Amelia Island, with a few beaches and a nice walkable downtown area, is a small community of fewer than 40,000 people. Tucked away well off the interstate in northeast Florida, it doesn’t feel much like Florida at all; in fact, if you look across the water, you can see into neighboring Georgia. My in-laws moved there in 2019, and not only are there no baseball card stores in the area, the seemingly endless number of antique shops have virtually no sports related items, save for one booth in one antique mall that has a bit of overpriced vintage memorabilia.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was looking at card shows around the state for the next month and I noticed a show in Amelia Island. The location is about three hours from where I live, but as luck would have it, the show was on a weekend we were already planning to be visiting my in-laws. So, on Saturday morning, as everyone was getting their bearings and filling their coffee mugs, I am parked on the quick 10 minute drive to Kraft Athletic Club to check out the second show they had ever put on there.
The show is promoted by Joel from Breakers Rowe, who I’m familiar with from other shows in the region. Though I don’t know him personally, Joel has always struck me as a great guy who is friendly with customers and other dealers as well. The venue is a small one of the beaten path, somewhat literally — you must drive down a small dirt road to get into the tennis camp area, where the show is held in the clubhouse. The building looks its age as a sign outside noted that it was erected in the 1960s.
I wasn’t expecting much from a smaller show in a tiny enclave, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to hear “there he is!” as I walked in. It turns out that there were several dealers who I knew from the Jacksonville shows who were set up at this show. There were also a handful of dealers I had not seen before. By my rough estimation there were about 30 tables spread across a dozen dealers.
What was really impressive to me about the show from as soon as I walked in was that it felt like I had stepped back to a show for my childhood in the 1990s. They were families and lots of little kids looking at cards. The show was devoid of the usual endless tables of shiny high priced wares, and it also seemed to be missing the deep-pocketed and loud buyers who tend to suck all the air out of a room by attempting to negotiate on every price at every table. Multiple tables had quarter and dollar boxes; Pokémon also seemed to be a popular item at the show.
I was able to buy some vintage singles from a dealer I didn’t know, and I was also able to talk to you and hang out with a couple of my dealer friends from the Jacksonville show. I returned to my in-laws’ house and excitedly told my wife what I need feeling it was to go to a show that reminded me of the hobby’s simpler days from my youth.