What’s Hot in the Shop: Why 2014 Bowman Is All Over The Place

Last Wednesday, 2014 Bowman/Bowman Chrome NFL boxes arrived at hobby shops with a weeeeeeee bit more hype than the 2013 release did.  Truth be told, it was a LOT more hype than the first day that 2013 Bowman came off the truck.

When the ordering window was open for 2013 Bowman NFL—six months before its release–the 2012 products were killing it and people weren’t exactly geeked on the next year’s worth of releases.  As a result, many shops did not buy their full allocations on 2013 Bowman NFL and I know some that passed completely.

Bowman 2014 Football boxOne of the fun things about this hobby is that everyone wants what they can’t have.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason nobody still wants gems like 1990 Upper Deck since those lovely green boxes will exist far after my passing.  I love it when collectors come to my shop when other stores in the area are without a certain release which is part of the reason why I carry several hundred different boxes at a time.  We also take pride in ordering multiple cases of newer releases so as not to have to go chasing them should they get hot.  Sure that bites me in the backside when years like 2013 NFL happen, but for the most part, it has done my shop and the collectors who frequent it quite nicely.

So let’s fast forward to when the ordering window opened for 2014 Bowman NFL.  There were three or more quarterbacks that were pretty much household names back in January 2014 with one being an already established name back in January of 2013.  Unlike most first offerings from Topps, it’s safe to say that the 2013 release could be labeled a success.

Dez Bryant die cut 2014 Bowman football14BWFB_9001_Base_LacyAnyone care to guess what happened?  I can’t imagine too many shops, distributors and everyone’s favorite people – internet retailers– did not max out on their order forms.  When my cases arrived, I looked online and saw boxes being offered for as much as $140 each, and while I won’t share factory cost, let’s just say that mark-up would cover a nice, overpriced Las Vegas steak.  We opted to start out our boxes at $119 shelf and $114 for our Discount Card Members.  By Sunday we were busting the seal on our second case in spite of 2014 Upper Deck SPX and 2014 Panini Hot Rookies arriving in the same three-day window.

Currently one of the leading online box movers has dropped their pricing to $109 a box and if the other online folk have not already dropped similarly, one can expect a similar reaction rather soon.

So, what might all this mean?  I’m not pretending to be Carnac the Magnificent, but here’s one scenario I feel comfortable sharing.

My shop has received very few order forms from Panini so far with Prestige and Elite being the only other products I have had to commit to.  As for Topps, currently I can order Topps Chrome mini that hits 12/5 and Topps Strata which currently is scheduled to arrive 12/10.  My direct numbers are already in for Triple Threads, Valor, Chrome (regular sized that is), Bowman Sterling, Prime, Finest, Inception, Factory Sets, Topps.  Clearly the two companies have different ordering strategies.

As a shop owner, I like to zig while everyone else is zagging.  It is rare for just about any release to kick arse two years in a row.  If we all order weak on a Topps product and it does well, you can count on us all being good sheep and ordering completely differently the next year.  If a product bombs, then we will treat the next chance to order it like the rather distinct looking 1991 Fleer baseball.

Of course nobody is yet losing money on 2014 Bowman NFL and nobody should for some time but it is interesting to wonder how all the people who ponied up an extra $30 or so to have it first feel about it now.

Gridiron Ice Johnny Manziel 2014 BowmanSo far the early ebay sales have been rather impressive with 15,000+ current listings for 2014 Bowman football singles, boxes and break opportunities.  The amounts some singles have already cleared have proved that it is a mix of quality and quantity.
Someone spent less than the price tag this seller wanted for a Johnny Manziel Gridiron Ice 1/1.

The seller of this this Johnny Football autographed Red Refactor SSP probably did well enough with this sale to cover a case of Bowman.

Bradley Roby 2014 BowmanThere are currently more than 10 active listings on singles where the seller is seeking 4 digits or more for their new Bowman singles.  Yes most involve the player listed above which should be encouraging for the 9 Topps products I am already married to as well as the numerous Panini products that I will roll the proverbial dice on.

One collector is even hoping his Prizm Refractor Autograph #2/5 will snag him a return in the five-digit range.  Suffice to say 12 months ago, we did not see too many fresh from the pack singles being offered or actually moving for over a grand.  While this is very encouraging, I would not be surprised to see some softening after release on the above mentioned Topps releases unless Johnny or another player or two come out of the gate strong.

Of course I’m the same guy who thought that 2013 class would not rival that of 1992 and I have been slightly wrong to this point.  As I’ve said more than once, you can call us baseball card shops, but if you really looked at a great many of us, our success and failures are predicated on the success of the Broncos and the Cowboys over the Yankees and the Rockies.

Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo.  Normally, his column focuses on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. 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 [email protected]