I want to start off this edition of What’s Hot by sharing my hopes that you, your families and your friends are all doing as well as possible. I know that we are experiencing weird times together and while I’m looking forward to one day enjoying it, I don’t know when “normal” will return.
I do know that my store got closer to that level of normal this past Monday when for the first time in a month, I was able to offer curbside pickup. Of course I also had 25 or so packages mailing today as well as our online presence in the past month has exploded. We have been offering more case breaks, personal box breaks, Singles Nights (where we showcase 150-200 singles for our collectors to savor) and just hangout talk sessions like the other night during the first round of the NFL Draft.
What I have learned the past month or so is that 1) I still have a lot to learn about the hobby since I did not fully anticipate the enthusiasm we saw once collectors were essentially locked in their homes with no new sports to enjoy and 2) the madness we saw once my new most important US city, Allen Texas, shut down and took away just about all the new sports card releases for the foreseeable future because of a printing plant closure.
Once the NBA shut down and effectively took all the other sports with it, I anticipated doom the likes that were alluded to in Ghostbusters with “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” When I signed on live on the shop’s Facebook page the Friday after the work stoppage, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I saw was a large group of collectors who were looking for some “normal” in their lives. We went from perhaps having 40 or 50 viewers during a standard social media broadcast to triple digits on occasion.
There were many times I would announce I would be stopping breaks at 11 PM only to keep going well after midnight. It got to the point where my postal carrier had to ask me what I was shipping since he didn’t believe it was possible for so many people to just like sports cards.
So what happens when you couple tremendous interest with a delayed batch of new releases including 2019 National Treasures NBA, 2020 Bowman MLB and many others shops had been counting on? Basically every recent release shot up in price, which wasn’t a complete surprise, but what floored me was when EVERY OTHER basketball, baseball and football release followed suit. It got really loco when the ESPN series on the Chicago Bulls started and the already popular Michael Jordan singles enjoyed a significant uptick. Yes, at one point 1990/91 Fleer basketball made an appearance on the Dealernet Market Report as one of the most active releases on the market. Yup, up is down and down is up.
That alone makes me wonder what might be next aside from the seemingly daily wholesale bumps we are seeing on just about everything.
So, what is popular these days? Let’s enjoy these insights together.
1) Everything – Yeah, for the first time since I started offering my insights to what is popular in my shop, EVERYTHING is popular. I know I usually start things off with NT, Chrome, Prizm or something along those lines, but when everything is selling, that’s the answer. I sold out of some WWE boxes today I have owned for a year. My Magic The Gathering sales are off the charts, blasters might soon be a thing of the past, even 2013 NFL sales are a factor in my shop (yes, really). The aforementioned releases would be flying even higher if I was more adequately supplied. With all that being said, there have to be some single releases leading the pack so here we go with four actual products that are specifically moving well.
2) 2020 Topps Tribute MLB – OK, this won’t be the nicest thing I ever say about a release, but for close to a 20 years, I have thought that Tribute was living off its first and second year success. I thought that a $50 per pack product that used to work had outlived its welcome.
When I ordered 2020 Tribute I did so in part because I could sell so much of it and because like every other release, ordering it allowed me to maintain my allocations on other products. So, throw in all of that with Topps adding some really killer names for the autograph series and there being some highly anticipated carryover rookies from last year and a box I would usually hope to sell for $279 with a $300 SRP is now moving very well for over $400.
3) 19/20 O-Pee-Chee Platinum NHL – For a while, I thought OPC Platinum would be the last new release we would see for a while. It turns out I was wrong since UD Credentials NHL hit Wednesday.
Since it released, my hockey collectors have been drawn to an affordable release with one autograph per, loads of rookies, oodles of parallels and appropriate amount of numbered cards. In spite of hockey not seeing the same type of bump we have seen in products from the other three sports, Platinum has emerged as one of our favorite releases.
4) 2020 Panini Prizm Draft NFL – The 2020 draft might go down as one of the most anticipated ones ever. There was much buzz about top pick Joe Burrow, whose pre-draft cards have been on fire.
Sure, it had a lot of coveted name QBs and WRs, but aside from marble racing, intermittent UFC events, something called Tiger King and my popular online breaks, the NFL Draft broke viewership records. I was still there watching the 7th round as though it meant much more than the success of the Broncos or my shop depending on who went where.
There are two versions of Prizm Draft that I have carried and at this point, I wish there were two more. The Hybrid version offers one and sometimes two autographs while the hobby version contains one autographed card in each of the five packs. Since it is Prizm, you can count on oodles of very well received parallels and some cool inserts as well. Now for Allen,Texas to get up and running so there can be more well received Panini offerings.
5) 2020 Leaf Metal Draft Football – Well, most everything you saw shared in #4 carries over to #5 aside from that the Leaf hobby boxes offer five cards, all of which are signed. The jumbo boxes offer ten autographs, one of which is an encapsulated Pre-Production card. There’s a healthy amount of low numbered cards including some sweet 1/1 versions.
Collectors have been drawn to Metal Draft since it not only hit the market first, but is selling for less than its Panini counterpart.
I want to take a second and share my appreciation to my family who has put up with my being at the shop more than ever before (and that was a hard figure to top), my collectors who have kept me busy and as sane as possible, my distributors who have helped me stay stocked as well as putting up with my ramblings, the manufacturers who brought us products for as long as possible, my Fed Ex/UPS/USPS team who have not stopped hustling packages, employees of the printing facility in the now hobby famous Allen, Texas, Upper Deck who has stepped up to honor the front line heroes who have put their lives in peril in this crisis and to every one of you who have stepped up to support your local card shops.
To this point, I have not heard of a single card store that has shut down for good and I see them all as my hobby brothers and sisters. Take a second if you would to drop them a line, see how you can help keep them strong, share an idea with them that you would like to see them implement so they can still be there for you when we get through this and get involved with their breaks, or whatever else they are offering.
Please stay well, both mentally and physically, and have fun with your collections right now. Take some time to enjoy what you have and of course consider adding to it as well. Hopefully when I wrote my next What’s Hot, we will have many new releases to go over and I can’t wait to share them all with you.
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 cardmn[email protected]. Check out past editions of What’s Hot here.