It is an interesting time to be a card collector.
We are coming off a season where Aaron Judge generated a renewed interest in collecting, and with each subsequent home run, 2017 wax prices grew higher and higher. My theory was, that once we got past Topps Update and Bowman Draft (which was not a Judge product) we would start to see a more normal 2018 take shape.
Wrong. Enter Shohei Ohtani and the excitement surrounding the Japanese star who excels both as a pitcher and as a batter. Speculation on the value of his cards, and which of the upcoming products he would be featured in has driven demand, and therefore prices, of the early 2018 products to record levels. It appears some distributors/online retailers were able to secure proportionally large orders and have somewhat set the market for theses products, and time will tell what the long term impact of these activities will have on the hobby. I know for a fact they are impacting me.
This year, I have a plan to purchase 16 cases of baseball cards. That’s two cases of eight different products that will be released throughout 2018. So far, Topps Series 1 and Heritage are the sets that have dropped, and skyrocketing prices, allocations, and increased production are already impacting the results of my experiment.
Topps Series 1:
When I was coming up with my plan there was a reason I went with two cases. My goal was to sell one case sealed, and use the modest profits to offset a portion of the cost of the second one which I would open. By lowering my net cost of the second case, I’d be more likely to be able to break even by selling off everything I didn’t want for my PC.
Well as we got closer and closer to the release of Series 1 on January 31st, the prices continued to creep up and up. Eventually they got to a point where I was faced with the decision of how much of my two cases I should sell sealed. Do I sell it all and guarantee a nice profit, or do I stick to the original plan and sell one/open one. At the end of the day, I worked out a deal to sell 10 of my 12 Jumbo boxes sealed, and keep two to open along with all 24 Silver Packs that came with the cases. I was able to put together a base set to keep, and added to my overall profit by selling off several of the hits, parallels, and other singles. You can see one of those box breaks along with my set review in this previous post!
Final Totals: Return on Investment of 65% plus value of cards kept for my PC.
Oh, Heritage. I was so excited to bust my first hobby case. Upon my re-entry to the hobby, this product was new to me and has quickly become one of my favorites. I was excited to pull all those variations, to see my ratio of relics to autos, and to be able to nearly put together a master set.
Then the ridiculousness ensued.
Prices started to skyrocket. As they went up and up, demand increased even more. As demand went up and the “opportunity” for profit was solidified, rumors of allocations bubbled up, and when release day came, I only ended up with one of the two cases I ordered. Over the last few weeks, our supplier attempted to procure a second case, but it appears I will have to accept a refund for that second case.
It’s time to adapt.
I got an offer for the one case I did receive that I just couldn’t pass up. In fact, I was able to pivot to a full case of retail blasters and still lock in an overall profit for the product. I still some singles to pick up to complete the master set, but after figuring in a good portion of the cost for those remaining cards being offset by sales of my doubles, my final total should still end up pretty good.
Final Totals: Return on Investment of 20% plus value of cards kept for my PC.
So yeah, we’re a quarter of the way through the year, and I’m profitable even after keeping a bunch of stuff for my PC. Do I wish I’d have gotten both cases of Heritage? Of course. Did the “huge” profit I locked in on my one case make up for not getting both? Sure did. Do I hope things normalize throughout the rest of the year and into next? You bet I do.
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