Sports Collectors

Shop Talk: Hobby’s Current State a Roller Coaster Ride

I was just joking the other day with the shop owner that we really haven’t seen many, if any, customers bringing in sports cards to sell us lately.

That is, by far, one of my favorite job perks. I love rifling through top loaders and three, four and five-row cardboard boxes looking for some buried treasure, whether to add to my collection or for use in the shop. It’s always the shop first, right? (Wink, wink)

Well, that recent complete lack of walk-in traffic all changed this past week.

We had multiple people each day bringing us anything from singles to two row boxes, three row boxes and monster boxes of cards for us to purchase. We even saw a few shoe and cigarette boxes. 

After some mild negotiations back and forth, we ended up purchasing a number of cards from our customers and other random walk-ins who are ready to wheel and deal.

Anyone following the market closely realizes that some areas of the card market have hit a soft spot or a plateau. Prices have clearly started to drop online for some individual cards or categories and I can tell you firsthand, there is less overall interest in store than there was a few weeks ago, but I’m not saying the sky is falling just yet, Chicken Little.

Many of the people that brought cards in this week were scratching their head, wondering aloud as to why they couldn’t seem to sell at the rate or the price points that the very same cards fetched just a few short weeks and months ago. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is why we are seeing these cards in store now. Sellers can’t get the money they’re expecting online, so we are the last resort. People assume they can make more selling online than offering their inventory up to an LCS but I’m here to tell you that isn’t always the case- at least not for us.

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That is one of my biggest pet peeves and I joke all the time. People come in and boast about how they just sold Tom Brady rookie cards online as they stand in front of us trying to sell us their Wes Welker rookies. Gee, thanks.

Shop Talk: Hobby's Current State a Roller Coaster Ride

We’re always very excited to have the chance to purchase high-end singles. When those higher end gems do find their way into the shop they generally don’t leave with the person who brought them in. We buy to make a profit, yes, but we also try to pay a very competitive rate because we know we’re competing with online buyers.

As in many cases it’s about the cards but its not really about the cards. It’s about the people. Its about the connection and face-to-face interactions that lead to deals now and in the future. I had a friend stop in this week, mainly looking to sell some of his cards. Well, it turns out that I hadn’t seen him in the better part of a year, so not only did I get to run through a nice piece of his collection and snag a few cards, we really had a nice chance to catch up and talk about sports…and life. I think we have all missed those priceless interactions. 

This week we bought a number of very nice modern basketball cards-from star rookies, autographs, serial numbered cards and everything else under the sun. We picked up Luka Doncic Prizm RCs, Bryce Harper PSA 10s and a number of other nice additions to our showcases.  

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Shop Talk: Hobby's Current State a Roller Coaster Ride

Someone even walked in with a sealed box of 1993 SP Baseball for sale.

Shop Talk: Hobby's Current State a Roller Coaster Ride

On many Facebook groups and message boards, I have recently noticed more and more people (who I can assume are newer to the hobby) also complaining about people not making offers on the cards they have listed or just having a tougher time selling them in groups in general.

There are fewer and fewer young kids coming in looking for the hottest basketball singles, boxes or packs. There are fewer unfamiliar faces in the shop daily buying boxes lately. Heck, I haven’t seen anyone standing in our store on their phone comping prices online for weeks. So, there’s definitely a sense or a feeling in the air that things are a-changing.

Our box and pack sales are down but at the same time we have a number of categories that are still hot. We are still selling big stars, rookies and fun items like that, they are just selling for a little less at the moment. 

We’re in the sports card amusement park and this is the biggest roller coaster in the place. You have to expect some ups and downs and maybe even a loop or two from time to time. Heck, you paid the admission. Buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. If you are in the hobby for the long term, there will be plenty more rides to enjoy. 

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