Klein’s Korner: Crack of the wax starts season – 2021 Topps Series One released last week, and the immense hot streak in popularity of our beloved hobby is leading to a very competitive marketplace for one of the most popular brands in history.
The surge is reminiscent of what we saw not too long ago (well, relatively not too long ago at least).
Do you remember 2007 as a collector? Well if you do, you remember the hype which occurred when the discovery was made that Mickey Mantle and President George W. Bush were located in the background of Derek Jeter’s card. The national publicity about those cards caused an explosion in Topps 1 boxes and the price explosion was on. Box prices soared at the time, and I can’t help but recall how, a couple of years later I was able to buy some overstock retail blaster boxes at a very fair rate. Even though I was later able to get in on the action, I still remember how frustrated I was that I had waited to buy the Topps 1 box. (Incidentally, if you thought the prices for the base card were high at the time, the Gold and Black serial numbered parallel cards were even higher.)
While waiting was not the most enjoyable activity (and isn’t today either), there is also the joy of seeing these cards and knowing spring training is literally starting within a week. Knowing winter (and as I’m writing this we are expecting lows possibly in the negative degrees) makes one feel the winter blues are ending. Not only is the winter drudge ending but also there is hope we might actually be able to attend games, even if in a limited format, in 2021. I for one, cannot wait to watch games in person again. I’d actually be happy to return to Frisco to see minor league games. For me personally, it’s an easier, cheaper and more fun trip than going to Arlington and I’m home by 9 PM.
So for those reasons, nothing compares to the new Topps cards. And while I have been buying these cards for more than a half-century, I’m flashing back and thinking of the 1980’s when for several years the candy wholesalers received their first Topps cases on December 31st. Yes, for many collectors and dealers a New Year’s Eve tradition was staying at home and opening the brand new packs to see the new cards. It was certainly a lot safer than being out on the roads, it was warmer than being outside and you knew good things were going to occur the following year
So those are some of the positives of opening a new Topps pack, and while I didn’t invest in a box this year (yet), I did pick up a couple single packs and, while at the LCS, I chatted with the dealer about pricing amid the newest (and arguably hottest) hobby boom.
The store owner explained to me how his pricing was for the regulars who break a case or more of most baseball products and he was significantly under replacement cost for his regulars. In addition, he was courteous enough to offer me a slight break thereof if I really wanted a box and I laughed and said I appreciated the offer but I’m OK with what I bought. As I was leaving he was showing me a customer who just walked in to buy some cards from a very expensive Pokemon box. They had opened and then double protected and sealed some cards so customers could have some chances at the best cards. (Many of that store’s sales nowadays come from Pokemon so sports are almost secondary for now.)
But. and here is the most important aspect, as noted about dealer asking prices in my last article, in today’s market, one can ask whatever they so desire for a single card or in this case a hobby box. If the market place dictates the higher price, we as consumers have the right to either pass or play. We talk about this frequently in this column about how not to blame dealers for their pricing because they have to be able to make money too. And think about this: for all the complaints about places such as eBay where there are complaints about high prices from BIN (Buy It Now) the ultimate right to set a price begins with the owner. eBay is smart enough to realize it is not their place to try to control what a card’s price should be. Whether it’s a 2021 Topps Hobby Box, a 1966 Grant Jackson card or a T206 common, the ultimate price of sale is between buyer and seller. Period. End of sentence. The final decision about sales comes from owners and consumers. Nothing should really interfere with that process.
One last word – resting on a product, like I did in 2007, could prove to be costly (pardon the pun). Don’t blame the local dealer if prices increase, as they may not be able to replace these boxes at the same rate.
Rich’s vast experience and knowledge of the hobby has been well documented through the years. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Klein’s Korner. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.