Archive for sports cards

Embrace these times; things won’t always be this good

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

For about 20 years, we’ve been talking about the rise and fall of the hobby since the days of the Junk Wax Era. We have shared and embraced story after story discussing the great times we had during the 1980s and 1990s as this hobby rose to stardom.

We discussed the simplicity as well as the ingenuity of the time. We discussed chasing rising stars who eventually flamed out on the big stage, or never even got there. We discussed a time when base cards and simple parallels or inserts carried massive premiums only to be forgotten as interests shifted to relics and autos.

Then of course we discussed how that all attention had waned, and how seemingly almost everything from our youth became worthless. Simplicity was for the most part thought of as over-produced rubbish that many discarded at thrift stores, or even burned in their backyard bonfires.

But due to various influences (both people and circumstances) here in 2020 we have arrived at the summit of the collecting world again. Business is booming — it actually has been fairly healthy for the better part of a half decade or longer — and now our hobby has national eyes on it again. The folks who collected in their youth are returning to recapture the feelings they left behind when they discovered other interests, or because life took them in a different direction. And then of course there are folks who see dollar signs and view cards as an area for investment.

Like many collectors, I cringe when I hear that folks are treating these cards as investments. I don’t have an economics background, but I know from experience that the investment piece of this hobby/business is real, but also is an area that is ripe with scams, con-artists and really is something built on the notion that others believe in the idea that “he’ll only get better” and plays on the character flaw of FOMO, the acronym for “fear of missing out.”

Where things have changed recently for me is a shift in mindset about these so-called newcomers. It’s still frustrating and mind-boggling at times to see the big numbers thrown around at cards we considered to be forgotten or relatively worthless, but I’ve been trying to be more accepting of these folks. In reality, this isn’t all that different that the boom that many of us 30- or 40-somethings had a part in when we joined this world of baseball cards. I mean it’s not like folks were always spending hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars on cards, let alone a singular card.

Instead of pushing back against this new type of hobbyist, we should to some degree be embracing the voracity with which folks are enjoying ANY aspect of this hobby. I don’t chase prospects anymore and can’t see the allure to spending hundreds of dollars on unproven players, but others do. And it is because of their dedication to breaking that stuff that small businesses (online breakers and even some brick and mortar stores) are enjoying success; it is also why other cards filter to different types of collectors at prices that don’t always make sense. Their “loss” is other persons “gain.”

At some point we can expect there will be some sort of regression, and with it a lot of finger pointing and laughing because that’s just how some folks are, but for now we should understand that this hobby/business/market is no longer just about the old school curmudgeons who love splitting hairs about hobby definitions and can’t see past the idea that folks with different mind sets might also enjoy cards, even if their type of enjoyment or their reasons for being involved is not the same as our personal reasons.

There isn’t just one way to sort a stack of cards; to organize your collection; or to protect your cardboard assets. Then it is wrong for us to assume there is only one way to participate in this world of sports cards.

Don’t be a dick to Dollar Tree if they don’t sell you packs for a penny

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 7, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

It’s been said on Twitter that Dollar Tree has been selling NFL trading cards this week for a penny per pack.

Some folks have walked out with dozens from each store, claiming victory against a hobby that often seems like it prices people out.

Meanwhile others have found such packs and store clerks have refused to sell them.

The latter is what happened to me Friday morning when I located 25 packs at a single store.

My experience went like this:

I walked in, grabbed the packs and went to the register. I asked them to check the price because they had been discontinued across the county. They checked, it rang up a penny and then they asked for a manager to check the situation.

At first the manager said they had to throw them away; then she clarified that they actually get sent back to the distributor.

I understood, thanked them and told them to have a good day.

Now, it’d be easy to come off angry and act like they owe it to us to sell the item. We could cause a scene and make threats to force the issue. But I know from working retail that price changes that drop to this price point usually mean that the item is supposed to be returned to the distributor. The process by which retailers signal this is different and with Dollar Tree it appears to be the $0.01 price point. Other places change the price to $0.00.

Bottom line, don’t be a dick to the Dollar Tree clerks or manager if they tell you they can’t sell them. They’re just doing their job and adhering to their company’s protocol. And threats to stop shopping at the discount retailer will ring hollow as they’ll happily tell you to walk out the door with your 50 cents instead of letting you walk out with 50 packs after you invoke the “customer is always right” mantra.

If you do see packs, take them to the register and see if they’ll sell them at the penny per pack. If they do, then you’ve won. But always be cautiously optimistic.

For the uninitiated, packs at Dollar Tree contain five cards, always four base cards and one parallel or exclusive card. There is NO CHANCE at autographs, relics or serial numbered items.

All of the good cards are gone … (Topps Million Card Rip Party)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 5, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

The funny thing about large publicity events like the Topps Million Card Rip Party is that it often brings about negative feelings for those who aren’t involved.

I’ll say this: I was not involved. I wasn’t there and didn’t buy into a break. I did watch a bit on YouTube but had to turn it off because it was causing me anxiety. It looked like chaos, was loud, and honesty, Flagship Topps isn’t really breaker friendly so it was a lot of quick rip and filler chatter between the hits. As I noted on Twitter, the Rip Party wasn’t for me … and that’s Ok. I hold no negative feelings about it.

But the real purpose of this post today is that there is also the notion that all of the good cards are gone since so much of the stuff was ripped at one time. We saw some very nice cards come from some packs.

It’s true there was a lot of product ripped yesterday. But whether it happened in one place or across the country over the course of a day or two, all of that stuff would have been opened this week anyway. Topps flagship is ripped in mass quantity — and it still will be — and at least we know that the cards actually exist.

If you are on the side that believes all of the good stuff is gone, I offer this alternative point: At least you already know that certain 1 of 1s are off the table. Because a lot of those get pulled and put into personal collections and don’t show up on social media feeds So that can lead to folks questioning if they’re still in the wild.

Flagship Topps is about the base cards — that’s why there is so much produced. The rare hits are really a bonus for those ripping, and the fact that some of them are no longer in packs should not deter you from buying the product if you wanted it in the first place.

CardPurge2020 is underway; what this means for Cardboard Icons

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on January 31, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

It was bound to happen. I kind of toyed with purging things a bit last year, and to some extent I had. But with the calendar turning and it being the proverbial fresh start that we all seem to see for ourselves, this seemed like the right time to get serious about the effort.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some serious scouring of my collection and packaging things up for COMC (see My Port here). If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve seen sprinkles of this here and there over the last month, and specially this week when I packaged up almost four full 550-Count boxes of relics and autos, items I once enjoyed and can no longer claim to be the case.

So, what exactly does CardPurge2020 mean for me and my future in the hobby?

It means a renewed effort to stay on track with the personal collection, which includes cataloging it and maintaining it in a way that I can actually enjoy.

It means continued efforts to document my Clayton Kershaw and Roger Clemens collections by logging them and taking pictures of the cards to share via Instagram.

It means an overhaul of my Rookie Card Collection, which I’ve sort of neglected in recent years. Who do I have, who do I not have? I’m not even sure sometimes.

It means further examination of the Hall of Fame autographs and relic cards that I own. Do I need both of each player to go along with the rookie card, or can I choose one. Do I really need any of them aside from the rookie/tobacco-era card?

It means starting a small collection of players that I enjoy/enjoyed. I’ve already started to keep all of my Mike Trouts, but I am seriously considering adding binders for Madison Bumgarner — another pitcher I’ve enjoyed over the last decade and have actually watched pitch in person a bunch — as well as a binder for Golden State Warriors cards that my son and I can enjoy whenever we watch a game.

It also means actually starting a player collection of Carney Lansford, the former Oakland A’s third baseman who grew up in my hometown, where he has a baseball field bearing his name.

And hopefully it also means a return to my Thrift Treasures series, which if you ask me as been the signature of this blog as I am not a news generator or aggregator, and am not the guy who will give you full-on box breaks or reviews. That time has come and gone for me.

Here’s what the CardPurge2020 does not mean:

It does not mean that I am giving things away.

It does not mean that I am selling items for next to nothing — even if I do take a loss on items.

It does not mean that I giving up on hobby that I have enjoyed since 1987.

So, why am I selling anyway?

The genesis of this CardPurge2020 is not unlike the Great Card Purge of 2010 — yes, a decade ago I was here saying some of these same things — where I offloaded a massive part of my collection and ultimately used the proceeds to purchase a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie, a card once thought to be unattainable.

This time, however, the end game is not necessarily a singular card. While the 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews high number rookie card is THE top card I still need for the Hall of Fame segment of my rookie collection, my real purpose is to find peace.

Over the last decade I’ve gone through so many highs and lows in life and in this hobby that I really need to hit the reset button and remind myself that this is a hobby. I’ve lost touch with that. I’ve let the card world consume my life. It’s overrun my household, has a firm grip on finances, and really does weigh me down at times.

I’m also hoping that through this process I can find my hobby identity again. I miss writing. I miss sharing the stories and memories that I’ve written here for the better half of a decade. Did you know I started this blog in 2009? It’s true, but it’s hard to tell since my writing has been somewhat intermittent in recent years.

The one thing I’d like to start chronicling is the involvement my son has in this hobby. He’s opened packs with me from time to time since he was about 2 years old. However, he has a collection of his own, and if you ask me, it’s quite impressive for a kid who has not even turned 10 yet.

Anyway, if you’re reading this part of the post, I appreciate you sticking around. Every year I sit down sometime in January to write something like this, sometimes with bold promises to write more. And then I do for a while and then fizzle out because life is busy with two kids, a somewhat long-distance relationship that is serious, and long work days. But writing makes me happy; and happiness is something I need in a large dose when it comes to this hobby.

Thanks,

Ben, aka. Cardboard Icons.

Ever had a “I don’t want to look” moment after selling a card?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

At the end of the last NBA season I lucked my way into a stash of Prizm NBA at a local 7-Eleven at dirt cheap prices and the prize of the pull was a Pink Pulsar Luka Doncic /42.

About a month and a half ago I decided to sell the card for what seemed like a good price. There was some legitimate fear on my end that the Luka hype train had peaked and prices would come down as Zion and a new crop of rookies entered the league.

I got a fair price, and the sale came at a good time as I used the money for a vacation and more.

Fast forward six weeks and I am now legitimately afraid to see how much these cards are selling for eBay as Zion is out with an injury injured and Luka is tearing up the league with triple doubles almost every night. Have you ever sold a card and then a short while later found yourself afraid to see what the current market looked like for said card?

This is the second time for me in recent years. I sold my 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout for what I thought was also the peak and it’s now tripled in price.