Hello boys and girls. As always, it is an interesting time in the hobby. While hobby shop owners like myself should be elated over the return of football and the inevitable buzz and sales that go with it. Then again, that would this hobby be without a little controversy?
Recently Panini announced the start of First Off The Line program where anyone with a computer and a credit card can get product a few days before it is available at hobby shops. If that was not enough, those boxes offer bonus content that my packs and boxes will not. As a shop owner, I am interested to see how well this goes over and at least initially, am trying to find a way to get excited about it.
Then came the news that apparently nobody but MLB and possibly Topps will be allowed to offer boxes, cases or factory sets on Amazon (see below). Single cards are apparently still cool, but for those shops that use Amazon as another means to sell to collectors, it’s worrisome. I do not sell on Amazon and the announcement may prove to be beneficial, at least initially when so many box and case sales come down from their website, but why do I think there will be another shoe to fall eventually?
What we are seeing is this hobby continuing to evolve and I guess it goes back to why anything is done–to make money. I recently had a chat with someone else in the hobby and I came to the realization that I should keep running my store and not go work for a league or manufacturer since I try not to make decisions that would cost other card shops or partners their ability to succeed.
Now I do not know exactly how the above decisions will affect my store and others, but when another shop opened up close to mine the week before National Baseball Card Day, I jumped at the chance to supply them with a hard to find kit for the promotion. I was not worried about their potential success might negatively affect my business. I did not stop to concern myself about how collectors might find his store and no longer visit mine. I guess I do not have the killer instinct to make decisions that only benefit myself and will have to keep Mike’s Stadium Sportscards open for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps tomorrow, eBay will eliminate the sports card sales area, Dealernet will hike their membership dues or COMC will finally take all of my cards and everyone else’s across the border, never to be seen again.
Ah, but fear not, the hobby is still doing well and perhaps thinking about all the fun my collectors have had with the products that comprise our current list of hot products will reinvigorate me. Here’s a look at the current top five sellers (plus one):
1) 2017 Topps Definitive MLB – Ok, I will admit after the hot mess that was 2016 Topps Mint MLB that I was a little wary of ordering Definitive when order were due about six months ago. By the time it hit, there were multiple collectors who were begging me to sell them this ~$900 per pack/box product. Apparently a year can make a heck of a difference. Well for close to a grand, Definitive was packed to deliver with cut signatures, nameplate singles, an impressive set of legendary signatures, a healthy selection of 1/1s and the rookies that have been hot for months. Yup, I regretted flipping a case the day it hit, but won’t complain.
2) 2017 Panini Origins NFL – Yes, for a second year, Topps Inception…errr Panini Origins… has been crushing it at the cash register. The tried and true three hit per box with 1 relic, 1 autograph and 1 autographed relic appears to be hitting on the collecting heartstrings in Colorado and beyond. I have already rolled multiple cases and had no problem filling up a recent case break. Props to whoever at Panini came up with the six-player autographed booklet singles because they are truly stellar.
3) 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic MLB – As with Topps Inception earlier this year, collectors do not have issues dropping well over SRP for product that offer a single card. In this instance, those single cards feature autographs of some of the coolest current and some of the best who used to play the game with a cool medley of numbered parallels with the inevitable possible 1/1 autographed cards. So far the clear acetate style has gone over incredibly well and props to Topps for offering these at such a reasonable price out of the gate. Hey, here’s a box break:
4) 2017 Panini Certified NFL – I popped another case of Certified on Wednesday and am sure that I’m into double case digits with this release. For well over a decade, the 10 pack with four hits per box product has been among our best sellers. Fortunately, the current year version has not bumped as much as the 2016 offering, but the hits have been insane. So far my shop has had a Trubisky 1/1 autographed shield pulled and a few hours before I wrote this, a 1/1 Christian McCaffrey 1/1 signed NFL shield got pulled from one of my boxes. I do apologize for so many of the big pulls emerging at my store (NOT!).
5) 2017/18 Panini Contenders Draft Day Edition NBA – Contenders hit Wednesday afternoon and I had to take the rare step of limiting boxes to customers because of the expected interest. I turned down one collector who wanted to buy my entire order to ensure that other shoppers got a chance at it. After the 16/17 NBA card season which will be as fondly remembered as the first time someone broke up with you, it appears that nobody can mess up NBA sales this year as long as Lonzo Ball is on the court. In case you are wondering, the fist Ball autographed card that came out of a pack went for $1,000.
Gone is the traditional 24 pack per box format. It has been replaced with the six packs per box style with one autographed card in each pack. My only complaint is that many hobby shops, including mine, had their orders reduced. I cannot tell you why there were cuts that would make Freddy Kruger jealous, but I don’t make the music, I just dance to it.
5A) 2014 Bowman Draft MLB – If I had a dollar for each case of 2014 Bowman Draft MLB that I went through, I could afford a box of the box that was #5 on the current list. Thanks to Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and more recently Rhys Hoskins, this product has had more ups and downs than the fishing vessel in The Perfect Storm. Currently it is on fire and I used some of my 2017 MLB profits to stash away a few extra cases before they blew up.
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]