A few years ago, collectors Ryan Holland and Tom Kulczewski didn’t even know each other. Now they’re best friends, business partners and run one of the largest sports card case break websites by volume on the internet. Their philosophy behind Real Breaks? Keep it fun…and family friendly.
Holland says their business is growing thanks to the hobby’s overall increasing popularity and the interest in case and box breaks. Over the last few years, large online communities have grown up in and around a few dozen online breakers.
“The sports card industry is catching fire,” admits Holland. (It is) making a resurgence. These people are fans and people who maybe have never been collectors. Cards are exciting; there are autographs, relics and other cards. We make collecting more accessible to people.”
The pair started out as collectors and doing breaks to support their own collecting interests. It grew from there into a fast-growing online business. They are full-time breakers and have seven part-time employees to help with packing and shipping cards after they’re pulled during the online breaks.
The popularity of Real Breaks has largely spread by word of mouth, but Holland and Kulczewski say staying ahead of the curve in every aspect of the business is key to growth and ultimately, their success. They try to stock most popular current products, have fun with their live broadcasts including tidbits about their own lives and do what they can to produce high quality streams.
“That includes technology,” states Minnesota resident Holland, as he is sitting in front of their simple set up at The National Sports Collectors Convention featuring an HD monitor, two Logitech cameras, a keyboard and a mouse.
Holland adds that they can take breaks “on the road” with this set up and conducted breaks all week at The National. They even hosted Gary Vaynerchuk for a break of his new Topps product.
“We use technology and live streaming on Facebook Live, first to help educate people and that allows them to collect in a different way.”
Also fueling the fire, Holland says is the growing fantasy sports and gambling culture. Participants in fantasy sports are enjoying collecting depending on the success of players on their own teams. The same when it comes to sports gamblers. Rolling the dice on what comes out of a pack is much the same as dropping a few bucks on the outcome of a certain game or season.
While the general idea is the same, the tone in online chats can vary from breaker to breaker. One of Real Breaks’ mantras is to keep things “family friendly.” Wisconsin native Kulczewski is a father of four whose move to online breaking was featured in a local newspaper last year.
The duo even have plenty of giveaways for their followers including everything from cards to a cool little wallet/cash holder made out of an old baseball glove with “Real Breaks” stamped on it.
“We have a community of collectors on Facebook. It’s a private Facebook group that we control,” adds Holland. “We keep our group and (broadcasts) family friendly. Parents watch with their kids and husbands with their spouses.”
Holland also says the community kind of polices itself.
“People come with questions, but the great thing about our community is they help new members. The thousands of people in our community love this hobby and they are always willing to help.”
He says they rarely see the bad side of the collecting hobby, but when they do, they aren’t afraid to kick out and ban a user from their group.
“We’ve had to get rid of a person that spent tens of thousands of dollars with us. We stand by our principles.”
You can also follow Real Breaks on Twitter.