As one of my many jobs, I work full time at a sports card and collectible shop in my hometown in Central Pennsylvania.
In this new series, I will be checking in each week to share some of the more memorable stories, experiences and trends I’ve seen first-hand at the shop.
Anyone reading this is probably very familiar with the volatility of the current sports card and collectibles market.
I joke with customers all the time that each and every day it’s becoming more and more like the stock market. It’s not really much of a joke, as it becomes more factual by the minute.
That being said, it’s imperative that we check the prices of all the singles in our showcases and all the packs and boxes of our shelves as often as possible.
Unfortunately for us, being as busy as we are with our online business price checking the entire store doesn’t happen every day.
We have a large brick and mortar location but 90% of our business is online. Between being a power seller on eBay, doing a large amount of Amazon orders fulfilled through us and through Amazon’s FBA program, coupled with Walmart and the other online platforms, we ship hundreds of orders out each and every day. We have two employees…counting me.
Not all that long ago all it took was quick price check and taking a look see at some comps. Prizm, Optic and the other usual suspects were the products that would see the most movement from day to day or week to week. That’s not the case anymore, as any sealed box can spike overnight the moment the market dries up (along with a plethora of other reasons). That happened this past week to us with 2020 Phoenix Football. We had it on the shelf at a fair price but literally overnight that price went up well over $100 per box.
There’s one surefire way to tell if prices fluctuated and that is by gauging customer interest and attention. Its not rocket science. If three people in a row walk in inquiring about the very same product, chances are it went up.
One of the tenants of our business is that we pride ourselves on being a large brick and mortar location that is competitive even with the lowest prices found on eBay. Of course, this isn’t always an option but the vast majority of the time we make it work.
There are other card shops in the area and others I’ve been to around the country where that’s not always the case. They go by a full book or 10% off book or something along those lines. In reality, those cards are selling for 10-20% of book and that’s why there’s dust on their showcases and stacks all around their store.
We do well on the product and we also take care of our customers and make sure they get a fair, real time, true to market deal.
It’s a fun cat and mouse game with our showcases full of single cards. We’ll see many youngsters coming in asking for players who got hot and had, literally, a good game. Heck, sometimes it will ask for players who had a good quarter. That’s the current state of the market and we embrace it.
The shop’s owner and I are attuned with the big three sports on a daily basis but sometimes things just slip through the cracks. It’s fair play to someone who’s looking to flip for a profit and finds that diamond in the rough in our shop.
Long gone are the days of waiting for the price guide to come out each month and flipping to the black and white pages and scrolling to find the new listed and price for your card in question. It happens in real time on eBay, Mercari and other auction sites.
Many of our customers are excited to basketball is back and I’m right there with them.
A local college basketball coach was in recently and we were talking hoops. Of course, customers are bummed that Ja Morant suffered the ankle jury early on in the season. He’s back and as of this weekend, looked like he never missed a beat.
A certain percentage of our customer base is cooling a bit on Zion and not being overly enthused with his production to this point. That’s a tough one because a teenager coming out of high school who’s already being compared to some all-time greats is basically in a no-win situation. Perform at a high level and that’s expected but if you don’t, well, then you’re just another one who didn’t live up to the hype. That’s a brutal scenario for anyone to thrive in. Zion is averaging over 20 points per game, a handful of boards and offering his usual highlight most nights. Lets just let him play it out for now.
As far as other current players, our customers are checking out our Nikola Jokic stacks. When you average a triple double out of the gate this will happen. Others have been after the young Celtics stars. We’ve seen interest in Coby White, Domantas Sabonis and many other young stars in the league.
I’ve also heard a few customers mention they’re already excited about the upcoming baseball season.
The NFL playoffs are what everyone is watching, so Patrick Mahomes stuff is incredibly hot. Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield have been in recent weeks as well. No surprises there. As the NFL Playoff picture becomes even more clear we are sure to see spikes in star players that advance and even lesser players who get hot at the right time.
It was, as always, a busy week in store and online. With the current state of our country and the world, I am beyond grateful to have my heath, a job I love and the ability to do it each and every day. I wish the same for each any every one of you. I’ll be checking back in soon.