Saturday, April 23, 2011

The State of the Hobby

Lately I have really been noticing some trends in the hobby. For starters, most products sell at there highest right after release, with the exception being prospect/rookie heavy releases. I have noticed with this years Between the Pipes that some cards have really been selling high, much higher then they should be.

A better example would be the regular Upper Deck hockey series. Right upon release singles, especially the Young Guns sell for an absurd amount but within a year can be had for roughly 25%-50% of the first month (after release) selling price. Packs upon release are usually sold for around $5 and can be had the year after for a $1 or $2 (usually retail packs only). It seems that many collectors, collect from year to year, forgetting about last years issue's for new product. As long as a card is not too short printed, you can easily have many of the singles you desire for a much discounted price (for the most part), if you wait 8 month's to a year after a product's release.

I don't really understand how many collectors focus on acquiring new product only, forgetting about past releases. In my personal opinion, after 20 years of collecting the price of cards has sky rocketed and the value received for money spent just does not add up.

A big reason for the drop off sale prices on cards is thanks to Ebay. While it's much easier to find what you desire, it's also much easier to find product for much cheaper then you would at a card show or hobby shop. Ebay has contributed to the death of hobby shops. I only know of 3 hobby shops in a 100 mile radius of me and I don't buy from any of them because compared to the Internet, they are too over priced.

From a buying perspective I can't really complain about lower prices on Ebay. From a collecting perspective and selling perspective, I have much to discuss. In regards to placing value, I once loved Beckett magazine and I treated it like a collectors bible. I trusted it, felt like it was accurate and most seller's died by Beckett prices. Now Beckett's value's do not remotely reflect actual sale prices in the market and has become obsolete. You may still find dealers trying to sell or trade by beckett value and if you do, don't expect to get what you want at a fair deal.

I once dreamed of making a living buying and selling cards with the ultimate goal of owning my own shop. This dream has died hard for me as I see that this is not really possible anymore. I begun selling on Ebay and quickly realized that all profits got eaten away by the insanely high fees. I then moved on to Flea Markets to realize that card collecting is just not very popular in my area anymore. I was lucky to make $50 a day.

While I may never make a living selling cards, I have managed to make some good choices when it comes to selling. I picked up a Stamkos FW Auto Rookie when the set came out for $45. I later flipped that card for three times that amount. Now if only I had purchased many more of these cards I would be laughing now.

At this point I think I have done enough ranting! I have a few ideas that might make the hobby more interesting and promote growth.

1) Can someone please limit the amount of releases per year?

I think it's gotten out of hand with how many releases come out by one company and it's doing more harm in the long run then good. I have heard of many player collectors who simply gave up collecting because they can't keep up with all the releases every year. It's much better to take the time to put out a solid product, then rush it and have many redemption's. I'm sure Upper Deck has gotten more people out of the hobby, then into it with redemption's. Each company should be capped at 5 releases in one calendar year per sport.

2) Give ITG an NHL license

ITG has shown that they can produce a very creative and unique product. While the company has produced some nice product, there growth is rather limited without an NHL license. The possibilities are endless for great products ITG could produce if they were allowed to show NHL logos.

One thing I've noticed is that young kids enjoy jersey cards and ITG is well known for producing some nice game used product. Many kids do not know Junior players, so having nice cards of NHL players would promote more kids getting into the hobby. As long as ITG can keep the price point for there packs at around $5 I'm sure more kids would take to the product.

3) Change Distribution Methods

Most collectors only have the chance to purchase products online and there is always a major risk of product being tampered with. It's hard to know what you are buying and where it comes from. I have never really done well busting boxes or cases and I wonder sometimes if mine had been searched before sent.

I really wish that is was possible to buy boxes and cases straight from the company, although I know this will never happen. I personally think that it would be a neat experiment to produce a set and have each card sold individually directly on the companies website. This way, the company could determine a value for the card, selling it at that amount. In a way this would be like e-Topps but for a full set of cards sold individually. The set would have to be small as a lot of cost would be associated with this due to many employees needed to fill orders. It would make things interesting as I can picture someone with a lot of money buying all of one card then re-selling on Ebay for any price they like.

I hope someone actually read's this post and takes the time to comment and reflect. I could have gone on with other idea's but I'll keep it at this for now.

1 comment:

  1. I have stopped collecting (for the most part) due to the insane volume of releases. The only set I have been interested in during the past 15 years is UD Masterpieces.