Archive for trading cards

Is It Time To Buy or Sell? Answer: Both

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

The current state of the hobby is an interesting one. In some ways this feels unnatural since things that were irrelevant now matter (again), but at the same time there is a familiar feel of days gone by, a time when lots of people were talking about trading cards and telling stories about how they collected when they were young.

It’s a fascinating thing to witness as a middle-aged man, considering the last time this market was booming — early 1990s — I was an impressionable youth trying to find my way.

For those who’ve been here a bit, this quick-paced market now leaves some confused about about how to feel about things. Will this last? Is this a fad? Are were still on the upswing or are we peaking? Is it time to sell what I own, or is it time to keep buying?

None of us should be telling others how to feel about this market, our cards, or anything else. But in terms of reconciling the the latter part of that series of queries, I do have a recommendation: It is time to sell AND buy.

Yes, this is typical me, kind of being neutral, but hear me out. In my 33 years of collecting I cannot recall a time when this hobby was hotter. More eyes are on this field than ever, and social media has given us access to so many more potential selling/buying/trading partners than we ever had before. And what this means to us who have loads of cards just sitting around is that this is an opportunity to turn some of that stuff into something we want … or re-purpose that money.

Two and a half decades ago it was easy to take your unwanted cards and find trading partners, whether it be at the card shop, a card show or with others you knew. Trading still exists, but since a lot of it is done online there are associated costs, specifically shipping. You might have once agreed to trade your 1989 Donruss Don Mattingly for that 1988 Topps Kirby Puckett, but would you have done so if you knew the transaction would cost each of you the price of a stamp? Probably not. The result is that a lot of the stuff we owned became dead stock for us; it sat and sort of became useless and in some ways worthless.

But what’s old is new again. While the Mattingly for Puckett swap mentioned above still may not make since today’s market — they’re both worth about a dime each — there are surely other examples of items in your collection that have just been sitting for years and suddenly they are relevant again. This is the time to seize that opportunity and dig out all of that stuff and find someone who will appreciate it; someone who will give you a few bucks for a card that has been sitting in your closet for a decade.

Forget seeking the next flip online when your closet, basements and storage units are full of items that had been carrying little to no value for you. If you look at it the right way, that’s all “found money.”

In terms of buying, I’d say this is also a time to seek the items you always wanted. Take all that money from the aforementioned sales and sink it into an item (or multiple items) you once thought was (were) unattainable. And even if you’re coming into this era of the hobby with no card cache but with a wallet or account full of cash, don’t follow the trend and buy the new shiny hotness, unless of course that is all you know. Bottom line: If cards talk to you, find the ones (new or old) that make YOU happy and give them a new home.

And if you’re here just to flip? Then you keep doing you, and accept the results, both good and bad. There is room for us all.

Priced out and pissed off? Perhaps its time to pause and appreciate what we’ve had all along.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Three years ago there was a belief this industry was dying. Cards were not holding their value; ingenuity seemed to be fairly low, and if you spoke to non-collectors about our hobby there was some sort reaction akin to someone asking if you’d even had your first beer.

Alas here we are in 2020 — amid a pandemic, a time of social justice advances, and intense politics — and this card hobby grabs headlines and is hotter than ever.

If you’re like me then you’ve been around cards for a while, and even those of us who have lived through three decades of cards — and some of you much longer — you thought you had seen it all. But this current climate is proving us wrong.

Base cards are relevant again; early non-rookie releases of sure-fire hall of famers are commanding a premium, and parallels — not necessarily autographs — are what’s drawing folks to products. In short, history is repeating itself to an extent but I’m not sure any of us could have predicted anything to this level so quickly.

But when a hobby or market runs hot, demand for products are through the roof and with it go prices. And this is where things get super wonky for the die-hards because … suddenly nothing is easy to find, and most sealed products are carrying insane premiums.

Some have said — or at least thought — that they are priced out of the hobby. This would include me. And honestly, there has been a struggle about how I feel about this. In some ways I’m pissed. I mean how dare this rush of “new” type of consumer rush into this hobby and change the landscape for me and everyone else who has called this their own for years. But … BUT! … how can I/we really be mad when we have bitched and moaned for years about this industry dying; about the lack of respect; and it’s lack of … value.

If you’re in a place where you’re feeling priced out and pissed off, it might be best to pause and think about where YOU fit into this hobby. This, again, includes me.

I know that I cannot hang with the guys who buy into breaks seven days a week constantly gambling their money away until they hit big … and then sell the prized hit and repeat the pattern hoping lightening strikes twice.

I also know that I cannot justify spending $7.50 for a pack of flagship Topps baseball Series 2 — I saw that at an LCS this weekend — and maintain any sort of happiness.

I for damn sure won’t spend $80 to $120 on a blaster knowing that it cost $19.99 when it’s found in the wild. And yes, I know the blasters are impossible to find at times, which is why they command a premium, but I’m not your huckleberry at 4x or higher.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This is a time for us longtime collectors to realize how good we actually had it all of those years. The times when we were tasked with a milk run at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night and wound up at Target buying the milk and a blaster or two. Those trips to the LCS when we walked in with $20 or $100 budget and walked out with a smile on our face and cards in our hands. The special feeling we had when you found out a distant relative, neighbor or co-worker collected cards and it felt like you were part of the same secret club.

Now is the time to look at your collection and appreciate what you already own. A time to remember why you got into this in the first place. Was it the actual cards? The thrill of the chase? The gambling element? Does the hobby give you a sense of inclusion? Are you carrying on a family tradition or looking to start a new one? The answer is personal for each of us.

I cannot control your feelings about the cards you possess, nor can I contain the emotions you may have for the ones you do not own. But I hope this time of change in our hobby — whether it be short term or not — isn’t pushing you out of the hobby. Because while packs are at a premium, singles are still as available as ever and you can still build a kick-ass collection without having to succumb to the notion that the only thing that matters is the shiniest card released this week of the hottest rookie.

Why I chose COMC over eBay/Instagram/Twitter for sales

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

About a year or so ago I started to see a trend, one that had probably been around for a while, but had somewhat laid latent in my mind. What was the trend? Card sales via Twitter and other social media platforms.

It was intriguing when I started to notice them. Folks were posting stacks of cards for sale, often one at a time, with some combined shipping component. It seemed like a good idea, but then I saw more and more of them. And over the course of a week or so that seemed to be all that was popping up on my Twitter feed.

It was annoying. I muted and in some cases unfollowed some folks.

But deep inside I wondered if I could do something similar. I had (and still have) thousands upon thousands of cards sitting around and at the time I was thinking that it’d be great if I could turn some of these cards into some dimes, quarters or even dollar bills — all of that eventually adds up. However, I was stuck on one fact: A stream of card sales on a social media platform was annoying as hell and I did not want to be a hypocrite since I’d been vocal in regards to the annoyance I felt with this stream of posts. So my remedy was to create various pages on my own blog and open a Virtual Card Shop where folks could shop through the photos of stuff I had message me.

Again, great idea. But, this is akin to setting up a table of singles for sale in the middle of the forest where there is no one around — it’s not like this blog is a daily read for people. So I spent about a day screwing around with that idea before realizing that was a ton of work and the time invested hoping to make a few bucks really didn’t make sense.

Of course eBay is always an option for sale, but I had such a negative experience with the site over the last year that I’d grown to trust almost no one when it comes to selling cards. Seriously, if you’re engaging in nefarious activity such as making false claims, forcing returns on volatile commodities such as sports cards, or otherwise adding to the negativity you really need to rethink your place in this hobby.

And so for me, I have decided to return to submitting items to COMC, the consignment site that has gained popularity over the last decade. The processing fees on the site have increased over the last decade — and for some collectors the upfront cost can be prohibitive. But the site remains the easiest and safest way to move inventory you no longer want in your presence. It doesn’t make sense for all cards, and sometimes you will lose on cards you send — especially if the value of the cards is too low so do your research — but it can be a very effective way to cull funds from sales and then purchase something else.

A quick synopsis of COMC:

-Most items cost 30 cents each for processing, which includes scanning the card and placing it into your account.

-Once uploaded, YOU select the price you want to charge for your card. In some cases COMC is an exercise in sellers undercutting each other and buyers getting great deals — so you do need to pay attention.

-COMC takes a small cut of the sale (5%) and then 10% if you decide to cash out — remove your money from the site and have it sent to your paypal or via check. But if you’re selling with intent to buy something else with your money, just let the funds accumulate because COMC is really a buyer’s market.

There are other sites to sell items — I know folks have used SportLots with great success — but that also requires being ultra organized and still storing those cards in your space. Part of my goal of CardPurge2020 is to get unwanted items OUT OF MY SPACE, or at least keep that to a minimum.

That said, some have a lot of success selling via social media, and if you are, then good for you. By no means am I advocating that you stop. But for me personally, that’s not my method of choice.

That’s not to say I won’t occasionally offer items for sale or trade, but I won’t be running streams of sales, and my view of them has soften as the number of posts are no longer as overwhelming as they were for a brief stint in 2019.

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?

First Kershaw 2019 Topps parallel has arrived

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

One of the first things I did on Wednesday after sorting my 2019 Topps hobby box was check eBay to see how much the new parallels of Kershaw were going for. And just as I suspected, some were selling really cheap, like for the price of three packs, because some folks were looking to strike while the iron was hot and sell whatever they could to get back some of the money they spent.

As you know by now, 2019 Topps pack prices increased to $2.99 retail (or about $3.50 a pack for hobby in some places) as the card company decided to change some of its pack specs: Topps bumped up the number of cards per pack, and decreased the number of packs from 36 packs to just 24. It’ll take some time getting used to, but I don’t hate the change. Although there have been varying opinions from persons who who buy and break in quantity as it has changed the landscape for building complete sets or even master sets.

I digress. The Kershaw base card and parallels of it are the ones that I really had my eye. So I decided to pounce on a half dozen eBay listing featuring the parallels at a price point I was comfortable with.

The first of those purchases arrived over the weekend, and it was the Vintage Stock serial numbered to 99 copies, which I managed to get for under $12 shipped.

I have a few more on the way; I’m sure I’ll post them, especially the Independence Day one that should be here mid week. I really like those Patriot parallels.