The State of The Hobby - By Filthbomb Breaks
As I write this article (6/2/21), I am filled with very mixed emotions. One side of me is extremely pleased. If I would have told the 2019 version myself about where the hobby would be today, I would not have believed it. We are light years ahead of late 2019 prices. The other side of me however is a tad worried. If the June 2nd, 2021, version of me could have given the March 1st 2021 version of myself any advice, it would have been don’t get greedy.
Obviously, there was no way the hobby could sustain the growth it was experiencing in 2020… I knew it, you knew it, we all knew it. No-one (including myself) wanted to believe it would end so soon (although we knew it was a very plausible outcome).
I for example, spent $1850 a box on 2021 Prizm NBA basketball in April 2021. I bought 36 boxes at this price. That is greed. There is NO WAY that this product warranted this kind of price tag, but when all we see is up up up, it’s hard to justify passing up any product at any price point. I lost over 50% on this play.
I also have cases of cards I bought for $1200 in late 2019 that are worth 10-15X. It goes both ways. We all had the chance to pump the breaks a little earlier this year, and most of us didn’t.
You live and you learn. The past is the past. I was not around for the 1980’s bubble so I couldn’t learn from my past mistakes. I did not have the feeling in my gut needed to know when enough was enough as I never lived through it. Now I know.
I mentioned bubble above. Although this was a bubble, the sports card market did not burst or bust so to speak, and probably never will again. What we are seeing now is a much-needed market correction. Yes, it is down quite a bit over the past 3 months, however like I previously mentioned, we are light years ahead of where we were over a year ago.
The market is healthy. Cards that were selling for $50 in 2019 are selling for 5-7X. Boxes that were trading for $100 in 2019 are selling for 7-10X. This is the happy medium we needed. Investors/speculators took over the market for 12 months, and now we are finding a happy balance of both them and collectors.
There is still plenty of money to be made in the hobby. You can still buy low and sell high if you know what you are doing. It just was not healthy in my opinion, that anyone could make money on cards in 2020 – early 2021.
My father always told me a bubble usually does not burst until everyone is in. We are lucky that the world opened back up just in time.... before “everyone” was in the pot.
The people I feel bad for the most, are the people who quit their jobs over the past 12 months and gave up health benefits to be a "breaker" as the money was pouring in. They never saw the 2018/2019 hobby. They saw phenomenal 2020 margins and were getting rich quick. I get asked all the time from people “what is the best way to get started?” “I want to quit my job and break full time”. I feel like crap telling them, but my honest answer is don’t. 90% of the retail breakers we see now will be out of business by late 2021. New to the hobby Breakers with lots of overhead will be out as well, as the margins are going to be much slimmer, and allocations are going to be harder to get than ever before. Re-ordering from distributors is becoming tougher than ever as market pricing is tough to sell right now, and the allocations will not make it worth it for most breakers.
I do believe wax prices stop sliding, and stay where they currently are once PSA re opens. People will once again be able to open a box and grade their singles. (this is the biggest rush imo).
I do not believe we will ever see early 2021 wax prices again,
I believe the days of seeing a modern day (2019-2021) card sell for 6 figures are behind us (mostly). This was not healthy for the hobby. Yes, there should be 1-2 players across all sports combined that garner this hype, but not 50% of them.
I do not believe high end cards with low populations will see the same decrease that high population base cards will see in the coming year.
I still believe case breaks are a better alternative to personal boxes (my stance has not changed since 2018) unless you are buying a certain box with a specific goal in mind.
I still believe the community aspect of case breaks far outweighs any advantages of buying your own boxes as well.
I still believe that the sports card hobby is one of the best if not the best hobby in the world. The attention it has garnered in the past year has helped to catapult it back to the late 90’s early 2000’s. This was when I collected as a kid and had some of the best times in my life. Now it allows a big kid with extra money to collect what they want and make money as long as they make sound decisions.
If you take anything away from this blog, I hope it is this….
If you absolutely love the hobby, love the action, and have a true passion for it, don’t panic. The sky is not falling. Prices are correcting which is natural. If you lost money, it happens to everyone. Don’t quit now. Now is the time to lick your wounds, come up with a game plan, and dominate the market you love.