What is up Prospector Nation!?! It’s Sunday which means another opinion piece, and today I want to talk about the problem with the sports card hobby in this day and age. Face it people, the “hobby” is not what it once was; the landscape of the sports card collecting hobby has changed from a fun pastime into a cutthroat and sometimes hostile business.
Now let me be the first to say that this isn’t the case across the board, as there are plenty of people within the card collecting community out there who are still in the hobby specifically for the hobby, and these folks are the ones who I feel the worst for, simply because the hobby for them has been hijacked by greed. Don’t believe me? Go to any retail store and tell me what the sports card inventory looks like because I can almost guarantee you that you’re going to either find nothing at all, or a bunch of Score football packs, hockey cards, and baseball sticker packs – if you’re lucky enough to find even that.
Why? Because people literally are driving around to every retail location they can, Walmart, Target, Meijer, Rite-Aid, etc., and buying up all of the sports cards in stock. Some of these people have gone to the point of learning the schedule of the distributor so that they can be waiting for the restock, just to immediately clean out the inventory.
And what are the retailers doing about it? Jack shit. None of these locations have implemented any quota on how much you can buy, and from a retailer standpoint, why would they? They’re pulling in the cash hand over fist from all these greedy retail flippers who are gobbling up retail $20 blasters like they’re a fat man at an all you can eat buffet. And for what? They flip these boxes for three to four times retail on eBay, and people actually pay for it – why? Because they can’t get any product at the retail outlets!
This problem strikes at the core of the collector community in more ways than one. Sure, all these retail piggies are screwing all the established collectors, but their greedy card gobbling is preventing new collectors from entering the hobby. Think about it, if you have been a card collector for any amount of time you likely started when you were a kid. You might have fallen off collecting for a while as I did, but your love for sports card collecting started when you were a kid. If you were a kid again and asked your parents for $100 so you could buy a couple of boxes of cards, do you think they would have said: “sure son, here’s a C-note, hope you pull some good rookies”? Hell no! My parents would have laughed at me, hell, it was hard enough getting a 5-spot out of them for some new cards and I grew up in the junk wax era!
The greatest pain point for me is all these retail card gobblers that want to put on a front of being investors – f#@k you! You’re not investing in shit, you’re capitalizing on the resurgence of sports card collecting during the pandemic and being a greedy pig, that is all. Buying a $20 blaster box or a $10 hanger and selling it for five times retail on eBay is not investing. You want to invest, get your ass on Rally Rd., Star Stock, StockX, etc. and put your money in the already graded cards, just like shares of stock or commodities, and take that gamble on hoping the card will rise in value. Or, pick up a few packs or boxes and rip those f#@kers looking for the hot cards and key players, and then send them off for grading or sell them raw. Price gouging retail packs and boxes isn’t investing, its being a douchebag.
Veteran collectors and kids are not the only ones affected by this sports card craze either; it has bled over into the business side as well. Small card dealers can’t get products because these Instagram and YouTube breakers are buying up cards by the multi-case load, and the restock sales from distributors are outrageous! Honestly, some of the restock items from distributors can be purchased for less from retail flippers on eBay. How is a small business to survive? To put this in perspective, our distributor for Cardboard Prospector can’t even sell us new release cards because they run an allocation system, which means the guys dropping $10,000 in an order are placed at the top of the list, while us smaller businesses get table scraps, only if there is any left-over! We can buy restock if we want to pay $70 for a retail blaster box, or $400 for a hobby box that sells retail for about $160, which of course leaves zero room for profit – how am I going to convince someone to buy my retail blaster for $80 when they can score it on eBay for $55? Of course, my only question is why my money isn’t as good as the big breakers? I mean shit, it all spends the same right? Why should the breakers get first dibs on literally everything? HELLO?
Now breakers, I can’t really complain about simply because most breakers aren’t gouging people for four to five times retail. Sure, you might pay $10 to $15 over retail for the box, but when you factor in shipping costs for the breaker, you’re literally less than 50% over cost for the box. Sure, there are breakers out there right now that have blaster boxes listed at $65 which I think is ludicrous, but watch how long it takes them to sell those boxes – the guys making real money breaking are the businesses which get the cards wholesale and then break them live. And frankly, if anyone is willing to pay to watch someone else rip their packs of cards, well I guess paying 50% over retail is their prerogative. Full disclosure, I have participated in a few breaks myself over the last several months, mostly because we can’t get any damn product and needed content for our site, and honestly, we’ve hit some pretty cool cards several of which we have on deck for PSA submission!
Now, to stick a fork in the whole thing, rumor has it that Topps is actually raising prices on sports cards! Yeah, as if getting sports cards now wasn’t already a pain in the ass, Topps is raising the MSRP on their products. According to the information we got, Topps is raising the MSRP on Blaster boxes to $24.99, Value Packs to $12.99, Fat Packs to $7.99 and Gravity Feed Packs to $4.99 – f#@k me are you serious?!?
If you are not in the sports card hobby, do yourself a favor, wait a few years and check back, otherwise, you might find yourself filled with frustration and hate in a hobby which should provide fun evenings and great memories. In the meantime, over here at Cardboard Prospector, we’re going to continue busting boxes and ripping packs looking for those personal collection cards and key players to send off for grading, and we’re going to create investment pieces – not screw kids and collectors out of the hobby!
*Disclaimer: Investing in trading cards, comic books, memorabilia, and any other item involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. Cardboard Prospector does not provide financial advice, and none of our articles or opinions should be construed as financial or investment advice. We do not guarantee results from your decision making based on our opinions and content. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence prior to making any investment.
I started collecting cards when I was about 8 years old, with my passion being baseball cards. I grew out of collecting in my teens and spent the better part of my 20’s focusing on education and career. Now in my mid-30’s I have dove back in to collecting and now prospecting and investing in cards and comics as well. I like to write about ways to collect and invest and share my experiences in the collecting and investing world of sports cards and comics. I am also an avid cigar enthusiast and you can get cigar reviews and information on my sister site Cigar Informer at https://www.cigarinformer.com