Archive for collecting

“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.

I feel like they’re missing the point …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story. Today my kids and I went to visit my girlfriend and for this trip my son brought along two binders and a stack of loose cards he needed to sort and put in pages.

The loose cards he decided to put into his Flawless briefcase that he got from MojoBreak earlier this week. When we arrived at my girlfriend’s house she had an immediate reaction to the briefcase.

“Wow, that’s a fancy briefcase. What’s in there, diamonds?” She said flippantly.

I laughed and explained that there were diamonds in there at some point. I told her about the Flawless brand and how diamonds were embedded in some of the cards and how those cards were then presented to collectors in plastic cases placed inside this briefcase. So, she was sort of right.

“They do this because collecting cards is no longer good enough,” I said.

Her response?

“I feel like they’re missing the point,” she said, noting that the hobby seems to have strayed from the idea of collecting cards.

You may not agree, but she’s not wrong.

We all know where the hobby is right now with so much focused on high-priced, high-risk products. Her thoughts were interesting for me to hear as she is not a collector, rather someone in a relationship with someone who is involved in the hobby.

It’s refreshing to hear these types of comments from her, and from others — including my kids — because it’s a reminder that I have also strayed far away from what drew me into this hobby in the first place. It’s the damn cards, not necessarily the ink on them, the material in them, or even the precious gems or metals that have seemingly been forced into our hobby as a way to justify high costs and make us believe these cards will carry some immense value even outside of the basic hobby.

People will collecting what’s appealing to them, so by all means you do you. But I love hearing the outsider’s perspective.

You know you’re raising a kid collector when …

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

True story, this morning I went to the laundry mat and while I was loading the washer I heard a familiar crinkling noise in the pocket of a pair of pants I was holding — but those pants were not mine, they were my son’s.

It was a great feeling to pull that wrapper from his pocket and set it on the washer. It meant that he didn’t immediately discard the wrapper and misplace the contents, or leave the cards in his pocket — which is something I did from time to time when I was his age. This wrapper also represented the fact that he thought enough of it to 1) not litter, 2) hold onto the wrapper until we got home, 3) meant he already placed the cards into his basketball binder — which I might add is like three times the size of his baseball binder.

The wrapper really put me in a head space in which I was thinking a lot about childhood, card collecting and … the laundry mat experience.

As a kid my mom would drag us from our apartment to the laundry mat to do loads upon loads of laundry. I was born in a big city and raised in a suburb, but my family never owned property. We’ve been renters our whole lives and when it came to laundry, it sometimes meant piling items into bags or baskets and loading them into the car, or even at times public transportation.

Whenever I went to the laundry mat, I had a Beckett Baseball Monthly with me, sometimes a small stack of cards in Card Savers which I kept in my pocket. And when I was tired of looking up the prices of vintage cards I could only dream of owning, I found myself hounding my mom for quarters with which I would either play Pac-Man or Galaga, or simply hold onto with hopes that the liquor store in the shopping center might have packs of cards for sale.

My kids don’t really enjoy the laundry mat the way I ever did, which is when I choose to go, I usually go when they are in school. There’s a very nostalgic feeling when I step into such places, but I did not think I’d find myself reminiscing this much today about my childhood, all stemming from a wrapper from a pack of 2018-19 Panini Contenders basketball.

That moment when you decide to buy the cards instead of waiting to trade for them

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I woke up this morning several hours before the sun rose and did the usual routine of checking eBay for new items. Among the new posts was a three-card lot of 2019 Topps Clayton Kershaw inserts.

There was the 1984 Design, and both 150th insert cards. The three-card lot was offered for sale at $1.29 + $1 PWE shipping, bringing the grand total to $2.29, which is about 75% of the cost for a single lack of cards.

And instead of mashing the Buy It Now option, I waited. And I waited. And then waited some more because I wrestled with “breaking the seal.”

You see, none of these cards are rare. They’ll all be on COMC at some point for like 50 cents each, or someone will offer me them in a trade. So I had a hard time hitting that BIN button immediately because eventually they would be mine. In some ways there is a belief in me that once you start buying cheap cards, it cheapens the act of trading as one starts to wonder if it’s worth the time and effort to find, sort, negotiate and eventually finalize a deal and ship cards. I hate that these are things to think about, but they’re all realities when trading with a partner who is not in front of you.

In this case I eventually hit the Buy It Now because when it came down to it, the low shipping cost for this lot was likely less than it would have cost me to ship out comparable cards in a trade for the same card.

Am I the only one who thinks about these things?

The hidden shame of collectors

Posted in Project Organize with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story, last week, my ex-wife contacted me via text message and told me about this new show she was watching on Netflix called “Tidying Up.” The premise of the show being that the host had a methodology for de-cluttering one’s home and helping folks reacquaint themselves with their items. My Ex instantly reached out to me because in the second episode, they were dealing with a husband who had amassed a large amount of baseball cards.

Later that same day, my girlfriend – which feels like a silly title, but we’ve been together for almost a year and a half now – told me about the same show. And of course, the same reason she thought of me was because of the second episode, which I shall forever now refer to as the “baseball card episode.”

And so last night, while I was working on Project Organize, I took a break to watch the show. While the episode does not spend a lot of time discussing the baseball card issue, it does give a broad overview of show participant Ron Akiyama’s card collecting habit and storage. Basically, he had collected cards with his two sons for three decades and now he has amassed so many cards that the pile of boxes literally touches the ceiling.

I’m not here to judge Ron. Hell, Ron, if you read this, I thank you for sharing your story.  My family has had the same issues you and your wife dealt with before this show and I know it can be very difficult to admit the issue, let alone tell others (or the world in this case) about it and then let people inside your world to offer suggestions.

I digress, Ron’s passion for cards is one that looks like a familiar story for many of us, especially those of us who grew up or collected during the late 1980s and early 1990s – we owned everything and still own everything, so it’s a ton of shit.

This episode struck home for me because I am in the middle of my own Project Organize. I’ve been trying to determine what makes me happy, or “sparks joy” – to use a phrase from show host Marie Kondo. The idea of course is not to dump everything and quit the hobby, but to really assess what you own, think about why you own it, and determine if you still need or want to own it.

This area has been a sore spot for me because I’ve felt a lot of shame in the amount of stuff that I feel I’ve accumulated, and this idea that I am still participating in a hobby that many think – or thought – was meant for kids. And I’d venture to say there are a lot of others who find themselves in the same spot. What’s important that we understand that it’s perfectly healthy for us to have a hobby — this hobby — and not allow the feelings of guilt surrounding spending and clutter consume our lives to make us feel like we’re living under an adult-size Jenga Tower of boxes, which is how much of Ron’s collection appeared.

In the process of doing Project Organize – which began before I even heard of this show — I’ve found myself being re-acquainted with items I forgot had, and I am truly starting to enjoy this hobby again. And this joy, honestly, is more valuable than any single card I could pull today.

 

 

A Lesson In Caring For Cards

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

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Card of the Day: 1990 Upper Deck Kevin Maas rookie

Posted in Card of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2008 by Cardboard Icons

**Note: With the All-Star game taking place this week at Yankee Stadium, I will spend the next several days showcasing cards from my Yankee collection.

The Yankees have always produced legends. Ruth. Gehrig. Mantle. But for each one of those guys who have had their names, faces and resumes engraved in bronze and placed in Monument Park, there are dozens of other legends whose accomplishments, or lack thereof, are engrained in the minds of fans and particularly of baseball card collectors. In 1990, the hobby had two major budding superstars: Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas. But at Yankee Stadium there was another youngster with apparent Ruthian power trying to make a name for himself. That was Kevin Maas. Continue reading