Klein’s Korner: Winter Is Coming

Klein's Korner: Winter Is ComingKlein’s Korner: Winter Is Coming: The story, perhaps apocryphal goes, John D. Rockefeller sold his stocks just before the 1929 crash which precipitated the Great Depression. Someone asked him how he knew and his answer was, when the shoe shine boy gives me stock tips, then too many people are experts know and it’s time to get out of the stock market.

Now John D Rockefeller said those words more than 90 years ago but recently the hobby received a warning that “Winter is coming”. Now those are not the words one wants to hear at a hobby summit but those powerful words were spoken by Jason Masherah at the Upper Deck Diamond Dealer Conference earlier this year. Now I don’t know if winter is coming but at some point fall will arrive. Just as our United States economy has basically been in an upwards trend since the great recession ended about 2009, the card market has been on a roll for the past decade or so.

A great confluence of the kids who were collectors in the 1990’s returning to the hobby after the 20-year rule, the amazing growth of breaking and a seemingly superlative and never-ending cadre of young players doing amazing things on the field, has brought our hobby to levels we never thought were previously possible.

When Patrick Mahomes just does the seemingly impossible each playoff week or Mike Trout plays as if he is the best ever or Giannis helps to redefine the NBA center position or in hockey, an old guard player, Alexander Ovechin seems to have a shot of overtaking Wayne Gretzky for most career goals, then you have some amazing athletes to collect. And soccer is coming up strong, when more players than Messi or Ronaldo are being chased in soccer (and that day is coming) then everyone has someone to chase.

Klein’s Korner: Winter Is Coming – Everything Changes

With all these positives, what can go wrong? Well the first thing which can go wrong is there is a major work stoppage. In some ways, the NHL has still not fully recovered with many fans after losing a season. Now I get to follow hockey each day on the internet and the sport is still awesome but the recovery took quite a while. Every time there has been a significant stoppage there is an issue. We’ve been very fortunate there has not been a baseball stoppage for more than a quarter-century but that day seems to be coming. Football and basketball could also have contentious negotiations that may impact the hobby.

Another could be something like changing rules to make certain things less offensive minded in sports. In baseball, pitchers almost never sell as well as hitters and very rarely does anyone want any position in football other than quarterback and you don’t want a basketball scoring leader to average 20 points a game, you want 30 a game for that and in hockey 50-60 goal scorers are pretty darned good.

The second issue could be the preponderance of base cards. Breaking does a lot of good for the hobby but it also geometrically increases the number of base cards within the hobby. That is part of the issue, when for the most part, base cards become fodder for our dime, quarter and dollar boxes. This really gives collectors the impression that only “hits” have any value. Now that is certainly a major paradigm shift from even 20 years ago.

And for winter, and the card companies the grading scandals are not as high up on the list as only a small percentage of dealers and collectors are affected by this. Yes, in the vintage world this is important but frankly all the revelations had have limited effect on many people. From what I see, many of the good people are hurt just as much as the bad people because many people get a little bit scared off.

So, plan for winter but if the change only becomes a fall and not a crash you are well situated to take advantage of this downturn. I know that both Rob Veres (Burbank Sports Cards) and Ted Straka (TNT Sports Cards) told me the 1994-95 period was amazing for purchasing purposes. And those that survived that era here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area are still trucking along to this day.


So, if “winter is coming” are you prepared to adjust and thrive?

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

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.


Klein’s Korner: Winter Is Coming