Once again I find myself at the keyboard after a Nuggets win. Aaron Gordon played his first game for Denver and we looked pretty solid. Even Bol Bol got some run time after not seeing the court for some time. I’m probably getting ahead of myself here, but this team might be close to as good as it was last year and this year there are real home court advantages with the altitude on our side.
As for the shop, my collectors are staying in the groove, too. When you combine the interest in sports cards with the massive interest going in Pokemon, it is an even nuttier time than usual to own a card shop. We have seen a pair of new releases in the past few months and I’m having massive flashbacks to 1999 and the next few years after when Pikachu, Charizard and Blastoise ruled the world.
I’ve gone so far as to take my prime real estate in my front showcase and make it into a Pokemon display case and yes, collectors are massively trying to catch them all.
Fear not, it isn’t all packs of animated little creatures that are propelling the shop toward breaking our all-time monthly sales total that was just set in January. February, with three fewer days, somehow beat January, and with my shop having been open 338 months, that is really saying a lot. I seemingly spend all eight hours of my day assisting collectors in finding the perfect singles, packs, boxes and, when I have them available, supplies like plain top loaders. If you’re reading this, go to your LCS, buy all of their plain top loaders and stock them for rainy days or this summer. I do not have any lined up to replace the ones I don’t have.
I’m not only busy during store hours, but two to three days a week, I’m going in early to work with people who are looking for assistance in valuing their collections or parting with them since it is literally impossible to find time while the shop is open. Again, I’m not complaining, but if I went to a store to ask for help in assessing something I was not familiar with, I too would walk out after not being helped in a reasonable amount of time. That’s why we’ve gone to setting up appointments. It’s just one of the realities of the current uptick (probably an understated word to use there) that so many of us are seeing.
So, I’m guessing at least one of you would like to know What’s Hot at my shop so let’s shift and share this month’s Top 5 products that are getting the most attention.
1) 20/21 Upper Deck Series 2 NHL
So many months ago when UD1 came out, Upper Deck luckily worked out a way to include the #1 pick, Alexis Lafrenière. Between his base Young Gun rookie, the French version and of course the other rookies in the product, we expected it to be a monster (which it was). Well, after 34 games the youngster has five goals and ten points. It could be worse, but at this point, we’re holding off on the comparisons to Wayne Gretzky.
That being said, UD1 is gone from my shop, aside from some retail boxes I forgot I had. Soooo, when it came time to order UD2, I didn’t know what to do aside from what I do with every other release, BUY IT ALL THAT I CAN!
Many of us had hopes that the #2 pick, Quinton Byfield from the Kings would be making a name for himself. Well, he might do so eventually, but currently he is on the Ontario Reign (a team I had never heard of until moments before I wrote this) and safe to say, he isn’t pushing sales of Series 2. However, Kirill Kaprizov from the Minnesota Wild and Tim Stützle who skates for the Ottawa Senators, are picking up the slack. Boxes are flying at $159 and I might have to hide some from my hungry collectors in order to have something for them for Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day which I see scheduled for Saturday, May 1.
2) 2021 Topps Heritage MLB
I don’t say this often, but I was dreading 2021 Topps Heritage release day. Typically I love it because of all the lore that goes with this set and I appreciate the heck out of my collectors, many of whom go back to the inception of Heritage with their 2001 release. The reason I was slightly trembling was because boxes are being offered online by the big sellers for close to $150 and I knew that while I would be under that number, that I would still be disappointing these passionate set builders.
I looked the day of release and didn’t see much pricing fluctuation. I went to Dealernet and to my surprise saw that the buy prices for Heritage were even at $120 per box with many suitors. I elected to instead take care of my collectors at $104 per at shelf price and $99 for my Discount Card Members. Yup, I could have not opened a case of this product, printed some shipping labels and made another $21 per box by selling them to eager dealers.
I think my customers appreciated it. Most of them, anyway. Things were going well until one of my longer term collectors still took objection. I went to pull out my phone to share what the real world was paying for this year’s release and before I could do so, was told that he didn’t care about online pricing. So yup, even though I was giving up an Andrew Jackson in profit, my pricing was still not appropriate. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you part of what it is like to own a shop in 2021. Come get you some if you want to live the life.
3) 20/21 Panini Revolution NBA
For the past few years I have been more than intrigued by Revolution since neither the Chinese New Year or the hobby boxes offer up the standard “so many hits per box” that we have been accustomed to seeing in seemingly every release. Heck, Score football jumbos have four signed cards per box. In spite of not guaranteeing an auto or a relic, Revolution has developed a strong following with its many inserts and numbered parallels. Props to Panini for cultivating a collector friendly release without the promise of what is usually so basic to expect.
There are autos in these boxes and perhaps the fact that they aren’t “so many per box” makes pulling one that much cooler. A partial list of signers includes Ja, AIlan, Shaq, Bird, The Admiral, Ray Allen, Dr. J and many more. I started my boxes off at $349 when the big boys were at $400 per and more recently and matching them at $324 or so per.
4) 2021 Topps Inception
More than any other release you see posted here, I was looking forward to Inception hitting my shop this year. 2020 Topps Inception was the first release that gave me and countless other shop owners comfort that perhaps we weren’t going to go the way of so many other industries when COVID appeared on the scene. The product had performed well in the past, but when it seemingly shot out of a cannon last year, it gave me hope that in spite of no sports being played, that mine and countless other hobby shops might just make it through things.
Once again, boxes of 2021 Inception offer a single autographed card with the hope of a signed relic card. The rookie class seems to be well hyped from last year and cards of Alec Bohm and Dylan Carlson have cleared the $1000 mark with others like Sixto Sanchez, Cristian Pache, and Alex Kiriloff falling just short of the same four- digit club. I started my boxes off on day one at $139 and now, thanks to restocking am closer to $179 per with no signs of sales slowing down anytime soon.
5) 2021 Panini Encased NFL
Encased hit the same day as 2021 Topps Heritage and if you think the sticker price issues of Heritage were rough, then the $699 I went with on day one for Encased should have made for a longer day. Fortunately the online guys were at around $800 per and moving through my five cases was a much easier process with decidedly less grief. I could have probably gone through another four cases between that day and the weekend that followed as collectors, buoyed by the chance of pulling Tom Brady autos of him in a Buccaneers uniform, could not get in fast enough.
Other massive names that get the autograph treatment in Encased include John Elway, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Steve Young and (yup, I’m a Colorado guy along with so many friends at Panini) HOFer Steve Awater among others. Currently I’m sold out so there is no updated price to report. Perhaps a few more boxes will land tomorrow and I can solve this shortage issue I’m currently enduring.
So there you have it, a lovely ditty about what’s happening at my shop and the top 5 sellers of either the past month or the past week. I might not be surprised to see a certain shiny NBA release from Panini and yes, a Formula 1 product appearing on next month’s Top 5 chart if the manufacturers play their cards right.
Until then, have fun collecting, try to support your local card shop and feel free to try to do something cool for some younger collectors you come across.
Thanks for giving this a read. My Monday schedule starts at 9AM for a collection review, at the store from 10-6 and back from 9-11 PM for a colorful evening of You Call It with my favorite sports card collecting family live on Facebook and YouTube. We’d be glad to have you join us.
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. You can email him at [email protected].
Check out past editions of What’s Hot here.