I’m sitting here at Casa De Fruitman just chilling out after sadly watching the Nuggets lose to the Jazz on the road. While winter may keep us all inside a little more, that means there is often some closet-cleaning going on and more proof that card shops aren’t just about new products.
It was an interesting day at the shop as I shipped off my first pallet of cards after 26 years in the business. Last week I acquired a collection and PART of what was included were 200+ Topps factory sealed MLB and NFL sets from 1998 – 2015. I posted the “landed this fish” photo and another friend in the hobby had to have them. It was an incredibly quick negotiation. The only issue was getting them shipped across the country.
While I was grateful that they figured out how to send close to 700 pounds of cards up to New York for me, it was my job to pack them, wrap them and load them. There is this unsettling feeling of leaving your shop at night and wondering if the eight-foot tables that temporarily held them would be still standing the next morning or whether I would be picking a couple hundred sets off the floor.
I also just agreed to sell seven graded Mickey Mantles, a sweet graded Ted Williams and a tasty graded Jackie Robinson to another shop owner. This package was a bit easier to load, but I’m more nervous about those cards landing safe and sound than the sets. There is something about buying vintage singles that is so separate from newer buys.
I feel a certain sense of responsibility when I purchase older cards. There is something about a piece of cardboard that is older than myself (as I approach 50) that stands out and I never want to be the part of ruining them. Yes, I packed them safely, turned a profit and left some meat on the bone for the buyer.
Fear not, fans of current product. I’ve been selling wax boxes as well. LOTS OF THEM. So, let’s proceed with What’s Hot In The Shop since there are quite a few options now after a slow start to the new year with regard to fresh releases.
1) 2018 Panini Contenders NFL
This annual rite of the football season is simply crushing everything else out there. Boxes still offer five autographs, in spite of dropping from 24 packs for as long as I can remember to 18. I guess breakers will enjoy having six fewer packs to bust so they can roll through more boxes in a shorter span of time. Collectors do not seem to mind, either. Literally, not a single box buyer has even noticed it and I guess when it drops to 12 packs next year, perhaps that will be a topic.
What we are seeing from 2018 Contenders are secondary singles prices that would have you thinking Baker Mayfield was playing in the Super Bowl. I’m amazed that so many of his singles are clearing the four- digit range and collectors are paying attention as well. Boxes are moving quickly at $225 per and while I’m glad to be helping my shredders enjoy them, I know that restocking them will be quite the challenge when that day happens.
2) 2018/19 Panini Contenders NBA
See Contenders NFL and exchange Baker for Luka in terms of popularity and values aside from the NBA boxes offering just two autographs per. When LeBron says he wishes he could play with you, that is enough for me to pay attention.
Just like last season, Contenders NBA is rocketing out of the shop and similarly, getting more seems to be quite the challenge. It is definitely turning out to be the reward product I had hoped it was for purchasing previous Panini products that didn’t necessarily move so fast.
3) 2018 Leaf Best Of Football
I started with two cases and rolled them immediately. Snagged a third and it flew out the moment word got out. Cases 4 and 5 were the last lying around the Leaf offices and they too moved instantaneously (a word I spelled correctly on my first try). The coolest card from this year’s cases was a well-timed, low numbered and killer patch card of Patrick Mahomes.
These boxes also contain some phenomenal buy back cards collectors love to pull. Brian, if you ever get tired of buying the singles for Best of Baseball or Best of Football, feel free to call me up, drop a few hundred thousand dollars on me and let me show you what I can do – lol.
4) 2018 Bowman’s Draft Picks MLB
As a shop owner, Bowman Draft is one of the safest bets out there. It is one of the annual, “close out your IRA and sink it in there” product if there is one. There is always the immediate “gotta have collectors” for all the newest rookies, a lull and then when Spring Training starts, the next big thing starts hitting and the second wave gets going in earnest.
Both the jumbos with three autos and the super jumbos with five are working through the lull quite nicely and I am looking forward to learning more about all of these young prospects aside from Travis Swaggerty, Nico Hoerner, Triston Casas and others.
5) 2018/19 Upper Deck Trilogy NHL
Trilogy arrived after a month-long product shutout from Upper Deck. Fortunately UD says that won’t happen again in 2019. There are three hits in a box including at least one autograph. Back again are the signed puck cards. Sure, I am a bit jaded at times when it comes to cards, but when I did a case break with Trilogy, it was a rush to pull these puck cards for my collectors.
The frequent numbered rookies, parallels and even the relics have all inspired a healthy amount of box and case sales. I just checked the rookie points leaders to be sure, and Elias Pettersson is almost 20 points ahead of Rasmus Dahlin and the interest in his cards shows it.
As a follow up to the 2018 Mikey Awards, it is nice to report that I am still direct with each manufacturer and if anything, I was told that I was too nice. Sure there were things to point out as imperfect, but really there weren’t bigger, life changing issues last year. 2018 was a banner year for the hobby, and shops in particular if you were able to acquire product; which so far I have been able to. I see a few releases that will be more limited for me than the year before, but the length of in and out time for products seems to be smaller than I can remember.
Looking ahead, I’m off to Dallas to hopefully land a “Moby Dick” collection that I’ve wanted since I saw it last year. If you care to see some utterly insane items, please check out our social media pages for what should be massively fun to share.
In your local shop, a deluge of products will be hitting soon highlighted by one of my favorite days of the collecting year, #toppsday with Series 1 MLB hitting on the 30th, Upper Deck Buckets with one signed basketball per box bouncing into shops that attended the UD CDD Conference, SP Game Used NHL, Panini Limited NFL, Panini One NFL, Panini Plates & Patches NFL and more. It should be a wild ride.
Please as always, make it to your LCS, load up on one more box than you went in for, get supplied and get ready for one of my favorite annual promotions of the year, UD National Hockey Card Day, February 23. More on that in the next What’s Hot.
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. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]