My son: “That’s probably my favorite brand this year …”

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

We’re coming up on about a year since my son has decided to follow in my footsteps and join the hobby.

On Thursday night before heading out the door to do some trick or treating, he sorted some more of his cards, including a blaster of 2019 Panini Chronicles he recently purchased. As he removed the cards from the packaging, I noticed he had a small stash of blaster boxes I’d grown immune to seeing.

I asked if the boxes were empty and he confirmed that they were. I then made a comment that he must really like them since he still had three boxes in the house. That’s when he made his proclamation:

“It’s probably my favorite brand this year,” he said proudly.

These three empty blaster boxes probably represent half of how many he has opened for HIS collection — some of them paid for by him, the others subsidized by me.

But it made me happy to hear him have such an opinion, and it wasn’t like he chose it because it’s the newest product on the shelf, or because he pulled an autograph from the packs.

I asked a follow up question: WHY do you like this brand?

His response is great:

“Because you don’t know which designs you’re going to get, or even how many. I like the variety. it’s not just base cards and autographs.”

Absolutely love his response. The cards don’t have logos and that will hurt long term value, but this hobby is about so much more than money. It’s about fun and personal enjoyment of a product which are contributing factors to perceived value.

With this product, every time he opens a blaster he’s getting 2-6 cards of top rookies, multiple parallels, and often a serial numbered card. And because of the configuration, the checklist is ripe with rookies of the game’s top stars.

I’ve watched my son actively pass on blasters with guaranteed hits in favor of Chronicles solely because he gets a bunch of enjoyment from the product. I personally enjoy the product a lot as well, mainly because of the variety and its a teaser as to what could be if Panini had a full license.

The little things in collecting bring joy

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , on October 31, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I kind of got a kick out of something today and it was a reminder to me that I am indeed jaded.

I ran into a freshly stocked shelf at Target today, one consisting of the new Topps Update Chrome Mega Boxes. I grabbed a few for me, and one for my son. I opened mine and got some decent looking cards but nothing to really show off.

Then when my son got home from school he opened his Mega Box. And there in the last pack was an autograph of … Yankees rookie pitcher Chance Adams.

My son was enamored. There in his 9-year-Old hands was a rookie autograph of a Major League Player. It instantly became one of his favorite cards, even though it’s far from his best card. But all this kid knows is that from the box he opened he got himself an autograph card … and I wasn’t going to sully his thinking by telling him he could probably buy 15 of those autos for the cost of the Mega Box.

The joy on his face and in his voice when he announced it and showed it off to his sister is what the hobby is all about. It’s something that I and many others miss because we’ve all been jaded — whether we want to believe it or not — by the cost of products; the incessant complaining about lack of creativity, and the feeling that we need to get our money back in our breaks for any of this to make sense.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir. And I’m also sure there are some of you laughing that my kid is excited about a Chance Adams auto. But fact remains that we are all chasing that joy; we are all trying to recreate those fabulous feelings we all had whenever we pulled something that made us smile.

We don’t all collect the same. Hell, not all of us even participate in this hobby the same way. But whenever anyone is feeling joy about whatever they’re doing in this hobby, it is a great reminder of why some of us got into it in the first place, and I wish we — I — could feel more of that.

Returns in our hobby should NOT be accepted, especially without questions (New COMC policy)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on October 21, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Monday I returned home after a weekend getaway that capped off about six weeks of non-stop, non-hobby related stuff I’ll just call “Life.” I’d been thinking about getting back to my writing lately because I miss sharing thoughts and being involved. So when I opened my email this afternoon and saw a message from COMC advertising that it is now accepting returns “no questions asked” I knew I had to sit down and get my thoughts out.

I’ll say this up front: I love COMC. I love having the victual card shop open 24-7 and the idea of taking a break from every day tasks to so what I love — add items to my collection.

That said, I think this announcement Monday is really a step in the wrong direction.

In it’s email, COMC stated that it would accept returns from buyers within 60 days of the original date or purchase, or 30 days from the delivery date of an item, WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED. The site also says that if someone purchases an item and repriced it (i.e. tried to flip it on the site to no avail) then the returns cannot occur, so that’s good.

While I believe the site decided to do this to improve customer service and grow its footprint in the hobby, I think this advertised policy panders to the ever-growing issue we are facing on other selling platforms such as scams (i.e. cards being switched out), and other unsavory activity, and really opens the door for a lot of uncertainty.

We operate in a very fluid market. The majority of cards are not all that different from one another, with the exception that they may show a photo of a different player. What makes those cards different in value is the demand which is often linked to the player showcased on the cards. And those values fluctuate DAILY based on performance, changes in a team’s standing, any legal issues someone may be facing, and any other reason you can think of. And it is this fluidity that makes the idea of returns an absolutely horrendous idea.

A card that is bought for $100 today and then delivered within a week could lose half of that value by the time it is even in the hands of a buyer. And if that is the case, should that person be able to get their money back no questions asked?

Absolutely not.

When you decide to buy a sports card, regardless of whether you’re buying for your collection, or as an investment, you are taking a chance. Period. This is how collectibles work. You cannot simply just return them when the price dips below the price of what you paid. This creates a very unstable market, and it actually has an adverse affect as a whole because the sellers cannot simply spend that new income, they almost have to let it sit for a while — in this case up to 60 days — before they can be assured the money they are seeing in their account is actually theirs.

And it is at this point that I will point out that COMC is not the only reason I am harping on this topic because other outlets allow for returns, including eBay, which in its present state also fails to recognize the fluidity of the collectibles market as it strives to make buyers happy while not even considering the sellers.

Many sellers such as myself have fallen victim to return policies, and even had eBay FORCE OUR HAND to accept returns even when we check the OPTION as seller which says we do not accept them. I chose not to accept them because the market is fluid. If I offer you an hot item and you buy it at a high price, I should be able to celebrate the transaction without fear that the purchase will be reversed due to BUYER’S REMORSE.

COMC and eBay are not Target and Walmart, and we are not talking about a storage container that does not fit in our garages or a T-Shirt that is one size too small. We are dealing in small pieces of cardboard that appreciate and depreciate in value and if you happen to be on the wrong end of a deal that was done in good faith, then you should have to live with your decision.

As I said earlier, I am sure the return policies were enacted in good faith. And I absolutely believe that if a person receives a card that was improperly portrayed (i.e. a fake card or one in worse condition than described) they should be able to get their money back or be compensated. But such returns should be limited, and the time frame for such returns should be much smaller and ONLY ALLOWED on a case by case basis. Hell, even many big box retailers — which operate on a larger scale and have “loss” factored into their annual budgets — already know how volatile these markets are and typically do not allow returns on cards or collectible toys.

That said, when it comes to COMC’s policy, it really should also protect the seller from financial loss, and any money that is returned to the buyer should be paid for by the company and not the seller, especially if its due to condition reasons since COMC is the entity handling the cards.

I would implore you all to read the policy because the last portion also could have a weird impact for opportunists, The policy now allows sellers to GET THEIR CARDS BACK if they were claim they priced the card wrong and it sold within three hours of listing. In other words, if someone accidentally sells a Michael Jordan autograph for $129 instead of $1299 as intended, they can get their card back. This is insane to me because it takes away one of the charms of COMC, which is the ability to pounce on the error of a careless seller.

The way I collect is not the way you collect … and that’s OK

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Social Media is a funny thing. We all agree it’s not perfect, that it’s a time-suck and it causes a lot of stress for some of us

Yet many of us — specifically those reading this — can’t get enough of it.

Why? Because the various platforms give us a soapbox to share our opinions about everything, and in some cases it can be validating to have one or several people agree with you. It builds esteem. But all of this can also humble you if you’re proven wrong.

You probably knew all of that; you’re not necessarily here for my opinions of society, media and the influences they have in each other.

But what I do want to express is that social media within our hobby has had a major affect on how we view each other, our collecting habits and our collections. Sometimes it reinforces our habits, and in some cases it also can stir the idea that one way of participation in this hobby is the right way; and that others are doing it wrong.

We know that’s not the case. Yet here we/I are calling people out for doing things their way; for following a school of thought that we don’t agree with.

I’m guilty of this exact thing. I am a hypocrite at times. And I’m not the only one.

I dislike the idea of buying as an investment; the notion that “it’s so easy” to make money in this hobby. And often I vocalize (via Twitter) my displeasure for this. It’s the same reason why I still haven’t made up my mind on Gary V.

But is it wrong if someone wants to buy the hot prospect today with the idea of selling in the future?

No, not really as long as we’re calling it what it is. Because that’s not collecting. That’s a different form of participation in the hobby, or industry.

It’s easy to harp on nuance. Is the card mint or gem mint? Is it a rookie card or a pre-rookie card? Are you a collector or a flipper?

Bottom line: Who cares what others are doing. You can’t participate in this hobby wrong if you enjoy whatever it is you are doing. And so I plan to do a better job of filtering my thoughts in that arena going forward.

Thrift Treasures 119: Colin Kaepernick signed “Salute to Service” hat

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on September 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

This has been a really interesting week. Sort of out of nowhere I found myself in the market for a new (to us) dresser for my kids. The one we’ve had for the last few years broke and no longer held the drawers properly so I was faced with buying a new one, or looking for a suitable used replacement.

I chose to thrift shop since I could also get my fix of looking for discarded sports treasures

Well, Day One of the hunt actually led me to a GREAT deal on a new (to us) couch. And Day Two was pretty bleak for a few hours as I struck out at four different thrift stores — no good cards (only some over priced early cards it former quarterback Jake Plummer) or furniture

The fifth store was a long shot … a small Goodwill in San Jose, Calif., near the border of Santa Clara. I checked the showfloor and there was no dresser, but I discovered an upstairs “loft” boutique that had better quality items

Again, no dresser. But there was something that I had to own. You guessed it — the item listed in the title.

Here is what presents as an San Francisco 49ers 2013 Salute to Service cap with tags … signed by former quarterback and polarizing social justice figure Colin Kaepernick.

Let that sink in for a second …

This post isn’t supposed to be a place for people to bash Kaepernick, to show their patriotism, etc. Or really a place to bash the establishment, and show support for the former quarterback.

I’m not going to get all political here. That’s never been my deal.

But, I will say this is a mighty interesting piece in context. It was interesting when it was signed ,presumably at practice since the facility is nearby. It’s even more interesting in context today. And who knows how interesting this looks as a historical item in 25-40 years.

Needless to say, I had to own it.

By the way, I did find an alternative to a dresser — I found an IKEA 8-cube bookshelf for $25, about 70% off the original price.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $14.97

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Well, that instantly made the work day better …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , on September 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I got to work this morning and a friend of mine had a surprise for me. He handed me a Rawlings Official Baseball box with the top taped shut.

What was inside?

A Buster Posey signed 2012 World Series ball with two authentication holograms.

It’s not game-used; but it is signed by the Giants legend and future Hall of Famer.

This is not the first time this friend has given me signed items. A few years back he gave me an early 1980s ball signed by Rickey Henderson and teammates.

As a side note, I do some photo-matching work for this friend who heavily collects game-used NFL uniforms. I recently matched a 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman jersey to almost every road game, including the AFC Championship game that year against the New England Patriots.

Maybe I’ll write about it this week since the season kicks off tomorrow.

“Are we selling cards or lottery tickets?”

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was listening to the MojoBreak podcast “The Hype” today and co-owners Dan and Doug were having a spirited conversation about Zion Williamson and the recent Panini Contenders Draft product.

During the conversation targeted mostly about Zion base autos topping $1,000, and a parallel that was at $99,000 on eBay, Dan said: “Are we selling cards or lottery tickets?”

There was a pause and then the talk continued. But in this one quote Dan really hit it on the head my thoughts on the current state of the industry.

There has always been an element of gambling in what we do. We buy an unopened pack of cards with a chance that we pull something we want, or something we think may be valuable to someone else. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But the difference between now and 5-, 10-, 20-, 30- years ago is that the stakes have changed.

We’re not talking about lunch money being saved and then used for cards that we throw into boxes and place on our school binders. We’re talking about car, rent and mortgage payments being spent in stores and with online breakers everyday with a hope that the participant is the one who hits the jackpot card that can be resold for a handsome profit — very few are buying and/or keeping with the idea that they added a true PC (personal collection) item.

The issue of course is the industry has shifted more away from being what we’d known as our traditional hobby, and more toward being akin to gaming and an exercise in stocks or day trading, as Ben from “About the Cards” podcast like to call it.

Now, of course I am speaking in generalities. There are still plenty of people who buy and enjoy cards for what they are — the same as they had been since they were kids. But this industry is trending toward the risk takers, the ones who will put it all on the line to feel that high of watching a box be broken online (or in their own home) which is then followed up by figuring out how to either minimize their damage by immediately selling what they got (if anything) or trying to figure out when the profits are at their highest.

And this is where I struggle to reconcile how I feel about the future of this card world. Because I do feel in a sense that guys like MojoBreak, or your favorite breaker, or your local card shop, are really dealing in commodities that are essentially our version of lottery tickets. Because we all hope that one day we will pull the golden ticket — no pun intended — or pull something that turns out to be the second-chance lottery ticket if we hold onto it long enough.

And then the secondary market has become a game of high-stakes “hot potato” where we buy at a level and move items as quick as possible for a profit in hopes that we are not the ones who are stuck holding the card that is depreciating.

This is why for the life of me I cannot figure out if I like Gary Vee.

I’m not saying any of this is wrong per se. I’m saying this is a difficult world to navigate when as a longtime collector you’ve got to figure out if you’re too old school for this new style hobby and find yourself asking these questions: Am I failing to adapt? Am I doing this wrong? Or am I doing it right by staying the course? How do I teach and share this hobby to my children?

These questions, of course, are facetious because there is no one way to do this hobby. I suppose what drives me crazy is that there is so much focus on what’s new, and who hit the big card today, that much of the fun of the hobby sometimes feels like its sucked out — unless of course you’re one of the winners.