Hello fellow card peeps,
I hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and that it was all it could have been. Since we all got through 2/3 of the football games we hoped for, we can now get to our regularly scheduled Black Friday sales.
Looking back at the last month, it has been more cardboard insanity at my shop. Just about every new release has been well received with a great mix of established brands and a few new ones that collectors have eagerly enjoyed. Looking ahead to holiday sales, one of my regulars works at Target and can’t see anything more popular these days than Pokemon and sports cards aside from Play Station 5. As a sports card owner, it is incredible to see so many people entering the hobby and that they are so interested in adding to their collections.
I expected Baby Yoda or something else to top cards like in a typical year, but with fewer movies releasing in 2020, nothing else had a chance to knock sports cards off the top of the popularity list. I’m worried about my inventory, especially releases that are somewhat affordable. Surely every mom won’t be delighting in $250+ NBA boxes or $300+ NFL options for their children and husbands, but with seemingly every release selling out or increasing in replacement cost, the challenges of keeping mid range products around has never been tougher.
Throw in the amount of regulars that I’ll hope to see in December, and while it sounds incredible, I’m worried about being able to help my collectors outside of what new releases are headed to my shop.
So, let’s see what has been the most active movers at my shop over the past 30 days or so.
1) 2020 Panini Illusions NFL
I understand Illusions isn’t as sexy a product name as National Treasures, Prizm, Select or some others, but over the past few years, collectors have enjoyed the pricing level, the amount of inserts, parallels and autographs deliver as well as the “box bottom” encased autographed singles.
My collectors have enjoyed the acetate inserts and those encased autographed cards offer up some uncommon signers. Seriously, just for grins, look up what the Brian Sipe signed cards are running for.
2) 20/21 Panini Prizm Draft NBA –
OK, let’s face it, the NBA’s NEW rookies aren’t exactly being as well anticipated as the 19/20 class. Having lost the conference tournaments and the entire Final Four bracket left many casual NCAA viewers without the ability to see many of the players taken in the most recent draft.
When both Contenders and Prizm both landed, neither enjoyed the hype that the products that offered Ja and Zion just last year. That all changed on draft night as the next day, my store saw immediate increased interest in both options, but Prizm clearly is in the lead.
3) 20/21 Upper Deck Series 1 NHL
I do not know who from the NHL and the NHLPA got together with Upper Deck to allow the exception to allow Rangers #1 pick Alexis Lafreniere to appear as a Young Guns rookie without having played in at least one game, but I’d like to buy them a Molson or two. Heck, I’m in for a case. Nyah, let’s make it a keg. Last year Jack Hughes appeared in series 1, but did not have a strong out of the gate response. Well, that pretty much extended through the season, but there was a heavily anticipated prospect that did not deliver immediately.
Alexis’ cards might be enjoying the benefit of not playing for another month plus should he not live up to expectations OR might not start out higher than they already are should he live up to advance billing. When my shop was opened for a few hours on Thanksgiving night, we moved some of our last Series 1 boxes and I do not see my remaining supply making it into December.
4) 19/20 Panini Clearly Donruss NBA
Just as it sounds, Clearly Donruss takes the design of the base brand of Donurss and turns it into a mostly see through version of the same release with parallels numbered to 99, 49. 25, 10, 5 and 1. My shop has gone through 4 cases of this release and it shows no sign of slowing down in spite of the $319+ boxes not even offering the guarantee of an autograph or relic card.
It is incredible to not only see the interest in the Donruss design seemingly dominating the market in this style along with Optic and even more impressive to see it happen to the base set. Yes, Ja, Zion and the other top rookies have signed cards in this release, but collectors seen to be finding incredible enjoyment in “just” the basic style card without all sorts of bells and whistles.
5) 2020 Topps Updates MLB-
Seemingly since Mike Trout carried the 2011 release on his 5 tool shoulders, Topps Updates has emerged as an incredibly well received release every fall. This year’s offering started out incredibly well, but has recently seen a drop in its values in both the regular and jumbo version. Collectors are reporting a less than stellar rookie crop and it looks like 2020 has created some issues for this release with challenge of whether Topps should include some of the late season (I mean there were only 60 games, so what wasn’t late season) rookies into either this and a handful of other releases or holding onto them to bolster the 25+ annual offerings they provide.
While I’m shocked to see the current pricing vs initial release pricing, I get how not allowing Jo Adell and others to lose their rookie designation over this product doesn’t make sense when he can be a rookie in every 2021 product. In spits of the negative rookie talk, the affordable pricing has caused me to lower my box pricing to a market that is clearly not used to seeing daily dollar price drops from the big internet retailers. I do wonder if and when this release will rebound as I’m low enough to start looking for more.
So, there’s your November Top 5 and now it means that I can start working on my annual tradition, The Mikey Awards as my December contribution. I’m looking forward to sharing what kicked arse as well as what was creative, innovative or more fun…controversial. I already have plenty of ideas and have my timely theme picked out. Look for that compilation to hit in time for Christmas and I’ll try not to make it a lump of coal for both you, but also the manufacturers and distributors who have helped make this the fascinating collecting year that it turned out to be.
As always, please make a point of visiting your local card shop and of course, with the holidays around the corner, be sure to mention your passion for the hobby as well as where your LCS is as well to your loved ones.
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. You can email him at [email protected].
Check out past editions of What’s Hot here.