7 Things Everyone Should Bring to the National Sports Collectors Convention

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

If you’re heading to the National Sports Collectors Convention, it might not be enough to simply bring yourself. Whether you’re going for one day or all five, here are seven things everyone should consider bringing to make the show a little easier and more comfortable.

1. Backpack

Carting a handful of cards around or a couple of boxes can get hectic. As the day goes on, it might even involve some juggling. If you’re having to put things down at every table you visit, there’s even the possibility of your mind blanking out just long enough that you might forget putting your things down.

A backpack or tote bag is a no-brainer to keep things together. It gives you a place to hold your stash and any extra things that you might have with you.

2. Your Most Comfortable Footwear

The National is lots of fun, but it also makes for a long day with lots of walking. Make sure you pack your most comfortable sneakers or loafers that are good for standing (in case you’re waiting in line for autographs or wrapper redemptions) or logging enough steps to have your Fitbit chirping with excitement by lunch.

3. Cash

Lots of dealers will accept PayPal and digital payments. However, you’re likely to encounter plenty of old-school cash-only tables as well. Bringing cash can also help keep you on budget. Even if there are machines on sight, lineups can be long and they’re a lot less fun than looking around, hanging out and adding to your collection.

4. Storage Boxes

Having a backpack might not be enough. If you’ve got extensive wantlists for sets you’re working on or plan on some deep dollar box dives, make sure you’ve got a box to hold them in so they’re not floating around, getting damaged. A 400- or 550-count box should suffice.

5. Sleeves and Top Loaders

Like a storage box, you might need some other supplies to keep things safe. If you’ve already got a backpack, tossing in a pack or two of penny sleeves and a handful of top loaders will make everything easier and keep dinged corners at bay.

For top loaders, try to grab a couple of sizes so you’re covered no matter what you buy. Some standard, thick and super thick would be ideal. Also, if you’re planning on getting some autographs, make sure you have some holders for those as well including photo top loaders.

You can probably find all these at the National, but it’s more fun looking for cards than it is supplies.

6. Your Phone

You’re going to want to take pictures — probably lots of them. Unless you have a “vintage” flip phone, you’ve got a nice little camera in your pocket. Cell phones are also useful for connecting with friends and checking your want lists (I’m a big fan of a simple spreadsheet on Google Docs, which has an app as well, but there are lots of options out there). It’s also a very good idea to have a portable battery because the days are long and all those pictures might eat up a lot of juice.

7. Water

Even though they’re fun, days at the National are long. You need to stay hydrated. If you don’t you’ll probably get a nasty headache and feel grumpy. Toss a couple of bottles of water in your backpack to have on hand when you need a short break. You’ll be able to find them at the show, but they’re going to be a lot more expensive than if you grab them at a gas station or Target ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to take that water break away from the tables. Accidents happen but they’re a lot worse when they’re on top of a table of 1950s baseball cards and Michael Jordan grails.

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

The Beckett Online Price Guide

The largest and most complete database in the industry. Period. Join the hundreds of thousands of collectors who have benefited from the OPG.

Subscribe Now

The Beckett Marketplace

Over 129 million cards
from 70+ dealers

Shop Now


  1. rdscards 6 July, 2023 at 20:35

    How much will it cost to have a card graded at the 2023 National Card Show in Chicago/Rosemont, IL, in late July?

Leave a reply

We use cookies to help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience. By navigating the site, you agree to the use of cookies to collect information. Read our Cookie Policy.
Accept & Close