This past week at the shop started off on a very refreshing note.
Our fair city, Sunbury, PA, had the semiquincentennial (that means 250 years. I had no idea either.) city celebration this week that featured a street fair right smack dab on the main street in town right in front of our store. The streets were shut down, so some of our regular traffic and customers didn’t make it in this week but we also saw some new faces that were, potentially, seeing us for the first time.
Early in the week we had a few young kids in looking at our showcases and stacks of single cards. It just so happened my cousin, who is also huge in the sports cards and memorabilia, was in at the same time. He and I generally talk shop for a while while he’s visiting, so our paths crossed with a younger generation of collectors in this moment. I must say, I was shocked, surprised and rather excited to hear these kids from the younger generation give credit to players from the past. We were talking about the greatest basketball players of all time and the 14-15 year old in front of me said LeBron James is the G.O.A.T., and, of course, I said Michael Jordan is my pick to wear that crown. The young man and I then had that worn out, never-ending debate.
What put a big smile on my face was when the young man said that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be in the conversation and that Cap does not get enough credit for his accomplishments. He took the words right out of my mouth.
I would generally say such a thing, so my cousin and I looked at each other with smiles on our faces, knowing that this young buck knew a thing or two about the history of the game.
We went on to talk about baseball and tried to enlighten him to the small but incredibly impactful window of the career of the great Sandy Koufax, including putting his career stats up against his guy Clayton Kershaw and so on and so forth but ultimately, those are the conversations we live to have at the shop.
A reoccurring issue and ongoing complaint reared its ugly head once again this week. Anyone in the hobby knows that modern basketball is continuing a pretty solid down turn for the most part. Well, we decided to crack cases and open boxes of the late released Prizm Draft Pick Basketball in all its various forms.
We were none too happy that the cards came out of the packs with major print lines, scratches and some pretty poor off centering. I’m not talking about one or two cards or an isolated incident, I’m talking about every other card we ripped.
Sadly, this has been an ongoing issue for far too long and something needs to be done. I don’t think that there are many things more disappointing in the hobby than opening brand new cards in current year boxes and realizing that the quality of production is worse than it was 20 years ago.
Speaking of Prizm Basketball, we managed to secure two full cases of hobby boxes of the regular NBA version as well as a few loose boxes. The quality of those cards has been better and Prizm is always something you want to have available.
We’ve been selling individual boxes for $1,169 a pop in store and with free shipping online. Sales have been solid but not spectacular at this price point. This is easily one of my favorite releases each and every season even though this year’s rookie crop was not the best we’ve seen, actually its one of the more average classes we’ve seen in recent years.
In addition to the basketball market tanking and the quality often being suspect, the margins have become very tight on certain baseball products including the new 2022 Topps blasters, which had gone up over 30% since our last reorder. In cases like this, we have no choice but to raise the prices. Not to be outdone, Chronicles Baseball is selling literally at a loss now. We also cracked a few of those in the store for content for social media and to have a few cheap singles to sell. Those are just two of a larger and growing number of products where we’ve dropped prices but are forced to sit on longer and longer. It’s a problem that’s getting worse by the week.
Another great experience I got to have this week was interviewing Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the greatest scorers of his era, Mitch Richmond. It did involve some juggling. Ironically enough, not only did the city where I work have a big city celebration this past week but it was also the annual street fair and city celebration in Northumberland, my home town right across the river. Pineknotter Days was back for its 49th go-round and when that party is happening it is lit in Norry. As anyone who has done interviews knows, it’s touch and go and sometimes you have to act like a doctor in the sense that you are on call, literally, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
My wife, daughter and I went to grab some deep fried Oreos and a sandwich from the best damn crab cake maker around and just enjoy some small games of chance and other entertainment. In came the call from Mitch. We decided to make it work right then and there, so I asked my best friend’s mom if I could find a quiet room in her nearby house and do a quick interview. Of course, she obliged so I went over and knocked out the interview. As we’re talking he mentioned his appearance on the cover of the EA Sports classic NBA Live video game way back in the day.
As soon as I hung up the phone and gathered my notes, I realized I was sitting in the very room that we grew up playing that very game in. Talk about things coming full circle.
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer whether it be through travel spending time with family or eating every fried food they can find.