Hobby Musings: Dealers share state of hobby thoughts – Last week, Legends Sports & Games’ Lou Brown, Score More Sports’ Mike Stang and Triple Play Sports Cards’ Dennis Worden discussed their Black Friday and Small Business Saturday plans. This week, the three were kind enough to share their views of the current hobby world.
KS: Overall, how do you feel the coronavirus pandemic has affected your business this year?
LB: The hobby was on a trajectory upward. The pandemic created an environment that gave it a shot of adrenaline. The combination of more free time than ever, more money that people had to spend between Stimulus checks, extra unemployment payments and not being able to spend funds on things that people normally would be able to (trips, going out to dinner, movies, concerts, etc), The Last Dance coming out, during it all added to the mix of driving interest and prices. Also, the limited amount of product being available due to factories shutting down created a super-short supply of goods, and therefore, more interest due to the supply-demand correlation as well.
MS: COVID-19 initially had a terrible impact on our business. In North Carolina, we had to close our store for nearly two months. We then moved to curbside service for a bit and then eventually back to opening the store with limited occupancy and mask requirements. We’ve come a long way in the past six months! It’s not perfect by any means, but we’re getting creative and making it work.
DW: We started seeing big growth each of the past few years starting in 2017, but 2020 has been crazy. I am fortunate to be in South Dakota, where we have been able to stay open during this whole Covid-19 time. We have seen many former collectors restart collecting with their 5-10 year old kids. We also have many new customers, who have never collected sports cards before and joining in on the fun. Some of these people are coming over from the sneaker industry, some are just here to flip and sell on their own, and some are here now making sports cards part of their investment portfolio.
KS: As we stand today, what do you think is the state of the sports card hobby?
LB: As strong as I have ever seen it. I started selling cards in 1977. I have had a store since 1988. I have never seen anything like what we’ve seen in the past two years, and particularly the past six months. And unlike other periods of time where we’ve seen spikes in the hobby that were often driven exclusively by player performance, because of businesses that are doing things to continue to build on their success with how they bring the hobby to their collectors, we are seeing a massive surge of new and renewed collectors.
MS: The sports card hobby is firing on all cylinders right now. In an odd way, COVID 19 actually helped the hobby surge to where it is today, with people staying at home and getting involved with the hobby on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. As a result, it’s brought more people into the hobby and we’ve had a good number of new collectors calling and visiting our store, which is great for our business and the sports card collecting community!
DW: The sport card industry is strong. Lots of new collectors and flippers. I think it will be strong for the near future. We have more collectors than card supply for the first time ever. With that being said, there are some problems. We need products on Target and Walmart shelves, as that is where kids usually get their entry into our great hobby.
KS: What have been the hottest selling items/athletes for your store in the past few months?
LB: In the past few months (since Zion and Ja dropped from the playoffs) the strongest selling products have been mixed between Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey and Mosaic FB. Most products have met with great success. We sell a lot of everything – vintage, current singles, packs and boxes, etc. Prior to the big rookies finishing their season, they were the hottest players along with Michael Jordan. The NBA hype drove prices and attention to our hobby.
MS: At our store, the most popular athletes and cards to collect in each sport are Mike Trout, Patrick Mahomes, LeBron James, Connor McDavid and Cristiano Ronaldo. We also have many rookies from this past year that have drawn significant attention, such as Zion Williamson, Justin Herbert, Luis Robert and others.
DW: New football and basketball pack/boxes are our best selling items. We sell just as much retail type products such as blaster, mega hanger boxes as we do hobby products. Justin Jefferson, Patrick Mahomes, LeBron, Zion and Ja are the most asked for athletes.
KS: What do you think is the biggest storyline for the hobby as we get set to enter 2021?
LB: Will the hobby see continued growth after a historic increase in 2020? When the pandemic started, the entire industry held their collective breaths not imagining that there would be the kind of rise in interest that we experienced. I believe that the growth will continue. New people are entering or getting back into the hobby daily. With that increase in the number of collectors and big buyers, things should continue to do very well.
MS: As card values continue to rise, I believe the biggest storyline is how the hobby has now entered the main stream of investing. In 2021, I don’t see this slowing down. Social media has brought significant attention to the hobby, with credible investing companies now jumping into the discussion. With the quality of cards from the manufacturers produced at such extremely high levels and card grading now becoming a standard in the industry, card investing is now built on a strong foundation. I anticipate 2021 to be a very promising year for the sports card industry!
DW: I think 2021 will be a year of growth and loss. Overall, I believe we will see more growth, we will continue to see new customers, but we are going to lose some longtime customers who are not willing to pay the high prices that are so much more than they are used to paying.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Hobby Musings: Dealers share state of hobby thoughts
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