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  #1  
Old 11-05-2013, 07:13 PM
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Chris
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Default Future of the Hobby/ Responses needed

Hello everyone.
I am finishing up a book about collecting cards (50-80's topps) with my late father. I wanted to close the book by talking about the future of our great hobby. I am looking for opinions, quotes, stats, etc.
It seems as if every show I go to all of the dealers are old men. I know a lot of us use the net now but what do you think is the future for card collecting?

Thanks in advance!
Chris
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:20 PM
Rich Klein Rich Klein is offline
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Default Better than you think

The hobby is evolving but as you mentioned many of the interpersonal relationships (show, stores) are disappearing and yes when you got a normal show or a store, many of the dealers will be older men who are used to that millieu.

However, look at a site such as Net 54, we skew older than most baseball card hobby web sites yet we are younger then what you describe and other sites (such as Blowout cards or freedom card board) are much younger. If you look at Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites, the average skews younger and when I set up at the local Dallas area show in July, a young man was telling me about a network used by even younger collectors.

The pros, we will still have a hobby

The cons, many of the things we grew up with including base cards being important. have gone away -- I think there is still a great deal of power in seeing cards of more than just the top 100 but thiat is just me.

I write about this topic fairly frequently in my Sports Collectors Daily column so please feel free to read and quote what is needed with proper citation

Rich

Last edited by Rich Klein; 11-05-2013 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:24 PM
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Thank you Rich. I enjoy and look forward to your facebook posts!
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:26 PM
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It seems cards in those years('50's-'80's) are still popular.It also seems some younger people are collecting those years.
There are always ups and downs,but I think its pretty strong.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:44 PM
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In my opinion the hobby is already dead, it just hasn't fallen down yet.
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  #6  
Old 11-05-2013, 08:19 PM
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I am 40. I can remember 20 or 25 years ago having at least 5 brick and mortar card shops to go to, and the area I live in is not large. Looking back, these shops had a pretty good selection. The Internet (especially eBay) began to change everything in the second half of the 90s. Shops folded up, and even a lot of dealers who had their own websites went to eBay....this seems to have lightened up in the last few years. Guys who had shops sold out of their houses and on eBay. I now have access to one shop which is about 60 miles from my house. It is worth the drive. I don't care how extensive an on line inventory a dealer has, there is NO substitute for looking at and handling vintage cards in person. This includes commons and not just stars. Until computer and iPad screens give one the ability to smell the cardboard and musty surroundings of a real card shop, the experience on line will be cheaper. The shop I go to is owned by a gentleman in his early 70s. He is great and fair-minded and usually has good inventory. We all have lots of good conversation about the hobby. He has quality auctions every Tuesday night, too. He won't be around forever. When he's gone, I am not sure what I will do. I will always collect, but it won't be as good without that shop.

It's painting with a broad brush I know, but most of the "collectors" I know who are close to my age are really investment guys. Some of them know it, some don't. For them, on line works fine. Everything they buy is or will soon be in a plastic holder and sold the second a profit can be made, unless of course they are registry hounds. For me, there is something nostalgic, even romantic about 50s baseball cards. Our country grew up alongside baseball. I never even saw the guys I collect play, but they are larger than life heroes to me. I read about them, I watch documentaries about them, and I collect their cards. I guess that's how I see it. Thanks for asking, and best of luck with your book.
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Old 11-06-2013, 12:33 PM
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If stamps are still a hobby and hold their value, baseballcards are a long way from a dead hobby.
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Old 11-06-2013, 01:04 PM
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From my perspective the hobby grew exponentially (by leaps and bounds) with the advent of the internet. Now we can collaborate in seconds what used to take days, weeks and months. So if you have 10000 disparate collectors then that is one thing. However, if you have 5000 collectors that all collect together, then you have a much bigger and stronger hobby. I believe that is the best thing the internet has done for us. Most of us wouldn't have the collections we do today without the internet. I have quite often thought about this subject and I think it makes sense. That being said, I still love shows, especially the National. There is nothing like getting together every year with hundreds of my friends to hoot and holler.
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Last edited by Leon; 11-06-2013 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 11-06-2013, 01:12 PM
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For what little it's worth, I think the hobby is in serious trouble. I think it will always exist in some form or another, because there will always be baseball fans, history fans, or folks who do things because their fathers did them and their fathers before. I would argue that a lot of this trouble can be placed squarely at the feet of both MLB and of the card manufacturers.

I collected primarily in the mid-80's-mid 90's, and was around for the transition from the older, simpler style sets (focus is the base set, there are some inserts and/or accessory sets to collect) to the newer model (who cares about the base set, everything is focused on chasing the inserts, 1/1 cards and parallel sets.) That approach, combined with the strike and the increased focus on cards as an investment instead of cards as simple fun has devestated our hobby, at least as it relates to kids.

Kids shouldn't have to worry about investments, value growth, condition, population reports and the other vagaries of our hobby that they now do. Collecting your favorite team, your favorite player, getting that small handful of packs from the corner store and hoping against all hope that they hold that one last card you need for your set- those should be the focus of a child.

I'm one who was not bothered at all by overproduction. The classic cited examples are 1988-1989 Topps and Donruss. You can still buy cases of those cards for less than they sold at wholesale when they were produced, and that is 24-25 years after the fact! Someone who wants a nice example of their favorite player's rookie card, if that player rookied in those years, can still get it for less than a buck. Collecting those sets is simple fun, and the focus is on the players, the cards, and the experience- not on the return on investment. I agree that it got rediculous, but I remember well searching through huge piles of those packs at Kmart, Target, Skaggs and Safeway, looking for Kevin Seitzer on the top of a blister pack, or Tom Glavine on the top of a Score wax pack, or for Sam Horn smiling from a rack pack. It was just fun. And because of the overproduction, mom bought those packs at a quarter each.

Cards are way too expensive. I understand economics, and that they aren't going to be 25 cents forever. But imagine a return to a product that focuses on a base set, with the occasional inserts. And those inserts aren't limited editions, or relic cards, or parallel sets- they are deckle edges, or stamps, or coins, or a game, or a glossy all-star set. Imagine 50 cent packs of 5 cards each, or 1 dollar packs with 10-12; imagine a rack pack where you could see the stars in all their glory peeking through the cellophane. What in the world is wrong with that?

Topps' monopoly did bring some semblance of order to a situation that had grown out of control. But like most sitautions, monopolies often aren't a good thing. It could be that a card company or product like I outlined above wouldn't find a market, because there wouldn't be the chance of finding the $500 card or the 1/1 relic card; it could be that it would be an absolute flop. But the way Topps has approached things, relic cards have lost their luster; parallel sets aren't anything unique; and the way they are chewing through their old sets and the tobacco-era products, it is only a matter of time before you see a Topps Archives set with everyone in the "historic 1998 design."

I keep boxes of packs from the mid-80's around to open when I need a fix, just because it is fun. I have a box of 1986 Topps sitting about 5 feet away from me as I sit here typing this, just waiting for me to have a bad moment at work that only baseball cards can fix. And isn't that sad? Why don't I have a box of 2013 Topps? Quite simply, because it is expensive and not much fun. My kids have had fun opening packs of mid-80's Topps; I'm not sure that I'll bother with the new stuff.

Kids should be able to go to a ballpark, or to their local store, and spend a reasonable amount of money (maybe the amount it takes to buy a coke in a vending machine) to get a pack of cards. Those cards should be well-designed, with a reasonable hope for the kids of completing a set. They should maybe even have some bubble gum included. If the hobby can't figure out a way to get kids involved, on a mass level, I believe that we will continue to watch a long, slow decline of folks interested in collecting baseball cards. They will get older and greyer (granted with higher disposable incomes) but without the simple joy of a kid opening his first pack of cards. As that happens, I think the card companies will continue to produce cards, but they will increasingly become a specialty thing not available on a regular basis. I remember when almost every grocery, drug, hardware and toy store had boxes of packs available. Made it fun for me (and expensive for mom.) And at the end of the day, isn't that the point?

kevin
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Old 11-06-2013, 01:20 PM
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I copied this thread to the front page of the forum so we could get some more feedback AND because it's a great topic for everyone. thanks
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