Monday, May 06, 2013

43rd Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo Review

For Canadians the Sports card Expo is something we look forward to twice a year. We meet friends, stores, distributors and companies all within the collecting industry in the three day events. The Spring Expo is usually the kickoff to the Baseball season and the NHL Playoffs.

Now of course regardless if the Jays are doing well it is mainly a Hockey show throughout. This shouldn’t concern baseball collectors at all as there are dealers with only Baseball items at their booths. Being a huge baseball fan and running through the Hockey overage of products and memorabilia we still find those great baseball deals and unique pieces to pick up for the collection.
For those that attended the expo this past weekend we brought in postcard flyers with a 10% off coupon code on them to promote us being live and looking to spread the word out among the Canadian and international collectors in attendance.

Each show runs a Friday to Sunday schedule and will have certain players in attendance signing during the show. The players are mainly Hockey retired and active stars of the game. This year’s attraction was the 1993 Stanley Cup Champions Montreal Canadiens. This included a line-up of stars from the team including Patrick Roy’s first appearance at the expo. A very big ticket at the show and brought in a number of Montreal fans and hockey historic collectors from around the globe. The prices for the autographs were typical for the expo but were on the expensive side compared to other appearances I've been to in the past for the team or even players by themselves. That didn't stop the line-ups for them though; droves of people were in line for each and every player on the block.

Another aspect of the show is the Fergie Jenkins Foundation. Mr. Jenkins comes out on the Saturday of the show and brings along fellow retired players to sign autographs for his foundation. This time out was a great draw of players including Goose Gossage, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro and Andre Dawson. All Hall of Fame players and all in one day! A thrill for any baseball fan to have any of these players sign something and meet them.

One of the things you must do at either of the Expo’s is to have a game plan. It’s a decent sized venue and if you have “must haves” to do you better get to them first. Our game plan for the show was pretty simple this time around. First up was to meet the Baseball legends and grab their autographs, then head over to the Universal booth to redeem our voucher, stop by COMC and drop off a submission and then free range the rest of the Saturday.

Again loving baseball I was super excited to meet these players including Andre Dawson whom I always wanted to get his autograph in person. The line was not too bad at 10am when they started the signing but quickly expanded every 10 minutes or so. The great thing about this signing was that the foundation had items to purchase the players autographs on including Official MLB baseballs. The prices were very good as well, for 4 of the players (excluding Fergie as we have him already) on MLB baseballs it was only $190 total ($47.50 each). A fantastic deal to receive 4 Hall of Famers autographs on Official MLB Baseballs with cases! It was a real pleasure to meet these gentlemen and they were all very appreciative of collectors paying towards the Fergie Jenkins Foundation. A big thrill for me as a baseball collector to meet each of these players in person that I remember watching as a kid.

Next up was the Universal booth to redeem the Panini Passport to obtain a special Black edition card of Patrick Roy. There were two versions at the show with Colorado or Montreal shots of the Hall of Fame player. We received the Colorado version but were hopeful to land the Montreal version. Oh well, free card for two Panini Wrappers isn't anything to complain about. The one thing I would say is that Panini not showing up to Canada's largest card and memorabilia show is a no-no. They should have been here and should have made it for the collectors. 
Panini was not in attendance at the Expo this time from what we heard was a scheduling conflict. This was disappointing for collectors as the past shows they have always had a wrapper redemption program which always yielded some amazing cards. Panini has stated they will be in attendance at the Fall Expo which will include the Double-Rookie class in Hockey products.

Our last “To-do’s” was a stop by the booth and drop off a submission into our account. Met with Geoff and talked a little about how we thought COMC was doing for us and how we enjoy the customer service with them. Really great idea within the hobby community and a must use for any collector as a seller or buyer.
Now it was time to go row by row and search out some things of either our collection or the store. Walking around at the Expo is run into some interesting items that people are selling and some really cool “wish I had money to spend on that” items. Take for instance this dealer had the best Jersey’s and displays at the Expo. Wish I could grab every Gretzky jersey he had and put them up in the house somewhere. Stood around a looked at them for a bit and took in all the ones he had. Pretty impressive lot of jerseys he had.
Upper Deck was (and always has been) in attendance and they continued their roll with the Priority Signings Wrapper redemption program. This Expo’s crop of signers were limited to only /36 per player which gave collectors a very good shot at landing some star autographs. Our own Gambler Follower @TheRealDpan ended up with a John Tavares Autograph /35 and won an Alexander Ovechkin Autographed card out of /99 during a raffle.

In The Game was also in attendance and when you walk into the Expo your given a raffle ticket to spin the wheel for a prize and also receive another raffle ticket that could win you an uncut sheet. They too also had a wrapper redemption program going on which collectors were treated to encased cards. Another Gambler Follower @WildEagle pulled a decent redemption card for his wrapper program and also had a turn at the Deal or No Deal contest.

I had the pleasure of meeting a few Gambler Followers this weekend which included @TheRealDpan, @WildEagle, @LongFlyBall, @SlopitchFanatic and Beckett’s own @yanxchick. Was great to meet @TheRealDpan, @WildEagle, @LongFlyBall and talk a little about the Expo, the hobby in general as well as what we are trying to do here at The Pack Gambler. Great guys to meet and talk with and glad to have finally meet them.

@SlopitchFanatic is a great follow on Twitter and always has some of the best singles I've ever seen ripped out of boxes. Seems to have the upper hand on me but glad he’s the one that pulls the big ones out of the boxes rather then anyone else.

Very cool to meet @yanxchick (Susan Lulgjuraj) and talk a little about the show and the hobby. Have liked the style of her writing in the Hockey Beckett’s and was happy to introduce myself to her as I missed out at the Fall show.

Unlike most we left the show around 2pm on Saturday, early but did what we came for and then some. We didn't find anything too interesting this time around like a Game Used Bat or really amazing deal on boxes, stocked up on much needed supplies and had a good time overall.

With the hockey strike the hockey products didn't have the same thrill as they did in previous Expo’s. The main topic among dealers was the Rookie Double Class coming towards the fall. The excitement of the Fall Expo seemed to be on everyone’s mind and looked very promising for everyone in attendance. A few rumors around the Fall Expo were floating about which included a very big star player signer and amazing promotions with the big two companies (Upper Deck and Panini).

We’ll have to see how that goes, but if you’re from out of town you better make plans soon to come out for the Fall Expo as it sounds like it could be the one that will standout for years to come.


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