The last time we talked (fine, I typed and you read) shop owners, including me, were getting ready for Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day. Well, it was a monster success as I went through an insane amount of 2016-17 Series 2 and other previously released products. I figured I’d share some thanks to UD for coming up with a program that did not involve autographs in every pack or something else over the top that drove collectors to hobby shops. Next up on the promotion schedule is Panini Father’s Day and I hope it goes over as well as NHCD did.
It may have also helped build on the already strong momentum we saw throughout the fall and early winter but I can tell you we’re having no trouble selling sports card boxes here in Colorado. Here are the top 5 selling products in the shop right now:
1) 2016 Panini Select NFL – I just reordered more Select and I had the pleasure of paying more than $40 over cost. Not bad for a release that initially cost under $100 and has been out for less than two weeks.
When the Cowboys were eliminated in the playoffs, I knew that Dak and Ezekiel had played well enough for there to still be considerable interest in their cards, but I was not prepared for all the post Super Bowl releases to do as well as they have. With two autographs and one relic per box it is not like It is loaded up, but collectors are clamoring for it and while I expect some resistance at our new price, I do not expect it to sit on the shelf very long.
2) 2016 Panini Honors NFL – After the complete abomination known as 2015-16 Panini Replay NBA, the absolutely misrepresented product with all the redeeming qualities of 1991 Fleer MLB with signed cards, I can tell you shops were a little gun-shy. Yeah, after that…when Panini again offered shops and distributors the chance to purchase a repackaged and numbered autographed cards, we all seemed to go light.
With Honors hitting the shelf at close to $200, there were clearly more expensive releases out there, but it still raised red flags. Sure, we thought, one or so lucky souls out there will snag a 1998 Contenders Peyton Manning autographed rookie or a 2000 Contenders Tom Brady signed beast, but so many others….
So when my first collector snagged a Jim Kelly autograph numbered to 8, my second found a Bo Jackson /5 and my third pulled a Joe Montana /16, it was on. When I checked with all my distributors, they were not only sold out, but looking for more Honors themselves.
Turns out that I forgot the first rule of buying sports cards, which is – if something before it was rancid, the next attempt will be so much better.
3) 2017 Topps Heritage – Topps tinkered a wee bit with Heritage this year by increasing the amount of base set short prints from 75 to 100 in this ever popular release. The reason this little adjustment is so critical is that you can no longer pop a case and get a complete set, something collectors had gotten used to over the years.
Now there’s a mixed blessing to this as if you own a card store. Having collectors who need to buy more product is usually a good thing. The downside for shops is that a few of my case buyers actually opted out of buying the case they usually purchase. It doesn’t seem to be slowing overall sales, though, and the secondary market is nothing short of incredible. Wholesale on Topps Heritage is close to now 50% above cost. Every year, I wind up surprised by Heritage as it is one of the incredibly few releases with just one autograph or relic that still inspires strong sales.
4) 2016 Panini Plates & Patches NFL – Yup, another Panini NFL release made the Top 5. I have to admit it that when I heard Panini was bringing back P&P I was stoked. Since my store is located near Denver, I still have incredible of the 2010 NFL season when Broncos like Tim Tebow (the football version, not the current baseball playing version), Demaryius Thomas and even Eric Decker helped me feel a little bit like what card stores in Dallas feel like now.
These days, boxes offer either a RPA or an on card autograph, a prime memorabilia card and unlike the 2010 version, there is actually one Printing Plate in every box. While it has not seen the OMG return that Select has, wholesale is close to $10 above cost and I’m into my fifth case.
5) 16/17 Upper Deck Series 2 NHL – Come on guys, it’s hockey season. You knew something from UD was going to make the list. Yeah, I really wish I had gone as deep with Series 2 as I did with Series 1. Patrick Laine is quickly entering the same conversations Connor McDavid with his on ice abilities. Upper Deck 2 is so strong that I have not had a single collector mention that boxes no longer offer the guarantee of one autograph or relic. Seriously, just a few years back, boxes offered TWO hits per box, but it stands as a tribute to how heavily collected the Young Guns are.
As I shared above, I flew through loads of cases on National Hockey Card Day and it was cool seeing so many strong hits that day. Boxes are close to $40 above cost and there’s a relatively short list of sellers while the buyer side has about the same amount of people in it than NBA teams taking a call from Cleveland offering LeBron.
I have to say that once we get past the week after Christmas when so many of my shoppers have gone through their holiday funds, that there is usually an appreciable slowing. Yet outside of NBA sales, the past few months have been nothing short of spectacular for so many reasons. Starting with just about every product being well received, some incredible collections that have graced my shop’s door, my collectors really getting into our box and case breaks and our focus on bringing in distressed products on very small margins, it is my hope that I have to spend hours each week working as hard as I have as of late. Literally, outside of LeBronmania, Crosbymania, Broncosmania and so many other “manias” my store has never been running so well.
I had a card show at my store this weekend at the same time former Broncos defensive specialist Karl Mecklenburg was signing autographs for our customers and I am already looking forward to talking with my distributors on Monday to re-stock and putting a hurting on my UPS driver come next Wednesday and Thursday.
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]