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A Modern Card Resurgence

Taking My Hacks

Joe Orlando - December 26, 2019

If you have been in the hobby for a long time, then you understand how cyclical the markets can be.  The modern sports card market is one that has certainly had its share of ups and downs during the past three decades.  From the 1994 baseball strike to the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run chase in 1998 to an almost cliff-like drop in the early 2000s, the card market is like any other market on earth.  It has both good and bad stretches depending on a variety of factors.

In general, the sports collectibles market will always be attractive because of the appeal of sports itself.  Sports are such a major part of our culture and it's hard to ever envision a day that they wouldn't be, unless the sun burns out.  At its best, the world of sports has an ability to bring large groups of people together.

Even so, sports cards are not exempt from experiencing shifts in the marketplace.  In recent times, for example, it is clear that the interest in modern card collecting and trading has come back in a big way.  The question is, why?

Well, when markets rise or fall, there are usually a number of influences at work.  While young people have more distractions today than ever before, there has been a noticeable increase in participation from this crowd.  This was on full display at the National Sports Collectors Convention this summer.  I had many dealers and collectors say that they noticed more young people roaming the show floor this year than at any time in the last two decades.

That is great news for everyone in the hobby and at least one of the major contributors to this resurgence.

It's not just kids either.  There was a noticeable increase in the number of people under the age of 30 on the floor as well.  This is also great news ... and the more I thought about it and what's happening in the nation at large, the more it made sense to me.  The job market can be a daunting one for young people right now.  Even if you have an undergraduate degree, there is so much competition out there.  As a result, some young people are taking their careers into their own hands by pursuing career paths that were once considered unusual.

Having a basic college degree doesn't quite have the impact that it once did.  Instead of separating a prospective employee and their resume from the pack, young people often times find themselves lost in a sea of undistinguishable resumes ... ones that offer the same general educational achievement as they have.  Some people entering the work force are deciding to take different paths by becoming influencers on social media or setting up their own e-commerce business, which includes sports card traders.

The reason I used the term "traders" is that they are not traditional collectors or full-fledged dealers, but rather a combination of both.  No matter what we call them, their activity or influence is what matters.  If you were collecting in the 1980s, then you probably dabbled in speculating: the idea of buying a large number of a player's rookie cards and hoping they hit it big.  It's not a new concept, but it seems to be making a bit of a comeback.  Many collectors have tried this over the years.  Sometimes it was Mark McGwire, other times it was Greg Brock.  You can't win them all.

If you like sports, enjoy the action of trading and want to be your own boss, it can be an appealing venture for many young people.  That same kind of activity is going on in the world of apparel on major sites like StockX and Poshmark.  Times are changing and young people are looking for alternatives, even if it's just to supplement income.  For a majority of us, this hobby is exactly that ... a hobby.  But for an increasing number of hobby participants, there is a business element to what they do. 

In the meantime, this fairly recent surge in interest is at least partly a product of a change in culture as younger crowds are drawn to an activity that allows you to be your own boss and doesn't require a lot of capital ... at least to get started.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
President & CEO
Collectors Universe, Inc.

Article provided by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) at

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