If you’re feeling pessimistic about the sports card industry, don’t go to Parsippany, New Jersey on a Tuesday night.
You might need therapy.
The report was part of the network’s feature-oriented 90-minute news program.
The segment’s producers didn’t travel far from home base. Utilizing interviews and video gathered at a small, sparsely attended weeknight show at the Police Athletic League facility, interviews with New Jersey-based dealer Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen, Mint Condition author Dave Jamieson and a small snippet from last weekend’s Sun-Times show in Chicago, the story included a few dealer sound bites, some statistics that weren’t sourced and video from well-attended shows in the 1980’s that were likely found in the network’s archives.
As expected after CBS sent out a promotional email, the piece focused on the modern era and the decline of sports card shops and fewer young collectors since the gluttonous days of the late 1980s and early 90s when even news cards became viewed as an investment for the first time.
Common sense told veterans that if cards weren’t being discarded and played with as they were decades earlier, their long-term value might be on shaky ground but to those who bought into the idea, the new century has revealed the painful truth. It’s spawned a flurry of mainstream media stories focusing on the hobby’s “decline”, many written by those who were kids during the overproduction era and have since learned that their Frank Thomas rookie cards aren’t a ticket to easy street.
The show’s report, delivered by well respected reporter Armen Keteyian, didn’t really offer anything most in the hobby hadn’t already heard or witnessed: There were too many cards produced after the ‘boom’ took hold during the 1980s, too many manufacturers, too many sets and kids today have too many other entertainment options.
“It’s gonna die. It’s gonna die with the people in this room,” said one dealer interviewed for the piece. “Because that’s what’s happening. The kids don’t care.”
There was no real mention of the internet’s long-reaching impact among young people who now conduct much of their business online rather than in a card shop.
Perhaps the most interesting moment came when Rosen revealed that his sales in 1989 were $8.7 million. He also indicated he received “over 100 phone calls a day” then, compared with 20-30 per day now–still a fairly respectable figure since he doesn’t do nearly as much advertising.
Using the Tuesday night show, with dealer tables and aisle occupied by “middle aged white men”, the report then inserted video from what was clearly a large weekend show from the 1980s to illustrate its conclusion.
Take a look: