Being a collector means living with expectations.
From pack to box to case to show, we want what's promised to be realized - and exceeded - more times than not.
This weekend in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, area collectors had one of their three chances a year to enjoy a big stage. The FansEdge show returned with plenty to look at and take home. Sponsored in part by my former corporate boss, The Chicago Sun-Times, these shows are heavy on vintage cardboard and a variety of autograph opportunities.
Frankly, there aren't a lot of good shows around these parts anymore, which is still odd because this is one of the largest metro areas in the country. No matter, this is prime territory to drop some cash on whatever it is you want.
Two weeks before The National, some dealers opted to stay on the sidelines to avoid two trips so close together. It didn't seem to hurt the overall seller turnout, but there were some who set up shop that made two disappointing choices.
First, this show landed here just six weeks after the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years. There was no shortage of Hawks gear, cards and photos, more than you would have seen two years ago. So why did many dealers limit their selections to only high-end rookie cards or other items that were great to look at, but not within the price range of some?
The Hawks have resurfaced for even the most casual of fan who collects cards and memorabilia, meaning it was the perfect time to throw it all on the table. The Son, my 5 year old, shouldn't have had such a hard time spending his 10 bucks on something Hawks related.
Personally, the spread offered by Keith Schuth & Associates proved to be the perfect fit for us to grab nice sized Hawks' Cup celebration photos that we'll use for autographs at the Blackhawks Convention. These folks understood demand and delivered. Nice work, folks.
Then there were the clock-management issues. Some dealers didn't make it to Rosemont for Friday's opening night, which left noticeably empty tables and less to see. Not a great impression, yet understandable given travel and other considerations dealers encounter.
On Sunday, the unmanned tables at 12:30 p.m. - the show closed at four - belonged to dealers apparently more interested in beating the traffic home. Know how to make sure no one buys your stuff? Dismantle your set up while folks are still plunking down their $10 to get in the door.
Again, this is about expectations. I can live with a limited number of guys selling wax, but not with shuttered tables four hours before closing time.
In an era where the hobby is competing - and struggling to do so - with so many types of entertainment in a down economy, dealers should be trying to impress with new ideas and approaches at big shows. The alternative is for collectors to lower their expectations.
There's no mistaking which would be better.
Checklist Chasing is written by Dan Campana, a media consultant, former newspaper reporter and longtime collector living in the Chicago suburbs with a sports-minded 5-year-old and an understanding wife.