I have been back from the 2017 Las Vegas Industry Summit for about a week now and somehow I am still tired. Apparently landing at noon on Sunday and getting a total of nine hours of sleep before leaving at 8:30 Wednesday night is not proper planning for a 47-year-old card store owner.
That having been said, it was an incredible four-day span hanging out with my hobby brothers and sisters along with representatives from pretty much everyone in the industry aside from Upper Deck who had met with us all in January.
There was some incredible idea sharing, the absence of the annual slideshow after slideshow of the new fall line and all of its incredible features, some productive roundtables, apparently some late nights and fortunately for me I am lucky with more than just sports cards. I am lucky that I know some incredible folks in this industry and they are willing to put up with my sense of humor, passion for what I do and my brutal honesty.
So, after some time away from the shop, it was fun to get back into the shop and I’m happy to report that things were the same as when I left. The market for sports cards right now is hot, indeed. Here’s our regular rundown on the current five hottest selling products:
1) 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen MLB – Topps took one of it’s most popular releases to the drawing board and came back with a streamlined version that is absent of the 10 card mini box toppers and possible booklets, nuked two relic cards from each box and also struck the per pack minis altogether. Now the cost came down about $23 per box which resulted in boxes being offered for less than $100 retail instead of the $119 or so that they did last year.
This is on the heels of Topps Series 1 and Topps Heritage rocketing out of the gate and it sure makes me wish that every other release could get gutted in much the same way. One annual case collector who initially held off on his purchase finally gave in when he saw what still remained in the release. Once I go back into the well again, my shelf prices will be north of $100.
2) 16/17 O-Pee-Chee Platinum NHL – This popular annual release once again delivers in its homage to Topps Chrome. Whereas the formula for most boxes that fly off the shelf typically contain two, three, four or more hits per box, Platinum makes it work with just one autograph and a stellar selection of parallels.
With eight different parallels including 1/1 versions and the benefit of a popular rookie crop, I am into my third case now and I am glad that I started with even more.
3) 16/17 Panini Optic NBA – Now it is nice to see a NBA release make this list this year without the benefit of the #1 pick even playing let alone having autographed cards in a single licensed release. After Optic was such a monster in the NFL this year, it was not much of a surprise to roll through all I ordered very quickly. Just like Platinum, boxes offer one autograph and fortunately Panini did not reply solely upon rookies for their signatures.
Also included are veterans like Dirk, Durant, Wade, AI, Kobe, Kemp and CP3. Another nice touch was HOF members named Magic, Malone, Stockton, Pippen, Rodman, Issel and more. Now it has me looking to pay more for hobby boxes as well as considering retail boxes just to have some available.
4) 2017 Topps Tribute MLB – While I really like Tribute, a lot of that is based on early success with it back in 2001 when it was a monster. It is kind of how each time I see a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey rookie card, I still feel compelled to purchase it, even if I have 3 in stock with 4 factory sealed sets on the shelf. Sadly Topps has not considered lowering the price even though so many of the relic cards that appear in it sell for so little. Also needed are some more autographed relic cards to spruce things up a bit. While there are some, there are not enough to warrant the $50 per pack price tag anymore.
That having been said, I bought two cases and have none left so something apparently worked. It is nice to see that Topps is offering these boxes on their site for $329 and perhaps when they see the underwhelming response, they will try to breathe life into a release that I really dig. I don’t want them to take Ol’ Tribute behind the barn and end its misery, I just want it to be able to walk down the hall and get jealous stares from every other product the way it used to. For many stores, success is based on buying cases and selling cases. For me, it is about going through product, but also having happy collectors and while I saw some nice singles this year, only one or two boxes would have covered their cost at my $259 and not a single one would have made you feel good about dropping $329 on one.
5) 2016 Panini Football –Rather than picking one release, it needed to be said that the collecting world is not done showing its love for anything with Dak or Ezekiel. Late season releases like Contenders, Honors, Plates & Patches, Select are still turning over quickly even though the Cowboys have not played a down since January 15.
The selling doesn’t stop at the newest kids on the block as today boxes of Prestige, Certified and Intrigue walked out the door. I had this moment of joy and sadness Wednesday when 2016 Flawless NFL landed. My four boxes will likely be sold by Sunday and it makes me wish that there were a few more cases to still walk in. Suffice to say, collectors can’t quit you, 2016 football.
As for other products, 2016/17 Ice NHL and 2017 Contenders Draft edition NFL both arrived Wednesday as welly and already collectors are liking the new Contenders style with one autograph per pack. Looking ahead, I clearly under ordered 2017 Bowman as everyone is coming out of the woodwork to line up for cases at my shop. Even though Edmonton lost their first playoff game, I see some more 15/16 hockey box sales in my future thanks to Connor and company and 16/17 SPA NHL should rocket out of the gate as well. What will actually be Hot In The Shop when May arrives? Come back soon to see for yourself.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column focuses on what products are selling best in hobby shops. He’s got thousands of cards for sale on COMC.com under the ID cardmn5150. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]