Tuesday 13 April 2021

I stepped away from the hobby for six months and I thought card prices might be cheaper now. Oh Boy.

I haven't posted on this blog since June. I stepped away for few weeks last summer because it felt like prices in the hobby were becoming outrageous. I remember being a kid and collecting kids when the hobby's bubble burst in the early nineties. I didn't want to spend a ton of money on stuff that would end up being junk in a few months time. I figured I would just wait until prices crashed and then I could reenter the hobby and enjoy it more cheaply. I figured this pricing bubble couldn't last to 2021.

The other issue for me was that I was really annoyed with COMC. Being in Canada, being cards on Ebay is expensive because most sellers are in the US and shipping from the US to Canada is ridiculous. Usually I filter Ebay listing to only include Canadian sellers, but there is a lot less available that way. It ends up being easier to buy cards on COMC slowly over time and build up a large package, and mail it to myself. However, COMC's customer service got so far behind the demand for their cards that their site became impossible to use. You could buy and sell cards on the site almost like stocks, but you could not ship to yourself, or ship cards in, without an enormous amount of turnaround time.

I was also using COMC as a mailbox service for my Ebay purchases, since accumulating multiple purchases from Ebay and packaging as a single shipment is cheaper for cross border shipping. COMC, however, actually lost one of my cards shipped from an Ebay seller, even though the tracking showed it arrived at COMC. It took them absolutely ages to list the card on the site. I became so frustrated with their service, and lack of response via email, that I did a port sale on my cards and cashed out.

The most frustrating part was that I really like COMC. It's so disappointing when a business you want to support and enjoy using gives such terrible service. I understand they were overwhelmed, but they simply stopped answering phone calls and responding to emails. It would have been so easy for them to outsource customer service to a third-party agency, or to simply hire more people trained to answer phones and emails. They chose the less expensive route of simply not responding to customers, and their reputation has suffered.

Anyway, I don't want to harp on COMC (they seem to be in an even worse position with their customer service now compared to last summer, if that's even possible). My point is that I figured card prices would decline by the time 2021 rolled around. I figured wrong. I was back checking out card pricing the other week. I can't believe how expensive things have become. I'm in Toronto, and we are in the longest lockdown in North America. The entire province of Ontario was just locked down last week, which means non-essential retail goods are unavailable for purchase in-person. Besides groceries and drugs, everything is online. There is literally nowhere to buy boxes that are cheaper. Blasters are even going for twice their value. Blasters! I mean, blaster boxes are usually just packs of base cards aimed at children. That's why Walmart sells them in the toys section. Sometimes you do get something of value out of them, but it's crazy how expensive they have become.

My interest in the hobby was resuscitated when I sold a couple of valuable cards a few weeks ago. I had listed both my Gretzky OPC PSA 1 rookie and my Gretzky Black Diamond hard signed autograph numbered to /10 on Ebay about a year ago. I listed both of them for an outrageous price, about three times what I paid for them. I figured no one in their right mind would buy them for that price. I didn't really want to sell either card, but it didn't hurt to list them for free on Ebay just to see what the value was. If some crazy person came along and bought them for three times what I did, then I guess it would be worth parting. But I figured that would never happen.

I actually forgot I had the cards listed. After I stopped blogging last summer and lost interest in the hobby, the cards sat on Ebay for months. At Christmas, however, the Gretzky rookie sold for its BIN. I couldn't believe it! I kinda loved the card, as much as a grown man can love a hockey card, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to sell it even for triple what I had paid. But I figured this is an asset bubble and I may as well take advantage. I still have this feeling that card prices will crash at some point in the future and I can always buy the card back at a cheaper price later on. Besides, I still had the Gretzky autograph.

Not so fast! A couple of weeks ago, someone hit the BIN on the autograph. I sold that card for triple what I had paid, too. So, after shipping it out, I started reading hobby blogs and forums and checking out prices. Pricing is even worse now than when I stepped away last summer. Even low end stuff is so expensive I don't think I can participate at all, besides selling what I already own.

I have a blaster box of 2020 Topps Archive. It's unopened, and I received it as a Christmas gift. I simply put it away, intending to open it when I had a slow afternoon one day, and I forgot about it until I sold that Gretzky autograph. I decided to look up how much an unopened blaster of 2020 Archives is going for on Ebay. It's like $35 or so (which in Canadian money is like $50). This is worth more than anything I will pull from the box if I opened it.

So, should I open it? Should I just list it on Ebay and sell it? I love opening cards, but I'm not building that set or anything. Chances are the cards I get will be worthless, and won't be a sensible addition to my collection. On the other hand, it's simply fun to open packs and it was a gift for me to enjoy. Yet, if I did sell it, I could use the money and buy a card or two that I would enjoy and would fit into my collection. I'm also to the point where I want to collect unopened product now instead of the actual cards.

What a dilemma.


  1. It's nice to see a new post from you!

    In case you haven't figured it out yet, card prices are not going to be coming down anytime soon. My prediction is/has been 5-10 years, with a lot more craziness to come before then.

    Also, I love all of you up North, but sure am glad that I'm not living up there with you.

    1. Thanks. I didn't think anyone would even remember me.

      Wow, 5-10 years! I figured within a year or so it would collapse.

      I remember so vividly being a kid during the early nineties when my Dad was a collector, and watching the hobby boom and bust. This feels like a repeat in some ways. Like, how history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

  2. Whoa... congratulations on selling those Gretzkys. I've been selling some excess stuff the past two months. I still enjoy the hobby, but some I just can't pass up some of the money people are currently offering.

    As for the blaster... I'm torn on selling those. I'm in the same situation as you. I have some 2019/20 basketball blasters that have soared in value. I'm worried someone will buy them, open them up, and claim that they were resealed. So right now... I'm just sitting on them until I figure out the best way to move them.

    1. Yeah, it's not a bad idea to wait.

      To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of selling stuff. I find it's a lot of work, and as you mentioned there are a lot of difficult buyers out there. I find it's rarely worth the effort, and it is easier to just be careful with what I purchase in the first place.