Stop and Smell the Cardboard: The Importance of Appreciating the Cards We Already Have

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Three years ago there was a belief this industry was dying. Cards were not holding their values, ingenuity seemed to be fairly low, and if you spoke to non-collectors about our hobby, there was some sort of reaction akin to someone asking if you’d even had your first beer.

Alas here we are in 2020 – amid a pandemic, a time of social justice advances, and intense politics – and this card hobby grabs headlines and is hotter than ever.

If you’re like me then you’ve been around cards for a while, and even those of us who have lived through three decades of cards – and some of you much longer – you thought you had seen it all. But this current climate is proving us wrong.

Photo: Ben Aguirre

Base cards are relevant again, early non-rookie releases of sure-fire Hall of Fame players are commanding a premium, and parallels (and not necessarily autographs) are what’s drawing folks to products. In short, history is repeating itself to an extent, but I’m not sure any of us could have predicted anything to this level so quickly.

But when a hobby or market runs hot, demand for products is through the roof and with it go prices. And this is where things get super wonky for the die-hards because … suddenly nothing is easy to find, and most sealed products are carrying insane premiums.

Some have said, or at least thought, that they are priced out of the hobby. This would include me. And honestly, there has been a struggle about how I feel about this. In some ways I’m upset. I mean how dare this rush of “new” type of consumer rush into this hobby and change the landscape for me and everyone else who has called this their own for years. But … BUT! … How can I/we really be mad when we have com-plained for years about this industry dying. About the lack of respect. And, of course, its lack of value.

If you’re in a place where you’re feeling priced out and upset, it might be best to pause and think about where YOU fit into this hobby. This, again, includes me. I know that I cannot hang with the guys who buy into breaks seven days a week constantly gambling their money away until they hit big … only to sell the prized hit and repeat the pattern while hoping lightning strikes twice. I also know that I cannot justify spending $7.50 for a pack of flagship Topps baseball Series 2 and maintain any sort of happiness.

I for certain won’t spend $80 to $120 on a blaster knowing that it cost $19.99 when it’s found in the wild. And yes, I know the blasters are impossible to find at times, which is why they command a premium, but I’m not your huckleberry at those prices. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This is a time for us longtime collectors to realize how good we actually had it all of those years. The times when we were tasked with a milk run at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night and wound up at Target buying the milk and a blaster or two. Those trips to the LCS when we walked in with a $20 or $100 budget and walked out with a smile on our face and cards in our hands. The special feeling we had when you found out a distant relative, neighbor or co-worker collected cards and it felt like you were part of the same secret club.

Now is the time to look at your collection and appreciate what you already own. It’s a time to remember why you got into all of this in the first place. Was it the actual cards? The thrill of the chase? The gambling element? Does the hobby give you a sense of inclusion? Are you carrying on a family tradition or looking to start a new one? The answer is personal for each of us.

Photo: Ben Aguirre

I cannot control your feelings about the cards you possess, nor can I contain the emotions you may have for the ones you do not own. But I hope this time of change in our hobby – whether it be short term or not – isn’t pushing you out of the hobby. Because while packs are at a premium, singles are still as available as ever and you can still build a great collection without having to succumb to the notion that the only thing that matters is the shiniest card of the hottest rookie released this week.

Time to appreciate what you already own.

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Ben Aguirre

Ben Aguirre is the author of CardboardIcons.com. Follow him on Twitter @cardboardicons.

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3 comments

  1. Richard 6 December, 2020 at 11:08

    It’s the professional pack busters that are destroying the hobby for children and budget collectors. Finding anything in the stores is hard because the professionals are like Sharks buying up everything they can find then selling the stuff at a hyper inflated premium. I see another bubble pop happening soon because card values are disproportionate to their commonality.

  2. Noel Ortiz 7 December, 2020 at 20:55

    I would like to find a way to show you some of my cards collection, I have lots of old cards but I’m not sure of their value. I have some babe, mantel, stand the man and many many old players. How can I send u a few pics of my collection?

  3. goblue98 8 December, 2020 at 11:28

    I agree with you @Richard. Regular collector’s can’t get stuff anymore without paying a premium. I’m not only talking about wax, but singles as well. I totally agree about the bubble popping soon after the Pandemic craziness is over.

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