Inside the Pack: What Makes a Good Sports Card Show?

Earlier this week, I was lamenting to my wife that there were no good card shows nearby this upcoming weekend. She asked me what makes a card show good, and as I explained my perspective to her, it occurred to me that others might feel differently. After talking to some folks, it actually seems there is a general consensus on what makes a card show good as opposed to bad.

The most popular answer I heard was that a good card show should have dealers who sell a variety of items. Card shows are utterly uninteresting when everyone sells modern singles or graded cards or vintage or sealed wax. Walking into a show and seeing tables that look different from each other is instantly engaging and exciting.

Speaking of dealers, the more there are, the better a show is. In talking with some people, 20 dealers seemed to be the cut off at which people became interested in a show — any fewer and the show sounded like something that wouldn’t be worth the time.

A good card show should also be well-located. Ideally located off a highway or a major street for ease of access, the location should have plenty of parking and a well-lit parking lot, and many lines of sight and easy visibility. Card shows involve a lot of cash and high-end merchandise, so be leery of a show lacking in these aspects.

It’s not a requirement, but the best card shows often have something else to draw folks in. The highest tier of this sort of draw is an autograph guest, but it could also include an autograph authentication service or an on-site card grader. In lieu of these services, raffles and door prizes are a nice addition to a show.

The truth is for a card nerd like myself, almost any card show is great. But the best of the best have a lot of these elements in common, and that’s no coincidence.

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