This weekend marked the latest entry for the Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo, which was held the weekend of November 9 to 11 in Toronto.
The show is fully stocked, from top-to-bottom, with exceptional memorabilia, unique autograph and VIP experiences, and of course cards. The show provides something for just about every type of collector in the market and you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a good time while in attendance.
Although most of the dealers stay the same from show to show, their offerings remain fluid and the inventory they carry has a decent turnover rate. This gives each show something new and exciting to look at every time.
The first thing that strikes me as I enter the show is the number of fake jerseys I see hanging from the vendor’s displays. They range from marginally horrible to outright hideous.
A little later I stumbled across some old copies of Beckett Hockey Magazine. I am trying to put together a full run of them and added 40 more to my collection. At less than 40 cents each, I couldn’t argue.
I am always searching for Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys/autos/SPs, but one could literally spend hours digging through bargain bins and not see the full breadth of offerings. The past couple of shows I haven’t rummaged through many boxes, because my Penguins collection is to the point where it is more worthwhile searching the specific cards out online, instead of spreading too much time laboring through thousands of cards. Best rest assured, there are plenty of chances to do some digging if you want to add some serious quantity to your collection. Most bargain boxes range from 10 cents to $5.
The dealers themselves range from the highly-organized to the ones that dump boxes of cards on their tables and have stacks of cards held together with rubber bands.
Can you guess which dealer you can find more hidden gems with?
One of my favorite things to do is look at all the game used memorabilia. I would never be able to afford to add any of these relics to my collection, but hearing the stories behind the items and talking with the passionate vendors makes it a Hockey History boot camp. The Mario Lemieux Game Used All-Star Jersey had me gazing in wonder for what seemed like an eternity.
The big draw for the show is usually Upper Deck Series One, which releases right around the time of the show each November. I can still hear the echoes of pack ripping in my head. I can’t even fathom how many cases of product get open at an event like this. Upper Deck truly goes above and beyond to deliver products and experiences to the expo crowd via redemption programs and other phenomenal initiatives that honor the tradition of collecting.
One of the most infuriating things with these shows are the dealers that try to take advantage of collectors that aren’t educated and especially one prey on children.
I won’t spend too much time on that here. The only advice I will give is to educate yourself on the price of cards, set a budget and if you see someone trying to scam kids out of money, say something.
Another hang-up I have is when dealers eat at their booths. I know people need to eat, but it is a weird experience talking to someone about a deal when they are eating hot dogs and pizza then handling cash and answering questions with a full mouth of food.
Aside from the Beckett magazines, I picked up a set of 2016-17 Tim Hortons Cards (minus two insert sets) with the binder for $45. If you read my recent Tim Hortons pack break piece, you will see why this was a welcomed addition.
I also picked up around 20-25 baseball card sets that were extremely cheap and are going to lay the groundwork for my new Oakland Athletics collection.
If you’re a collector within striking distance of the show and haven’t made it out to one of the Expo’s, then you truly are doing a disservice to yourself. The ability to develop and grow relationships with other collectors and participate in unique programs from the top manufacturers of sports cards and memorabilia is well worth the price of admission. Just be sure to check with your partner before you spend the money. ■
A collector since the explosion of 1990, Rob Joncas can usually be found scouring bargain bins at card shows for Pittsburgh Penguins cards and hopes to add the Pro Set Holy Grail to his collection one day- the Stanley Cup Hologram. Follow him on Twitter @RobJoncas.