Klein’s Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

Klein’s Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards – In the Twitter and LinkedIn world of Sports Collectibles there might not be a more polarizing figure than Gary Vaynerchuk and his postings and interviews about sports cards. I think it’s important for all of us to step back and analyze what he is saying and just as importantly, what he is NOT saying.

Klein's Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

Let’s first start with point one. Well, I can’t say I know anything about the selling sneakers world but the process is the same as cards. Buy what you think you can make money on and then sell them. For Gary that usually means modern cards but this really depends on what you study and learn about. There is, of course, money to be made in vintage cards, but that requires a different mind set than new cards. In new cards what you are hoping to do is buy players on the way up and sell them when they approach or hit their peak. If you had been buying Christian Yelich cards a year ago this is a great time to sell. Could his cards continue to go up in value? Sure. However, there is no guarantee we as a hobby won’t run to the next hot player to follow.

Remember Shohei Ohtani? Seems like a century ago some superfactor sold for well more than $100K. Wonder what the current market value of that card is today? I’ll wager no where near as much as the market peak last year.

Point two: The 80’s reboot is on. I’ll not only agree with that statement and add the 90’s collectors have joined in to bring their kids in. Cards were fun back then for just about everyone and bringing the love to their kids is almost a rite of passage. Baseball, before they priced themselves out of average families going to games, was always the sport we passed down from generation to generation. I use a 30 year rule and this can be updated to a 25 year rule of collectors returning. When Nick Redwine owned Nick’s Sportscards in Dallas he always used the line about three things which stop kids from focusing on their collecting; Cars, Cuties and College. Now that generation has come full circle and collecting cards is a great family hobby. The best part is it’s affordable to all price levels. The parent who can afford $10 at a time can share the love as well the parent who can afford to buy and open Panini Flawless with their children. And both get great enjoyment out of the special time.

Klein’s Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

Point three; This really is a separate entity and why his message can get confused and conflated. Yes, buying the expensive packs is like playing the lottery or going gambling. As anyone really new will discover the odds are against getting the big hit and these packs are not guaranteed to bring the Return on Investment (ROI) one is hoping for. What our role is in this is explaining this is separate from the other points.

Depending on your income, you can do any or all of these three steps and/or do them independently of each other. One of the beauties of collecting is these options are for the customers to decide and yours to help guide. Their decision is correct assuming they are not playing with rent/mortgage or food money.

Before then, he had been on the Rich Eisen show and talking about card collecting.

A couple of takeaways from that is he talked about buying a bunch of Giannis Antetokounmpo cards at the 2018 National. Now most of us don’t have the $150 per card to spend he did but he also bought a bunch of Sam Darnold cards at lower prices to put away. The aspect to remember and for us to work with our customers is he studied the game and thought Antetokounmpo would play at the next level this season. He was correct and will cash in on those purchases this year if he has not already done so. So, one thing to tell our customers is not only to chase the hottest players but also to see why you are dong so. The reason the hobby is so in tune with Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. is their ages usually guarantee a great future and they have already had a very good present. While nothing is guaranteed, comps to those players are usually very high ceiling.

The other thing was the statement: “you can pull a $50K Zion Williamson out of a $6 pack.” Well, obviously the odds on that one are huge but you can certainly receive good cards be it rookies, parallels or inserts of good players out of packs at all price levels. Obviously, the more expensive the pack, the better your chances of getting a good card will be. But you can get a really good card out of an average pack and that’s what Gary is referring to.

Klein’s Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

A few other notes. When the treads about all the cards which had been trimmed were just coming down from their peak I listened to the Sports Card Radio podcast. After getting through all the curses, insults and screaming the last bit of the show was actually their best. When they discussed how to have patience in this business and what that has done for them, there was a lot of really useful hobby and investment advice in what they said. More of that and less of the non-needed material and they might have a podcast closer to some of the other podcasts in terms of people willing to listen. They’ve done a great job in aggregating the hobby information and a slight tone down in aggression might make them even more money and bring them even more listeners.

And there are those Gary haters who don’t understand his message. You have to see the message with nuance and understand not everything can be done in 3 minute TV spots or in bullet points. Guess what, it’s our job to help those who want to invest learn their best ways and those who think they know everything, let them succeed or fail on their own. As for me, I’d be happy to sell to any and all of these people who can make money both short and long-term.

One of the people who is definitely in the Gary hater camp is a podcaster who happens to be part of a group including one of my COMC Co-Workers. He has the name “Antagonist” as part of his twitter handle and I think that is a very apropos to how he posts and how he thinks. I love listening to contrarians such as him but I get frustrated when I come into the office and see the Wednesday night show went one hour and 45 minutes. A little tightening of the mouth and if they approach one hour I think they’d have an even better podcast. He always spouts about how bad Gary is for the hobby and I would argue that the publicity we’re getting from him can only help us and draw in more people of whom SOME will end up as collectors.

Klein's Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

Recently Susan Lulgjuraj made this post on Twitter: “We should stop treating this hobby like a gated community.” While I could argue that Topps does do some things to gate the community overall they do a great job of ensuring Topps cards are accessible to the collector who can spend $20 on a retail blaster box to those who can spend $1000s for some shiny short-print signed cards. But I can go to a Walmart or a Target with a $20 bill and walk out with a bunch of packs and the odds on some cards in the box will be good either now or in the future. And isn’t that the dream we’re all chasing and you might even get a early card of Matt Chapman before he becomes famous and you’d have those in your collecting bank.  By the way, “Sooz” has a Topps Allen & Ginter autograph card which is widely sought after by people who follow her on Twitter.

Klein's Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

We noticed many of you reacted positively to our show report and we’re happy to talk about those type of subjects to go with investment articles such as this one or other important hobby topics.

One final note: COMC is sending one of their fine reps to Joel Painter’s show in Grapevine, TX. Memorial Day weekend and if you have any COMC questions or just want to drop off cards this is a great opportunity.

I’ll be having my next show at the Comfort Inn in Plano, TX on June 8-9. Please stop by either or both shows.

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

Klein’s Korner: Do Your Homework When You Invest in Cards

Rich Klein

Rich Klein is a free-lance writer living in Plano TX with his wife and two dogs. He has been involved in the hobby since the 1970's and has written within the hobby for more than 30 years. He spent more than 15 years working in the price guide department at Beckett Publications and is currently a catalog maintenance expert at COMC.All views expressed in Klein's Korner are solely those ofMr. Klein and are not related to GTS. He can be reached at Sabrgeek@aol.com
Rich Klein