Sports Card Show Etiquette

sports cards show

Card shows are often one of the highlights of the year if you’re a collector. Whether you’re all shacked up in an RV with your buds or rolling solo to hunt down those monster deals, knowing the basic sports card convention etiquette can go a long way. Use these sports card show tips to guarantee that your next collect-a-thon is going to be one to remember. 

Enjoy It!

kids at a sports card show

It’s a tale as old as time. People who approach sports card shows with an aggressive mindset wanting to nail down every prized rookie card tend to go home disappointed—even if they’ve managed to acquire what they were looking for. These events are meant to commemorate a shared love of a timeless passion. Taking a minute to appreciate the moment can help you network with other collectors and dealers who share your enthusiasm for sports cards. 

Networking can actually be an even bigger achievement than closing a deal on a rare UFC hobby box. Certain small and mid-size dealers will often use sports card conventions to find other interested collectors who are serious about the hobby experience. Approaching these interactions with a positive mindset can help you secure an invite to smaller, more private events throughout the year and unlock many more collectors’ opportunities down the line. 

Negotiation: Keep It Real

sports card convention booths

One of the first sports card show tips you’ll hear from a seasoned collector is to keep your expectations in check. Being pragmatic about your negotiations can help you and the dealer avoid a frustrating experience. Be respectful of the seller when haggling. Throwing lowball offers, presenting outdated comps, or asking for unreasonable add-ons can quickly turn one of the most fun aspects of card shows into a sorely missed opportunity.

If you’re a beginner, don’t make the rookie mistake of treating platforms like eBay as an indicator of fair price. Expecting other collectors to price match a card you found online will almost always end in failure. Remember that the prices you’re seeing on display account for factors that might not be immediately visible, including grade, rarity, vintage, personal value, and current market conditions. 

All that said, you shouldn’t be afraid to haggle—your sellers will expect you to! Those smaller deals will eventually accumulate by the end of the sports card convention, and you’ll be glad you made the effort. 

Bring The Essentials

Nailing these basics will build the foundation for a good time at your next sports card show

  • Hygiene: If it’s a multi-day day event, carry a small travel pouch with you and throw in your hygiene essentials. We’d recommend carrying your favorite deodorant with you – you might just impress a dealer and score a great deal!

  • Stay Cozy: Chasing a Brady jersey doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable. Many convention floors are all tile and no carpet, and after a whole day making rounds around the venue, you’ll wish you carried your favorite sweatpants. Our cozy card show tip? Grab your favorite running shoes and stretch those hamstrings before entering, you’ll need ‘em.

  • Manners!: The negotiating table isn’t the only place you should be polite. The golden sports card show rule is to ask before picking anything up. If you see a baseball card box you like, give the dealer the courtesy of a heads-up before you touch it. You never know what kind of value you might be tampering with. Experienced sellers at sports card conventions will often keep gloves around and allow you to take a good look at their collection.

  • Make a List: There are two types of convention-goers: those who wing it, running after their favorite sports card brands, and those who plan. Be the second kind. Even the most seasoned of collectors can feel overwhelmed once those convention doors open. It’s easy to feel like you can do it all, but remember that your time at the sports card show is finite.

    Make a list of everything you’d like to do at the convention, whether that’s picking up some extra supplies, scoring an autograph, getting a soccer card evaluated, or just finishing up that set you’ve been meaning to complete. 
  • Seize The Opportunity


    Card shows aren’t just table after table of different dealers showing off their best. Popular events like The National or the Burbank Card Show, for example, will routinely host a variety of fun activities like contests and raffles. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be incredibly rewarding here, even for a seasoned collector. If you’re lucky, you could end up scoring an invaluable card for pennies on the dollar (or for free!).

    Buy Low, Sell High

    Our last sports card show tip is also the most profitable (for you!). You don’t have to have a massive collection to turn a profit at a sports card convention. Sealed sports card boxes will frequently sell at a premium at these shows, and even beginners can make a neat sum by grabbing a few boxes online at Giant Sports Cards or in our new Alpharetta, GA sports card shop at competitive prices.