Hello fellow card maniacs,
I hope you are all doing well and that your family and friends are also healthy and getting through current days as well as possible. Clearly we are experiencing something we have never faced. before and prior to yammering about sports cards and dishing the list of 5 hottest products, I wanted to share that sentiment.
In the past few weeks, I have come to learn how valuable my shop is to my collecting base and it is a lesson I will never forget. The show of love from my collectors has been nothing short of incredible. Many of them who are either without jobs for the short-term or the foreseeable future are still making sports cards a priority and engaging with the shop in some way. As one told me, “sports cards are the new sports.” I have embraced that term fully and am trying to offer daily fun and content on my social media platforms.
I’ve been playing “guess this card”, asking collectors which historic games they wish they could have attended, sharing fun moments such as athletes donating to help arena staff, continuing my Singles Nights where I offer individual cards to hungry collectors, doing case breaks and have added nightly personal box breaks to my repertoire. What I am finding is that people don’t want to stop collecting and more importantly are looking to remain part of a group.
Sure, part of what I am doing is to sell cards as collectors have reduced or eliminated visits to the shop, but more important to me is offering my collectors the chance to take their minds off of their days and to provide an escape.
The biggest fear a hobby shop can face is when a sport shuts down. Typically we fear work stoppages where the millionaires face off vs the billionaires and the “sufferings” of each are shared on each SportsCenter broadcast or online. Here, it is completely different where all of our spectator sports have been stolen from us so while the lack of games is frustrating, it has a completely different feel to it.
So, in addition to a What’s Hot list of products (see below), here is a What’s Hot list of Collecting in the Strange Spring of 2020.
1) Picking up a box or packs to share as a family – As kids are home from school, parents are looking for something fun to do with them. I have been so encouraged that so many members of my Kids Club have embraced collecting together as a group.
Some of it of course are parents who say they are “buying for the kids” and so many others really are buying for the kids, but either way it is so cool to own a shop where I can offer a distraction and fun to so many families.
2) It’s organizing time – I have a separate key on my register for supply sales and in looking at sales in the past two weeks, that key has gotten quite a bit of action. Collectors are embracing this sudden free time to go through what they have already purchased and finish sets as well as finding gems that they did not know they already had.
I had a collector wipe me out of 5,000ct boxes yesterday and I’m hoping to have more soon. Fortunately I have been stocking up on supplies for a while so my collectors will be able to sleeve and top load hopefully for the next few months.
3) Encourage your LCS – I have been chatting with so many shops that are either seeing fewer collector visits, have had to reduce hours or, sadly, close completely. I would encourage you to reach out to them to offer you a personal box break, suggest they try a case break or to reach out to me so I can dial them in on how to run a fun Singles Night themselves.
I don’t know of any stores that are doing better these days and even though there are no new sports to enjoy, the new cards are still a coming (at least for now). I know that you reading this are not in better boats as well, but you might actually be saving your LCS by helping them stay open by trying different things.
4) Find your inner breaker – I had a collector who usually buys a few boxes of each new Topps MLB product recently ask me for case pricing on 2020 Topps Inception. I was of course glad to offer up the pricing and when he came in, he shared that he was now starting to break since he was going to be at home more. He shared that he started by simply sharing his personal box breaking and that his friends were encouraging him to start offering breaks himself since he was so good at it.
Perhaps here is your chance to have fun, keep yourselves entertained and well, make a few dollars at the same time.
5) Take a break from collecting – Yes, I said that. Really. For some of you, this might be a good time to refocus on your families and not spend money on sports cards. Yes, I really said that also.
I have started closing my store early (if 6PM is considered early) and have been having fun getting to be more of a part of my kids’ lives. The first step was reintroducing myself to them as their dad and not simply the guy who slept upstairs in between working 15 hours a day. I’ve also had my son join me at the shop more than usual and hopefully we can emerge from this as better friends as well as family.
Fear not, collecting will still be there for you when it makes sense to return and like the offseason to a sport, absence might make your collecting heart grow fonder when you return.
So, in addition to these 5 What’s Hot ideas, there are still popular sports cards to play with. Here are the ones that my collectors are embracing the most these days.
1) 2020 Topps Inception MLB – This year’s model looks like artist Peter Max got a hold of it and shredders are still embracing the one auto or auto relic, two parallels and five base cards each box offers.
2) 19/20 Upper Deck SPX NHL – SPX is once again back with the single card pack format. Boxes seem to be offering an average of three hits per box and locally the idea of pulling rookies and autos of Avalanche young star Cale Makar is still causing buzz with my puckheads.
3) 2020 Leaf Draft NFL – If the rest of the 2020 football card season enjoys the response that the first one did, we might be in for the type of season we all hoped for. The much hyped rookie QB class we have been waiting two years for seems to be enticing collectors for sure. Leaf Draft offers five autographs per hobby box and I wish I had brought in much more than just two cases.
4) Panini One NFL – Of all the recent football releases, Panini One seems to be the one that my breakers have gravitated towards. I’m not sure if it is the price, the way it came out of the gate last year and crushed or the chance at pulling a Tom Brady autograph, but One seems to be the one for many of my remaining football fans.
5) 19/20 Panini Prizm/Optic/Select NBA – At this point, those three seem be in the same group as my higher end NBA fans have not given up on this season and the current year rookies. Seemingly every NBA call I get these days is for one of those three releases and since they are in the family/genus/species, I thought I would group them together instead of dominating the list (check out info on all 19-20 NBA releases here).
I still have flavors of each available for my hungry hoopheads and was excited to hear of a future Select Hybrid release as well as Mosiac (hopefully) hitting hobby shops on time.
So there you have it for this month and I hope you gave as much attention to the top list as you did the bottom list. Shops are facing perhaps their biggest challenge of all time and for those of you who still value being able to drive down the road and find your friendly LCS, here is your chance to help ensure they will still be there for you and the rest of your collecting community.
Please stay healthy, give this a share and if you’re bored, feel free to be part of the fun that my shop is still able to offer by visiting my shop’s Facebook page. We’d love to see you on the next Singles Night.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column normally 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]