Klein’s Korner: Changes in The Hobby over the Past Decade

Klein’s Korner: Changes in The Hobby over the Past Decade –  Just a note, as I’m writing this specific column, my wife called to inform me her adventure in New York is ending and she’ll be coming home. Dena and I appreciate all the prayers, support and love we’ve received during this period. Frankly the two happiest people for them to come home to are the very handsome young man named Tater Tot and her younger sister, Charlie Girl. Charlie is the young lady on the left in the left photo and Mr. Tot is the handsome man in both photos.

One of my best friends during my high school years was a then wild-haired young man who might have been the only person who could do hand slaps harder than I could. Jerome Slote wrote in my high school yearbook to always have perspective on everything going around and the older I get, the more I agree with him. Understanding why things occur from a perspective which might not necessarily be self-contained is such a useful way to look at the world. Now, writing about the general trends of the past decade and where we may go requires both the perspective to look back and the gumption to believe you can look forward. But I’ll try anyway.

When the 2010’s began we had Topps and Upper Deck producing fully licensed baseball products. At the decade conclusion we had Topps fully licensed and Panini having a player’s association license. This is part of what has been a trend not only in sports cards, but also in most licensed products for all the leagues in recent years. That is, for the licensors it is far easier to deal with more limited entities than with a wide range of companies. If you are the NFL, would you rather deal with 300 licensees or with 30? While those who believe competition is the only way to get products with competitive prices I’d wager that general costs to the licensors is about the same because you have to keep up with far fewer companies and can thus work closer with your companies and reduce the administrative and payroll costs. Yes, there are people who’d like to return to the early 1990’s when multiple companies produced sports cards but that day has passed and is not returning. BTW Derek Jeter will be in the Hall of Fame by the end of January.

But these seeming monopolies in sports cards has not appeared to hurt the market for new cards. In fact, and I believe breaking has a great deal to do with this, in some ways new cards have never been hotter. Now, the penny stock market which was a major part of the overproduced card era has gone away but many cards are now available at seemingly very low prices. For any product which is reasonably broken, there should not a shortage of any base cards in the marketplace. In DFW we’re fortunate to have many local shows and you can find some very nice cards in the discount (read all cards at the same price) boxes.

Klein’s Korner: Changes in The Hobby over the Past Decade

Now for my one projection, and this is something I’ve been saying for a long time. I truly believe for the companies the true end game is to increase and do more direct to consumer products and sales. Why? Well, if you work directly with customers you know exactly how much of any product to produce and not get stuck with any overages or with any returns. That is truly a manufacturer dream to sell out and not have to worry about returns. By doing that you have reduced your customer services hassles by a significant multiplier. Again more efficient and profitable for a company to do that. I would not be surprised that with certain exceptions (heavily traded issues such as Topps Series 1 or Topps Heritage) the direct to consumer percentage of sales explode during the next decade. Think of the great data base the companies already have with customer information. Those numbers will only increase in the upcoming years. These are photos of some Panini Instant signed cards.

Klein's Korner: Changes in The Hobby over the Past Decade

But I’ll leave you all with some better news. For those who know me, most of my favorite songs are still the favorite songs of when I started listening to the radio (and yes there was a time when that was how we all got to learn the latest songs) and as I was writing this — a mention of this song came up on Facebook. Well, last year I pointed out how a 1970’s Boston Celtic card was my all-time favorite card and I listed my three favorite songs. Here a few more of my favorite songs;

1st up is the massive top 5 hit: “I’ve found someone on my own”

A couple of lesser known songs from Aretha Franklin, the true queen of soul whom we lost in 2018.

1st up was my favorite by her until this year:  Call Me

But with the young lady who probably saved my wife’s life in Novemberthis one is now my favorite.

Angel was a huge hit in the New York area as I was growing up but not so much in the rest of the country.

One more for good measure: Most people remember Donna Summer for her disco years. And I’m a big fan of many of her hits and other songs.

But this song sung as a duet with Matthew Ward should have been huge instead of not even reaching the top 50:

For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.

Klein’s Korner: Changes in The Hobby over the Past Decade
Rich Klein