Attending a sports trading card show can be an exciting and rewarding experience for collectors.  If you’re a resident of the USA, there’s likely a card show almost every weekend within a short drive.

Whether you’re buying, selling, trading or just window shopping, there’s so much to do at a card show.   But don’t attend one unprepared.  To make the most of your time at the event, consider the following tips:

Plan Ahead:

  • Research the card show in advance, including the participating vendors, number of tables, special guests, and any scheduled events or activities. Having a plan will help you prioritize your time and focus on the aspects of the show that interest you the most.

Have your price comp technology ready

  • We all want to know what the last comps of a specific card are, so be prepared.  Prepare a want list and have the comps jotted down.  You can use websites like to easily check for the latest ebay comps.  Waxstat is a free price comparison tool for wax boxes and sealed wax.  It allows you to easily find real-time market pricing of sealed products like 2023-24 Panini Prizm Basketball Hobby Box or 2024 Topps Series Baseball Jumbo Box.  Either website will allow you to create more leverage when negotiating pricing of the stuff you want.

Prepare a checklist of things you want

  • Bring a detailed checklist or wantlist of the cards you are actively seeking. Get inspired by really cool cards that you’re chasing by looking at the NextGem app.  This will help you stay organized and focused during the event, ensuring that you don't miss out on cards for your collection.

Set a Budget:

  • We all get carried away!  Establish a budget for the card show and stick to it. It's easy to spend money with exciting finds, so having a predetermined spending limit will help you make wise purchasing decisions.

Bring Cash and Payment Options:

  • Cash is always king and is commonly accepted, some vendors may also accept digital payment methods. Bring a mix of cash and payment options like credit/debit cards or mobile payment apps for flexibility.  If you don’t have cash, you could liquidate your cards from a vendor that needs to stock up on inventory.  Be prepared to get less than comps unless you have something really rare.

Wear Comfortable Attire:

  • Card shows can involve a lot of walking and browsing, so wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Wearing Air Jordans or the latest Yeezys could be a nice addition to your style, but after walking around for several hours, they could hurt your feet.  Consider bringing a light jacket or sweater in case the venue is cooler than expected.

Bring a Comfortable Bag:

  • Most vendors will not provide shopping bags, so use a backpack or bag with multiple compartments to carry your checklist, price guides, snacks, water, and any cards you may purchase. This ensures that you are well-prepared and organized throughout the event.

Arrive Early:

  • If possible, arrive early to get the first look at the available inventory and to have more time to browse. Some shows, like the Front Row Card Show will run raffles and door prizes for those that line up early.  So don’t sleep in!

Engage with Sellers and Collectors:

  • Strike up conversations with sellers and fellow collectors. Networking can lead to valuable information about cards, potential trades, and insights into the hobby. It happens more than you think.  Don't hesitate to ask questions or share your collecting interests.

Inspect Cards Thoroughly:

  • When considering a purchase, inspect the condition of the cards carefully. Don't hesitate to ask the seller questions about the card's condition, authenticity, or any notable features.  Make sure to look at the centering, corners, edges and surfaces of both sides of the card if it is not encapsulated.

Be Open to Trades:

  • If you have duplicates or cards you're willing to part with, consider bringing them for potential trades. Trading can be a fun way to enhance your collection while connecting with other collectors.  Also ask around if there’s an official trade night.  These trade nights tend to bring the best collections where you could find that one elusive card.

Have Fun and Share your collection

  • Lastly, remember that attending a card show is not just about buying and selling; it's also about enjoying the hobby and connecting with fellow enthusiasts. Have fun, share your passion, and appreciate the unique experience of a baseball card show.  When you get home make sure to showcase your pickups on the NextGem app.  You never know what opportunity will come your way when you share your collection with NextGem.
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