Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time for gift giving

As black Friday approaches, everyone is looking for deals.  I know I am.  However in the collectible business you will not find Door Busters or items at 50% or more off on black Friday.  You will, however, find reasonable prices that are fair and meet all spenders budgets.  The nice aspect of the collectible business is that pricing will stay consistent throughout the holiday season.

I will start by saying that if you want a good quality item expect to spend a minimum of $20 with any credible company.  Items in the $20 range will include wool pennants, matted 8x10 photos, some autographs, clocks and other novelty items.

If you want to spend up to $70 you will find all sorts of items including autographs from local stars such as Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, & most of the Boston Bruins.  You can find framed and matted 11x14 photos, display pieces, as well as authentic jerseys and hats.

If you are willing to spend in the $100 - $250 range you can find some very high quality photos, autographs, panoramic prints, and other high quality items that will make any collector happy.  Most of the high quality Red Sox, Patriots and Yankees will fall into this range.

Here are some tips to know before shopping for collectibles.
1.  Some companies will offer great deals after you purchase the first item.  For instance New England picture company has a deal where if you buy 1 item at full price you can purchase a 2nd item at 50% off.
2.  If you are purchasing for someone else know exactly what team or player is the recipient's favorite.  That will help the sales person find the best item for you.
3.  Check online for deals.  Sure shot promotions and Steiner sports offer a plethora of deals everyday in December.  I saw a great deal last year on the Steiner website in which you could purchase 3 autographed baseballs for $99.  All the autographs were from living Cy Young winners.  Nobody could top that.
4.  If you are purchasing an autograph for someone ask questions about the authenticity.  Steiner sports, New England Picture company, sure shot promotions are all local legitimate companies.  Their prices will be a bit higher but the item will be authentic.  If the price is too good it's probably a fake.
5.  If you are buying a photo, autographed or not, get it framed if possible.  Most framing will only cost an additional $10-$20.
6.  The best deals will be for items with retired, unpopular or recently traded players. I've seen some phenomenal deals for Mike Lowell, Jim Rice, Randy Moss and Mike Vrabel items.  I'm sure Victor Martinez items will be marked down shortly.
7.  If you are looking for Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Lebron James, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Tom Brady items, expect the prices to start at $299 upwards of $2000.
8.  This December there are a number of player appearances occurring in the area.  Rajon Rondo, Zdeno Chara and many patriots will be appearing, which is rare for this time of year.  Please check the Boston Herald or the websites below for more information.  What better gift to give then to meet a local sports hero.

Please check out these websites for great collector deals.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

GBSCC Show Update

Well after two days at the Greater Boston Sports Collector's Club card and memorabilia show, I have to say it's been pretty good.  There is still one day left (Sunday November 7th) and I encourage you all to attend.  The show opens up at 10:00am and will close at 4:00pm.  This is occurring at the Aleppo Shriner Auditorium in Wilmington Mass. off of the Concord Road exit off of interstate 93.
As for autograph guests, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn are the headliners for the 75 Red Sox.  Hall of famer Johnny Bench from the Cincinnati Reds is scheduled to appear as are other members of the 75 Red Sox.  Also on the docket are 5 of the current Boston Bruins, including Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi, Marco Sturm and Jordan Caron.  The prices for all autograph guests are extremely reasonable and worth investing in now.
However, the primary reason for attending the show tomorrow is that many, many dealers have been offering great prices on items and I expect the same for Sunday.  Examples of great deals include an autographed 16x20 photo of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for $175 (normally over $400).  Pieces of structure from Fenway park for as low as $20, autographed or relic sport cards for as low as $1 and pieces of the original parquet floor ranging in price from $15 - $100.  There are also some exciting rare high end items still available such as 2 seats from the Boston Garden for $999, items from the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals ranging from $500 - $999 and plenty of game used bats, helmets and balls ranging in price from $100 to $2500. 
So, if you're free come on up to Wilmington and check out the deals.  It is $7 for admittance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Collector Trade Shows

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Other than this being my birthday week, I look forward to attending the Greater Boston Sports Collector's Club Card and Memorabilia Show.  It has happened the first weekend in November for as long as I can remember.  This year's show is scheduled for Friday November 5th - Sunday November 7th.  I have not missed attending this show since I first attended in 2002.  I have found hundreds of deals on anything including memorabilia, photos, cards, supplies and autographs. There will be over 80 dealers in attendance, both from the region and nationally.

One of the reasons this show is my favorite is that everyone is very friendly and helpful.   There are items out there for the bargain hunter or the high end collector and of course all of us in between.  I've seen autographs for sale that include almost every hall of famer for every sport.  I've seen rare items like Cy Young, Babe Ruth and Alan Shepard(First U.S. astronaut in space) signed items.  Since I've been attending I've learnt much about collecting, how to preserve autographs and what's out there on the market.  I always feel that when I walk and speak with dealers, I learn something new every November.

So here are some tips on how to make the most of one day or the weekend at the show.
1.  Walk the entire floor at least once before purchasing anything.  My experience is that you will find the same item in multiple locations.  The dealers are very competitive and will almost always come down in price to get the sale.
2.  Prepare to spend at least 2 hours browsing.  Be patient and ready to negotiate.
3.  Bring something to drink with you.  It is very dry in most facilities.
4.  Wear comfortable footwear.  The entire floor is concrete.
5.  If you are purchasing an autograph or game used piece of memorabilia make sure it is has authentication.  Ask the dealer where it came from and who authenticated it.  If the price is too good to be true, then don't purchase it. 
6.  Most dealers will come down in price on the last day of a show.  They honestly don't want to haul it back to their homes or businesses. 
7.  Have cash on hand.  Most dealers cannot accept credit cards and if they do, they might charge a service fee to pay for the connection at their table.
8.  Sign up for raffles and door prizes.  Almost every show has them and there are usually great prizes.
9.  If you are attending to meet players, be ready to wait in line, and in small spaces.  Also, if you have no idea what you want autographed the promoter's merchandise table will have the best items at reasonable prices.

Below is the link to the Greater Boston Sports Collector's Club website. Check it out for more information.

If you attend I'll be at the sure shot promotions merchandise table outside the autograph area.  Stop by and say Hi.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Is it worth paying???

I would love to say that every autograph I own wasn't paid for.  Unfortunately, that isn't the case.  The reality in dealing with athletes and celebrities is that they are entertainers, and they are part of a huge business.  They would be fools not to charge for their time to sign autographs for their fans.  They are also charging because businesses are using their name to make a profit for their own endeavors.

With that said, I'd like to comment on the pros and cons of paying for the autograph.

1.  Most athletes are not accessible.  This is an opportunity to meet your personal favorite celebrity, athlete or hero.  I know I never would've met Hank Aaron, Willie Mays or Bill Russell if I didn't pay to see them.
2.  The quality of autograph is almost always better at a paid signing.  The promoter will have the correct writing utensil and the athlete/celebrity will sign a full autograph vs. the cut signature that some are known for.
3.  Promoters will offer deals for multiple players.  Most promoters offer player packages so that you can acquire more autographs for less money.
4.  Promoters will have the most updated merchandise or signature moment items for purchase.  I have worked merchandise tables for years and fans are always clamoring for the most updated photos that others don't have.
5.  You know the autograph is real and should be able to have it authenticated instantly (authentication tickets range from $3 - $6).

1.  The price.  Unfortunately, the price for current athletes, especially in the baseball world is too high.  The way the market works is that current players, some on steroids or caught cheating, can get more money than current hall of famers.  Pricing can also be confusing because the average collector doesn't understand the difference between regular, oversized or premium items.
2.  You might get 10 seconds with the athlete.  For a popular player such as Kevin McHale, who appeared in Burlington, he had over 400 people in attendance. We had to push people along quickly.  It took 8 of us at the front of the line to keep it moving.
3.  Photos with players will rarely happen.  Some players, especially on the older side, have poor eyesight and cannot handle the flashes.  Additionally, the line takes much longer to get through if everyone wants to take a picture.
4.  There will be a line, even for the C list person.  I have never been to a public appearance, in which an athlete didn't have at least 30-40 people looking to purchase an autograph for them.

This upcoming weekend, November 5th - 7th there is a great show featuring the 1975 Red Sox, Patriot Hall of Famer, John Hannah and some of the current Bruins.  All athletes featured are at great price points.  I highly recommend you check out the link below with the appearance and pricing information.  This show is very well organized and a great way to collect at a reasonable price.