Ever wonder what it’s like to have your sports card store owner dream come true? No, I didn’t buy a piano and find a Babe Ruth rookie and no, John Elway didn’t suddenly develop a liking of my shop and decide to stop by every afternoon to visit and sign free autographs.
At one point in my gambling career, I had a 21 trip winning streak to casinos. I didn’t push my luck and only went when I wanted to, but between Vegas, some Colorado casinos and one trip to the MGM in Detroit, I did not know what it meant to lose for a ridiculous amount of time.
Well, that sure seems to feel like what it is like to own a hobby shop lately. Between seemingly every new release rocketing up like a hot new Eminem song and selling faster than fresh Taylor Swift tickets– and an ability to secure what I need to keep customers happy– I’m worth kidnapping. Every day at the shop seemingly exceeds my hopes and best case scenarios. I almost wish we had a true failure product just so I could feel what it was like again. What’s on the horizon makes that seem unlikely.
I’m writing this just hours before the NFL Draft and a brand new wave of rookies to hopefully make the masses drool. Locally, the Broncos will hopefully land a flashy new quarterback to get fans excited. We are that many seconds closer to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. no longer tormenting minor league pitching in tiny ballparks and enjoying his much-anticipated MLB career unfold. The Nuggets are up 3-2 against the Spurs and not only have the Avalanche made it to the second round, but a kid named Cale Makar, who was attending classes two weeks ago, put one in during his first game, which happened to be during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Safe to say, the string of luck of owning a sports card store here in Colorado is approaching four years if not more and we haven’t even started talking about the next wave of that includes Zion in the NBA and Jack Hughes.
So, speaking of popular products…here’s our regular rundown of the top five hottest issues:
1) 2019 Bowman MLB
In spite of not having a rookie with an initial 60K bounty on it like we had last year, collectors welcomed the return of Bowman on #bowmanday like their lives depended on it. Sure there are returnees like Vlad, but in terms of significant prospects, there have been better years on paper. Still, both the regular and jumbo boxes are on fire and have surprised me with how well they are doing on the secondary market.
As stated above, these are crazy times and while Topps significantly bumped the direct costs on this release, it didn’t stop shops from going as deep as possible and in spite of that, I don’t see 2019 Bowman lasting long on my shelves (check out the current ‘most watched’ Bowman auctions and you’ll see a pretty strong secondary market).
2) 2019 Panini Prizm Draft Football
With five packs and one autograph in each means these should be selling for $100 or so in a “normal” year, but these aren’t “normal” years. Boxes are moving for closer to $120 per and my collectors are enjoying the first opportunity to see their future favorite players in their college uniforms. Checking eBay, it seems like a number of Kyler Murray autographs have closed in excess of $400 per and that is a great sign for the coming football collecting season.
During the winter, shops were kind of expecting the football market to tremble a bit without many big name rookies on the offensive side of the ball, but perhaps this 5’10” and 194 lb. Heisman award winner could carry the market until we become more familiar with the rest of the class and hope for another Phillip Lindsaye-sque rookie.
3) 2018 Panini National Treasures NFL
No words necessary. What? My editor required me to talk about NT? Fine. Take every cool relic swatch possible, add in shields, laundry tags, nameplates and booklet cards with up to 12 autographs per and oh yeah, the most sought after RPAs the hobby hunts for every year and it is no surprise boxes and cases are moving for close to DOUBLE initial offering price.
Can I go on now please to products that require more words?
4) 18/19 O-Pee-Chee Platinum Hockey
This chromey (not crummy) release is back again with more parallel colors than a Skittles bag and a pack of Starburst. In spite of Elias Pettersson not being part of the Stanley Cup hunt (this year at least), some of his autos are regularly clearing the $400 bar on eBay.
The annual success of this release with only one autograph per is a pleasant reminder of how valuable it is for sets to have a strong annual following and it has been cool seeing not just adults, but also kids stepping up to enjoy this release.
5) 2018 Panini Honors Football
Continuing the trend, Honors was supposed to be a sub-$200 box, but since my restock is closer to $250, it is no surprise that I’m having to be in the neighborhood of $300 per box on this product with two buyback autographed cards and two base cards per pack.
Hey Panini, if you’re reading this, please continue to include possible Tom Brady autographs since that is the first question I get asked by collectors whenever a new NFL release hits from your guys. Now I haven’t seen one hit from my cases, but at this moment the three that have closed each cleared the four- figure mark and have led to many additional box sales. I’m not sure how many I will bring in, not because I am not confident of selling them, but because finding them is starting to more closely resemble locating a bad Quentin Tarantino movie.
There’s more to come. 2019 Contenders Draft Picks NFL landed to a very strong initial response on Wednesday and come Friday, National Treasures NBA will be hitting to the welcoming arms of the most intense hoop heads. I’m seeing cases of NT NBA being offered for the $5,500 range and we are WELL PAST double initial offering SRP on it.
Things are so insane that 2019 Score football, yes, THAT Score was allocated by distributors! Other potential scorchers include (but will no way be limited to) Upper Deck Ice, Topps Tier One, the return of Prizm MLB and many others that will hopefully allow shop owners to stay stocked for more than one to two days after a product hits.
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].