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West Valley City Journal

Card shows for sports collectors

Mar 09, 2018 12:18PM ● By Greg James

At the sports memorabilia card shows at South Towne and Valley Fair malls you can find cards, autographs, game used jerseys and even collectible money. (Greg James/City Journals)

Card collectors have been gathering at Valley Fair, South Towne and Layton Hills malls sharing collecting stories and trading cards of their favorite players.

“We have all kinds of people coming to these shows,” card show organizer David Avila said. “They complete sets and collect certain players. We like to think Valley Fair Mall is our home base, but we rotate to South Towne Mall and Layton Hills too.”

Valley Fair Mall has hosted the show every other month for nearly five years. Avila said they have been great to work with.

“We can allow collectors to put their hands on the card. We have as many as 20 dealers that come out,” Avila said.

The card shows feature sport cards, but collectors can find non-sports cards, comics, collectible coins and memorabilia. 

“Honestly, my husband and I work full-time jobs and collecting is a side hobby,” assistant card show organizer Missy Bates said. “He collected when he was young and I married into the hobby so to say. Now I help him and we buy and sell what we like.”

A 1909 cigarette card of Honus Wagner sold for more than 2.8 million dollars. The price and rarity of his card is because he was against his picture being sold in cigarette packs. He did not allow production of his card; it is assumed that less than 100 cards exist.

Collecting sports cards and memorabilia was a booming business in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The popularity caused an overproduction of cards and pricing dropped dramatically. Many small card shops closed like “Baseball Cards America” that was located in West Valley City.

More recently card companies have produced more collectible cards and items. Cards with pieces of jerseys, equipment and other valuable items can now be purchased in certain collectors boxes. 

“I keep up with the times by getting Mike Trout and the new guys, but I collect the vintage Yankees. I do not have a favorite card, but my 61 Yankees cards are special to me,” Avila said.

In the late 1990s card companies started randomly inserting autographs into boxes of cards. Many companies will authenticate an autograph to assure its realness. Cards are also graded by condition. Evaluators will look at a card in four areas; centering, corners, edges and imperfections. A pristine condition card will generally be valued higher than a card in poor condition.

“We just bought this box for $430 last week it has six cards in it, but if I get a great rookie (card) it can be a bonus,” Bates said. “It had a Ezekiel Elliott card in it so it is a bonus.”

Overtime cards in Midvale (7620 S. Main St.) is the only card shop still open in the Salt Lake Valley. Many dealers sell their cards on the internet through eBay or Amazon.

“We see older guys and mostly mid-20s,” Avila said. “Most kids nowadays don’t collect. I think kids remember players like Michael Jordan and stuff like that. It would be great to get more kids interested in this hobby. Getting people to come to our shows is important.”

Past shows have included players signing autographs. The Salt Lake market has a Facebook group of local collectors and dealers promoting card shows and local sellers.

The next card show is scheduled to be held March 2-4 at Shops At South Towne (formerly South Towne Mall) in Sandy.