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Old 08-09-2010, 05:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tebow spotlight shines brightly on Palm Beach Autographs

Tebow spotlight shines brightly on Palm Beach Autographs
August 9, 2010, 3:31 pm



By SUSAN LULGJURAJ | SPECIAL TO BECKETT MEDIA

BALTIMORE – One of the hottest athletes in the market is not easy to find at the National Sports Collectors Convention, but once you find Tim Tebow memorabilia on the Baltimore Convention Center floor, you’re swimming in it.

Tebow, who won two national championships with the Florida Gators, signed an exclusive memorabilia deal with Palm Beach Autographs, which has two stores in Jacksonville and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Co-owner Jim Dodson, a Florida graduate, has seen the immediate benefits of a Tebow exclusive, including a booth at the National, which is the first sports collectors convention the company has attended as a vendor.

“Having his product certainly helped with us being here,” Dodson said. “I’m not sure what the likelihood of us being here would have been if we didn’t have his stuff.”

By the fourth day of the National, Palm Beach Autographs had sold about 15 Tebow items, which ran anywhere from $180 to more than $1,000. There were posters, jerseys, mini helmets and signed pictures – among other pieces. Palm Beach Autographs has other memorabilia such as baseball and golf, but focus on college football. Tebow was their most popular item.



Jason Temple, a 2004 Florida graduate, purchased his first signed Tebow item on Saturday at the National for his man cave in Millersville, Md. He went to the show looking for Florida memorabilia, which he found in pennants from the 1940s and 1960s as well as old Sports Illustrated issues.

However, he also took back a Tebow signed jersey with the inscription 2006 National Champion, 2007 Heisman and 2008 National Champion, his first Tebow autograph piece.

“He’s a great player, exciting. Just how exuberant he is when he is playing,” said Temple, who spent close to $600 on Tebow items. “It was a joy watching him play when I was in school there.”

Palm Beach Autographs signed the Tebow exclusive in February. Since then they have had three signings days at one of its two stores. The money Tebow collected from the signings went to his charity and he raised more than $100,000, Dodson said.

“I can’t compare him to any other athlete we have ever worked with,” Dodson said. “We did three different events and more than 2,000 people came out for all three. We lucked out. He wanted to work with someone he could trust and not get lost in the shuffle of a big company.”

The Denver Broncos drafted Tebow in the first round. Palm Beach Autographs won’t have another signing with him in Florida during the season, but plan to go out to Denver for a private signing in a couple of weeks.

They put down an undisclosed amount of money to sign Tebow. For a company of their size, Dodson said it was a huge investment.

“We had confidence that it would pay off,” Dodson said. “We knew the people would want his autograph. It was a lot of money for us as a small business. It was a gamble, but it certainly paid off for us.”

Card companies recognize the selling force behind Tebow. Both Panini and Press Pass had large trading card cutouts at their displays at the National. Press Pass showed off one of their giveaways and Panini displayed an autograph card collectors can get in a box.

However, it seems as though signed memorabilia sell better than his trading cards.

But that didn’t stop many from picking up product hoping to get a Tebow rookie card, although many are waiting for Topps to come out with the first football product to feature Tebow.

“If I could pick one card to get it would be his,” said Joey Cambridge, a 14-year-old from South Carolina, who opened Panini’s 2010 Prestige. “I don’t know how he’s going to be in the NFL, but in college he was great. I loved watching him play.”

Susan Lulgjuraj is a sports journalist. She blogs at A Cardboard Problem and you can also follow her on Twitter at @CardBandits.

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