The onset of Covid-19 brought about a serious disruption to lives and businesses all over the world. Suddenly we were thrust into social distancing. Governments imposed restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather and eventually events were canceled all over the world.
In the memorabilia industry this meant no more shows with hundreds of dealers set up displaying trading cards and autographs for sale. No more celebrities and athletes posing for photo ops and signing items for fans. And an end to in-person commerce with everything shifting to the already dominate platform of eBay.
Beckett Authentication typically attends 50-60 conventions all over the United States each year. This year as a direct result to Covid-19, most of the events have been canceled or postponed to the later part of the year, which still has us questioning if they will really take place or not.
Conventions have always been an integral part of the memorabilia industry and it is hard to imagine a future without tradeshows, but will they resume just as they always had in the past, or will there be a new type of convention? A virtual one. Will that be our new normal moving forward?
Will Cameo recorded video calls replace in person meet and greets? Right now, over 8,150 athletes from various sports, 7535 actors and thousands of musicians and comedians are all available for a personalized greeting at the click of a button. Sure you don’t get to shake hands with the person, but after Covid-19 there likely won’t be much hand shaking anyway.
From my experience, most fans wait in line thinking about what they want to say when they get in front of the athlete/celebrity just to recount “You were my favorite player, I grew up watching every game” normally met with a “thanks” or giving the athlete a play-by-play of a game where they return the casual “yeah it was a great game”. So even though you are meeting them in person there isn’t much of a personal feel to the exchange, its just small talk and smiles for the few seconds you are in front of them.
But with something like a Cameo message, it is personalized to you or the recipient you may be requesting it for. Isn’t getting your idol to wish you a happy birthday or give you a motivational message better than a simple “thanks” or “yeah” that you may get through the line at an in-person convention? Better yet, the videos are recorded so can be rewatched over and over again and shared on social media versus the traditional meet and greet at a convention that only lives on in your memory.
Autograph signings are also starting to take a non-traditional form in way of VidSig. VidSig represents different athletes and celebrities, and essentially, it’s a live video signing where you can exchange small talk, watch your item be signed, and have it arrive at your doorstep in a few weeks.
Some of the clients even offer things like live Q&A sessions where you can designate a time to connect and ask a few questions live.
It’s like the convention experience without having to leave your home and deal with the convention. No need to purchase an event ticket to then purchase an autograph ticket, no ridiculous parking fees and no gross convention food. The item is signed for you, in front of you and you can still make that small talk about how they were your favorite player growing up, from the comfort of your own home.
While Cameo, VidSig and other online platforms provide good alternatives to meet and greets and obtaining autographs, they don’t fulfill that show floor aspect of conventions. What about the dealer tables and perusing and cards and autographs you’d like to purchase to add to your collection? Well outside of online shopping on eBay, Amazon, Facebook groups and auction houses, virtual conventions are starting to pop up that give you that “show floor” experience.
Beckett Authentication is going to be participating in our first ever virtual convention with the Toronto Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo, June 19-21, 2020. While we will not be offering autograph authentication during the event, as the items will need to be reviewed in person before rendering an opinion, people who attend the virtual convention will be able to visit our “booth” and speak with our representatives, get answers to questions and even get a special discount code to send items to our office for processing.
While it remains to be seen if the new virtual convention can permanently replace in person conventions, one thing is for sure, the collecting hobby remains just as strong as it was pre Covid-19.