Editor’s Note: For almost 20 years, Mike Fruitman has owned and operated Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in the Denver, Colo., suburb of Aurora. During that time, Fruitman admittedly has never seen anything quite like the frenzy that ensued beginning with the late-April day that Tim Tebow became a Denver Bronco. This is his summary.
Since opening Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in 1992, I’ve learned that, for the most part, as the Denver Broncos go, so goes my store.
Colorado Avalanche championships resulted in great interest, Denver Nuggets draft picks like Carmelo Anthony developed some hardcore collectors and the Colorado Rockies’ postseason run in 2007 helped us hit a few grand slams at the register. But all of that pales in significance to when the blue and orange are on fire.
Thinking back to April 22, 2010, the first day of the 2010 NFL Draft, Denver fans had numerous hopes for the Broncos. After last season, it was clear that the Broncos had many needs and that QB was not necessarily a priority. In 2009, Kyle Orton passed for 3,802 yards with 21 TDs and just 12 picks, his best season ever. Since second-year head coach Josh McDaniels traded away Brandon Marshall this off-season, getting a big wide receiver like Demaryius Thomas with the team’s first pick made perfect sense and, in most years, would have appeased Bronco Nation.
Imagine how floored the customers in my store were when the Broncos then traded up to pick again at No. 25 and Tim Tebow was shown putting on a Broncos cap. The Bronco fan in me knew we had other pressing needs, but the sports card store owner in me could not have been happier.
Any NFL card collector knows that there is no more collected position than quarterback. So while we expected to sell every Tebow card that my store could acquire this season, having him on the Broncos meant those sales would greatly exceed anything I had anticipated going into draft night.
That was proven immediately – as in mere minutes after Tebow was drafted – when we sold out of our remaining 2010 Press Pass boxes to customers who were in the store watching the draft. It was only reemphasized when the more than 70 Tebow singles we bought on draft night were gone in days.
These days, we don’t even bother putting our Tebow singles in the display cases. After all, with customers constantly calling for his singles, leaving them close to the register seems to be the best move.
Our Bronco fans have been stocking up on his rookies, insert cards and, when we’ve had them, his autographed singles. Another benefit of Tebow Mania? The high volume of lapsed Broncos collectors who’ve come rushing back in to catch some of the buzz.
But perhaps the most encouraging part of Tebow being a Bronco is the significant amount of new collectors he’s helped us introduce to the hobby. His success in college with the Florida Gators, his Heisman Trophy and even his religious views have helped attract numerous new faces who want to collect a player they like both on and off the field.
Fortunately, the buzz has not been limited to just Tebow’s single cards. Any box that has a chance at his RCs or autographed cards has been on fire. So far, every Press Pass and Panini release has been a complete sell out. We are expecting the same success with all the upcoming Topps products.
In our nearly 20 years of business, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Shaqmania, the madness associated with the 2003-04 NBA draft class, Sidney Crosbymania and more.
But none of it compares to the hobby hurricane Tebow brought with him from Florida.
– Mike Fruitman