There’s no such thing as a boring month in the hobby and this month was no exception.
I had a friend who knew I liked Pearl Jam invite me to join him at their opening night of their tour in San Diego. I took him up on his offer since they are one of my favorite bands and in addition to enjoying 23 songs before the rest of the world did, I found myself with a day to kill after the show. As it turns out, Upper Deck is located less than an hour away from where I was staying.
In addition to Alive, Long Road, Jeremy, Once and Given To Fly, Pearl Jam did introduce music super fan Bill Walton, so that topped it off for me.
With the promise of behaving (not really) and promise of not taking pictures inside Upper Deck’s Carlsbad offices (really) I was able to add them to the list of manufacturers I’ve visited along with Panini (back when it was Playoff) and Topps (a few years ago).
Sadly, what most people think happens at a manufacturer and what actually happens there are a bit apart. If there was a room where there was a constant rip of products, then I missed it. If there was a room where Michael Jordan sat and greeted people as they entered, I must have missed it as well.
In fact, aside from the cool display in the lobby and the interview room where when UD goes live it was a cubicle filled office, broken down by what area each person did. I saw employees working on photos that would eventually be used for cards and it’s safe to say the non sports area was a bit more artsy than the NHL area. And I must say the array of Upper Deck Authenticated items on display is museum quality,
Yes, I did pay attention to the customer service area. Without saying how many staff members they had there, I found a healthy supply of employees working to resolve the issues that sometimes befall collectors.
Now if after I left, they brought Wayne Gretzky out of hiding I will be sooooooo ticked!
I did sell a card or two in the last 30-40 days. I mean you can’t just own a shop and jet set around the world without selling some cards, right?
Here’s what sold best for us in the past month or so:
1) 2022 Topps Tribute MLB
When I was getting ready to write this piece, I was thinking I would put 2022 Bowman on top of this list. It won’t start off the top 5 for this month, but it might still show up a few spots down. 2022 Topps Tribute landed and stole much of the Bowman thunder with the 6 hits per box it offers.
Tribute re-emerged back in 2020 and got a COVID bump early on. Both the 2021 and 2022 releases performed better than their 2018 and 2019 counterparts with the tried and tested 3 auto and 3 jersey ratios per box. The possible autograph checklist is highlighted by Mike Trout, Cal Ripken, Ichiro, Soto, Byce, Mattingly, Wander, Griffey Jr, Jeter and Ortiz make popping packs hopefully worth it. We started boxes at $399 and now find ourselves closer to $425, which is very competitive with online prices.
2) 2022 Donruss MLB
There are many annual rites to spring. Topps 1 arrives and people love it. Topps Inception comes and people love it. Donruss Baseball arrives and a very loud 20% of my baseball collectors love to tell me how much they hate it because of the lack of logos and team names. Fortunately the other 80% of those collectors groove on a box of cards that goes for under $125 and has 2 autographs and 1 relic card. Throw in some incredibly imaginative inserts and you have the makings for a product we have already sold out of after starting with multiple cases.
Our first day pricing on Donruss was $119 per and at the time that was very competitive. Currently, I would hope to be closer to $109 per.
3) 2021 Panini Phoenix NFL
Apparently the 2 autograph and 1 relic per box recipe for success also extends to NFL options. Beyond the 3 hits, Phoenix boxes offer 32 inserts and parallels and we have had many collectors comment on their thoughts of getting their money back on boxes without pulling a Jones or Lawrence auto.
Phoenix once again has the chrome feel to it which elevated it significantly in recent years. Loaded up with seemingly as many color versions as a Prizm release, collectors have been drawn to it and its relatively (at least compared to so many other products from 2021) affordable price. I started my boxes off at $399 per but my costs have increased to where we’re now at around $475.
4) 2021 Topps Dynasty Fromula 1
I will freely admit that the first time a F1 race was on in the shop from start to finish was recently when the races were in Miami. My employee and I had discussed through the week about how it would be cool to have it on that day and how races took less than 2 hours typically. Since we have carried each F1 release, it certainly seemed like the right time to do so. I have to tell you, it was pretty cool and that’s from someone who doesn’t watch Indy or NASCAR.
2021 Dynasty F1 has been among the market’s hottest and priciest products. While we started off with our direct case and a few additional boxes of Dynasty, they are all gone. Boxes are online for $3,600 and up.
I know usually I reference a product specifically, but in this instance I thought it was appropriate to focus on a years worth of releases and not just one product. While it didn’t last into the second round, but the playoff performance of Kirill Kaprizov from the Minnesota Wild was enough to hoist the interest in all products from his rookie year. Since Tim Stutzle and the Ottawa Senators were already making tee times, it was nice to see Kirill enjoy his coming out party for those who did not pay attention to him his rookie season.
The products we saw the most interest in were 20/21 Upper Deck 2 and also 20/212 Upper Deck Extended Series, the latter of which needed a little bump since it wasn’t exactly the best received offering ever. Since Extended contained multiple different sets, all of which contained different versions of his rookie card and had become rather affordable, it was nice to be able to help collectors with a hobby box for under $70.
If things continue with Jason Tatum and Luka Doncic, perhaps we will see the same type of hype hit 17/18 and 18/19 NBA releases.
I’m just hoping that I have enough 19/20 NHL products left with Makar rookies if the Avalanche keep things going in their pursuit of a third Stanley Cup.
In the spirit of Pearl Jam, it was nice to see collectors get off their Porch, put on their Corduroy and bring their Wishlist for sports cards over to my shop.
Until next month, please be sure to visit your LCS and if you found this piece through a social media post, please add your own top 5 hot list if you care to as well.