Get the most out of The National by following these 7 tips
Updated July 28, 2019
We are super excited to be heading out to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL this week to attend the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention! Running from July 31st to August 4th, the hobby’s biggest week of the year is sure to be a heck of a time! This will be the 40th national convention, and we are proud to have participated for the last thirteen consecutive years. We've picked up some good tips for attending along the way, so check them out below.
1. Prepare a list and take notes
Narrow your shopping or want list. Knowing what you want to look for and having a priority of what you want to buy will help you when dealing with the huge amount of material that you will see on the show floor. You can always change plans to something else if you find a great item or fantastic buy, but having a clear direction when you hit the floor will help you stay focused. Take notes on which tables you see the cards that you may have interest in, noting the booth number, the card and the asking price. This will help you to be better able to return quickly if you decide that you want to negotiate or purchase the card.
2. Be patient and don't rush into anything.
Unless a deal is really too good to pass up (and you know what they say about things that appear to good to be true), make the rounds and comparison shop. There will be plenty of options and opportunities to spend your money. There's nothing worse than spending all of your money in the first hour. You'll need time to see the hundreds and hundreds of dealer booths!
3. Buy the best material possible (condition-wise).
If you focus on buying the best card in the highest condition that you can afford, your collection will be easier to manage. You'll probably find that you'll get a better return on your collection if and when you decide to sell. We know we said to be patient, but don't be afraid to pull the trigger if it's something you don't think you'll see again (especially if it's rare AND in great condition).
4. Don't just buy something because you "think" you have to have it.
Buy what you want, and in the condition and for the price that you're comfortable paying. There's nothing wrong with being selective and saving your money for another time or for a better purchase if you can't find something that you like at a price that you're comfortable paying.
5. Make your purchases after visiting several different dealers.
Most dealers will negotiate and you should use this to your advantage to get the best price by comparing several dealers. Keep notes on the cards, condition and quoted prices so that you can refer back to them when you're ready to purchase But at the same time, hit up your top dealers first. Their best stuff tends to go fast.
6. Wear comfortable sneakers.
The venue is always bigger than you think, and you're going to want to see every table – which means a lot of walking. So I always buy a new pair of sneakers every year for the National and break them in before the show – and I recommend that you do the same! Most of the room is not carpeted, so do yourself and your back a favor.
7. Bring healthy snacks and phone chargers.
While many of the restaurants in and around Rosemont are awesome, if we're being totally honest, the food at The National isn't all that great. So while you're inside the convention, having healthy snacks are a life saver. So, sit down, take a break, and recharge. Also, there's lot's of cool stuff to do on your phone at the event, so don't forget extra chargers (ideally portable ones too). The National actually has it's own app where you can see all of the dealer locations as well as times and dates of autograph guests and more. You'll also probably want to check out vintagecardprices.com while you're roaming around.
Just Collect will be at booths 516 & 518
Vintage Breaks will be in the Case Break Pavilion — right across from the PSA booth
We love The National because it brings the whole community together, face-to-face, for buying, selling, trading, and just talking sports cards. It's an opportunity for us to connect with sellers, buyers, and other dealers alike. It's also the perfect time for us to buy more cards. We will be aggressively buying, so if you're bringing your cards or memorabilia along, come see us. We'll be selling some pretty cool stuff too --- so you'll definitely want to stop by.
Not going, but still looking to sell?
Live in the Chicago area but not attending the show? That's cool, we're accepting appointments to come visit folks to appraise and buy collections. Give us a call today at (732) 828-2261, email me directly at Leighton@JustCollect.com, or use our free card appraisal form to make your appointment --- and hurry because space is limited.
Other things to do at The National
There are plenty of great things to see and do aside from just looking at cards while you're at The National. While you're at the convention, there will be presentations, pack wars, breaking events, autograph sessions, and vintage pack openings. Did you see what was pulled last year?
Outside of the convention, and right around the corner, you can get some deep dish pizza at Giordano's or grab a steak at Gibson's!
If you want to venture out of Rosemont and into Chicago, you could always catch a ball game at Wrigley or Guaranteed Rate Field! The Mets are in town playing the White Sox, and the Brewers are visiting the Cubs later on in the week. You could go see the Bean in Millennium Park or even check out the Navy Pier - both are great!
The city of Chicago is great, we hope you have a blast!