It’s not often that the sports card gods get together and descend on a single day with some cardboard for everyone, but Wednesday, October 25 was one such day. On a single morning and afternoon, 2017 Bowman Tek MLB, 2017 Topps Archives Active Player Signature Edition MLB, 2017 Panini National Treasures MLB, 17/18 Hoops NBA, 2017 Panini Prizm NFL and 16/17 Upper Deck The Cup all arrived and my delivery guys deserved a cold one for all their hard work.
Not to turn this into Dear Diary, but I figured I would offer some insight to what it’s like to own a shop when you have so many releases due on the same day. The day actually started the night before when on top of the ten hours I put into my shop each day, I went home and prepped emails for each release so that I would not have to assemble them when they actually landed. Side note: even if you don’t exactly live up the street from my shop and would like to join my email list, just email me at [email protected] and let me know what sports you like to collect. I include a product description and as current of a checklist available so that you can see every single card you’re hunting for in each release.
That next morning, I was running later than normal since my kids were on fall break and I didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to make sure my youngest got to school by 7:55AM. So I was a wee bit disappointed when I got to my door and the “while you weren’t here” FedEx and UPS tags were not waiting for me since my neighbors will hold onto packages for me.
To the delight of my baseball collectors, I did not have to wait too long for FedEx to deliver the two Topps releases. In spite of the Rockies not making it past the wild card game, our baseball sales have remained as solid after the regular season ended as any other time that I can remember.
The superstar of that day, Upper Deck’s latest edition of The Cup- and the others– were nowhere to be seen. I’ll call some of our most avid rippers when new releases arrive and I had a long list waiting. In my downtime I did the math and all the money I had committed to that day’s releases totaled more than my 2015 Honda Crosstour cost me when I drove it off the lot. No pressure, right?
The shopping mall where our store is located is set up to where I get to see the UPS truck drive towards my shop as I get to savor each and every stop it makes with my neighbors. Why it takes 10 minutes to deliver whatever the 24-Hour Fitness Club orders each day is well past my understanding. It makes me want to take my blue dolly up the sidewalk, fish through all the packages on the truck and save 15 or so minutes each day. It is literally the delivery equivalent of the Heinz ketchup commercial only it takes a quarter of an hour and you can’t stick your knife up into it to make it emerge any faster.
Around 2:45 or so, Brown finally did what they could do for me and I was all set. Well, at least I thought I was all set at least. After sifting through 100+ pounds worth of cases, imagine the look on my face when I realized I was missing about half of my order. I was missing a case of National Treasures MLB, six boxes of The Cup and three cases of Prizm NFL. Suddenly, playing detective suddenly became priority #1.
When I called my distributor to track it, I was told the package that held those boxes been signed for at 11:45. Upon further review, it was determined that the nice folks at Angelo’s Records in Aurora had gotten 10k+ worth of my sports cards. Things like that will drive a shop owner to drink. That night I had to perform my “other” job as a concert security guy for the Arcade Fire show so I had to keep the emergency Jager where it was and spend the next three hours hoping that my cards didn’t hit Angelo’s shelves with the new Cheap Trick Christmas album.
So around 6:45 PM, just before the opening band hit the stage, I got the all clear that the package had landed at my shop. It took some of the sting out of working a band that I probably would not have bought a ticket to go see. One of the bartenders who also works at Pepsi Center wanted some to pen Cup so the day wasn’t over until we headed back to the shop after midnight for half a case to get shredded (I aim to please).
While driving home, my wife called to see where I was and I was sure to explain that my after midnight meeting with Misty was really just breaking boxes of hockey cards and nothing more. Let’s just say that it took a wee bit more in explanations than other evenings when I’ve met guys named Rob or Tyson well after normal shop closing hours. My midnight “rendezvous” is just further proof that there are indeed avid female collectors.
Ah, but we weren’t done yet. It turned out my second case of NT MLB was still missing. I took mercy on my distributor rep’s desire to sleep and waited until 9 or so in the morning to give them the bad news. Fortunately the missing case was found in St. Louis (?!?) and is currently on its way to the rocky mountain area.
Makes you want to open up a sports card store, right?
With that tale behind us, but to keep the theme going, it turns out the top five hottest selling products are all from the group that hit on that day. Please enjoy seeing which made the cut and which got to look in from the outside.
1) 16/17 The Cup NHL – This annual pricey conclusion to the previous year hockey season had some serious hype with not one, but several rookies that inspired case cracking. With 6ct cases hitting in the neighborhood of 4k, I’m lucky that between a case break and some seriously awesome collectors, all of mine was spoken for.
If anything I lucked out with one shredder passing on the case he reserved so my bartender friend could use some serious tip money to go a’ busting. Her first three boxes ripped open after the witching hour yielded an unsigned 1/1 NHL shield logo card of Pontus Aberg and a 1/1 signed printing plate of Mitch Marner. The case break I did on Thursday morning yielded a signed Connor McDavid booklet /6 with a ticket stub from the game he scored his first goal in.
Of course there was more and if you care to see it for yourself, I saved it on my shop’s Facebook page. Please feel free to watch since I had a blast popping the case for my collectors. My remaining cases should be a vapor trail by the time It will go a long way toward covering the over $30,000 I had sunk into all of those products.
2) 2017 Bowman High Tek MLB – This inaugural release of rookies and prospects offers four autographed cards and one parallel card in each box and represents the first time that the Tek style had been employed by a Bowman release. It makes up for Bowman Inception being taken off the docket in a year where another six Bowman releases would have been just fine with me.
It was fun seeing a product with possible autographs of Phillies rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins getting shredded. I saw a healthy amount of 1/1 parallels and many other colored parallels that it made me think it was a Chrome or Prizm release.
3) 2017 Panini Prizm NFL – Speaking of Prizm…the follow up to one of the most notorious releases of the 2016 NFL season started out with a pretty solid bang itself. While we’re all hoping that Kareem Hunt and Deshaun Watson did not find Dak Prescott’s autopen machine lying around (for legal purposes it should be said that it was not necessarily his, or his agent’s or even Panini’s autopen machine), this popular release with three autographs per box and gobs of parallels was quickly running out my door.
I went deeper with cases in 2017 than I did in 2016 based on how well last year’s version sold and also because of how much more it costs to bring in that same model these days. While there were are few too many Panini Points cards for my liking in what I saw busted, I am confident that come Monday night when perhaps the Broncos’ offense will wake up against the Chiefs, that a few trips to the dumpster to dispose of what’s left of many cases will be in order.
4) 17/18 Hoops NBA – While Lonzo hasn’t quite lived up to his father’s suggested hype after a handful of games, the amount that his rookie cards are being offered or sold for has made 17/18 NBA releases as heavily sought after as strongly as collectors avoided their 16/17 predecessor.
Unlike the NFL where so many releases hit before the draft and so many more immediately follow the draft, NBA releases get stalled out longer than 2017 New York Giants victories. While the floodgates are about to open with Donruss hitting soon, the difficulty in effectively stocking my store through distributors has me not shredding Panini direct order forms for the first time since the Broncos lost to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
It has been nice seeing hoop heads rolling into my shop for new product that they are looking for instead of seeing what previous year Panini releases I was offering for some fraction of cost. On a side note, 16/17 products are seeing some signs of life as Ben Simmons apparently made the most of his recovery time and is bringing buzz to a whole year’s worth of products that REALLY needed a hype infusion.
5) 2017 Topps Archives Signature Series Active Player MLB – Try saying that product title five times fast. Sorry, National Treasures, Archives takes the last, but not least spot. Collectors have grown fond of this product, which offers one encapsulated buyback autographed card. Using only active players seems to be working in what will be the best ever sales year I have ever seen for current year products. After 24 hours I have not seen any 1/1 signed versions, but a 2014 Bowman Draft signed buyback /5 of Kris Bryant takes some of the sting out. I’ll be posting all the eventual 1/1 success on the shop’s Facebook page so you now have two reasons to check it out.
Looking back on Wednesday and Thursday, I can’t help but think about how some might focus on how well things went at the register. I choose to instead think about how fortunate I am that I do not have to worry about whether I have enough money to gamble on so many new releases and the incredible group of collectors I get to help improve their collections. This year so many other sports card stores are surely stronger thanks to the incredible response to MLB products for the past few years, strong NFL sales and a couple of NHL seasons with rookies that we can only dream about.
Some monster releases are on the horizon. Looking ahead, I see Topps Dyansty MLB, Topps Five Star MLB, Panini Flawless NBA, Upper Deck 1 NHL, Panini Prizm NBA and Topps High Tek MLB all possibly taking up residence on the What’s Hot list. Please make a point of visiting your local card shop to check out some of the products that have already hit as well as all those on the on deck circle and we’ll return soon to offer up the next edition of What’s Hot.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column 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]