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Hundreds attend baseball card show

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 26, 2021

Brittany and Derek Carlson of MVP Card Company from Naples. One of many vendors at the SWFL Sports Card Show at Pondella Bingo on Sunday. CHUCK BALLARO


It was 9 a.m. and there was a line outside Pondella Bingo with about three dozen people waiting to be the first ones to make a deal on a hobby that has made a huge comeback in recent years.

The SWFL Sports Card Show brought more than 20 vendors to the area as well as hundreds of card enthusiasts, who brought their collectibles to see what they could get for them through sale or a trade.

Steve Palmer, promoter for the event, said the morning crowd is always the busiest because they are the first to get the deals vendors are offering.

“If someone has a card that’s limited to 10 in the world and one of them is here, that first guy might be able to get that card,” Palmer said. “People want to get in line early and get those deals.”

Oftentimes, people look to either sell their cards to vendors or offer a bunch of their cards for that one valued card, such as a Mike Trout rookie card, for example.

Palmer said that after decades of stagnation, sports card collecting has made a huge comeback, making it even bigger than in the late ’80s and early ’90s when trading cards were the thing.

It has gotten so crazy that some major retailers have stopped selling them because of the madness on Fridays when the new stock comes in.

“There are people camping out overnight and there are a lot of hassles with people getting into fights in the parking lot over sports cards. It’s become a super big craze,” Palmer said.

Brittany and Derek Carlson came from Naples with their MVP Card Company, an offshoot of their realty company. Derek said he promoted card shows as a teenager in New England during the first collector’s boom.

“I was completely out of the card market until 18 months ago when a mentor told me to start investing in cards. I started buying the cards I couldn’t afford as a kid,” Carlson said. “This is something to do other than sell real estate.”

Carlson said with COVID and most sports screeching to a halt, people got bored and were going to e-bay to buy cards and flipping them, making good money in weeks.

Carlson said as a result of this, he is concerned about another baseball card bubble.

“There is a mass production of cards right now, like what happened 30 years ago. They made a gazillion Fleer cards in 1990 and a whole set is $10,” Carlson said. “They are hiding behind the fact that they’re calling them Limited Edition. But if you have 80 sets coming out every year, is it really rare?”

Collectors and enthusiasts came from all over. Bill Fargnoli and his wife of 50 years came all the way from Estero to finally attend a card show after more than a year at home.

“I used to do shows like this. I’m ecstatic to be here. I spent all my money, $700, in 38 minutes. I wish I could buy everything here. Prices have gone up so fast,” Fargnoli said. “I can’t wait for the next one. It’s a nice set up. Nice people, well run.”

And it wasn’t just guys with baseball cards. Families with children came to sell or trade their Pokemon cards.

Alexandra Isenhour brought her son from Cape Coral to their third show for Pokemon cards while her husband bought, sold and traded his sports cards.

“It’s fun. It’s interesting to see how everything has progressed over the years and some of these cards are worth a lot of money now,” Isenhour said.