When Toyota and Harley-Davidson are laying off workers, you know it’s a rough economy.
There was a story we linked to this week in a suburban Chicago newspaper that discussed the impact all of the bad financial news on the sports memorabilia industry. It was well done with some very forthright comments from dealers, shop owners and Bill Mastro of Mastro Auctions.
The catalogs and online auctions are starting to roll out again after the holiday break and while the super high grade vintage material is still very strong, there are plenty of bargains out there. If you’re not in a rush–and you’ve got money to spend–it’s a great time to be a buyer or even. .dare I say…an investor. Many lots are going unsold. Mid-grade vintage material is moving cheap. If you’re buying as a collector, you’ll probably be able to buy almost twice as much now as you could have six months ago.
In this market, dealers who know what they’re doing are hustling big time. Doing whatever they can to drum up interest in their auctions, their store, their websites, etc. Those who don’t will get left in the dust. There isn’t enough money flowing into the hobby right now to keep everyone above water.
As a collector, you get the chance to take advantage of lazy sellers who don’t market, don’t engage their customers and aren’t reaching out to the global audience via every internet portal or social network. Some are pricing things low just to get some cash coming in. Don’t listen to those who say the hobby is "dying" or the baseball card market is "dead". When the economic conditions turn around–and it could be another nine months or year–things will get back to normal. No one is going to stop loving old baseball cards or Hall of Fame autographs. The demand will be there again and prices will inch up later on.
Some see the market as a time to curl up into the fetal position. Others see it as an opportunity. Every down arrow I see. Every auction catalog. Every bargain on eBay makes me wish I had a Swiss bank account. Or a wife who was good at playing the lottery.