What is going on with the sports and trading cards hobby?
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Yet again, things have shifted in dramatic fashion. We have been doing a lot of reflection, research, and preparation for what we believe is coming next.
Things had to change.
I can remember opening boxes of 2015 Crown Royale for $50 each and pulling $100 worth of sports cards on a semi-regular basis. Before I had the means to just open case after case of that product, prices started going up. In 2018, my dad and I opened a half case of 2018 Optic for $80 per hobby box and did extremely well. By the time we decided to try again, the prices had gone up.
eBay is a wide open market, easily accessed and frequently monitored by people in every corner of the sports, trading cards, and collectibles hobby - from our new collectors in elementary school to the offices of Panini and Topps. When the value of single cards increase, the higher ups realize that the customer base is making a solid profit off of their product and are therefore willing to pay more. Simple economics, right?
The healthy economy of the last few years, partnered with influencers taking a real interest in the hobby, allowed for more and more money to be thrown at investing in sports cards. Singles sky-rocketed. All of them. Rookie autographs, veteran rookies, shiny inserts - all of them. It made sense for prices of sealed boxes to go up.
But then things went crazy. We all saw it.
Breakers were making a killing. EVERYTHING was selling on eBay. People were buying wax on release day just to sell it a month later and make significant profit.
Companies at the top decided they were going to make sure that they got the biggest cut. Honestly, I don't fault them for that. However, its pretty clear that things got out of hand. It seems that they decided to go with the "let's shoot for the moon and see if it sticks" approach. And for a while, it worked. Breakers could still make their money. Companies like us had to adjust our prices, but we could survive.
The problem was that their increase in price was much steeper than the increase in economic growth in the sports card hobby. People have been getting priced out of the hobby left and right. COVID-19 prompted stimulus checks that gave collectors extra spending money that helped sustain those ridiculous prices in the short term. Hobby profits were getting reduced but it was "house money" that people were playing with so uproar was minimal. As life has creeped back to normal over the last few months, single card sales on eBay have been dropping significantly. Wax prices are creeping down to reality, but are still too high. Life expenses are going up with a dip in the economy and even more sports card collectors are getting priced out. Market correction was needed. Things had to change.
When will things be normal again?
We are very fortunate to have some incredible big brothers in the hobby.
Our sounding board is made up of several of your favorite card shops and Instagram accounts. Everyone is trying to adjust and figure out what the new normal is going to look like.
It is abundantly clear that the hobby is not dead.