Archive for 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.

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.

Thrift Treasures 118: Hobby time capsule for $9.99

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Few things bring me as much joy as finding discarded hobby gems at the thrift store for less than the price of a handful of modern packs.

It’s easy to get sucked into paying $3, $4, or $5 for a pack of cards at retail hoping to pull something that makes you feel like a hobby winner. And we all know that the agony of defeat happens much more than any sort of victory. So when we can find items that make us smile — even if some portion of the hobby doesn’t get it — it’s really a priceless experience.

Such was the case Wednesday when I stopped at a local Goodwill before dropping off two packages at the post office. It’s been a while since I’d found cards at thrift stores, so imagine the joy I felt when I found a two-row shoebox that showed some promise … and for only $9.99.

True, 75% of this box had what was obviously 1989 Donruss. But that stack of cards in Card Savers II held so much promise. I wasn’t expecting the world, but cards stored in semi-rigids can be gold hiding in plain sight.

I looked all around the store hoping to find more boxes but there were none. The box was priced some five days earlier so odds are someone beat me to the punch for others.

Nonetheless, this box was mine and as it turned out, the box wound up being a hobby time capsule for one of the most exciting times in our hobby, 1990-1992.

The mention of those years will turn people away, thinking it’s just junk wax era. Hell, after I posted a picture of the wrapped box, one Twitter follower said he wouldn’t even risk the purchase unless there were relics inside.

Insert facepalm emoji here …

I digress. I ripped open the cellophane, grabbed a handful of Card Savers IIs and almost immediately found an absolute masterpiece of our hobby, the 1991 Elite Series Jose Canseco, serial numbered to just 10,000 copies.

The Canseco isn’t rare by today’s standards. But in 1991 trying to pull any Elite Series insert was literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack — they were legitimately like 1:10 cases. In their hay day the cards were selling for several hundred dollars; today the Canseco is still a $30-$50 card on occasion, and even more of graded well.

The Canseco would prove to be the pinnacle of this box in terms of current monetary re-sell value, but there was so much good stuff in here.

This image here is basically a summary of collecting from 1990-1992:

You’ve got the Canseco Elite, the awesome and tough-pulls in the Pinnacle “Team Pinnacle”, the 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald error card, the 1991 Upper Deck “Baseball Heroes” Nolan Ryan Header Card, the 1990 Score Bo Jackson baseball/football card and the 1990 Score Rookie/Traded Eric Lindros.

The McDonald is actually a neat card I’d never owned. He was a top rookie that year and his basic UD rookie card had the “Rookie” logo. But in early batches of UD, there were a bunch of errors, including the McDonald rookie showing the Orioles logo. it’s still a $10-$20 card in today’s market.

Speaking of errors, there were also these other tough (for the time) 1990 UD screwups:

Jeff Innis and Scott Garrelts cards show wrong player photos on front; the Team checklist and Jamie Weston cards have him listed as Jamie instead of Mickey Weston, and the Nolan Ryan is the banner variation. Errors and variations were a big deal at the time … and some of the younger collectors don’t understand how difficult it was tracking them down at the time.

In addition to the errors and inserts, there were some big rookies in here too. And while it’s not 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. or 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas big, we’re talking some stuff that had considerable hobby weight at a time in the not so distant past … and they all look like they’ve been in these Card Savers for nearly three decades.

And there was a fair amount of hobby stars, including a very nice 1972 Topps Joe Morgan.

In terms of today’s hobby “worth” these cards wouldn’t fetch a ton at eBay or at any show. But for a guy who cut his teeth in this hobby during this era, to basically locate a rookie collectors collection from the era, and to nail down some highly desirable errors and tough insert pulls, especially the Canseco Elite Series, is absolutely priceless. I know I’ve said it before, but this was truly a time capsule, and frankly better than most massive collections that some people are still hoarding in their basements.

Oh, and the 1989 Donruss? As I suspected there was no Griffey. But the sight of these brought back the memory of a hot summer in which I walked 40 minutes to Thrifty’s to buy cello packs of the product.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $9.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

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.