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Ramblings: Card Shop Owner Opts for Old vs. New

I recently received a very nice package from Papa John Broggi and Megan Galinski-Broggi. They were nice enough to send me some great items for use at our Plano II show.  We will use the donated items between our silent auction and door prizes. If you live in the DFW area and want to see a rough draft copy of what we have so far for both, please drop me an email at the address at the bottom of this article. Also included in the package was a recent copy of Sports Rich Ramblings 2014Collectors Digest, which included a column from T.J. Schwartz, a long-time shop owner in southern California.

T.J. mentioned that he has given up on purchasing new unopened product for his store and is transitioning to carrying as many pre-1970 cards and Vintage Baseball Cardsmemorabilia as he could while divesting his other items. I think there are some other more modern items he will be carrying but those will be few and far between when he finishes.

It’s a bold move.  He even mentioned one of his major customers who was a successful small business owner and would spend a great deal of money on the new wax and then only take home the hits he received.  I’ve written how that is far from a new phenomenon as back in the 1980’s at my favorite hangout H&H Hobbies in Garfield, New Jersey, if one of the key rookies or stars were not pulled from the packs, everything was left on the counter. Today, that translates to the non-hits being left behind.

I understand perfectly why T.J has made the decision to pull away from newer material. He has built up a clientele that prefers vintage material, sells the same type of material through his eBay store –and it also frees him from having to monitor the sometimes complicated new card market as closely.

A good example of that came recently when I was doing some sorting and came upon a three-year old 2014 Topps Series 2 boxcard which Beckett had booked at $2.50.  It sounded way too cheap so I alerted the Beckett Baseball price guide editor to my suspicions and he agreed.  In fact, he was actually more aggressive than I would have been on the price hike.  He mentioned to me that card had been in his market reports and he thanked me for paying attention. However, my point is, newer cards are so much more volatile while older issues are pretty steady and easier to keep up with. The careers of most guys who played before 1970 are pretty well set and unless Sherry Magee ends up in the Hall of Fame, there really is a well-developed paradigm of pricing both commons and stars.

Sure makes card dealing much easier when you do not have to worry if Josh Hamilton gets benched or Clayton Kershaw actually loses a game, not to mention predicting which products will be hot so you don’t get stuck with dead inventory.  So, I get that part of his reasoning. The only thing I slightly disagree on is that I might keep buying some new boxes because if and when the time comes to sell, the unopened product is perhaps the most liquid inventory.  The unopened market is pretty good for unopened both old and new as long as you have the ability to sell online. Even BBCE, which made its name selling vintage unopened, now advertises they buy all wax not just older and I would say that is because of their new– and from what I hear spectacular—brick and mortar store not far from Chicago.

So my question to you, if you had a store, what would your specialty be and why? As always, we welcome your comments.

About Rich Klein

Rich Klein has spent almost his entire life collecting baseball cards having begun at the tender age of seven. He has spent more than three decades in the organized hobby including editing the first 12 editions of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Card and Collectibles. He lives in Plano, TX along with his wife Dena and their two dogs. You can reach him at [email protected].

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