of people here, and it seemed like there was a lot of retail action at the show. But as far as buying from the public, it was a little off.”
The next show that will be held in the Chicago area will be SportsFest (June 6-8), followed by The National (July 30-August 2). The next Sun-Times event will be held November.
Check out Chris Nerat’s blog, Gavel Chat at: gavelchat.sportscollectorsdigest.com. Readers may reach him at Chris.Nerat@fwpubs.com or call him at (800) 726-9966, ext. 13452.