There was once a time, many years ago, when I didn’t have to travel far for baseball cards. I had three, respectably-sized card shops within a 7-mile radius. There was monthly card shows at two malls in my town. Every single retailer from K-Mart to Walgreens carried cards, some that carried their own brand name. It was a great time to be a collector. Unfortunately, it’s not 1991 anymore. Today, I live in a city with over 3,000,000 population and zero card shops. Last week, I traveled over 2 1/2 hours round-trip to buy a box of 2014 Finest at a store with a single display unit that carries cards. This weekend, I drove 140 miles to Tampa to attend a card show I had very little hope for.
My last card show was a depressing mess. A fellow Wax Heaven reader, back in 2008, emailed me to let me know about the show he was running in Dania Beach, Florida. The man, named Lou, I believe, had such enthusiasm and passion that I made it my mission to attend. The day was a complete wreck from beginning to end. For starters, my relationship with my significant other was deteriorating at a rapid pace so much so that she refused to attend. Second, my pockets were looking pretty lean. Those two things right there put me in a pretty lousy mood, which the show itself never helped recover.
The Dania Card Show was located at the Dania Jai-Alai, a building that should have probably been tore down in the mid-80s. Once inside, the place was actually pretty large and full of card goodness but there was maybe five people at the whole show (me included). To make matters worse, it was dead silent. The dealers never said a word, so the buyers were as quiet as mice. Everything was over priced and what was there was mostly new, unopened products (well above eBay prices), comic book related toys, and a fair share of singles. No vintage whatsoever. No old school wax or singles. Needless to say, I never returned.
The card show at Big Top Flea Market was completely different. It was bright, open air with a great breeze flowing through and all but ONE dealer was friendly and helpful. The set-up was small but the people there (buyers and sellers) all seemed happy to be there and the show even a table for Beckett Grading Services, who I would have probably had some fun with were he not near death (looked about 87). Apparently, this show is held once a month and I will definitely be going again next month. Two of the dealers even gave me their business card and told me they would find cards for me to bring to the next show.
Alright, let’s talk about the contents of the show. Unfortunately, I spent just under $200 at CheckOutMyCards three days earlier so I walked in with $116 in cash. The great thing about only collecting one thing (Canseco) is that unless someone happens to carry a ton of his stuff (never happens), I never have any need to spend money at a card show. I did need to get Top Loaders and such so I did have a reason for going. The place was packed with tons of unopened late-90s, early 2000 boxes for awesome prices, non-sports cards, big “hits” and new stuff. They also had more vintage cards than I have ever seen in my life. They had something there for every type of collector.
Despite the bad taste left by my last card show, Big Card Flea Market’s show was great, full of nice, friendly people (except one), stocked full of awesome things, and featured great prices. This is one show I will absolutely visit again in March, even though I spent two hours chasing a Jose Canseco card with zero luck. I did however, get a great price on Top Loaders and ended up spending $80 total. I unfortunately left behind unopened boxes of 1998 Finest, 1998 Bowman Chrome, and 2000 Bowman’s Best, which I plan on picking up in March for Wax Heaven’s first video box break in over five years!