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2011 Toronto Spring Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo Review

May 4, 2011

As I indicated in Sunday morning’s post before I headed out the door, this year’s Toronto Spring Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo presented me with a couple of first experiences after nearly two decades of attending the show.

First of all, because of events that far exceed the importance of a card show, it was the first time that I went to the show on its final day instead of its opening day.  Secondly, it was the first time that I attended the show alone, as my dad opted to go on his own as well, sticking with his preference for the certainty of what the Friday had to offer rather than the unknowns presented by going on the Sunday.

All told, heading to the show by myself on the Sunday still proved to be entirely worthwhile, however there were a number of noticeable challenges that arose from my newfound situation.

What was most noticeable to me was that many of the dealers in attendance clearly take a different approach to moving inventory and driving sales on the Sunday than they do on the Friday.  “Blow Out” piles – and in many cases, entire tables or even entire booths – were plentiful to say the least.

To me it looked as though many of the dealers were simply taking what they could get at that point in the weekend.  When you bargain hunt for cards to flip online like I do, this is a more than welcome situation.  While it takes a huge chunk of time to get through all the piles of unorganized and mismatched stuff, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough to be found and I do believe I came across a fair number of them myself.

I found multiple memorabilia cards, autographs, inserts, and parallels cards, some limited to as few as 25 copies, for as little as a dollar.  Sorting through my stack of cards at the end of the day, I realized that I paid no more than $3.00 for about 80% of the cards that I purchased, and those that did cost more than that were all a part of my ongoing projects and player collections.  Taking a quick look at recent sales and current asking prices on eBay tells me I can expect a pretty tidy profit on a significant number of them.

I will need that tidy profit for continuing to build my collection in the coming months, however, because this bounty of bargains on cards I plan to flip came at an expense not related to my wallet.

It became evident to me very early on as I walked up and down the aisles that I was not likely to have a ton of luck on those aforementioned projects and player collections.  At table after table, the affordable items related to my projects seemed to have simply been entirely picked over.

By the end of the day I knocked a grand total of nine cards off my need list for my player collections and another nine off of my special projects, by far the lowest of any Expo show I have ever attended.

The most significant success I had was with the Cut to the Chase Parallel portion of my 1997-98 Donruss Preferred Master Set project, finding seven silver cards and two gold cards, all at a single dealer , though I cannot even claim to have got remotely close to a “bargain” on them.  It turns out that the dealer is doing the same Master Set project as I am with that product and knew exactly what the Cut to the Chase parallels could command.  A little bit of haggling and chit-chat brought his asking price down a bit, but it was still one of the larger per-item expenses of the day for me.

In speaking with my dad about what the Friday night was like at the show for him, he indicated that going it alone made finding cards we needed a fair bit more difficult than usual, something that I noticed myself on the Sunday.  It is simply much easier to find things you need when approaching a search in tandem since two sets of eyes are less likely to overlook things.

Thankfully he had much better luck on the player collection end of things on the Friday night than I had, meaning there will be plenty to be shown off the May edition of my monthly May Project Progress Report, scheduled to be posted on the 25th.

One final observation about the show involves the amount of wax available to be purchased.  The number of dealers offering anything that even remotely stood a chance of offering a strong return on investment was entirely underwhelming.  Two of the three usual suspects that have significant quantities and selection available were back at the show once again, though little at either of their booths seemed to catch my eye, which is entirely uncommon.

Surprisingly, usual suspect #3 had the most sparse selection I have ever seen them offer.  I really cannot figure out what the reason was, but the selection was beyond disappointing.  The other dealers who had wax available only seemed to have a handful of choices left, none of which were priced at a level I would even consider taking a risk on.

I attribute much of this to the fact that it was Sunday afternoon by the time I started looking for what I would purchase with any urgency.  The success of my bargain bin searches simply pushed opening boxes to the back of my mind until I realized where I was at in terms of funds later in the day.

By the end of the day I was back to one of the two big suppliers of wax at the show and picked up a retail blister pack box of 2008-2009 Upper Deck Black Diamond that I somehow missed on my first look at their booth.  With thirty-six blister packs in the box and three packs per blister pack, I had 108 and packs of cards to open upon my return home.  I will be posting the results of that break a week from today for your enjoyment/commentary, so be sure to check it out.

So that was my experience at the Toronto Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo for another spring.  Certainly different from at shows past, but more than worth the time.  Based mainly on the bargains that were available, I would certainly not be opposed to attending on the Sunday again in the future.  In fact, I might just have to make an entire weekend of it sometime soon.

If you attended the show yourself, be sure to let me know when you were there and how it went for you.  Leave a comment, e-mail me at, or connect on Twitter (@bb_bros) or on Facebook.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!



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