Hobby Musings: Chatting with Sara Layton – I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Sara Layton of Layton Sports Cards. I had the chance to find out about her origins with sports cards, as well as what she thinks about the current hobby world for female collectors.
KS: Sara, as we stand today, what would you say is the state of female collectors in the sports card hobby world?
SL: Women are in the hobby and are here to stay. I think with the growth of the hobby online, women are collecting more so now, than ever before. It provides a level of anonymity.
KS: The hobby has boomed significantly over the past year. How has the rise in popularity affected the amount of female collectors in the market?
SL: I have seen an increase in female collectors. Most of the women I have been lucky to meet are collectors, not flippers. I do not think this should come as a surprise as women make up 46% of MLB fans, 43% of NFL fans and 37% of NBA fans.
On the business side, we steadily have three or four women who buy into our breaks each night. They tend to buy what they like over strictly chasing the big names.
KS: How did you get your start in the sports card and memorabilia world?
SL: I collected with my dad back in the late 80’s. I don’t have any of those cards anymore, but I remember him coming home with packs, us opening them and placing them in binders. I specifically remember collecting the Topps Desert Storm set. I was out of the hobby until 2011. I went to lunch with a coworker and we stopped in a hobby shop. I first brought home Topps Flagship. Then we opened Gypsy Queen together. I loved the vintage feel of cardstock. It’s still a favorite of mine. A year later we started Layton Sports Cards. The hobby has always been a business for me, and I had treated it as such. I’m finally enjoying it more and started building my own PC. My newest card is a Carrie Fisher auto from Topps Star Wars Chrome. I am on the hunt for a Panini Mosaic Peacock Joel Embiid. I have yet to see one.
KS: Most collectors have a reason/story for what got them into the hobby. What are the reasons you hear the most as to why female collectors have gotten involved with it?
SL: I don’t think there is a difference between men and women when it comes to the why. They collected with their parents and love sports.
KS: You actually started a Facebook group for ladies in the hobby. What more can you tell me about it and what inspired you to start it?
SL: I was approached by Tai Fauci who owns The Bullpen in Los Angeles. She and Susan Lulgjuraj were interested in starting the group and I jumped on board. There were many women in the hobby but rarely did you see posts from them on social media. We knew from our own experiences that there weren’t many safe spaces to discuss the hobby and saw a need for it. Even the many women who buy into our group breaks do not chat or post often. The group is Women in Cards. There are currently 70 members, all women, who love the hobby and are so supportive.
KS: What do you think is the biggest concern that they have raised to you in regards to pursuing the hobby?
SL: Right now the biggest issue is finding affordable boxes. The increase in demand for products has driven up the cost, making it difficult for everyone.
KS: What is your favorite part about being a member of the community?
SL: The friendships I have made. There are a few women (and men) who I first met at the National that I now consider friends. I cannot wait until we can enjoy the hobby together again.
KS: What advice would you give to any fellow ladies wanting to get into the hobby?
SL: As with any industry, being a female in a male-dominated space can get tough. Don’t get discouraged. You have just as much right to be here as anyone else. The advice I give to anyone who is trying to get into the hobby is to start with the teams/players you root for and collect them. Research before you buy. One of the best ways to see how a product is configured is by watching YouTube videos of group breaks.
KS: Is there anything you think the card manufacturers or shop owners can do to help get more women of all ages into the hobby?
SL: For shop owners, the biggest thing would be to treat women with the same respect as male collectors. You don’t need to show us the “shiny” cards because you think we will like them. Yes, this has been said to me. When we first opened our hobby shop in 2012, one of our first regular customers was a woman. She came in once a week and bought a box of Topps baseball. We still have many women customers, and I believe it is because we do not tolerate any form of derogatory talk, and we treat them as equals.
For manufacturers, continue making women pro sports products. There is a market for it. We would also love to see a social media team respond, remove, or block the inappropriate comments that are prominent on posts about women pro sports. Some of the comments under posts by Panini for WNBA and Topps Now for Alyssa Nakken’s MLB debut were disrespectful and in poor taste.